The thought of retirement can be a fearful thing. While retirement sounds like a wonderful concept, the reality is that it involves living for years or even decades while not working. To survive in retirement without worry, you'll need to have sufficient assets to fund your lifestyle. You can bury your head in the sand and decide not to worry about retirement, but when retirement comes you'll face a disaster. A better approach is to take some simple steps now to alleviate your retirement fears while still having fun.
Plan. The greatest way to dispel fear of the unknown is to have a plan. You know that you won't be working when you retire, so plan a course of action to take care of your future. You don't have to stress yourself out -- just accept the reality of the future and put a plan into place. Your plan can vary depending on your personality and your financial situation. If you don't anticipate significant future income, consider retirement in an affordable location, perhaps overseas. If you get annual bonuses, pretend they don't exist and immediately tuck them away for future use. Take time while you're young to envision the possibilities you have for a future life in retirement. With a plan in place, you're less likely to stress about the future.
Save. Regardless of your retirement plan, you'll need money to finance it. Set up an automatic savings plan so that a percentage of your income is put away for your retirement before you ever see it. Over time, gradually increase the percentage you set aside. At some point, you won't even notice the "missing" money, but it will be available for you in the future when you need it.
Avoid extravagance. You can have fun without being irresponsible. When you have a choice of two "fun" options, pick the less expensive one. You can enjoy the occasional splurge, but reserve those times for special occasions. The less you spend today, the more you get to enjoy in your retirement.
Work a job you enjoy. You'll have a lot more fun if you find a job that makes you happy. If you enjoy your job, you'll work longer and earn more money for retirement, which can help you feel less stress. The right job for you might even feel like fun, whether it's working on a movie set or at an amusement park or as a forest ranger. Find something that appeals to your own sensibility, and you'll have fun now and in the future.
Take breaks. If you work and save and plan too much for retirement, you'll miss out on current joys in your life. While you should always keep an eye turned toward the future, don't feel guilty about taking breaks and enjoying yourself now. A good work-life balance, with everything in moderation, reduces stress and raises your happiness level.
Take advantage of freebies. If you travel for work, gather air miles and hotel points. These are valuable freebies that you can use for free or low-cost vacations. Visit local museums, many of which are free or at least have free days throughout the year. Enjoy your environment -- go to the beach, go hiking and get outdoors. All of these options are free and fun. They may even help you be healthier and live a long enjoyable life in retirement.
John Csiszar earned a Certified Financial Planner designation and served for 18 years as an investment counselor before becoming a writing and editing contractor for various private clients. In addition to writing thousands of articles for various online publications, he has published five educational books for young adults.