6 Secrets to Prepare for a Happier Retirement

By Brett Gottlieb

You likely started thinking about (and saving for) retirement early in your career. Now that the finish line is in sight, the last thing you want to experience is anxiety that all your planning and preparation won’t be enough to provide the retirement you’ve been imagining all these years. Here are 6 ways you can prepare to achieve a happier retirement so your hard work pays off.

1. Find Purpose

The first secret to finding happiness in retirement doesn’t just apply to retirement. Studies show individuals who live a purpose-driven life are happier and healthier, on average, than those who don’t.[1] Not only that, but they also live longer![2] A purposeful life is commonly associated with fulfillment and motivation and can be found in many ways. Volunteering for a local nonprofit or your church, spending time with your grandchildren, or pursuing a newfound hobby are great ways to find purpose in your day-to-day life.

2. Practice Gratitude and Contentment

It’s no secret that money can buy comfort and less stress, but it is less likely to buy happiness. Your retirement lifestyle may not always mirror your pre-retirement lifestyle when your income level was at its peak. Heavy expectations of what your life should look like—resulting from comparing yourself with others or the preconceptions of retirement imposed by the media—can be a huge mental drain and often result in feelings of failure and sadness over time. Instead, focus on what you do have (and what you have control over), and live in the moment as much as possible. Also, reflect on the activities that bring you the most joy and orient your time during retirement to be surrounded by people that also enjoy the same things, since you will likely need to replace the social interaction that previously came from work.

Savoring the meaningful people and experiences in our life reminds us that many of our real needs can be fulfilled in ways that don’t involve spending money, despite what our consumer-driven society might lead us to believe. Some of these needs include a connection with nature and with other beings (both human and non-human), the need for play and creative expression, and the need to know others and to be known ourselves. This mindset can nurture a fundamental orientation toward gratitude for the ways in which the earth and the people around us can meet our needs in non-monetary ways.

3. Stay Healthy

Declining health and how to pay for the associated medical bills is the biggest concern for many retirees. In fact, about 70% of Americans cite healthcare costs as the most pressing issue when planning for retirement.[3] Incorporating long-term care planning into your overall financial plan can help ease this concern as you enter retirement. Once in retirement, you can alleviate your chances of becoming seriously ill by prioritizing your mental and physical health. Remember that your brain is also a muscle and needs to be regularly stimulated to avoid atrophy. Previously your work helped to keep your mind regularly engaged and active, but if you don’t provide challenges (such as a new hobby, learning a new skill, playing games, or other mental activities), you may begin to see some signs of cognitive decline.

4. Phased Retirement

Another way to increase your happiness is to work part-time or use a phased approach to retirement. Adjusting to retirement is a huge transition! Going from working 40-plus hours a week for 30-plus years to suddenly having all the time in the world is a shock to the system, to say the least. It takes time to adjust, so don’t feel pressure to rush into retirement all at once. Case in point: it’s becoming increasingly popular for people to approach retirement in phases by slowly adjusting to reduced hours, part-time work, then eventually full retirement.

5. Prioritize Friendships

A Penn State study found that adults between ages 70-90 who reported more frequent and pleasant social interactions also displayed better cognitive performance on that day and the two subsequent days.[4]  Prioritize connecting with your friends, family, and loved ones throughout retirement. Knowing that you have a strong support system can make a significant difference in your overall health and happiness, especially if you experience the loss of a spouse, fall on hard times, or suffer from declining health. 

6. Plan Ahead

One of the best ways to improve your happiness in retirement is to have a plan for what you want it to look like. Articulating your vision for the future is a great way to motivate yourself to make it happen and enjoy a sense of fulfillment once your plan comes to fruition. To bring some much-needed comfort during your golden years, it’s wise to prepare for potential retirement pitfalls like unexpected health issues or running out of money. These concerns can and should be incorporated into a retirement plan and thoroughly assessed by a qualified financial advisor.

Get Started Today

You’ve worked and planned the majority of your life—a happy and healthy retirement should be your reward. Whether you’re retiring in 10 or 20 years, we at Comprehensive Advisor are here to help you navigate the path to a fulfilling retirement by helping you build a solid financial plan for the future, one that’s personalized and monitored for ongoing efficiency. To get started, email us at info@ComprehensiveAdvisor.com or call (760) 813-2125.

About Our Advisors

Brett Gottlieb is the founder of Comprehensive Advisor and a financial advisor with nearly two decades of industry experience. He graduated from California State University-Chico with two bachelor’s degrees in Business Administration and Economics. Brett is Life Insurance licensed in several states. He is passionate about guiding his clients on retirement income planning, helping each client pursue their specific retirement goals and defending the assets his clients have worked so hard to achieve. Brett is a California native and currently resides in San Elijo Hills with his beautiful wife and three children.

With a combined experience of over three decades in the financial services industry, our advisors hail from some of the largest independent broker/dealers and banking institutions in the country. They have dedicated their professional careers to creating personalized financial solutions for individuals and families who seek successful retirement planning and currently offer investment advisory services through AE Wealth Management, LLC. Our advisors take a common-sense approach to the planning process and work with clients to create a retirement road map to help ensure their assets are protected and they receive the income needed to enjoy their future. Based in Carlsbad, California, they work with clients throughout San Diego County and beyond. Learn more by connecting with Brett on LinkedIn or email them at info@ComprehensiveAdvisor.com.

Investment advisory services made available through AE Wealth Management, LLC (AEWM). AEWM and Comprehensive Advisor, LLC are not affiliated companies. C.A. Financial & Insurance Services, CA Ins. Lic. #6000262. This material is intended to provide general information and is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. 1394829-07/22


[1]https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-021-10905-7

[2]https://hrs.isr.umich.edu/publications/biblio/11635

[3]https://www.businessinsider.com/personal-finance/americans-major-fears-about-retirement-overcome-2021-7

[4]https://www.psu.edu/news/research/story/socializing-may-improve-older-adults-cognitive-function-daily-life/#:~:text=In%20a%20study%20led%20by,day%20and%20the%20following%20two.

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