While many believe that a financial planner’s work focuses solely on your money, that’s not the case for most planners.
Instead, a financial planner’s work revolves around helping clients maximize their life satisfaction by using money as a tool to do it. And typically, the financial planning process begins with a conversation about where you are now (your current financial situation), where you want to go (your goals and dreams), and how to get you there (recommendations and strategies). Ultimately, this process can lead clients to a healthy and secure retirement.
But, unfortunately, just because you’ve secured a healthy retirement doesn’t mean you’ll be happy.
While financial security can boost your happiness and satisfaction, in and of itself, money does not provide happiness. In fact, unhappiness in retirement is fairly common, and the IEA (Institute of Economic Affairs) reports that self-reported depression increases by 40% in the first few years of retirement.
But fortunately, like there are strategies to build your financial wealth via physician wealth services, there are strategies to build your happiness. And as Arthur C. Brooks, author of From Strength to Strength, writes:
“Your well-being is like a retirement account: The sooner you invest, the greater your returns will be.”
“Each of us has something like a “Happiness 401(k)” that we invest in when we are young, and that we get to enjoy when we are old. And just as financial planners advise their clients to engage in specific behaviors—make your saving automatic; think twice before buying that boat—we can all teach ourselves to do some very specific things at any age to make our last decades much, much happier.”
And when it comes to “maxing out” your Happiness 401(k), Arthur says there are 7 specific “investment decisions” we should focus on that can lead to happiness in old age — based on data from Harvard’s Successful Aging study.
Here Are 7 Habits For Happiness in Old Age
- Don’t Smoke
Researchers found that smoking and decreased happiness are strongly correlated, so the advice here is simple: don’t smoke — or if you already do, quit now. Of course, that may be easier said than done, and quitting may take multiple attempts, but Arthur writes, “The earlier you start the quitting process, the more smoke-free years you can invest in your happiness account.”
- Don’t Over Drink
In addition, plenty of research suggests that alcohol abuse is a powerful predictor of unhappiness. Arthur writes that it’s critical to seek help if you have any “problem drinking” in your life and consider avoiding drinking altogether if you have any history of alcohol abuse in your family. He writes that while it may be difficult, you’ll never regret the decision to avoid overdrinking or stop drinking altogether.
- Maintain a Healthy Body Weight
Do your best to maintain a healthy body weight by eating a balanced diet and getting plenty of exercise. This can pay off big over the long run, both in terms of happiness and health. In addition, consider avoiding extreme diets or severe restrictions, as these can be difficult to maintain over the long run and can often result in a yo-yo effect.
- Prioritize Movement
Do your best to make movement part of your everyday life. For many, the easiest way to do this is walking daily, though there are many ways to achieve this habit, from pickleball to mountain biking and everything in between. Consider scheduling this as a daily activity to ensure it happens, and do everything you can to make it a daily habit.
- Practice Coping Mechanisms Now
No matter how great life is, it’s essential to understand that you may face challenging times in the future.
So, practice healthy coping mechanisms to ensure you can handle unfortunate circumstances in old age like the loss of a loved one or a long-time friend. Some possible tools include spiritual practices like prayer, scripture study, and therapy or meditation. Just like you exercise your muscles to build strength, you can also exercise your coping mechanisms. By doing this, you’ll set yourself up for future success and avoid “excessive rumination, unhealthy emotional reactions, or avoidance behavior,” as Arthur writes.
- Continue Learning
Keep learning new things to promote and build a healthier, more active mind in old age.
This doesn’t mean you need to go back to school for another degree, but you should prioritize learning new skills and engage in lifelong learning. Ultimately, this can lead to a happier and longer life as you increase your odds of remaining sharp in your old age. Some examples of continued learning are:
- Learning and mastering a new hobby.
- Reading non-fiction to learn more about new subjects.
- Enrolling in adult learning or community learning courses.
- Learning to play a new instrument or speak a new language.
- Prioritize Your Relationships
Lastly, one of the most significant predictors of happiness at any age is the strength of your social connections.
This can be especially important for retirees as they may miss the social connections they had while working. The key is to invest in your relationships over time, starting with a steady marriage, deep friendships, and a healthy, connected family. Arthur writes: “The point is to find people with whom you can grow, whom you can count on, no matter what comes your way.”
IMAFS Is Here to Help
Work with an IMAFS fiduciary CFP® expert to maximize your happiness 401(k) by developing a comprehensive financial strategy.
IMAFS is one of the best wealth management firms for doctors in Idaho because we prioritize helping our clients create sustainable wealth while also allowing them to experience the full potential of their financial resources. For this purpose, we match each client with a competent CFP® expert who is supported by a stellar group of coworkers.
Our team at IMAFS cares about more than just making a profit. Contact us to schedule a free consultation.