A Good Retirement

WE SPEND DECADES saving for retirement, but we often give scant thought to what we’ll do with all that free time. This can be a huge mistake.

We might imagine that what we want is more time to relax. But we aren’t built to relax. Rather, thanks to our hunter-gatherer ancestors, we’re built to strive. We are here today because they never let up in their quest for survival. Result: We’re often happiest when engaged in activities that we think are important, we’re passionate about, we find challenging and which give us that pleasant sense we’re making progress.

We also tend to be happiest when we feel we are part of a community—another inherited instinct. Studies have found that people are more satisfied and tend to live longer if they have a robust network of friends and family.

What does this mean for your retirement? The answer will be different for all of us. But as you contemplate what you might do with your final 20 or 30 years, try thinking back to the times in your life when you were happiest. What was it about those times that made them so happy? Maybe it was the friends you were with or the projects you were engaged in. If you can figure out what you find most fulfilling, you could have the roadmap for a great retirement.

Next: On Track to Retire?

Previous: 50s and Early 60s

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