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The Next Stage: 4 Tips For Successfully Navigating Retired Life

The Next Stage: 4 Tips For Successfully Navigating Retired Life

Retirement will be here before you know it. For some of you, it may have already come. This is definitely a huge transition period in your life, and it will take a lot of preparation and thought. How well do you think you will be able to handle retirement? How well are you handling it now? Whether you are already retired or are planning to retire soon, you can start working now to make your retirement an extremely pleasant experience. You want to make sure that you will enjoy your senior years to their fullest and live life the way you have always dreamed of. The following tips can help you get ready to get the most from your senior years.

Set up a financial plan.

Retirement comes with a new way of life. Most people no longer have the job-based income they lived on for many years. They now become dependent on pensions, savings, and Social Security. Before giving up full-time employment permanently, it is important to work out a practical budget that takes into account your retirement income and expenses. You want to make sure that you have enough money and savings to live and have fun once you retire. Being financially smart now can really help make a different for you in the future. A financial adviser can help advise you on how to prepare for the financial changes that occur following retirement. Seeking help from a professional can really help you find the best plan for your situation so that you will be as prepared as possible for retirement.

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Maintain or increase social connections.

Leaving a full-time job does not mean you have to let go of workplace friendships. Although you may see coworkers less than you did when you were employed, you can still make plans to spend time together. Retirement is a great time to forge new relationships through activities like hobbies and community gatherings. Catching up with old friends on social media and with relatives you haven’t seen in a while are also ways of having fun and making memories with people you care about. You want to make sure that you don’t let any of your previous relationships die just because you are retired. Retirement is a perfect time to connect with old friends and even build new connections. For advice on making new connections, consult a professional with a Master’s degree in gerontology or similar expertise.

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Work on your bucket list.

Rather than seeing this as a morbid list for the golden years, consider a bucket list an opportunity to do the things you’ve always dreamed of but previously lacked time or money to pursue. Start a small side business or travel to exotic locales. You might eventually decide to update your bucket list or throw it away and enjoy a spontaneous life on a day-by-day basis. This is the perfect time to chase your dreams and make them real. Retirement is definitely a great time to travel and to try to accomplish life goals. You will have so much extra time and will be able to work on your goals. There is definitely no better time for this than retirement.

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Be open to new experiences.

With your hard-won experience and newfound insight, your senior years can also be a time to try new things. Take an art class or enroll in a dance class. You can learn a different language or volunteer at a nearby school. Write a book or become an amateur photographer. Whatever your passion in life, explore it now and possibly share it with others.

Retirement is the beginning of the rest of your life, so make it count. The above useful strategies and tips for experiencing this exciting new stage will make the golden years even more meaningful.

Featured photo credit: ageinplace.com via ageinplace.com

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Kara Masterson

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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