Retirement Survival Pack: Don’t Leave Work Without It!

Retirement can be hard. Sure, some people slide right into it with no problem at all.  Others are bored at best and depressed at worst.
retirement survival pack
It is not the financial pressure that is usually the problem. Issues usually come from the fact that work often provides the emotional, mental and social stimuli that you need — not to mention a structure to days.

If you are struggling a bit with retirement or gearing up for your new life, here is your retirement survival pack — services and products that might help you feel happier and more confident about this phase of life.

Calendar or Daytimer to Keep Your Schedule

Developing and keeping a schedule is one of the key elements of happiness and health in retirement.  You need to make sure you schedule activities and you need a way to do that.

I remember back when I left my job to have children that I felt completely adrift.  Sitting at my desk everyday had given me full access to my calendar and contacts.  Out in the world, I missed appointments and felt kind of confused.

Retirement can trigger a similar feeling if you are not prepared with new ways to manage your life.

Here are a few of the best reviewed paper and electronic calendars — an imperative part of your retirement survival pack:

PAPER

Panda Planner: The Panda Planner claims to be: “a scientifically designed, strengths-based daily planner that will empower you to take back control, reclaim your happiness and flourish in every way.” It has more than 4,000 flowing reviews on Amazon!

Smart Planner Pro: The Smart Planner Pro is tested and proven to achieve goals and increase productivity, time management and… happiness!

Day-Timer: Day-Timer has been the defacto standard for managing a calendar for a long time.  They are still very effective and easy to use.  Here is a black leather Day-Timer starter set.

Passion Planner: This is billed as, “More than just a planner! This tool helps define and breakdown short and long term goals and incorporate them into your daily life.”  Here is a plain black option and a green leafy one.

ONLINE

Any.do: Any.do is Techradar’s pick for best all-round calendar app.

24me: 24me, for Apple users, describes itself as a personal assistant in your pocket.  It is a calendar and to do list that can connect to your utilities, banks, social networks and more.

Replacements for the Stuff You Used at Work

Most jobs come with benefits.  Here are a few of the things retirees report really missing once they are off the clock:

Computer (and Tech Support): If you had a desk job, your computer will be missed.  You will probably want something to replace it.  Many retirees find that a tablet meets their needs. The Apple iPad Air is a popular option. (And, you may want to sign up for warranties since you won’t have a tech support department.)

Health Insurance: This is a big one.  If you are retiring before 65, here are 9 ways to cover your costs in an early retirement. Already getting Medicare? Here are 12 tips for making the most of this benefit.

Life Insurance: If you had life insurance at work, you might want to assess whether you need it in retirement or not.

A Rollover Account: When you retire, you will likely want to transfer your 401k into a rollover account.  Explore when and how to rollover your company plan.

Coffee:  Sometimes it is the little things.  The work coffee machine can actually be a big loss and a huge opportunity for finding a new routine.

  • Try setting up a regular coffee date to get you out of the house and meeting with friends.
  • Go for the meditative benefits of pour over coffee making at home.
  • Perfect the art of the espresso with the beautiful Breville Barista Express Espresso machine.

Books, Apps and Tools for Staying Physically Healthy

Physical exercise is critical. You need to stay active. Here are some exercise and diet ideas for your retirement survival pack:

FitBit: Fitbit is perhaps the most popular health device. You can measure calories burned, track your heart rate, monitor sleep and sleep quality and so much more. Another option is the Apple Watch.

Set fitness goals and use the device to track and manage your progress.

Free Weights: As you age, building muscle is more important than ever!  Weight lifting can improve your walking ability, prevent broken bones, relieve arthritis pain, improve glucose control and more.

Here is a beginner dumbbell set.  Ready for more weight?  The Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells can go from 2.5 to 52.5 pounds.

Get a Gym Membership, Sign Up for a Class or Call Up Your Friends:  Exercise with other people can be hugely motivating and it gives you an extra layer of accountability.

7 Minute Workouts: Have you heard of the 7 minute workout craze? It is pretty great.   7 Minute Workout Apps The Johnson & Johnson 7 Minute Workout, 7, from Perigee or 7 Minute Fitness Challenge

Gardening Books: You might not be aware, but gardening is GREAT exercise.  It has the added benefit that many people find it to be an extremely pleasant activity and if you neglect your garden then things die — good motivation to stick with the program. Intrigued?

Try one of these books to help you get started: Rodale’s Basic Organic Gardening, The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible, The Flower Gardener’s Bible, Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide: 33 Healing Herbs to Know, Grow and Use.

Cookbooks: What you eat can have a profound impact on your health.  Try one of these cookbooks focused on living a long and healthy life: The How Not to Die Cookbook: 100+ Recipes to Help Prevent and Reverse Disease, The Blue Zones Kitchen: 100 Recipes to Live to 100 or The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook: 500 Vibrant, Kitchen-Tested Recipes for Living and Eating Well Every Day.

Quit Smoking Methods: If you are a smoker, the BEST thing you can do to improve your health is STOP.  It is not too late to repair your lungs.  Try Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking.

Ways to Keep Your Brain in Shape

Keeping your brain active, challenged and engaged is critical to your intellectual health.  Use it or lose it is true!

According to Harvard, “Any mentally stimulating activity should help to build up your brain. Read, take courses, try “mental gymnastics,” such as word puzzles or math problems Experiment with things that require manual dexterity as well as mental effort, such as drawing, painting, and other crafts.”

Here are a few ideas for keeping your noggin active:

Learn a Language: Learning a language is challenging, and therefore an excellent way to keep your brain active. Language learning is scientifically proven to enhance memory and cognitive recognition, which can contribute to preventing or delaying the onset of symptoms of related conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.

Babbel, DuoLingo and Rosetta Stone are popular ways to start speaking in other tongues.

Travel: Travel expands your mind.  You are experiencing things that are different and that forces you to be more flexible and keeps your brain sharp. Studies say that travel also makes you more creative. Travel is the number one goal for most retirees — good news, it is good for you!

Here are 20 great retirement travel ideas.

Play Games: Crossword puzzle and sudoku books are favorites.  And, there are tons of apps like the New York Times crossword puzzles, Luminosity or Cognifit Brain Fitness. Want to focus on being happier? Try Happify.

Get Artistic: Mental activities that also involve motor activity are particularly good at improving neural plasticity.  How about getting a water color set or a drawing book?

Inspiration for Finding Purpose

Perhaps the most important aspect of being retired is finding a purpose.  You might explore how to find meaning and purpose in retirement, find out how to discover your ikigai or write a retirement manifesto.

But as part of your retirement survival pack, you might try one of these journals, books or activities:

Journals: Writing is scientifically proven to help you set and achieve goals.  And, there are many journals designed to help you figure out what your goals should be.

  • The Five Minute Journal has a perfect five star rating on Amazon with more than 1,600 reviews.  I have used it. It is simple, quick and really helps organize your thoughts to focus on what is important to you.
  • The Legend Planner will help you figure out what you really want in life, create your personal vision, define and breakdown your short and long term goals and incorporate them into your life.
  • The Morning Sidekick Journal helps you create your perfect morning routine which is a scientifically proven method for building positive life habits.
  • Start Where You Are: A Journal for Self Exploration is an interactive journal designed to help you nurture your creativity, mindfulness and self motivation.

Volunteer Gigs: Use this guide to find a volunteering gig to make an impact and enhance your own well being.

Visit the Humane Society: I was at an event recently and met a doctor who has been retired for six years.  He says it has been rough. He worked part time for three years, but he has struggled with how to fill his days… until last month when he adopted a dog.  He says it has changed everything!

Books: Perhaps you need some inspiration.  Try one of these books as a guide to finding purpose:

A Really Good Financial Plan for Retirement

Okay, the most important item for a retirement survival pack comes last.

You must have a really good financial plan.  The NewRetirement Planner is comprehensive, reliable and completely personalized.  It is easy to get started, discover ways to improve your finances and keep them updated throughout your golden years.

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