You're probably used to making New Year's resolutions — but now that you're newly retired, you probably have some newfound freedom, too. What kind of resolutions should you make during the first year or two of your retirement?
Here are seven suggestions that can help you start your year and your retirement off right. (Bonus: You can chase these resolutions from home or in a safe, socially distant way.)
1. Get Your Finances in Tiptop Shape
This might be the most important of all New Year's resolutions. It's important for the newly retired to have a clear picture of their financial situations. If you've never had a budget, make this part of your resolution. What's coming in every month? And what's going out? Will you need to adapt or update your home to accommodate your or your partner's changing health needs? Do you have a will or trust established?
Make a list of the top financial gaps you have to cover, then chunk them out so you cover one a week for five weeks. This will get the job done slowly and surely, giving you a sense of control and peace of mind.
2. Get Moving and Have Fun
Maybe you've been spending too much time on the couch lately. Maybe you're active, but you're bored with your existing routine. Either way, regular exercise has a lot of benefits, especially in retirement. Maybe now's the time to try that beginner yoga class or that Pilates routine you saw on YouTube.
You should probably run any new major exercise changes by your doctor first, but make sure you choose a physical activity that excites you and that you can commit to, even if it's just once a week at the start. Choosing an engaging, enjoyable exercise increases the likelihood that you'll stick with it. Write down the exercise program you've chosen and track your progress regularly.
3. Cook a New Cuisine at Home
Tired of the same old meals? Do regular taco Tuesdays and pasta Wednesdays have you in a rut? Instead of resorting to takeout, shake things up by trying your hand at some exciting new recipes. Try making pizza at home or a favorite Thai dish from scratch. Cooking at home is healthier than ordering out, especially if you have dietary restrictions, because you can control what's in the dish.
You can access thousands of free recipes online or borrow cookbooks from your local library. Most supermarkets now carry what used to be considered exotic or hard-to-find items, if you're really feeling daring. Choose a few appealing recipes, whip up a shopping list, then try them out during the week. You might even find that your version is better than the version from the takeout place down the street.
4. Take a Virtual Museum Tour
If one of your retirement goals was to marvel at the art in the galleries of the world's finest museums, COVID-19 has probably put that plan on the back burner. But don't fret — it's never been easier to visit some of the best museums in the world, and you can do so from the safety and comfort of home. Here are a few links to some virtual offerings from some of the world's most famous museums and institutions:
- The Louvre Museum, Paris
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
- The Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
- The British Museum, London
- The Vatican Museums, Rome
- The Musée d'Orsay, Paris
- The Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Invite a friend for a virtual date, then take a long virtual stroll and see world-famous pieces of art. Truly, it's armchair travel at its finest.
5. Reconnect With Friends and Family
Life is busy, but retirement gives you the gift of time. What better way to use it than to reconnect with those most important to you? If you've fallen out of touch with friends, give them a call or write them a letter. Or FaceTime your grandkids and share a story or two. Prioritize the relationships in your life as you face this new stage.
Write down three friends or family members you've lost touch with, choose how you want to connect with them, then set a goal to reach out to them within the week. Your heart will feel fuller when you're sharing your life with the people who mean the most to you.
6. Read More
The beginning of the new year is the perfect time to dig into a great book. Reading can give your brain a cognitive boost: A study published by the American Academy of Neurology suggests that people who engaged in mentally stimulating activities, such as reading, showed a slower rate of memory decline.
Compile a list of books you've wanted to read and reserve them through your local library or download them to your e-reader. (Just remember that blue light from mobile devices can interfere with sleep, so make sure to activate the blue light setting on your device if you're reading before bedtime.) Set a goal to read a book every month — or a week, if you're a speedy reader — then track how many books you've read by the end of the year.
7. Start Meditating
The beginning of a new year is also a perfect time to begin practicing some self-care — and meditation is a perfect way to start. The National Institutes of Health says that the health benefits of meditation include improved emotional health, a sense of overall well-being and peace, and the remediation of certain ailments, such as high blood pressure.
To start, choose a quiet location with as few distractions as possible; assume a comfortable posture; focus your attention by breathing deeply or repeating a mantra (a specific word or phrase that guides your meditation); and keep an open attitude. Search online for free beginner guided meditations to get you started and designate a specific time every day to meditate. Write down your progress in a journal to see how you're feeling and log any positive changes you notice as you continue your practice.
Whether you're looking to exercise or eat right, or discover new places or new things about yourself, there are many New Year's resolutions you can make to improve your well-being and ensure a secure and fulfilling retirement. And, now that you're a new retiree, there's never been a better time to start working on you.