They keep us focused, keep us on task and help us organize the day-to-day tedium of our working lives.

Hawaii-based retiree Rik Rodriguez surfs regularly to keep his mind and body sharp.But habits remain important even when the working stops. In fact, after waiting decades to give up on their full-time careers, many retirees wake up to the realization that they actually need their daily routines more than ever to help them structure and make sense of their suddenly wide-open schedules.

How do they do it? What habits are particularly helpful for today’s retirees? We reached out to our Yahoo! Contributor Network community to find out what habits our retired members rely on and how they help them make the most of their golden years. Several of their responses are shown below.

I Challenge Myself Every Day

“I face it daily. At age 88, being retired for so many years is often challenging. My method of coping is to keep busy, both mentally and physically. Every morning I swim or hike for an hour. Then I attack blogging, my most energizing new routine. Actually, I’ve been a writer all my life, and made quite a good living at it in advertising and public relations. However, most was done on typewriters, and later on desktop computers before the Internet explosion.

“To create an active retirement, I attack the need for mental fitness as I fulfill physical conditioning. It requires work, stretching my mind as I do my body. At my advanced age, it’s often very challenging, but it’s also a lot of fun.” — Ted Sherman, 88

Working Part-Time Is My Key to a Happy Retirement

“Working is a life-long habit — a habit I decided to keep when I retired last year at age 62. Now, however, I work only part-time. I’ve been a substitute teacher since day one of my retirement. Substitute teaching is inherently a part-time job. Workers drawing Social Security in 2013 may earn up to $15,120 annually without reducing their monthly benefits. Subbing ensures that my earnings won’t exceed the annual limit. And, because I’m working, my Social Security benefits keep on increasing. I also maintain ‘active’ employee status in the public school retirement system, and continue to accrue contributions to my pension.

“Substituting connects me to creative, bright students. They ‘keep me on my toes,’ and I share my years of experience with them. There’s a mutual exchange of teaching and learning. Working part-time in retirement brings balance. I have the best of both worlds.” – Susan Durham, 63

A Good Retirement Begins With Friendships

“When I stopped teaching, along with that went the interactions between my students and me and my colleagues and me. I had friends, but not as many as I wanted; an extremely demanding work schedule had meant little time for friends, let alone a family.

“As a single woman, I knew I had to reach out to others. I made sure I had a plan in place to get out with people, make new friends, and to reach back to others in my past to get out and have some fun. I began filling up Fridays with dates for shopping, lunches, an occasional movie, and more. I am a natural hermit, but I knew being solitary was not good for my mental or physical well-being.” – Sandra Snow, 61

Retirement Is All About Attitude

“Although many factors contribute to my successful retirement, being a consistent and dedicated surfer helped me attain many of my retirement goals. Surfing requires focus, dedication and timing to name a few things. Most of us will excel in any endeavor utilizing these three elements. I have found a productive activity that I love and I turned it into a habit. The success of my retirement depended on it.

“Surfing has been my motivation most of my life now, and is something I do several times a week near my home on the Big Island of Hawaii. Staying in good shape is very important to me. Surfing is fun and challenging with many hidden benefits. It most certainly has enhanced my life in more ways that I can tell.” — Rik Rodriguez, 56

Scheduling Time Makes for More Satisfying Retirement Days

“If you have a regular date with a garden club, book club, or just a coffee klatch, those ‘appointments’ give you a daily dose of meaningful moments that are priceless. I make a point every week to send birthday cards, letters, or messages to friends far away in distance, but never in heart. I don’t depend on time for these things to just appear — I plan for it! These remembrances really make a difference to you and the ones you remember!” – Tresa Patterson, 54

Volunteering Makes for a Successful Retirement

“Volunteering gives me the opportunity to meet new interesting and talented people. For example, I currently volunteer as an usher at the Chapman Cultural Center’s David Read Theatre in Spartanburg, SC. The theatre hosts plays, musical entertainers, movies, lectures, etc. The perks of volunteering are that I get to attend the events I usher for free. I have made many new friends, and I am able to learn while I have fun!

“Volunteering at my church also contributes to my happy retirement. I attend Restoration Church in Spartanburg, SC and volunteer as a greeter, serve on the decorating team, and at special events.” – Freida Thomas, 51


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