After plenty of hard work, sacrifice, commitment — and hopefully some strong support and good luck along the way — you’ve reached retirement. However, don’t for a moment believe that your best years are behind you. On the contrary, the path ahead for you and your family promises to be rewarding, enjoyable and inspiring. To help make this happen, here are some valuable tips from Teresa Wolande, a retired insurance and international risk management executive, who is currently establishing a Women’s Forum in the Naples, Florida area to help women transition into the fourth quarter of their lives.

Teresa Wolande

• Connect or reconnect with your community.
If you haven’t been able to spend as much time contributing to your community because of severe time constraints, now is when you can fulfill that goal and make a lasting difference in the lives of your neighbors and others who need your help. If you don’t know where to start, contact your local community center or library. If you’re web savvy, then you can also find plenty of resources online to guide you.

According to Teresa Wolande: “One of the biggest psychological challenges that retirees face, is that they go from not having enough time in their day to do what they want, to having too much time. Often, they also struggle with a perceived lack of purpose. Even if they didn’t really like their jobs, there were still part of an organization and had a role. Volunteering can solve both of these challenges by giving retirees something meaningful and valuable to do with their free time. What’s more, research has shown that people who volunteer actually live longer than those who don’t.”

• Prepare for a financial shift.
Many retirees experience a significant amount of stress as they transition to a fixed income that is likely to be somewhat lower than their income while working. If you’re facing this situation, then there will be some limitations on what you can do, where you can go, and so on. To handle the adjustment, you’ll need to make some lifestyle changes.

Teresa Wolande states that instead of looking at this as a painful event, look upon it as an opportunity to simplify and de-clutter. Now that you’re free of the daily 9-5 grind, you can choose to live a simpler, more enjoyable life on your terms. The key is to have a clear plan. This will put you in control, which is really what this is all about.

• Strengthen family ties.
If like most people some of your family ties are loose, frayed or severed, then now is the time to restore them. Use your retirement as an opportunity to pivot and heal old wounds. Or, if you’re fortunate enough to have a good relationship with your immediate and extended family, then take this opportunity to deepen these bonds.

According to Teresa Wolande: “What creates or re-creates families is communication. This means if you have a challenging relationship with one or more family members, or if you are estranged from them, then the starting point is to reach out and spark communication. You’ll be surprised, or probably amazed, at how far this can go. Years and decades of disengagement can end with a simple phone call or even an email. Remember that among the biggest regrets people have at the very end of their lives isn’t typically about the things they did. It’s about the things that they wanted to do and could have done, but didn’t
have the courage to follow through with.”

The Bottom Line
Retirement isn’t the end: it is the beginning of a new, interesting and exciting phase of your life — one that you have earned and deserve after a lifetime of hard work and sacrifice. Keeping these tips from Teresa Wolande in mind can go a long, long way to ensuring that regardless of how successful or rewarding your life has been so far, the very best is yet to come!

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