You’ve likely seen the “same old” New Year’s resolutions pop up from year to year for pre-retirees and retirees: save more, spend less, downsize, declutter, and so on. While adopting these resolutions could improve your life in retirement, they don’t sound like much fun to think about around the New Year.
Here are four different New Year’s resolutions that might be much more entertaining than the usual resolutions. They might also be much more effective when it comes to improving your life in retirement.
Resolution #1: Make your bucket list.
Go ahead: Fantasize about all the things you want to do in retirement. That could include travelling, working on your hobbies, and pursuing your favorite interests.
Here’s one way to expand your bucket list: Think back to your working years. Did you ever think “When I have more time, I want to …” This can help give you insights for finetuning your bucket list.
Making your bucket list can get you excited about retirement, which can actually help with your planning. Looking forward to your retirement years could motivate you to spend necessary time investigating whether your financial resources will be sufficient to support the life you really want.
Resolution #2: Think about your day-to-day life in retirement.
It’s sobering to think about, but doing the stuff on your bucket list might only occupy a handful of weeks in retirement, maybe two handfuls at most. So, what would the rest of the year look like?
Many people fantasize about throwing away the alarm clock and snuggling up with your spouse or partner instead of leaping out of bed to get ready for work, or sitting around for hours reading the newspaper with a cup of coffee in the morning. Maybe you’re thinking about finding a cause to volunteer for, working on your ever-present to-do list, or reviewing and organizing the thousands of photos—physical and digital—that you’ve taken.
Some people vow to improve their health by exercising more and eating healthier. Others want to see their friends and family more often, participate in more social activities and work on their hobbies on a regular basis.
Thinking about what your daily life might really look like can motivate you to ensure you can afford the life you want. If you can’t, you might be motivated to make changes that can enable you to achieve this life.
Resolution #3: Think about the type of person you want to be as you age.
During our working years, when spare time is at a minimum, we spend a lot of time doing things and probably not much time thinking about the person we truly want to be. But as your working years wind down and you have more time to focus on you, you might want to give serious thought to what kind of person you want to be known as. For example, do you want to be someone who’s generous, kind, wise, reflective, curious, family-oriented, or helpful? What about relaxed, healthy, adventurous, spontaneous, or energized?
You might also want to think about the kind of person you don’t want to be. For example, do any of us want to thought of as grumpy, cranky, always complaining, aloof, or unfriendly?
Now’s the time you can be more of a “human being” and less of a “human doing,” and purposely choosing to develop your preferred traits is time well spent.
Resolution #4: Make a list of the people you want to spend time with.
Many people want to spend more time with family or close friends, spoil their kids or grandkids, and reconnect with friends or loved ones they haven’t seen for a long time. One couple we know made a list of all their good friends from grade school, high school, college, and their working years, and they have spent the past few years looking them all up and getting back in touch.
Thinking about hanging out with all the people you care about can get you excited about your retirement, which can motivate you to spend more time planning … Wait a minute! This sounds familiar.
The fact is, a lot of research shows that people who are emotionally engaged with their retirement spend more time planning for their retirement life. And indeed, there are many important decisions you need to consider and then make as you transition into retirement. These decisions will strongly influence your quality of life for the rest of your life. These decisions are going to take some time and effort on your part. Learn about your options and then select the ones that might work best for the life you want.
So, have some fun thinking about these resolutions! Share your ideas with your spouse, partner, or close family and friends. You could even talk about these topics at a holiday or New Year’s party!
And if you want even more thought-provoking resolutions to consider, check out my post on unique resolutions from last year.
Get excited about your retirement. Then commit to spending some time planning—after the holiday fun is over. Your future retired self will thank you.