The Pursuit Of Retirement Happiness

We recently shared a Rob Carrick article from the Globe and Mail entitled ‘The pandemic showed us how boring retirement can be’.   The article drew parallels between physical distancing at home in the pandemic and retirement.  It spoke of how, with too much unstructured time, individuals can end up unfocused and unhappy.  It goes on to say that those individuals can end up cut off from many of the daily routines that gave their lives structure, meaning and joy as they experience “retirement shock”.

Many of our clients are retirement happy, so the article made me think about what retirement happiness means to them.  The answer varies significantly by activity, spending habits, and daily routines, but those most happy in retirement also share some common factors.  We have observed the following 5 key commonalities in retirees that, when held in some combination (not necessarily all), have helped them to be happier in retirement.

1. Independence

The ability to take care of oneself in retirement does not equate to necessarily living alone.  Independence in retirement for many means not having to rely on others to accomplish the daily required tasks of living.  At the very basic, insurance companies have long defined the basic activities of daily living as: eating, bathing, getting dressed, toileting, mobility, and continence.  But for each retiree this can have a very different meaning.  For some it can mean having access to a car and the ability to drive wherever they would like whenever they would like.  For others, it can mean financial independence and the ability to manage their bank accounts and to balance a budget.  For others, it means the ability to take the garbage out, do groceries and cook.  Each has their unique and evolving definition of independence.  This element can clearly be tied to health, both physical and mental.  While it is difficult to prevent certain health ailments, there are many proven approaches to improving health in retirement.  In fact, some of the next factors do contribute to maintaining general retirement health.

2. Social Engagement

Social connections are often lost when individuals retire from the workplace.  While colleagues will often promise to stay in touch and maintain regular touch points, lives remain busy, and many retirees find themselves having to find different ways to remain socially engaged.  For some, this can be filled with family.  From full time caregivers to enjoying occasional visits with grand-children, involvement with family varies significantly for many people.  Some retirees are fortunate to have a good circle of other retired friends such as neighbours, golf partners, or bridge groups; individuals they can connect with socially.  Others find themselves working part-time, volunteering, taking classes, or joining social groups to fill the gap.  When a couple retires together, they certainly can be a source of social engagement together; however, often even these retirees rely on expanded social circles to ensure they remain engaged beyond the home.  Social engagement is one of the strongest factors that allow retirees to share stories, remain heard, and to maintain connections.

3. Contribution and Purpose

Contribution to family or community can have a tremendous positive effect on retirement happiness.  It gives people purpose and feeling of self within a broader society.  Contribution can be found in daily activities such as helping an older neighbour take out their garbage.  It can be volunteering for an hour a day to help the less fortunate.  It could also be agreeing to take a grandchild for a couple of hours each day.  It could also include donating money to a favourite cause.  While contribution is not defined by the activity undertaken, it always involves doing something for another, for a community, or for society, and creates a sense of belonging and self within a larger community.  It does not necessarily require a lot of money or time; simple gestures of contribution can certainly add purpose and happiness to those who otherwise might feel isolated. 

4. Exploration and Stimulation

Losing physical or mental health in retirement remains one of the greatest fears.  Many studies speak to maintaining health through activities.  Retirees who are most happy, are often curious; they are stimulated by exploration, experiences, and new learnings.  They do a daily sudoku, crossword puzzle, read, stay abreast of the newest developments on a favourite topic, or explore new worlds by travelling locally or abroad.  Others challenge themselves physically, whether on a ski slope, cycling in the neighbourhood, hiking in the woods, walking the dog, being active on the golf course, or doing exercises at home.  Physical and mental activities that stimulate contribute strongly to health and happiness in retirement.  While this can entail starting new challenges and habits, often it simply involves doing more of the things that retirees already love to do. 

5. Eliminating Financial Stress

Many retirees would be happier if they could eliminate the stress of running out of money.  This is a dominant fear and often creates an impediment to enjoying retirement fully.  We work with many retirees, helping them live happy and full retirement lives.  The old saying “money does not buy happiness” remains true in retirement.  But knowing retirement life is affordable definitely adds to retirement comfort and happiness.  

At Tall Oak Private Wealth, we help retirees gain financial confidence so that they can enjoy their retirement lifestyles.  Using our proprietary Retirement VIEW approach, we alleviate the dominant concern of running out of money so that retirees can take an all-important step closer to retirement happiness.

If you would like to hear more about our Retirement VIEW, please click here to schedule a complimentary discovery call.

This material is provided for general information and is subject to change without notice. Although every effort has been made to compile this material from reliable sources; no warranty can be made as to its accuracy or completeness, and we assume no responsibility for any reliance upon it. Before acting on any of the above, please contact Tall Oak Private Wealth of Raymond James Ltd., for individual financial advice based on your personal circumstances. Raymond James Ltd. – Member – Canadian Investor Protection Fund. Insurance offered through Raymond James Financial Planning Ltd., not a member – Canadian Investor Protection Fund.

The views expressed in this commentary are those of Tall Oak Capital Advisors as at the date of publication and are subject to change without notice. This commentary is presented only as a general source of information and is not intended as a solicitation to buy or sell specific investments, nor is it intended to provide tax or legal advice. Statistics, factual data and other information are from sources Tall Oak believes to be reliable but their accuracy cannot be guaranteed. This commentary is intended for distribution only in those jurisdictions where Tall Oak Capital Advisors are registered. Securities-related products and services are offered through Raymond James Correspondent Services Ltd., member Canadian Investor Protection Fund. Insurance products and services are offered through Gryphin Advantage Inc., which is not a member-Canadian Investor Protection Fund. This commentary may provide links to other Internet sites for the convenience of users. Tall Oak Capital Advisors is not responsible for the availability or content of these external sites, nor does Tall Oak Capital Advisors endorse, warrant or guarantee the products, services or information described or offered at these other Internet sites. Users cannot assume that the external sites will abide by the same Privacy Policy which Tall Oak Capital Advisors adheres to.