The 5 Habits of Highly Happy Retirees

“When one door closes, another one opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we don’t see the ones that open for us”. Alexander Graham Bell


They know themselves

Happy retirees have taken the time to reconnect with who they really are and detached themselves from the label of what they do. They are aware of their values, needs, desires, strengths and are ready to challenge self-limiting beliefs that keep them from being themselves. Knowing all of this helps them make better decisions in line with who they are (such as not saying “yes” when they mean “no”), which leads to a more fulfilling and enjoyable retirement.

Need to know where to start? First of all, make time for yourself to be alone so that you can reflect on some of the questions below, and don’t forget to keep an open mind! Remember that if you feel unhappy or frustrated about your life, no number of external things will “fix” how you feel. You need to “go inside” and start with you.

What are your top 3 strengths? What inspires you? What task/project/idea would have been less successful if you had not been involved – why? What do you secretly yearn for?

They try new things

Happy retirees aren’t afraid to leave their comfort zone and try new things. They know that by exploring new activities, they are extending their horizons and their potential to meet others.

Make a bucket list and go through it, one step at a time. New challenges stimulate our brains and our bodies, keep us feeling young at heart and confident in ourselves and our abilities. They can lead us to new opportunities that we would never have thought of before.

What have you always wanted to do but never done? What is stopping you from doing it? What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? What can you do to get past this barrier?

They value and manage their time

Happy retirees know that they need (and want) to spend time on things that give them satisfaction so that they can feel good both mentally and physically. They have already brainstormed how they can integrate their values into this new part of their life and by doing so, have added meaning to their retirement. This often entails helping others in some way, such as volunteer work.

To avoid dwindling your retirement away on grey days – when they could easily be play days – you need to create a new meaningful daily routine with a different rhythm and rituals, otherwise you could end up feeling listless and frustrated. The secret is to listen to, trust and follow your gut feelings.

What do you value? What does a “full and satisfying life” mean to you? What are you tolerating/putting up with at the moment?

They socialize

Happy retirees have made an effort to meet new people whilst keeping in touch with friends who haven’t yet retired.

When reaching retirement, one of the main concerns retirees have is how to maintain a network of friends. Why not join some clubs or associations that appeal to you or create one yourself if it doesn’t exist? How about organising some fun evenings with friends who have the same interests: films, food, photography, books, art, travel – the list is endless!

 If you were your best friend, what advice would you give you? What type of initiatives would align with your values?

They leave regrets in the past

Happy retirees have reflected on their career achievements and challenges and analysed the lessons learned. They refuse to live in the past, realizing that the present is where a rewarding retirement lies.

What “baggage” from the past is weighing you down? What is it costing you to continue like this? How would feel if you just let go of this load?


“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain


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