If the thought of retiring is filling you with dread, it might be time to rethink your assumptions. Better still, why not take a leaf out of other cultures and celebrate it?

In Hindu tradition, the third stage of life, known as vanaprastha, is a time of community service and spiritual pursuits. People in this phase are considered wise and have an advisory role in their community. Likewise, many Asian cultures equate ageing with wisdom and their elders are active in guiding younger generations.

In ancient times, reaching the age of 60 was a major achievement and older people were revered. For instance, the word ‘crone’ comes from ‘crown’, referring to wisdom emanating from the head. And who isn’t familiar with the grey-haired sage/wizard/guru character in so many of our myths and legends?

Ageing is something we’re less comfortable with as a society these days but don’t let that stop you from seeing retirement as a rich and rewarding time of life. The kids are (probably) off your hands, you’re no longer living to an employer’s schedule and that bucket list can finally see the light of day.

Here are some ways retirement can be one of the best times of your life.

The world is waiting

Chances are when you picture living the good life as a retiree, you see yourself travelling. Whether it’s jumping on a plane to that exotic destination, packing up the caravan and joining the grey nomads, or returning to that little place overseas you fell in love with on earlier travels, retirement is the time to make it happen.

And the best part about travelling as a more mature person? You’re old enough to skip the backpacking and do it in style.
For inspiration, read our Live your dreams: the sixty-something gap year.

Put your passion first

How many times have you set aside your true passion with the promise that you’ll get to it one day?

Well, guess what? Retirement is that one day and you will finally have the time to paint that masterpiece, write that novel, restore that family heirloom, master that musical instrument.

One of my clients loves the theatre so has volunteered as an usher at the Festival Centre and gets to see all the shows, and a whole lot of theatre lovers, for her time. Another loves animals, so has volunteered at Adelaide Zoo.

Whatever it is that makes your heart sing, retirement will enable you to immerse yourself in it at last.

Sharing is caring

You have a lifetime’s worth of skills and experience, so why not share them? Not only will you have the satisfaction of helping others, but you’ll also be connecting with new people and building your community.

Whether you volunteer with a non-profit organisation, join a community group with a shared interest, or teach others through workshops or mentoring, sharing skills is a meaningful way to connect with others.

A client of mine is a retired editor and now assists in palliative care, interviewing people and writing their memoirs as a way of connecting and giving back.

Apps like Meetup can connect you with like-minded people in your area, so there’ll be no excuse for sitting at home alone once you retire.

Feel the love

If you’re coupled-up, chances are your relationship has suffered from some neglect thanks to the demands of family, career and day-to-day living. Retirement is the perfect time to rediscover who you as a couple and fall in love all over again. Date night every night, anyone?

You could consider taking up a new activity together, exploring the world on a romantic holiday or simply putting a ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door.

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Healthier and happier

There’ll be no more waiting for the weekend to stretch those legs – your days will be yours, so you’ll be able to be active whenever you like. Walking, running, bike riding, hiking, fishing, dancing, skydiving… whatever you’re into, it will be a lot easier to make it a regular part of your life once your days no longer revolve around work commitments and commutes.

If you’re a gym junkie, you’ll be able to choose the quietest part of the day – there’ll be no more putting up with that muscle-bound dude hogging the machines.

And if you’ve led a more sedentary life, you’ll finally have time to take up activities that will keep you healthy and mobile as you age. You could start with gentle activities like walking in nature, swimming or yoga or get a personal trainer to guide you. (Always check any new activity with your doctor first).

Grandparents have all the fun

Hanging out with kids is guaranteed to keep you young at heart. If you’re lucky enough to be a grandparent or have other little ones in your life, you already know the magic they add to it. You’ll be able to spend more time with your favourite little people, and all the time in the world to stop and look at every leaf on the way to the shops.

If you don’t have any children in your life, consider offering your babysitting services to others – there’s even a find a grandparent service matching surrogate grandparents with families who don’t have older people in their lives.

Play catch up

As Ray Bradbury once said, “What’s the point of having a library full of books you’ve already read?”. Well, retirement will be your chance to make your library redundant. Get ready to catch up on all those books, films and TV shows you’ve missed.

And remember, there’s no shame in using seniors discount at the cinema. Keep an eye out for daytime cinema programs for seniors, such as Palace Cinema’s Young At Heart Seniors Film Festival each April.

So as retirement approaches, embrace the joys ahead. Retirement is a chance to celebrate living – and let’s face it, the alternative to not growing old is much worse.

If you do it right, you might just find it’s the best time of your life.

At Advice SA we provide goal-based advice through discovery meetings that allow you to uncover your ‘blue sky’ dreams. Click here to find out where to begin.

Mark Bastiaans is an Authorised Representative #296627 of Guideway Financial Services Pty Ltd ABN 46 156 498 538 AFSL 420367.

The information provided above contains general advice that does not take into account your financial situation, specific needs or objectives and is not intended to be personal financial advice and should not be relied upon without written advice from Guideway Financial Services Pty Ltd.