Retirement marks an exciting new stage in life. But behind all the anticipation, there’s often the question, ‘What is retirement really like?’The answer is simply, really: retirement is what you make of it. And in order for the next chapter to be as satisfying as your pre-retirement life, here are some things to consider. Simply by giving some thought to crafting your ideal retirement, you increase your chances of finding fulfillment and happiness.These ideas can help you be more prepared.

Quitting Full-time Work is a Double-edged Sword

Who doesn’t relish the idea of sleeping in, avoiding that awful commute, and swapping out formal business wear for a t-shirt and jeans? These are the things most retirement daydreams are made of. But be warned: however delicious it may sound, leading a life of leisure may be only a temporary delight. What at first feels like freedom can quickly settle into boredom. Isolation can lead to depression and even health problems. Lacking a sense of purpose is a terrible feeling, especially after you’ve spent decades working, raising kids, and generally being busy all the time.

The fact is, lots of people don’t realize that retirement requires a choice. They initially revel in the joy of not having to go to work anymore and no longer needing to answer to anyone. It’s a great rush of freedom. But after the glow has worn off, it gets harder to welcome each new day with anticipation if there’s nothing more going on. You have to choose to enjoy your retirement life.

The good news is that most people find a solution and manage to avoid boredom after they retire. It usually comes in the form of finding meaning and making the choice to be active an happy in retirement. When you ask them, what is retirement really like?, these are the people who won’t extol the virtues of sleeping in. Instead, their eyes will spark and they’ll tell you about their latest adventures with friends and how each day is met with anticipation and a sense of wonder.

Downsizing is Typical

Retirees are downsizing by choice and finding that they’re able to live happily on less income than when they were younger. Part of the reason is that seniors are no longer preoccupied with collecting and amassing possessions. In addition, many find that downsizing allows them to free their schedules, because house maintenance doesn’t take as much time as it used to in their previous, larger homes.

Healthy Living is Key

National Council on Aging (NCOA) survey found that maintaining a healthy lifestyle was a key factor in retirement happiness. Staying positive was found to be directly related to taking care of one’s health. It also helps people stay optimistic about aging, which points to how important it is to choose a healthy lifestyle. The impact of your health cannot be underestimated when it comes to successful aging.

Everyone Needs a Community

So, what is retirement likeIt’s the freedom to find a community that embraces your interests, needs, and values. It may take some time to find this community, but once you do, it makes all the difference, and gives you a brand new lease on life.

Most people had a community in the form of coworkers, neighbors, or even the parents of their children. Now that you are retired, you can select a community of your choosing, instead of one that is tied to a paycheck or playdates. Finding the right community opens so many doors, some that you may not even know existed. Its possible that you find a group of like-minded people who inspire you to travel more, to explore your faith, or even to just get out there and try new things and be more social. A community is what keeps us going and its at the heart of what retirement living is really about.

Retirement is What You Make of It 

Next time you hear someone ask, what is retirement like?, you’ll have an answer. It’s whatever you make of it! Having a plan is your first step toward becoming part of the 93 percent of older adults who are satisfied with their retirement, according to a satisfaction report by CNBC. What do the other steps involve? Discovering what gives your life meaning, finding a community to be a part of, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Rest assured, however, it’s good to have some sense of where you’ll be living. It’s also important to be part of a community in the form of an (active) retirement community. The good news is, you can look forward to a sea of retirement community lifestyle options when it comes to choosing a new home.

We invite you to visit an Acts community to learn more about what retirement is really like from the inside. Talk with staff, meet residents, and see for yourself how today’s post-career Americans are enjoying a happy, fulfilling retirement experience. Even if you haven’t yet done much retirement planning, perhaps this can be the year you start doing the research. We welcome you to start with us and visit any of our communities to find out more!