Over 50 & Thriving Series Over 50s Lifestyle

Accepting and Thriving – the secret to a Happy Retirement

February 5, 2018

The Secret to a Happy Retirement


Have you retired intentionally or have you been forced into retirement kicking and screaming?  Perhaps you never want to retire at all?

In these times when our life expectancy is much longer, many of us are still working beyond retirement age because of choice or perhaps because of financial circumstances.

Whatever your stage, Retirement can be a huge adjustment in our life.  It can also be wonderful depending on how your attitude is.

My Experience

I retired early to spend more time with my husband.  He is nine years older than me and had already retired.  I was in a situation where I enjoyed working because apart from defining me as a person, it also gave me purpose.

However, apart from wanting to spend more quality time with my husband, I was also experiencing ‘bullying’ at work from one of my co-workers.  I am not confrontational, and this women was so intimidating to everyone, that when it was ‘my turn’ to be in her line of vision, it affected my health and well-being so I decided it was time to leave.

The first few months of retirement were great.

  • We travelled to Asia and enjoyed a wonderful cruise and explored China.
  • I enjoyed the feeling of not having to be any where in particular at any time
  • So much flexibility!
  • So boring!

As the months passed I found that I wasn’t adjusting to this new style of living. Yes, I loved spending time with my husband but we certainly couldn’t afford to travel all the time and as  I am someone who needs structure in my life, I just couldn’t settle into a ‘routine’.

I did some contract work for small businesses with bookkeeping and social media management, but I wasn’t happy. That is when I started my blog ‘Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond’.  It was a way of using my experiences to encourage other women Over 50 who were struggling with areas of their life.  I’m passionate about living a healthy lifestyle so I decided to encourage women to be fit,fabulous, healthier and happier.  I also wanted to connect with others and through blogging I have made friends from all over the world.

The Secret to a Happy Retirement

‘Is there a secret to a happy retirement?’ I asked myself this question based on my own experience and came up with some ideas.

Have a plan

Most of us who have worked full time and had a family, have had little time to find outside interests.  When we retire we feel lost and unsettled.  Having a plan of what we want to do with our life is a must.

Write down some ideas and formulate a plan – ideally BEFORE you retire.

  • What will replace your work?
  • Are there things you always wanted to do but didn’t have the time?
  • Do you have a financial plan that will be able to sustain the lifestyle you want?
  • Would you like to volunteer?
  • Will you want to be part of your grandchildren’s lives?  I minded my grandson one day each week for 4 years and absolutely loved it.  That may not be what you want in life, so you need to be clear.

Retire from work not life

It is important to accept that just because you have retired it doesn’t mean that life stops.  As we are living longer there are many more opportunities for retirees than our parents had.  Life is there to be lived so make sure you aren’t wasting your time.  Retirement can be just as fulfilling as full time work it is just a matter of finding what you are passionate about.

Don’t retire if that suits you

Some people just can’t stop working.  It is ingrained in them and they actually enjoy their work.  There are organisations that recognise the value of older workers and don’t make them retire at a certain age.  Why not use your working experience and start a small business?

Find a balance and don’t feel guilty

Sometimes, I just want to lie down and read a book and then I feel guilty.  Stupid isn’t it?  However, when you have worked all your life it is hard to just let go of the feeling ‘I should be doing something productive’ and just enjoy the balance that retirement can bring to your life.

Don’t use the word Retirement

Perhaps we should just remove the word ‘Retirement’ and use something else, like ‘Lifestyle Change’.  Retirement can be a depressing word as it can conjure up images of becoming invisible (which I wrote about last week Why Women in Retirement feel Invisible) or makes us face our own mortality, sooner than we would like to.

Using ‘Lifestyle Change‘ is a much more positive way of accepting and enjoying this new phase of life.

Remember retirement is not ‘one size fits all’ so finding what gives you purpose and fulfillment might be trial and error, until you find what makes you feel comfortable and happy

My next guest in the Over 50 & Thriving Series, is Leslie from Once Upon a Time, Happily Ever After.  Leslie will be discussing here experience with retirement in her contribution, How to face Retirement when you aren’t quite ready.  Leslie actually asked some friends about their thoughts on retirement which I’m sure will resonate with those of us who have retired from full time work.

What are your thoughts on retirement?  I would love to hear them so leave me your thoughts in the comments below.


Let’s Keep Sizzling & Thriving!


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  • Reply Leslie Clingan February 5, 2018 at 02:21

    I know we retired under somewhat similar circumstances, although I had my neck issues thrown in the mix. Your wise words here would have been such a help to me back then. And speak to me now because there are still those days of doubt, questioning my purpose in this chapter of life.

    Your blog has really gained focus and such a helpful direction. Thank you for all you do everyday to make the way of others easier and more enjoyable.

    Love you, cuz.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 5, 2018 at 07:13

      Hi Leslie I question my purpose all the time! Now that I my grandson has gone to kindy 5 days per week, I’m feeling lost. I think having the holiday, then Christmas and now not having each Wednesday ‘booked’ with my main little man has really thrown my ‘routine’ out of whack. I hope the blog is gaining focus because it is three years now and I do go through moments of whether to keep going or not. Your words have made my day. Love you back Cuz and take care of that foot! Here if you need to a chat xx

  • Reply Lynn ~ Encore Voyage February 5, 2018 at 05:03

    Hi Sue – this post is right on the money! When we started on the voyage, we didn’t have any “plan” but ended up having those same feelings of guilt, isolation, disconnection from friends, and change in purpose. When I asked my readers what advice they would give to folks about to retire, their answers were much like yours. Thanks for a great post! ~ Lynn

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 5, 2018 at 07:21

      Hi Lynn, retiring is not as easy as it sounds is it? I found it took me quite a while to adjust and then I realised that many people feel that way. I’m pleased you enjoyed the post and have a fabulous week! xx

  • Reply Debbie February 5, 2018 at 05:52

    I agree with Lynn and Leslie – your post is spot on with advice. Your thoughts on retirement resonate with me due to my experience as it wasn’t my choice to retire. You’ve summed it all up perfectly Sue!! One size does not fit all ?

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 5, 2018 at 07:25

      Thanks Deb and I still find I struggle from time to time. I think partly because my husband is 9 years older than I and although we do things together such as travel, he is not into fitness or being active as much as I am. I forget the age gap and that we are different personalities so I need to take my own advice about ‘one size does not fit all’. Anyway we have just booked a cruise around Japan for later in the year and I have a new grandbaby to look forward to in June. Lots happening this year xx

  • Reply Kathy @ SMART Living 365.com February 5, 2018 at 05:55

    Hi Sue! As you might have guessed I completely agree with you on this. We need to continue to grow and evolve not matter what our age or the “stage” of our lives. And yes, I just wrote a post on my own blog about “thriving!” so I had to pop over and see what your words of wisdom might be. Thank you for the great reminders. ~kathy

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 5, 2018 at 07:26

      Hi Kathy! Yes,you and I are definitely on the same page! Would love to have you as a guest on my Over 50 & Thriving series if you are interested? Just let me know and I can send you the details. Have a great week! xx

  • Reply Donna February 5, 2018 at 07:19

    Hi, Sue – I fully agree with you that retirement is highly individualized. No two people experience retirement in the exact same way. It is also often hard to predict who will slide into retirement with relative ease, and who will find retirement to be a struggle. I support the tips that you have listed here and highly encourage those considering retirement (or those who are new to retirement) to consider them closely. I look forward to Leslie’s post!

  • Reply Carol Cassara February 6, 2018 at 03:04

    This is such good advice! And of course, one size of retirement does not fit all. ;-))))

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 6, 2018 at 13:08

      I’ve really struggled with ‘retirement’ Carol because I just don’t think I can ever retire. It can be a little tricky because my husband is 10 years older than I so of course, he can’t keep up like he used to. I’m sure I will always find something to keep me involved in life!

  • Reply Christie Hawkes February 6, 2018 at 05:35

    I’m so glad I discovered blogging and met you ladies while I am in the retirement planning stage. I’m lucky to have the benefit of your experience going into this life transition. I know there are things I’ll have to figure out for myself, but I really do appreciate your insights. We hear so much about the preparing for the financial aspects of retirement, but so little about mental preparation. Thank you! Thank you!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 6, 2018 at 13:10

      Hi Christie! The mental preparation is to me more important because you have probably been working on your financial side of things most of your working life. I really came down with a thud so if I can give any advice on retirement it is to just be prepared that it won’t be suddenly all roses and unicorns. There will be days when you really feel lost. On the positive side there is much for flexibility with your time and that can be a bonus if you use it wisely. x

  • Reply Pat February 6, 2018 at 09:25

    This is a very thoughtful and helpful post to all approaching and planning for retirement.

    We’ve been retired for almost four years and I can honestly say that we are busier than ever, as we moved west to live near our kids and grandchildren and they keep us busy. We also found ourselves in a community that has many clubs to join and activities to do, which lead us to many new friendships. We’ve also taken the opportunity to take many local road trips to explore our new state, which has been fun.

    I’m so very aware that the road ahead is shorter than the road behind me, so I am trying to take advantage of every moment while I still have good health and energy.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 6, 2018 at 13:13

      Hello Pat and thank you for such a positive comment. It sounds like you have really thought out your retirement and that is so important. You have captured all areas of your life and appear to be enjoying life to the fullest! Good for you! x

  • Reply Natalie February 6, 2018 at 12:30

    Thank you, Sue, for sharing your experience and insights here. I agree with you that retirement is individualized. For those who like to read studies or research and are considering retirement or are new to retirement, I’d suggest to look up/ google Prof. Robert Atchley’s Stages of Retirement. I look forward to Leslie’s post.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 6, 2018 at 13:13

      Hi Natalie thanks for the info on Prof Robert Atchley’s Stages of Retirement I’ll be sure to check it out. have a fabulous week! xx

  • Reply Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au February 7, 2018 at 00:00

    I like “Lifestyle Change” Sue – I think I’m in a gradual one where I slowly reduce my work days and fill my spare time with new things over several years. Blogging has been a huge help for me during this time, so has volunteering, having time to myself, having flexiblity with social catch-ups and enjoying extra time with my husband. It’s a great stage of life but definitely requires some adustment.
    I’m jumping in early and sharing this for our #MLSTL party xx

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 7, 2018 at 10:15

      Yes I prefer that term to the word Retirement and it really came to me when I was writing the post. Blogging has helped but I don’t want that to be the sole focus as it really is a time to be enjoying all areas of our lives. Thanks for co-hosting the #MLSTL party and I think we are in for another good week! x

  • Reply Michele Morin February 7, 2018 at 07:11

    These are good thoughts. My husband is four years older than I am, and will be 60 next year, so it’s time to start thinking!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 7, 2018 at 10:12

      I would strongly advise that you start thinking now Michele because Retirement can come as quite a shock to the system. It really takes some adjusting and planning. Have a beautiful week and thank you for stopping by xx

  • Reply Jo Castro February 7, 2018 at 11:22

    I agree with the Lifestyle Change rather than retirement. We have downsized and moved to the country in preparation for working less, not quite yet, but in a few years. Like you say we are always battered with the financial aspects of ‘how much will be enough’ but very rarely are we made aware of the mental and emotional side of things. I very much agree with ‘protiring’ and doing what you love when you stop being a part of the actual work force. Great post 🙂

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 7, 2018 at 15:48

      I like the idea of ‘protiring’ I haven’t heard that term before. I also like Lifestyle Change because then if you do want to do a little part-time work there isn’t the pressure to be Retired which for some people can be such a difficult time. Your new lifestyle sounds perfect!

  • Reply Chris February 7, 2018 at 12:10

    I’m just a few weeks off retiring – again! Seem to keep going back for bits and pieces. But looking forward to the next period of non-work. There’s soooooo much to do!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 7, 2018 at 15:46

      Hi Chris, I love your ‘- again’. for some of us retiring is really difficult that is why I would rather call it a lifestyle change. Hope you get all of your work done so you can enjoy your next period of non-work.

  • Reply Patrick Weseman February 7, 2018 at 14:05

    Thanks for these thoughts. I think I might be waiting for the day when I can do want I want and not have to deal with idiots.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 7, 2018 at 15:45

      Hi Patrick yes unfortunately the world is full of idiots aren’t they? Have a great week

  • Reply shirley corder February 7, 2018 at 19:43

    “Sometimes, I just want to lie down and read a book and then I feel guilty.” Oh me too! Isn’t that so silly? Relaxation is not an easy occupation for me. My tablet has become my answer. I sit curled up on the settee and check my sites and blogs I need to visit, and I don’t feel guilty at all! Street team – and a competition.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 9, 2018 at 07:22

      I think the guilt comes from having worked full time, Shirley and then when we have more time on our hands we ‘feel’ like we should be doing something. Also it is hard to go from being full on in a job to having that extra time. I am making an effort to enjoy my reading more without feeling like I should be madly racing around filling in time! Have a beautiful weekend. x

  • Reply Jennifer February 7, 2018 at 22:57

    Lifestyle change. Yes. I was forced into early retirement from my company and now focus on writing my blog. I treat it like a job. I have work hours that I scheduled into my calendar. Following this regime allows me to not feel guilty about my downtime.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 9, 2018 at 07:24

      It is hard when retirement is thrust upon you isn’t it Jennifer and I know the blog helped me. My problem is that with my husband 9 years older than I he wants us to have more downtime than I’m ready for. It is trying to find that balance to keep us both happy and also enjoying life together xx

  • Reply Pat February 8, 2018 at 01:45

    I can completely relate. I retired earlier than expected without any plan. The financials were fine…but it took me awhile to figure out how to replace everything else work provided. And given I was a workaholic, work provided a lot more than financial compensation. Identity, social connections, structure, a sense of purpose and achievement. All those “mental things”! I’ve spent the last 3 years creating, implementing, and then refining my post-career plan. And learning (and relearning) that one-size-does-not-fit anyone.

    One of the things I looked into was what exactly is “retired”? The US government defines it as having both of the following components (yes, it’s the US and yes its the government, but I thought it was interesting) – 1) working less than full time and 2) receiving income from a qualified retirement source (ex. pension, IRA, etc.). That’s it. No age, although to receive income from a retirement source has an age requirement. And yes, you can still be working part-time, as many retirees do… because of all the other stuff like identity, achievement, structure, connections. One of the ironic elements of this definition to me is 1) I am not retired based on it – even though my MegaCorp gave me a retirement package and 2) my husband is – even though his MegaCorp refused to give him a retirement package so he just quit!

    Anyway, I’ve spoken to multiple financial planners to see if they wanted to partner on helping folks plan beyond the money – to think through all the other domains of life. There are retirement coaches who can help (I became a qualified one to see if it was something I wanted to do)…but most financial planners don’t want to get into that, even if they are the ones talking to the people who need to think beyond the money.

    Some folks slide into retirement easily. Others (like me) struggle. But there are people out there (especially in blog land) who can support, inspire, and help us all find our own unique, post-full-time-work lifestyle.

    And someday, someone will coin a new term that sticks! Everyone agrees retirement is dated. I’ve called it the 21st Century Retirement at times to indicate its a different thing. Lifestyle Change it truly is… but so are many other aspects of life.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 9, 2018 at 07:29

      I really think there is a niche for coaching people into retirement Pat. It really can come as a shock especially to workaholics (I was one too). It is such a big transition and as most of us are living longer, we have many opportunities we could explore. It can become overwhelming finding that something that really fulfills you and at the same time allowing yourself time to enjoy ‘time off’. 21st Century Retirement certainly is so different to when our parents retired and I’m sure it will be even more of a challenge when my children retire in the future – although by then they may not be able to afford it! Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!:)

  • Reply Victoria February 8, 2018 at 02:56

    I also had a bully my last couple of years of work and though I am not good with confrontation I went head to head with mine. She never backed down but I wouldn’t either, of course, I knew my time was limited with having to deal with her. I love my “lifestyle change”.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 9, 2018 at 07:30

      You are brave Victoria, going head to head. We had a mediator but this woman just wouldn’t accept any suggestions just made life ‘hell’. Because she had been there for over 20 years, management were afraid of her and the knowledge she would take if she left. It was easier for me to go. I’m so happy to hear you love your ‘lifestyle change’. Have a beautiful day and thanks for stopping by xx

  • Reply Michele February 8, 2018 at 03:38

    Hi Sue, I dislike the term retirement and plan to never retire. I started my own work and I plan to continue it as long as it makes me happy. What I have retired from is doing someone else’s work! I also the love the freedom to travel or to work from anywhere. I have worked hard enough in my life to enjoy the luxury of being my own boss and doing work as i see fit. It is exhilarating!

    Congratulations on becoming a writer for 60 and Me. it is a fabulous community and I love writing for Margaret. The audience is very engaged and very supportive!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 9, 2018 at 07:32

      My problem Michele is I want to start some kind of work but I don’t know what it would be. You seem to have your life worked out and yes having the freedom to travel or work from anywhere is the perfect solution. I’m happy to be writing for 60 and Me and yes, I agree, they are a great community with good interaction with the audience. Margaret is lovely and so encouraging as well. I’ve only written one article but I’m working on my second. x

  • Reply Linda Barnby | Friends Over Fifty Guide To Life February 8, 2018 at 13:41

    Sue, Great post! I live in what may be the retirement capital of the US if not the world – Florida! There is a huge group of towns clustered together called “The Villages” which is an over 55 community. The folks who live there are renowned for their high activity level and variety of things to do there. We have a lot of role models nearby for living an active and engaged life after retiring from work.

    I’ve always dreaded the idea of retirement and, like most of us, don’t like that word very much. But now that I am on the cusp of leaving my self-employed position, I find myself looking forward to spending my time doing more of what I’ve always wanted to do which involves lots of creative expression – writing and painting. I really just fell into blogging. I’m not quite sure how it happened. But so far it has been an amazing journey and I love all the new friends I’m making! Congrats on becoming a Sixty and Me author!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 9, 2018 at 07:43

      Hi Linda! It is great to have role models who are enjoying their retirement and you also have two loves your writing and painting to look forward to. I just found when I left work that I had given it my all and didn’t really have anything I was passionate about outside of work. Starting the blog was a wonderful way to connect with others, although sometimes I find it can take over and I’m on the laptop more often than not! Yes, my first foray into Sixty and Me and it was well received so I’ll be working on more articles to submit. It is lovely to connect with you and have a beautiful weekend xx

  • Reply Susanne February 9, 2018 at 10:58

    I would love to retire from my 9-5, but it is so hard to support a household on just one income. My husband and I are only a couple of years apart in age so we will probably retire around the same time. I have a hard time on my days off relaxing and not feeling guilty about not getting anything done so I can imagine it will be a hard transition when we finally have our lifestyle change.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 10, 2018 at 10:36

      Hi Susanne and thanks for visiting. My husband is 9 years older than I which was one of the reasons I retired early. It really isn’t an easy transition but if you start thinking about it before you retire, then the changes are quite so bad. It is a matter of realising that now you can do what you want without the guilt – that is the hardest part I think! Have a great weekend. xx

  • Reply Elise Ho February 11, 2018 at 04:27

    I am not yet at the point of retirement but I am definitely thinking about it. This is not because I want to retire but because I want to create the retirement that I dream of. That definitely takes planning.

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