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Your average person assumes retired life will be good or, at the very least decent. What’s not to love after decades of working your ass off! This is the opportunity to unwind and do as little (or much) as you choose.

The best part of why retirement is great, for the first time, you can slow down and enjoy life. All those stresses and pressures dissipate leading to a healthier happier you. Never again will your days be dictated by your job.

Yet for some folks, and I was one, aren’t quite so certain it’s a good thing. These are uncharted waters filled with uncertainty and trepidation. The admission everything has changed and age has finally caught up to us. Will it really be as blissful as everyone says?

Enjoying Life

The first thing everyone does is turn the darned alarm clock off!

Who needs it? This is finally when you can take it easy and start enjoying the fruits of your labor. When was the last time you had the entire summer off?

This is one of the reasons why retirement is great. The opportunity to live your life.

One of the greatest tragedies, in my opinion, is hearing of someone who worked hard for decades only to be stricken with an unexpected health crisis or pass away. Time is precious and we all have a “best before” date.

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If you’re financially secure, is it worth sacrificing additional years in the pursuit of greater wealth? Carefully consider this trade-off to avoid regrets later.

Do Whatever You Want

One of the best parts of retiring is having some fun!

Travel opens up whole new perspectives of our world, whether a day trip or an extended adventure. Maybe you’d like to try something you’ve always wanted to do, but never quite had time. Or explore new interests and hobbies.

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Maybe you’ve always dreamed of a beachfront property or pursuing your artistic side complete with easel and brush. Maybe both! What’s holding you back?

One of the most common complaints is “I don’t know what to do, nothing interests me”. Admittedly, this can be a little overwhelming with so many options. Another way to look at it is breaking it down into activities such as physical exercise, social interaction, and so on. The ultimate guide on things to do describes this in detail.

Reduced Stress and Pressure

While it’s often said stress can kill you, it’s more accurate to say it can lead to health issues and premature death. Stress is the emotional or physical tension generated when you feel frustrated, angry, or nervous.

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Depending upon your job, it could invoke considerable stressors. For instance, dealing with irate unreasonable customers, an unfair boss, or meeting unrealistic deadlines. In some cases, it could be taking years off your life!

This was exactly the situation my wife was in. She puts her heart and soul into everything she does; whereas her manager was the polar opposite. In Bad Boss, she describes how everything deteriorated, including her health. Her blood pressure was peaking at stroke levels during her final days! No job is worth that.

The good news, the day you leave work, a lot of those pressures dissipate. You can slow down taking a more leisurely pace.

Healthier Lifestyles

Our busy lifestyles aren’t always conducive to healthy diets, regular exercise, or even proper rest. Understandably, a demanding job meant we had many irons in the fire. The things we should do all too often took a back seat.

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As an example, the CDC indicates 34.2 Americans , just under one in ten people, suffer from diabetes. While there is no cure, through diet and exercise it can be controlled or even go into remission.

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The same health-conscious decisions apply for numerous other chronic conditions. No one knows what the future will bring. One of the best investments you can make is in remaining healthy and fit. Retirement affords the opportunity to take better care of yourself.

Making A Difference

Giving back and helping others feels good!

Many of us have donated to charities for exactly this reason. Volunteering is another means to contribute and become more involved. Besides keeping more active, this is an excellent way to make new friends, increase self-confidence, and even find purpose.

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According to a Merrill Lynch study, retirees contribute about 45% of all volunteer hours.

A friend of mine was involved with the Boy Scouts as a leader for many years. Something he enjoyed and found rewarding. After leaving work, he was offered an executive position which he absolutely loves! Although unpaid, he sheepishly admits he works way harder than he ever did in his career.

Overall Happiness Increases

Have you met anyone who chose to retire and didn’t say they’re happy? Transamerica’s study revealed nearly everyone was generally happy. Whether or not they’d found purpose, for the most part they were satisfied.

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Another aspect was, even those who weren’t that financially secure still view it positively. Not really a surprise as it’s the chance to take the time to “smell the roses”. The secret to lasting happiness reveals the importance of a positive outlook and healthy relationships.

Further research suggests we get happier with age. The graph below from Squared Away Blog shows an interesting correlation. In effect, by the age of 58, we’ve bottomed out at our lowest point. From there, it gets better. Hmmm…could this be because most folks leave the rat race behind them?

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My Biggest Reason Why Retirement Is Great

Not unlike the captain of a ship, you’re now in complete charge. Your sails are set and the adventure begins. If you have a significant other, together, you can rule the high seas!

But, let’s back up for a moment.

Ever since you were a little tyke, there’s been rules to follow. Our parents guided us and imposed their values and accepted behavior. A spark of rebellion was handily vanquished. Who didn’t rally against bedtime or being told to eat all our veggies? Even so, life was pretty good.

Then school kicked in with a whole new set of guidelines and expectations. Our teachers’ jobs were to cram knowledge into our heads. They also monitored us in almost every manner from our academic prowess to playing nice on the school yard.

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Report cards came out with parent teacher interviews soon to follow. Every aspect of out development was evaluated and rated. Although they meant well, there was no doubt we were constantly being measured.

Work takes this to a whole new level, especially with the corporate mantra of “do more with less”. The team has shrunk by 15%, yet revenues are up. Performance reviews aren’t motivationally intended, rather to remind you how lucky you are to have a job. Every aspect of performance remains under constant scrutiny.

The day you retire is liberating!

You shed all those shackles and never again will someone be writing a report on you. After a lifetime of pleasing others, now you can do as you wish. That is why retirement is great!

Closing Thoughts

To be completely candid, I wasn’t so sure it was all it was cracked up to be. With all the things that can go wrong, I was hesitant to even acknowledge I was retired. After crossing the finish line, my views have changed considerably.

My belief is these truly can be your golden years. While there’s always going to be setbacks, it’s up to you how your next chapter unfolds. There are so many wonderful things still to discover. A truly satisfying retirement is living your life to the fullest!

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