Retirement is a shining goal for many; it’s a reminder of all you’ve accomplished and earned during your years of working, raising children, and chasing the American dream. However, retirement planning can also be intimidating to take the step into this new phase of life, as it is a major transition from life we’ve known before. There’s so much precedent to help us understand the career and childrearing years, and not so much to tell us what finish line of retirement might look like. It’s ok if you feel adrift, but also know that it’s entirely possible to renew your sense of purpose and redefine what you want your new season of life to look like.
There are a number of ways to make this one of the most joyful periods of your life. No longer encumbered by the hectic schedule of career building and raising babies, you now have a unique opportunity to decide how you want to fill your spare time. The wonderful thing about your golden years is you get to decide what defines you beyond outside markers of success. Think about what you want to be known for? What makes you happy? And what motivated you in the past? These are great guides for what will give you a more joyful today and tomorrow.
One key place to begin is by being active. Studies show that increased physical activity can help seniors not only combat chronic medical conditions and stave off new ones, but it also increases mental wellbeing. Exercise increases endorphins which give you a sense of accomplishment and a time to contemplate life to exist fully in the present. Mindfulness, or the act of being consciously aware of yourself and surroundings in the moment, can be a huge part of activity. Taking a walk, for example, can give you an opportunity to be fully aware of the sights and sounds around you, as well as the feeling of walking and the ways your body feels as you are moving. This kind of meditation can lead to greater self-awareness, and a fuller sense of yourself, as a unique person.
Another is to actively engage with your past. As beneficial as it can be to throw yourself into the present moment, it can be equally fulfilling to throw yourself into nostalgia. The act of remembrance can help many seniors to have a stronger sense of self, reduce stress, and lower incidents of anxiety and depression. By revisiting your happiest and strongest memories, you can have a better sense of what makes you happiest and to what events you have the strongest connection.
Those memories can be guideposts for what you do next— you can seek out new connections and opportunities that bring out the same feelings. If you loved raising your children, perhaps you can work with an organization that provides extracurricular activities and supports a passion for youth. If you had a hobby that you had to put aside for a career, you could return to your interest in astronomy, literature, languages, or the arts.
No matter what you interests were in the past, there are also opportunities to cultivate new ones. One of the wonderful things about a big metropolitan area like Charlotte is the opportunity to find all sorts of new things to do, from gallery openings to concerts to new food flavors. You can check out the Levine Museum of the New South, Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, or the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center for cultural events that might be outside your usual beat. Or try gourmet twists on classic dishes like donuts at Joe's Doughs, burgers at Moo & Brew, classic arcade games at 8.2.0.
Whatever you choose to do, it helps to have a good community to do it with. Studies show that socially connected seniors suffer less stress and fewer mood disorders than those who are more isolated. The same is true of socially connected seniors who are more likely to seek medical care for routine tests and ailments. Connecting with a community helps to give you a context, a place in the world, a sense of self-definition. When it comes to celebrating your unique self, wouldn’t you rather do that with others on the same journey? If you want to learn more about how a retirement community like Regency Retirement Village of Charlotte can help enhance your golden years and help you find your sense of purpose, call (844) 425-4254.
Written by: Meghan O'Dea