In many ways, the holiday season is a mirror of what life in retirement can be like. Folks are off work, if only for a few extra days. Schedules tend to revolve around the people we love and the things we enjoy doing, especially cherished family traditions. And even though there can be some stress around prepping meals and crossing items off your shopping list, there are also pockets of quiet where we can enjoy good company and a warm beverage while we reflect on what matters the most.
As you celebrate the holidays and prepare for the New Year, consider ways that you can incorporate some of the season's fellowship and good cheer into your 2024 retirement plan.
1. Practice daily gratitude.
Why does it feel so good to go around the holiday table and talk about the things we're grateful for? According to several scientific studies, expressing gratitude can get our brains out of "survival mode," improving our physical and emotional health.
There are many ways to make gratitude a bigger part of your life in retirement, from journaling or keeping a video diary to meditation and prayer. On those days when the "endless vacation" of life without work doesn't feel like much of a vacation, returning to these gratitude habits can help you to refocus on all the good things you have in your life and all the opportunities and adventures still ahead.
2. Strengthen your relationships.
When you were busy working and raising your own kids, the holidays might have been your only opportunity to spend time with friends and family who are scattered across the country. Now that you're retired, consider cashing in some frequent flier miles and adding a few extra trips to your 2024 calendar. Unlike bigger bucket-list vacations, jetting out of town for a few days probably won't require a lot of pre-planning. You could schedule your trip around some activities you've been missing out on, like your grandkid's baseball games or a neighborhood block party. Or, if your old college roommate just moved to London, combine your bucket list goals and your relationship goals with one slow-travel trip.
3. Keep giving.
Volunteering and donating to local food, clothing, and toy drives can bring communities together during the holidays. Unfortunately, problems like hunger and homelessness persist throughout the year. Taking a part-time volunteer position at your favorite local charity, nonprofit, or school can give you an opportunity to keep doing good while also adding a little structure to your weekly retirement routine. You might even find a part-time job at one of these organizations where you can put your professional skills to use by improving marketing campaigns, upgrading tech, or serving on a board.
Also, don't overlook little ways to improve the feeling of community in your own corner of the world. Help an older neighbor with daily mail and weekly garbage pickup. Slip the kids next door a few bucks to shovel the sidewalks. Add a few new names to your holiday cookie list this year. The good you put out into the world has a way of spreading and inspiring more kindness in turn.
4. Set goals for your best year yet.
There's something very satisfying about working through your holiday to-do list. Checking off every present you buy, every meal you've planned, every trip you've booked, and every card you've mailed can give you a sense of accomplishment. And knowing what you want to get done next can help you stay focused even when the unexpected starts pulling you in multiple directions.
So, what’s on your retirement to-do list for 2024?
Is this the year that you’re going to get serious about your health and start a diet and exercise routine that could improve your longevity?
Are you going to learn something new, or work with a coach or mentor who can help you turn a hobby into a real skill?
Are you going to worry less about conserving your nest egg and start enjoying your hard-earned money while you still can?
Setting goals is one thing. Following through and achieving them requires a comprehensive planning process that connects the dots between your finances and your life. Make an appointment to meet with the Keen Wealth team and let’s start planning to fill 2024 with all the experiences that make your retirement meaningful.
Bill Keen is a financial advisor with nearly 30 years of industry experience. As the founder and CEO of Keen Wealth Advisors, a registered investment advisory firm, he focuses on providing personalized retirement planning designed to help people thrive before and during their retirement years. With a passion for educating others, Bill regularly blogs about retirement planning, hosts the podcast Keen on Retirement, and has contributed to Forbes, U.S. News and World Report, Reuters, Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch, Yahoo Finance, and other publications. Based in Overland Park, Kansas, Bill and his team work with clients throughout the greater Kansas City area and across the nation. To learn more, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.keenwealthadvisors.com.
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