For an exciting project I’m working on, I had the opportunity to interview recent retirees to understand their transition from working life and what makes for a successful retirement. As I listened to their stories and reflections, it struck me that those of us still working should incorporate their lessons learned into our day to day to have more fulfilling lives and careers today. There’s absolutely no need to wait until retirement to live the good life when we can implement these four simple tips while we’re still working:
Retiree Lesson #1: Get More Sleep
Retirees are sleeping more and are better off for it. Each retiree I interviewed said the same thing – they didn’t realize how much sleep they needed until they had more time for it. In fact, these retirees said that during their working years they didn’t realize how much they conditioned themselves to think they were fine on little sleep. But now that they have time to sleep, they feel the difference. More sleep makes them feel healthier, more alert, and more alive.
Bottom line, sleep makes everything better. There’s no need to wait for retirement to get more of it. Take sleep seriously and make it a priority.
Retiree Lesson #2: Take Time to Invest in Relationships
Many retirees feared that they would be lonely in retirement when they left the workforce because they would no longer have their work friends around them every day. However, the opposite turned out to be true. Because they have more time to focus on relationships each day, they found they’ve been able to cultivate deeper and more fulfilling relationships that really enhance their lives.
One retiree, for example, shared that when she was working she rushed from yoga class to get things done. Now, time to linger after class for an extra 30 minutes helped her to make new friends and deepen relationships with people she never had time to get to know while working.
Take the time to deepen relationships, whether showing up early for a meeting to have time to chat about weekend plans or staying after spin class for a few minutes to ask someone about their kids. A little extra time investing in relationships goes a long way to enhance your quality of life.
Retiree Lesson #3: Don’t Worry So Much
When in the rat race, it’s hard to appreciate how much we worry about useless things. The retirees I spoke with shared that when looking back, they wish they had worried less.
First, their worst fears they spent time worrying about generally didn’t come true. Second, they realized in retrospect that worrying was a huge waste of time because it didn’t change anything. It was simply wasted energy that made the rat race feel even more frenzied.
In short, stop worrying about what you can’t control, and redirect that energy to where it matters.
Retiree Lesson #4: Find Time to Do What You Want
In retirement, you finally have the ability to spend your time doing the things you want to do versus what you have to do. Many retirees say that figuring out what they want to do is hard when they’ve spent an entire career mostly doing what they should or have to do.
For that reason, don’t wait to do what you want to do! Whether it’s something new you always wanted to try or an interest you wish you could pick up again, carve out time for activities you enjoy doing now. Engaging in enjoyable hobbies reduces stress, helps us learn new skills and gain confidence and fosters relationships.
Enjoying what you do for a living should be equally important. When you enjoy your job, it doesn’t feel like work which means you exude happiness and are extra motivated and inspired to succeed.
No Waiting for Retirement Here!
If we apply these lessons learned from retirees while we’re still working, we might just be able to achieve a little sense of the golden years today. Which of these three lessons resonates with you the most?