Your last child is out of the house and on his own ...finally! Your retirement looms about three years into the future. Now is the time to give yourself a gift. When you start building a life that has Goals, Interests, Fun, and Thankfulness, you will look forward to those shiny golden years as if they were a GIFT with a bright golden bow.
Goals—What have you always wanted to do? Maybe you're an engineer but you always wanted to open your own bakery. Maybe you always wanted to learn a new language. Or maybe you're like me—I retired from teaching and began writing books for children and teachers. Whatever you see as a retirement "career", start now to realize those goals. I took courses and went to workshops to learn the intricacies of writing for children. If you want to open that bakery, start testing your signature pastries, building a cookbook of tried and true recipes. Make attainable goals and reach for them in some way every day before your retirement so you can enjoy those goals during your golden years.
Interests—Hobbies are life's chocolates. You go to them when you feel unloved and unappreciated because you know those hobbies will always welcome your efforts. These hobbies don't need to be grand scale goals like the bakery. They should be little activities you can pick up when you finally have the time to enjoy them. Try jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles, a reading list, knitting, woodwork, stamp collecting, scrapbooking, golfing, and anything else that tickles your fancy. For me, it is quilting. Always a sewer, I spent most of my younger years sewing dresses for my girls and repairing their jeans. Now in my retirement, I make quilts for charity and my grandchildren. When you have a little interest, you can turn to when your knees hurt or the weather is too inclement for gardening, those hobbies will make your golden years shine.
Fun—Most days are filled with work: Dishes, laundry, cleaning, and cooking. Schedule something fun each day just because you can! Now that you have the time for fun, make sure you actually have something enjoyable to look forward every day. I make two lists each day: Jobs and Fun. On the Jobs side might be pick up milk and bread, clean the oven, and declutter a closet. On the Fun side might be go to the gym, watch a movie, or plan my next quilt project. What do you want to do for fun? When you figure that out, your retirement years will shine like gold bricks at Fort Knox.
Thankfulness—I think this is the most important aspect of having satisfying golden years. Sure, your joints might ache and you can't walk as far as you once did, or maybe you can't hear the TV without your hearing aid. But there are countless things that are good about your life. Focus on your assets, and the less desirable parts of your life will fade into the background. For me, I'm thankful for three healthy daughters who are in strong marriages. I'm thankful for six strong grandchildren who bring me pleasure every day with pictures they draw or tales about their school day. What are you thankful for? Your golden years will be even brighter when you realize that you have many wonderful things going on that you may not have noticed when you were busy with work and raising your children.
So what are you waiting for? Start now to give yourself the GIFT of golden years filled with the wonder and awe of a more relaxed lifestyle. You'll be glad you did!
Renee Heiss has been retired for nearly five years and views every day as a GIFT for which she is very thankful!
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