It seems counter-intuitive to need a goal when you’re already retired. After all, the whole reason you are retired is because you were able to reach your goals!
The reality, though, is that we all do better when we have a purpose in life. In fact, your lack of goals could be putting your life at risk after retirement. The Institute of Economic Affairs in the U.K. published a study indicating that retirement was often accompanied by a decline in health.
Even older research from Georgia State University found that retirees see an increase in difficulty with daily activities and mobility. The research indicates that part of the problem is that work provides us with a reason to stay active and engaged. Once that reason is gone, there is a good chance that you will deteriorate quickly.
Physical activity and social and mental engagement helps keep you healthy and happy. Without work — or goals to replace the purpose that work gives you — you have little to keep you motivated.
Setting goals even in retirement can help you stave off some of the negative effects of aging and help you maintain your quality of life for longer.
There is no reason to keep working at a job you don’t enjoy if you can “retire.” However, that doesn’t mean that you should just sit in your home watching TV all day, barely venturing out to speak with others. That’s the type of behavior that studies pinpoint as being detrimental to your long-term physical and mental health.
The first step to goal setting as a retiree is to think about what matters most in your life, and consider how you can live with purpose.
Think of something you want to accomplish, whether it’s learning a new skill, acquiring new knowledge, seeing new countries (travel), or teaching others. Many retirees find purpose in offering consulting services, tutoring others, and traveling to new places — or even traveling to visit their children and grandchildren. The idea is to set a goal that helps you stay engaged with others, keeps you mentally sharp, and encourages a degree of physical activity.
When setting new goals as a retiree, you also need to figure out how to fund your activities. If you have a large nest egg, this might not be too much trouble. However, you might need to set financial goals along with your life goals.
Consulting and tutoring are easy ways to earn money on the side, even as you work toward other goals. You can also take a part-time job that you enjoy (but that doesn’t pay well) to help supplement your retirement nest egg. Other retirees take seasonal jobs as tour guides and tour managers so that they can earn money while traveling.
You can also keep your mind active by writing your memoirs or engaging in other creative efforts. There are retirees with musical talent who form big bands and play for events and parties. They get to enjoy what they are doing, interact with others, and make a little extra money.
Your financial goals should also take into account how you will draw down your accounts. Speak with a knowledgeable professional about setting up different retirement “buckets” that can help you reach your goals. Short-term, medium-term, and long-term goals can all be managed when you use different asset buckets to help you manage your money in retirement.
Don’t forget to be realistic about your retirement goals. There are activities you won’t be able to complete, due to physical or financial limitations. Think about replacement goals that can provide you with purpose and social engagement so that, even if you can’t do exactly what you want, you are still able to maintain a positive outlook and a higher quality of life.
Your “golden years” will be short-lived and unpleasant without goals that encourage you to continue improving yourself and maintaining relationships with other people. While it’s fun to do nothing for a few weeks, it gets old fast, and many of us become listless and unfulfilled when we have nothing to do — and nothing to live for.
Learn to set new challenges and goals throughout your life, and you will never be bored.