Sunday, April 23, 2006


Several years before my and husband and I actually retired, we bought and read many books, looked at myriads of retirement articles trying to get all the information we could. And of course with our many years of working in the aging field; we thought that we knew a lot. What you read, what you see others doing, and what experts tell you "ain't necessarily so" when it comes to your OWN retirement. When we started this blog and asked you to join us on this adventure, we knew that we were asking you to be on a long journey. Just when you think you have it all figured out, life has a way of changing what your plan A was and sends you in search of Plan B. For us, we are on about Plan E by now and imagine that we might get further in the alphabet before we are done.

Therefore we promised you that we would share many different articles, ideas and suggestions with you. Much of what we find in the area of retirement and expecially early retirement focuses on money and rightfully so; but--sometimes we get so focused on whether we have enough money that we forget that there are many other parts to retirement.

The following article is an excellent view of some of the other "parts" of retirement we need to consider and put into our plan. PLAN NOW!

Six Secrets for a Successful Retirement
By Jan Cullinane

Retirement (n): removal or withdrawal from service, office, or business; withdrawal into privacy or seclusion.
WRONG! With apologies to Webster’s Dictionary, this is no longer your father’s (or mother’s) retirement. Today’s retirees, and those approaching retirement, differ from their parents in a number of important ways.

Baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) are living longer, perhaps spending 30 or more years in retirement. As a group, they are healthier, more active physically and mentally, more affluent, more educated, and more likely to relocate after retiring. Although seemingly an oxymoron, more Boomers plan to continue working in retirement and view retirement as a process, rather than an end, with perhaps several forays into and out of the workforce.
This truly is a “new” retirement.In fact, many believe the word “retirement” itself needs to be retired – the word no longer represents the porch-rocking, shuffle-board playing, early-bird dining, silver-haired stereotype of yore.
So, how can you plan for a successful, happy transition into the second half of your life?

I’d like to offer six secrets:

Secret 1: Have strong social support.
Who would have known Barbra Streisand foreshadowed the results of a scientific study when she sang her song “People”? But did you know that those lucky people also live longer? A study done in New Haven, Connecticut found that men and women who were socially active lived an average of two and a half years longer than those who were not.
Other studies have found that social interactions have a significant effect in maintaining mental health, regardless of whether retirees live alone, live with someone other than their spouse, or are childless.
Satisfaction in retirement is strongly correlated to the strength and number of your personal connections. It would seem that investing in building and maintaining friendships can reap far greater rewards than investing in stocks and bonds!

Secret 2: Have something to wake up for.
Intellectual stimulation, structure, a sense of purpose, feelings ofpride and accomplishment – these are key ingredients to a happy retirement.
Sure, golf, fishing, tennis, and beachcombing are great, but can you really do them 168 hours a week? Although the answer is “yes” for some, for most of us, there needs to be more.
According to AARP, about 70% of boomers plan to continue working.
Though an economic necessity for many, for others, work provides the feelings of engagement and self-esteem we crave (and don’t forget the built-in social aspects most jobs provide).
When surveyed, the number one reason people give for retiring is “to do something else.” But, if you are content with working (and your significant other, if there is one, is okay with it, too), and there is nothing else you’d really rather be doing, then by all means continue to work.
If your present career doesn’t provide you with the emotional and psychological plusses you need, or if you find yourself unable to work, or you’re bored with your retirement lifestyle, here are some other options to consider so you’ll be leaping out of bed every morning eager to start the day:
In addition to volunteering, a volunteer or service vacation is a way to help others while enjoying yourself. Tens of thousands of people the world over are involved in constructing homes, improving public health, helping set up small businesses, gathering data on global warming, or building trails in National Parks.
Examples of organizations that offer volunteer vacations include Habitat for Humanity (, the EarthwatchInstitute (, and the American Hiking Society(
Some of the costs associated with these volunteer vacations may be tax deductible – check IRS guidelines, or consult your tax advisor.
Rather hit the books than a golf ball? Lifelong learning opportunities abound – in fact, the mature learner is the fastest-growing contingent on campus, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics.
Many institutions offer classes for free or at reduced rates for seniors, allow you to audit courses (no tests or papers – yippee!), offer distance education courses (curl up in your comfy chair in front of a computer and go to it), have continuing or adult education classes, or offer member-driven courses through organizations such as the Lifelong Learning Institute.
Contact your local community college or university for programs available to you. Give the Internet a try – you can take classes online through QuicKnowledge (, ThirdAge (, or SeniorNet ( The term “college senior” can have a whole new meaning! Strengthen your spiritual life. For many people, this time of transition provides an opportunity to delve further into religion and/or reconnect with the things that are truly important – areas that may have been neglected while climbing the corporate ladder and/or raising a family. Opportunities abound for involvement - explore them!

Secret 3: Have a high level of activity (Physical and mental)
This really isn’t much of a secret at all. The physical act of exercise actually brings about a shift in mood. Even after something as simple as a 15-minute walk, people experience a more positive affect (feelings or emotions), and feel calmer and more relaxed.
As researcher Paddy Ekkekakis noted in a study on exercise and mood, “Walking is inexpensive, familiar, and safe. That’s why many have argued that the most effective piece of exercise equipment is a dog.”
If you’re not a natural exercise-lover, increase your chances ofconsistently exercising by doing activities you enjoy, doing them on aregular basis (first thing in the morning prevents excuses later in theday), and doing them with another person (the guilt factor of letting anexercise buddy down can be a powerful motivator).
The three pillars of physical fitness are flexibility, strength-training, and cardiovascular work. To ensure you get the most out of your workouts and are using proper form, consider hiring a personal trainer for a few sessions. Call your local health club for some recommendations.
Costs vary, but run about $50 an hour. Trainers can come to your home (some have mobile vans outfitted with equipment), to your health club, or you can go to their place of business.
In addition to the body, we also need to exercise the three-pound dynamo we call the brain. Comprising about 2 percent of our weight, but consuming close to 20 percent of our energy needs, this vital organ needs to be kept in the best shape possible.
Specific suggestions: do crossword puzzles, brain-teasers, acrostics, play bridge or chess, read, listen to music, dance, learn an instrument or foreign language, travel, play board games, or do something to disturb your normal routine such as switching hands to brushyour teeth or getting dressed with your eyes closed.
These activities can rev up neglected nerve pathways. “Use it or lose it” applies to both body and mind!

Come back for the next update and we will share the next 3 secrets.
Jan Cullinane is the co-author of The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide tothe Rest of Your Life (Rodale, 2004). She gives seminars on the (primarily)non-financial aspects of retirement through her company, "Retirement Livingfrom A to Z." E-mail

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