Continuing our series on Solo Retirement, this week we chat about all things related to defining a day-to-day lifestyle that works for you.
When you wake up and go to work every day, it’s easy to fall into a comfortable routine. You have a group of colleagues you go to lunch with, it’s easy to schedule time for physical fitness, and you can set up a weekend routine that prioritizes your hobbies or rest and relaxation.
However, in retirement, the basic structure on which you build your weekly routine goes away. Many retirees find themselves falling into a cycle of sleeping late, watching TV most of the day, and moving through their days unintentionally.
This can be remedied! When you set up a day-to-day plan for yourself that focuses on aligning your lifestyle with your values, you will find that you can start to live a happier, more fulfilled daily life. This is especially true for solo retirees who are at a unique risk of feeling lonely and a little lost in retirement without a partner or a clearly defined routine.
Aligning Your Lifestyle With Your Values
So far in our series, we’ve talked about how to define your values heading into retirement, the importance of staying physically and emotionally healthy, and building a community. All of these components of non-financial retirement planning have laid the foundation for a strong, purpose-driven lifestyle. Now it’s time to put all of them in motion to create an actionable strategy.
Review Your Values
Your first step is to review your list of values. How do they show up in your daily life as a pre-retiree? For example, if you value personal development, you might find you currently:
- Pursue advancement in your career.
- Regularly explore new hobbies or hone existing skills.
- Read a wide variety of books often.
- Tune into self-development or self-help podcasts on your way to the office.
- Work on your mental health through meditation.
- Have set physical fitness goals for yourself (like running a half marathon, etc.).
Translate These Into Your Retirement Routine
Many of these things can be translated into concrete actions or routines in retirement. However, you may feel a little bit lost without the clear and predictable personal development you receive from work. You may need to replicate this in retirement with new goals. For example, you could:
- Enroll in a class at your local community center to learn a new skill and focus on your education.
- Reach out to your local community college to see if they have a program where retirees or seniors have access to free classes and decide what exciting and new topic you want to learn more about.
- Join a book club.
- Get a gym membership or sign up with a group to train for an event together.
Focus on setting yourself up for success by finding unique ways to implement your values in your daily routine and activities. These can be self-motivated (like getting a gym membership and setting goals for yourself), but you may find you’re more likely to stick with a schedule if you make commitments with others to remain accountable. An added benefit of this is that you’re essentially creating a community and social group for yourself to remain connected.
While your routine is important, it’s also important to schedule values-aligned joy into your routine. For retired couples, this might come more naturally than it does to solo retirees. It’s easy to schedule travel, go out dancing, or grab a bite to eat at a new restaurant because they have a built-in buddy to do those things with.
For solo retirees, scheduling joy into your calendar needs to be more intentional. Take a look at your list of values. What items on your list really light you up?
Let’s look at another example. Maybe creativity is a value for you that you weren’t able to pursue as often as you’d have liked while you were employed full-time. In retirement, you could:
- Attend an art class.
- Find time to redecorate or refinish a space in your home.
- Build a raised garden bed that’s easy to maintain.
- Try your hand at writing short stories or a book.
Connect With Others
I touched on this earlier, but it’s worth mentioning again. Humans need connection with other humans to survive. No solo retiree can live on an island and expect to feel fulfilled, much less happy. You’ve worked so hard for this season of your life, you deserve both of those things!
So, it’s important to create a lifestyle routine that prioritizes connection with those that matter to you. This could be extended family, friends, or even new acquaintances at a book club, class, or another regularly scheduled get-together.
I find that retirees are often blown away by how positively even a 30-minute conversation with other retirees impacts their overall mood for the rest of the week. Connecting with people in your same season of life can give you people to bounce ideas off of, spend time with, and reach out to when you need to ground yourself.
In our next (and final…I know, you’re sad😉) installment of this series, we’ll be talking about how solo retirees can navigate estate planning. See you soon!