According to Social Security, seniors are retiring with a load of debt. But despite having ongoing money problems, many retirees are reporting unexpected positive aspects of retirement in a recent Morningstar social discussion thread.
If you look at highlights of the thread, many of the positives associated with retirement are benefits that, with a few changes to your lifestyle, you can have right now — even if you’re still working.
No Alarm Clock
According to WebMD, millions of Americans are sleep deprived, and that national lack of sleep is impacting productivity, job performance, and relationships. Stress is keeping people up nights, and the tyranny of that inflexible alarm clock becomes the rude interruption of the precious few hours of sleep most people do get.
Escaping your alarm clock may be something you can accomplish while still working. Finding a job you can do at home is one way to get more sleep; so are telecommuting, and flex time options. Your choice of career early on can determine how much flexibility you have in your start time, which directly impacts your fealty to an alarm clock.
After being jarred by the alarm clock out the little bit of restful sleep they do manage to get, the next assault most people endure is fighting with thousands of other people for the same piece of pavement. Everyone in that mixmaster of concrete and steel is similarly sleep deprived, and similarly either jonesing for caffeine or already wired on it. It’s a horrible, stressful start to your day, that may be less bad some days, but never good.
Getting rid of that morning commute means living closer to your job. Again, finding a career with a telecommuting option can allow you to live anywhere you can get an Internet connection. Some friends of ours turned the back of their RV into a high tech mobile office, and spent many days working from that convenient location. Another option is living closer to work, and being able to walk, ride your bike, or take the bus or train to work.
No Sunday Night Dread
For many the stress of the work week starts on Sunday night, when their stomach knots up in anticipation of going back to a job they hate Monday morning. Some seniors find that Sunday night is now just another night, and Monday morning no longer holds any dread.
If your job is so bad that your home time is spoiled by anticipation, it’s time to consider either starting your own business or finding another job. In extreme cases, it might be necessary to go back to school and train for a completely different career choice — but most of the time it’s minor, fixable things that turn a day job into a Sunday night stress fest.
More Time with Loved Ones
Spending time with children and grandchildren is cited by several of those commenting. Relationships are a key component of happiness, and having time to invest in those relationships is a bonus for retirees.
Again, telecommuting, work at home jobs, and cutting the number of hours you work at your current job are all ways to spend more time with your family. Granted that time working at home is not the same level of quality time as when you’re off the clock — but at least you’re there.
Many seniors report more time spent exercising and engaging in outdoor sports. Health and happiness are inseparable — and having time to walk, ride bikes, or paddle around in a kayak is better than any medicine big pharma can produce.
Getting more exercise time is possible while still working, if it’s a priority. Living closer to your job may mean giving up the three-bedroom, two-bath house on a quarter-acre in the suburbs; but living close enough to bike to work when the weather is nice is an excellent way to get in more exercise time. Instead of joining your coworkers for that heavy lunch, find that group of people who go walking every day. Every big company has a group of people who walk, do yoga, or some other exercise during the day.
Nothing comes without a cost, and lowering your stress level while still working is no different. Choosing health and family over your job can mean accepting lower pay and missed opportunities for advancement. Choosing to live closer to work can mean giving up on the American dream of a home in the suburbs. Every decision has a cost attached to it, and the only one who can decide what’s right for you is the person in the mirror.