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4 habits of happy retirees

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When planning for retirement, you typically focus on getting your finances in order to ensure you have the income you need to live comfortably. While good financial planning and a solid retirement strategy play major roles in being content after leaving the workforce, there's much more to creating a fulfilling future.

Retirement goes beyond dollars and cents or a red-circled date on the calendar. A happy retirement is also about emotional wellness and finding your purpose after the work portion of your life has come to a close. Understanding that this stage is just as much about good planning as it is about taking on the unknown with an open mind and enthusiasm is an important step in creating a successful next chapter. 

Discover four shared traits of happy retirees and how to make them your own to help improve satisfaction in retirement.

1. They've found a new purpose in life. 

For many of us, working or raising a family provides meaning and structure to our lives, both in terms of how we spend our days and in how we see ourselves ("I am a lawyer" or "I am a nurse"). Those who transition most successfully into retirement find new ways to shape their days and identify themselves. Research shows developing a satisfactory post-retirement lifestyle is an important part of adapting to your new day to day.

Just because one chapter in your life is ending, another exciting one is just beginning. 

Make it yours. Before saying goodbye to work, ask yourself some questions to help you find your personal path to happiness.

Have some fun when you leave the 9-to-5 routine behind and then think about these questions to help you find new purpose.

  • How do you want to spend your time in retirement?
  • Do you want to work part time or start an encore career to stay active and socially connected? 
  • Do you find your sense of purpose in helping others?
  • Do you want to spend more time with family — babysitting grandkids, for example?
  • Are there hobbies, like woodworking or learning a new language, that you want to pick up again or something new you'd like to learn?

2. They have their financial house in order.

Since financial resources are critical to the quality of your retirement years, estimating how much you will need for both planned and unexpected expenses is important. People who are well-prepped for retirement have taken time to realistically look at what they can afford to live on, and they adjust their retirement date if necessary. With the average lifespan being 76 years old, some people could spend 20 years or more in retirement. It's not necessarily about having a huge nest egg but rather about being honest with yourself about the lifestyle you want in the years ahead. For example, our money will last XX years with this budget. When you know what you have to work with, it's a matter of planning accordingly.

Make it yours. As best you can, calculate how much money you will need to live on. If you're nearing retirement or have recently left the workforce but feel you aren't near your financial goals, you may want to consider different options to help bridge the gap — downsizing your home to lower housing costs or paying off debts, such as car loans, for example.

Enlist the help of a financial professional to talk about retirement income solutions, like fixed indexed annuities (FIAs). With their growth potential, protection from loss due to market downturns and guaranteed income to help your money last as long as it needs to, a FIA may be a valuable addition to your diversified retirement strategy.

3. They live life with zest but are realistic about their health.

It's not easy to think about your health declining, but it's a fact many people may face as they age thanks to longer lifespans and better medical care. The retirees with the most fulfilling futures are those who take their well-being seriously. An upbeat outlook combined with frequent exercise and plenty of activities that keep your brain active can help you feel better and may improve your overall health. Surround yourself with friends and family who are there to help if you need it.

Make it yours. Think about how, and where, you want to age. For example, while it's never easy to uproot your life, you may be happier relocating to a home in which you'll have less to care for. Proximity to public transportation, neighbors and family are also important considerations when planning for happiness.

4. They're good communicators.

This is especially important for couples who have different visions of retirement. If one of you worked while the other stayed home, for example, retirement represents a big shift in how your days are spent. 

Happy retirees find ways to strike a balance between time together and time apart. It's important to maintain outside friendships or find new ones in addition to your together time.

Make it yours. If you're part of a couple, it's important to be on the same page so this stage of life can be the best for both of you.

  • Start conversations before one or both of you retires.
  • Share your dreams and visions, as well as your individual and combined bucket lists.
  • Talk about the ideas you share for a happy retirement and the ones you don't.
  • Prioritize and look at your finances to decide the best way to reach your goals together.

On the road to retiring ready

Having enough money to enjoy the next chapter is an important part of finding happiness in retirement. But there's another side, too. It is just as valuable to find your purpose after you've spent decades working. When you identify what you want in retirement, your financial professional can help you create a solid financial strategy designed to support your goals and provide the income you need to live comfortably. 

So, what will you retire to? If you're unsure what your retirement finances will look like, take this quiz. share your goals with your financial professional and keep these four habits in mind as you work to create a plan for a remarkable retirement.

Want the most from your retirement? Get smarter with Smart Strategies from Athene. Your source for tips, tools and financial solutions that can help you live your best life.

Guarantees provided by annuities are subject to the financial strength and claims paying ability of the issuing insurance company.

Guaranteed lifetime income is available through annuitization or an income rider. Income riders may be built into the contract or optional for a charge.

Fixed indexed annuities are not stock market investments and do not directly participate in any stock or equity investments. Market indices may not include dividends paid on the underlying stocks, and therefore may not reflect the total return of the underlying stocks; neither an Index nor any market-indexed annuity is comparable to a direct investment in the equity markets.