Managing the Sixty and Me community can be a bit of an emotional roller-coaster. As I talk to all of you about what you are doing in retirement, I am uplifted by your stories of renewal and resilience. I am humbled by your dedication to your family and the world around you. And, at times, I am deeply saddened by the struggles that many of you face in your lives.

Without a doubt, the best part of working on Sixty and Me is being able to listen to – and then share – the collective wisdom of the other members of our community. After all, I am just one woman. What really matters is that we are here to support each other.

Want to Be More Positive? Here Are 4 Things to Do in Retirement

One of the biggest challenges that many women in our community are facing is how to make the transition to retirement. This is not just a question of how to support oneself, financially. Many of us struggle with questions about our sense of self-worth, as our family structures shift. Others are concerned about dealing with the physical changes that go along with the aging process.

So, to help all of you to get the most from this transition, I wanted to share 4 secrets that I have learned from talking with the other women in our community about how to get the most from retirement. I hope that these tips help you to get the most from life after 60, whether you are approaching retirement or well into retirement age.

Retirement is an Opportunity to Have a Second Childhood

Many of the happiest women in our community are the ones who see retirement as a second childhood. Ok, they may not think about it in exactly these terms, but, this is how they behave.

When we are children, the world is our oyster. We think that we can do anything. We ask for forgiveness, not for permission.

Then, as adults, the reality of life hits us. We are suddenly asked to conform to other people’s standards. We are surrounded by bosses, family members and other authority figures that are more than happy to tell us what we can and can’t do.

Retirement, or semi-retirement, is an opportunity to become a kid again. It is an opportunity to pursue our passions without guilt or self-consciousness.

Think back to the early years of your life. Are there things that you always loved to do that you put on the back-burner as you built your career and supported your family? Maybe it’s time to start them up again.

For most of our lives, we carry so much weight on our shoulders. The happiest retired people I know have found ways to introduce a little silliness into their lives. They go to frivolous movies. They mentor kids. They draw, just for the fun of it.

Isn’t it time that each of us remembered the simple joy of being a child?

Don’t Let Your Body Get Rusty… It May Never Start Moving Again!

No matter what anyone tells you, it is absolutely possible to be in amazing shape in your 60s or 70s. I would be lying if I said that fitness after 60 is easy. It isn’t. But, there are simply too many examples out there of people who have challenged stereotypes and gotten in the best shape of their lives to say that physical decline after 60 is inevitable.

If you don’t believe me, read about Willie Murphy, a 77 year-old weight lifter who is so inspirational.

Many women in the community have told me that getting in shape was the single most important thing that they did to get the most out of retirement. Here are just a few of the many benefits of fitness after 60:

  • Getting in shape gives you the energy and confidence to explore the world
  • Exercise is one of the only things you can do to lower your chance of many illnesses
  • Physical exercise is associated with a lower risk of cognitive decline in later life
  • Exercise can improve your physical appearance better an any “anti-aging” pill

If you are interested in getting back in shape, my advice to you is to start small. Use the one-minute technique to develop good habits. Find physical activities that you can do with others. Get back into nature. Whatever you do, do something!

Happy Retirees Have Learned to Talk to Strangers

One of the hardest things about making the transition to retirement is coming to terms with our changing social circumstances. For many of us, our family members were the most important people in our lives for decades. Even if we still live close to our kids and have a good relationship with our grandkids, there is no denying that our social world shifts significantly in our 50s and 60s.

Many women in the community have told me that they had to relearn how to talk to strangers after reaching their 60s. They discovered that they could no longer rely on people coming to them. If they wanted to have a rich social life, they needed to get out into the world and meet people on their own terms.

This could be as simple as having the courage to talk to people in public places – on the bus, while standing in the line at the supermarket, etc. Or, it could involve something more formal, such as getting involved in a club or sport.

As kids, we are taught that talking to strangers is dangerous. As older adults, it’s time to reset our expectations and give other people a chance. The risk of social isolation and depression is far greater than the risk of being taken advantage of.

Retirement Doesn’t Have to be a Time for “Taking it Easy”

There are certainly exceptions to this rule. I know people, especially those who managed to save millions of dollars, who are perfectly happy sitting on the beach, sipping pina coladas. But, for the majority of us, staying active is a far better way to stay happy after 60.

Part of the problem is that “retirement,” as a concept, has a lot of emotional baggage. Pretty much everyone – the media, the government, our families – encourage us to think about retirement as a time of quiet relaxation. It doesn’t have to be this way.

The happiest people over 60 that I know are the ones that see retirement as a beginning, not an end. These women explore the world, even if they only have enough money to take a bus to cities near where they live. They follow their passions, even if they need to start at the very beginning. They take responsibility for their minds and bodies.

At the end of the day, the wisdom of the women in our community can be summed up in a few simple words – get active, get passionate, get social and get real. If you do these things, I am confident that you will find all of the happiness and joy in retirement that you deserve.

Have you already retired? If so, what one piece of advice would you like to give to the other women in our community who have not yet reached retirement age? If you haven’t yet retired, what are you doing now to give yourself the best chance of having a great time after you retire? Please join the conversation.

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If you are looking for life-changing things to do in retirement, watch this short video that I recorded.

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