Many retirement articles have been written about all the wonderful things you can do with the free time you will have after you retire. Once you leave work, you'll have more time to travel, volunteer, take courses, play golf, enjoy hobbies and so much more. The possibilities seem endless. All of these articles talk about everything you can add to your life.
After adding many of these things to your life, you could easily find yourself busier than you were during your working years. But filling your life with busyness probably won't make you happier. In fact, it could leave you more stressed out. As it turns out, your happiness in retirement could be determined as much by what you remove from your life as what you add. Here are four things you could eliminate from your life to be happier in retirement.
Activities you don't enjoy. Once you are retired, you will have more time for chores such as cleaning your house and maintaining your yard. If you truly enjoy gardening and landscaping, that's great. These may even be among the things you are looking forward to having more time for.
But if your vision of a satisfying retirement doesn't include a lot of time spent on home and yard upkeep, look into ways to reduce or eliminate it. Consider removing high-maintenance trees and plants from your yard or replacing your grass with artificial turf. Moving to an apartment, condo or retirement community will eliminate your yard maintenance altogether. Moving to a smaller home will reduce the amount you have to clean indoors, or you could hire a maid if your financial situation will support that.
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Obligations that don't bring fulfillment. After you retire, people might easily assume that you have a lot of free time on your hands. In their eyes, you are now a prime candidate for serving on committees and boards. This can be enjoyable and fulfilling, but only say yes if you really want to do it. You shouldn't feel obligated to accept a commitment just because you have the available time or the required skills.
Similarly, if you live near your children and grandchildren, your children might assume that you are readily available on call to babysit the grandchildren. Of course you love your grandkids and want to spend time with them, but it's up to you to decide how much time you are willing to devote to looking after them and to say no when that time is exceeded.
Possessions you no longer use.Getting rid of items in your house that you haven't used for years is both therapeutic and practical. Rooms that are neat and uncluttered are more inviting and pleasant than rooms stuffed full of things crammed into every available space. You will have less to clean and keep track of. Chances are, you waste time looking for things you know you own but can't find. Worse, you may end up buying duplicates of the things you can't find or have forgotten that you own.
If you are currently renting storage space to hold your extra stuff, emptying it will save you the monthly rental fee as well as the time you spend driving there and rooting through boxes to find what you're looking for. Most items you are storing in a storage facility are things you really have no further need for, but you can't bring yourself to throw away. When you finally dispose of them, it will be a weight off your shoulders.
People you don't enjoy. Life is too precious and too short to spend with people who are negative and drain your energy. Some personal development experts claim that you are the average of the five people you associate with the most, so surround yourself with people who are positive, supportive and fun.
Of course, you should be available to help your friends through difficult times, such as a death in the family or recuperating from an illness. But if you have people in your life who are constant whiners or complainers, disengage from them. If you know people who are petty gossipers, distance yourself and don't get caught up in their drama. If you have friends who only call or visit you when they want to talk about themselves or need a shoulder to cry on but who show little concern for you, replace them with friends who are more caring and uplifting.
Humans are creatures of habit. By the time you retire, your lifestyle habits have been ingrained for many years. Retirement offers you an opportunity to redesign your life into one that is more happy and fulfilling. Try to look at everything you do, everything you own and everyone who is part of your life with fresh eyes. Ask yourself whether each activity, thing or person is contributing to the retirement you want, and if not, make a change. You have worked hard all your life, now it's time to live life on your terms.
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Dave Hughes is the founder of Retire Fabulously.
Copyright 2017 U.S. News & World Report