Why is retirement exciting and fulfilling for some people and lonely and disappointing for others?  Below are 8 habits of successful retirees.  Use them to make the most out of your retirement.

1. Live with a sense of urgency.  Successful retirees don’t treat life as if it goes on forever.  They recognize that their time is limited and they greet each new day with a sense of urgency.

“You must realize that one day you will die.  Until then, you are worthless.”
                                                                                     ~Chuck Palahniuk

2. Take risks.  We spend a lot of life trying to minimize risks.  We wear seatbelts, buy insurance and otherwise try to build a moat around our lives.  Successful people recognize that a worthwhile life can’t be lived solely within the castle walls.  Don’t be afraid to take calculated risks in pursuit of meaningful goals.

“You can measure opportunity with the same yardstick that measures the risk involved.  They go together.”
                                                                                       ~Earl Nightingale

 3. Be healthy.  In 1900 the three leading causes of death were influenza, diarrhea, and tuberculosis.  Today they are heart disease, cancer and stroke.  All three are heavily dependent on diet, exercise, smoking, drinking, and stress.

“Before you’re 35 it’s your genes that take you, but from 35 on it’s your choices.”
                                                                                       ~Dr. Michael Roizen

4. Retire TO something, not FROM something.  Retiring to escape a job is a recipe for misery and discontent.  Retiring to pursue things that you are passionate about is a recipe for meaning and fulfillment.

“Don’t be pushed by your problems.  Be led by your dreams.”
                                                                                        ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

5. Retire based on your bank account, not your birthday.  If someone asks you when you want to retire, your answer should be a dollar amount, not a year.

“The question isn’t at what age I want to retire, it’s at what income.”
                                                                                         ~George Foreman

6. Choose yes over no, active over passive, and adventure over inertia.  We all have a deep-seeded need to live a life of meaning and fulfillment.  More often than not, we achieve that life by saying yes to opportunities and actively seeking out adventure.

“20 years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did.  So throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from the safe harbor.  Catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore.  Dream.  Discover.”
                                                                                        ~ Mark Twain

7. Do important work.  All of us are designed to do something meaningful and productive.  Retirement doesn’t somehow remove that need, it just means that we no longer have to base our choice on how much something pays.

“Deprived of meaningful work, men and women lose their reason for existence.” 
                                                                                        ~Fyodor Dostoevsky   

8. Foster meaningful relationships.  Social interaction is a critical element to human happiness.  Successful retirees are constantly looking for ways to experience community and connect with friends and family.

“If a man does not make new acquaintances as he advances through life, he will soon find himself alone.  A man should keep his friendships in constant repair.” 
                                                                                          ~Samuel Johnson

 -Photo by mikebaird.  Used under creative commons license.
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