To Be Happy Now, Live Like You’re Already Retired

Why wait until you’re retired to do all the things that can make you happier, healthier and more fulfilled? Instead, start now. Here’s how to live like you’re retired, even when you’re not.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The poet Mary Oliver never worked an interesting job in her life, just as she wanted it. Her fear was that it would take away valuable time and energy from her true passion — writing poetry.

As she explained in an interview (opens in new tab):

I was very careful never to take an interesting job. I took lots of jobs. But if you have an interesting job you get interested in it. … Believe me, if anybody has a job and starts at 9, there’s no reason why they can’t get up at 4:30 or 5 and write for a couple of hours, and give their employers their second-best effort of the day – which is what I did.

I am not a full proponent of her idea. If you spend eight or more hours a day at a job, it helps to have at least some interest in what you do.

Still, Oliver makes a good point: There is no reason not to allocate more effort to the things that give us joy and less to the things that don’t.

It may sound trite. But honestly think about it: How well do you do this?

In the financial industry, we mostly sell people on the idea of an ideal future that affords them total control over their time to do whatever they want. In other words, retirement. But why focus entirely on the future when we can live to some degree like that now?

Essentially, if you want to lead a more fulfilling life, then do the things retirees are told to do to make the most of their later years. As Oliver encourages: Give yourself permission to put forth your best effort toward the things that provide happiness and meaning while skating through the less important stuff in life.

It is something I certainly need to get better at, which is why I have begun to reframe life as if I were retired. That is, putting more intention behind the things I do, with less consideration of what other people and society thinks.

Here are the steps I am taking to try to live like I’m retired.

This article was written by and presents the views of our contributing adviser, not the Kiplinger editorial staff. You can check adviser records with the SEC or with FINRA.

Jacob Schroeder, Manager of Investor Education
Manager of Investor Education, Advance Capital Management

Jacob Schroeder is the Manager of Investor Education at Advance Capital Management (www.acadviser.com/ (opens in new tab)). He is also the creator of the personal finance newsletter The Root of All (https://rootofall.substack.com/ (opens in new tab)), exploring how money shapes our lives. His goal is to help people make more informed financial decisions and live happier lives. His writing has been featured in publications such as Yahoo Finance, Wealth Management magazine, The Detroit News and, as a short-story writer, in various literary journals.