To many of us, life feels like one great race toward retirement. Every year worked and each dollar saved gets us a step closer to that finish line.
If it is a race, members of the New York State and Local Retirement System (NYSLRS) have a head start, with retirement benefits guaranteed for life. And, with most NYSLRS members eligible to retire as early as age 55, the finish line may be closer as well.
But, what happens when the race is over? It turns out that question is more important than you might think. Your answer can help make retirement a time of fun, relaxation and intellectual stimulation like you’ve always pictured.
Research reveals secrets to a healthy retirement.
According to research based on the Study of Adult Development — an ongoing, 70-year investigation conducted by researchers at Harvard Medical School — choices we make after retirement can promote a long and fulfilling third act. Dr. George E. Vaillant, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, has been a part of the study for more than 40 of those 70 years. He has identified four behaviors associated with enjoyable and healthy retirements:
- Don’t be an island. We spend our careers making friends and forging connections with colleagues. When we retire, much of the daily human contact that was easy and almost automatic is suddenly gone.
- Get a hobby. Whether it’s traveling or golf, volunteer work or woodworking, regular activities add valuable order to your days, offer opportunities to exercise and make excellent shared interests for new friendships.
- Use the right side of your brain. Conceptual activities like painting, writing or even gardening promote both physical and mental health.
- Learn something new. Should your ongoing education take the form of an in-person class or workshop, that’s all the better. Take the opportunity to meet new people and expand your social network.
Whatever you decide to do when you no longer work, a smooth retirement process will start you off on the right foot. Check out our Life Changes: How Do I Prepare to Retire? publication. It offers resources to help you decide when to retire, a step-by-step guide to the retirement process and even a monthly expenses worksheet to help you budget for life after retirement.