The Top 12 Tips for a Successful Retirement

The top 12 tips for a Successful Retirement are based upon findings from 349 people expressing their thoughts as to what is most important to them. The best part is, you can read it in their own words.

  1. 1
    Planning / preparation - 25%
  2. 2
    Financial security – 19%
  3. 3
    Purpose / Meaning – 11%
  4. 4
    Flexibility / Adaptability – 8%
  5. 5
    Relationships – 8%
  6. 6
    Health – 6%
  7. 7
    Enjoyment / Happiness ~5%
  8. 8
    Meaningful activity ~4%
  9. 9
    Mindset / Attitude ~2%
  10. 10
    Serving Others ~2%
  11. 11
    Diligence / Determination ~2%
  12. 12
    Lifelong learning ~1%

Research Methodology

On April 6 2020, Fritz@RetirementManifesto published a post with a 1000-word preview of his soon to be launched book (May 5).

I’m looking forward to reading it!

At the end of his post, he requested readers to comment on “what is the most important key to a successful retirement”. Each person who submitted a comment became eligible to win a copy of his book (he was giving away 3).

Unbelievably, there were 349 entries within a few short days!

Thus, the 12 top tips for a successful retirement is based upon actual people and their thoughts on retiring. Our methodology involved sorting all these answers into groups. Many people listed several key points that were duly captured. Some had us scratching our heads as to where they best fit.

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Of note, the readership exhibited an exceedingly high awareness and knowledge on the subject. This makes perfect sense as many have been reading Fritz’s blog for years. The comments were incredibly insightful and our goal is to share these findings. 

The Results

As we categorized the many answers, it became apparent that people have many different opinions as to what is most important to them.

To make some sense out of these findings, we chose to share the top twelve. The graph below displays the entire range of responses.

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The chart below provides a different view of the most highly ranked factors. Interestingly, the other section comprises 23% of the responses.

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1. Planning and Preparation is Paramount

The first most important tip to success is planning and preparation for the day you leave work. It's highly recommended to begin five to seven years before retiring.

I’m impressed so many folks (25%) are aware and proactively readying themselves. This definitely makes the transition smoother into retired life.

The recent stay-at-home policies, due to the pandemic, will give many people a taste of what it’s like to not be going to work each day. It’s not all fun and games and underscores the need to think about life after work.

Planning and preparing should include all aspects of what is important to you. These might include:

  • Ensuring financial stability in the years to come.
  • Logistics such as when and where to retire.
  • The why and what you are retiring to.
  • Flexibility and adapting to change.
  • Relationships with spouse, family and friends.
  • Meaningful activities to fulfill your days.
  • Maintaining good physical and mental health.

In short, all these things should be considered prior to the day you punch your last time card.

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2. Financial Security is Critical

Planning your retired life traditionally focuses on wealth accumulation. That’s why we start saving early in life (or should). After 30-40 years of saving and investing wisely, each of us should have a sufficient nest egg to sustain us.

Sadly, in spite of our best intentions, many folks are behind on their financial preparation. Others may have reached their goals, yet how much is enough?

Then along comes a pandemic and we witness the entire economy having a cardiac arrest.

With the markets behaving like out of control yo-yo's, it’s not surprising that 19% of the respondents consider financial security to be a major key.

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After leaving work behind, managing your expenses and protecting your income takes on even greater importance. It also becomes more complicated understanding all the rules and regulations, tax implications, and withdrawal strategies.

The cost of healthcare and considering that most of us will live another twenty plus years, heightens our need and desire to be financially secure.

3. Finding Purpose After Retiring

One of the most common pieces of advice is to have something to retire to. This is more than having a hobby or two; rather something meaningful and fulfilling.

Most of us are unaware that work provides an inherent sense of purpose and structure in our lives. We need to replace it with something that motivates and interests us.

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As much as we love our leisure activities, they can cost an arm and a leg if we do them all the time. Plus, even they grow stale over time as we search for something interesting and meaningful.

4. Flexibility and Adapting to Change

The best piece of advice is to understand that your golden years aren’t a destination, rather it’s the continuation of a journey.

Even our best laid plans will occasionally go astray. There’s going to be lots of things that we didn’t plan for and they will rock our worlds.

The coronavirus is a case in point! Who would have thought that we’d all be “sheltering in place” with our world turned upside down? This likely explains why 8% of the people mentioned flexibility and being adaptable.

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The human condition is that we all prefer stability and most of us resist change. Without a doubt, we’re all going to need to adapt to things we don’t like in the upcoming years.

The ability to be flexible and adapt to change will be a determining factor into the quality of our lives.

5. Relationships and Social Interaction

It’s heartening to observe how many people recognize the importance of relationships and social interaction (8%). The day we leave work our social circle begins dwindling. Being together with your spouse or partner (if you have one) 24/7 can stress the most loving of relationships.

Research shows that quality relationships are the most important factor to living longer healthier lives. See “The Most Important Ingredient for Happiness” to obtain more information

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6. Maintain Good Mental and Physical Health

What do we have without good health? I’m going to argue that when we lose it and are locked into a care facility, everything else pales in significance. About 6% of the people ranked good health as critical.

Unfortunately, most of us take health for granted. At least until it becomes a problem when it’s often too late to fully resolve. At that stage, medical expenses can skyrocket and quality of life greatly diminishes.

The majority of us have slipped into habits over the years that are not conducive to good health. We all know we should have healthier diets and exercise regularly. Yet, it takes a conscious effort to do these things.

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As we age, we also become more vulnerable to and at greater risk of disease. Maintaining good health is the best way to minimize this. In addition, you feel better and it promotes better mental health.

In summary, the top 6 tips to be successful are:

  1. 1
    Planning / preparation
  2. 2
    Financial security
  3. 3
    Purpose / Meaning
  4. 4
    Flexibility / Adaptability
  5. 5
    Relationships
  6. 6
    Health
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Other Tips for a Successful Retirement

The list above summarizes the top six. These were the ones that people thought of as most important and valuable ones. An additional 18% of respondents identified the next six considerations. 

There are lots of really good points to consider. The graph below expands upon all of the other ones. 

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7. Enjoy Life and Be Happy

Tip #7 is to enjoy life and be happy which over 5% folks identified as key to them.

We only have one life and retired years should be the best ones of our life. No one should be unhappy or miserable during the remainder of their existence.

About 5% of the respondents identified enjoying life as the key to success during their retired years. Actually, it’s pretty hard to argue that.

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When you think about it, happiness might be the truest measure of success.

The difficulty with happiness is it’s like quicksilver slipping through our fingers. To read more information, see “Happiness is a Choice, not a Given”.

8. Meaningful Activity

If you've ever been to Costco during a weekday, have you ever noticed all the seniors wandering about? I don’t mean to sound harsh as they have every right to shop.

What saddens me is when it becomes their high point of the week. They’ll check out the weekly deals, maybe they’ll bump into someone they know, and certainly have one of those cheap hot dogs.

This is a big event for them and consumes at least 3 or 4 hours and gets them out of the house.

Meaningful activity, as the name implies, is participating in something you find fulfilling and meaningful. Some example could be:

  • Getting out for daily physical activity such as a walk or swimming.
  • Pursing a favorite hobby or interest.
  • Volunteering in a cause you believe in.
  • Attending a weekly dance class with your partner.
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To read more ideas, see the “Ultimate Guide of Things to Do” which provides fresh insights on busting boredom.

9. Mindset and Attitude

About 2.5% submitted a positive attitude as their answer (I was one of them). This might be the only thing we have complete control over in this crazy world of ours.

A positive outlook in life is crucial in allowing happiness to enter our lives. See more information at “How to Maintain a Positive Attitude to Improve Happiness”.

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10. Serving Others

Retirees often look for opportunities to volunteer and to make at least a small difference to others. Slightly over 2% recognized this as a key to their success.

Altruism and serving others not only feels good, it helps others as well. Remaining engaged also provides social interaction that may otherwise be difficult to attain. Finally, even on a part-time basis it helps fill our days with meaningful activity.

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11. Diligence and Determination

Diligence and determination are how we managed to set aside savings year after year. This grit required self discipline as we were constantly tempted to buy more. Get a bigger house, that new car, take a dream vacation, or a multitude of other consumer purchases.

Once achieving the big “R”, guess what – nothing changes! We still need to strike that balance between enjoying life and living within our means. Diligence to ensure our investments are properly allocated and withdrawn in an intelligent manner.

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12. Lifelong Learning

Lifelong learning might be the best gift you could give yourself.

Whether in the comfort of your home or in a group setting, learning new things stimulates your mind. Some of the benefits include:

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Closing Thoughts

12 Tips for a Successful Retirement captures the thoughts and ideas of actual people. Out of a total of 24 factors, the data allows us to rank the top 12. Keep in mind that each of us may have a higher priority for certain factors.

Planning and preparation came in as the highest ranked tip. This in itself incorporates most of the ones listed separately especially financial security.

These can include (plus many more):

  • Financial
  • The why of what you're retiring to
  • When and where you'll live
  • Relationships
  • Health
  • Adaptability

All these should be considered during those years before retiring. Once we leave work for the last time, each one of these tips become even more relevant. It is up to you to decide which are the most important ones for your life and overall happiness.

  • Avatar Jishan says:

    Superb article and very useful. I appreciate your work, thanks for sharing for all the informative content.

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