How to Become a Smart Risk-taker in Retirement

Who never takes a risk, never has a chance

The quotation comes from an old Chinese proverb and well describes why risk taking is essential for postworksavvy living.risk taking courtesy of sweetonveg

Yet so many retired people stop taking risks, favouring instead a life style based on predictability.

This choice comes from popular advice to retirees that the secret to a healthy retirement is developing a predictable schedule — including getting up at the same time each day, going to bed at the same time each night, eating meals on a regular schedule, and developing a pattern of consistency of exercise.

Good advice — but it leads to a boring life style.

The False Security of Predictability

Older people often take refuge in predictability.  They tend to be cautious.risk taking in retirement courtesy of donireewalker

Security ranks higher than risk taking in terms of life planning.

Unfortunately, this means that many people lose out as they lack the courage to make changes in their lives that will keep up morale.

Fear of change often leads to missing experiences that bring novelty and excitement to retirement.

How about some risk-taking to keep retirement exciting?

Risk-taking is usually considered a quality of youth.  Young people never hesitate to try new activities, to move to new places, to change routines, to build new relationships.

There is a good postworksavvy lesson in studying youthful behaviour to learn how to keep retirement inspiring and fun.

Successful aging depends on taking risks .  Taking risks prevents you from getting stuck and getting attached to known safe options.

Take Smart Risks

When considering risk taking, think carefully. Don’t take stupid risks.  This is not the time of life to take up sports like sky-diving or heli-skiing.  Your insurance company won’t support you if you go on some dangerous adventure trips.

There are some risks to avoid including

  1. Financial risks — don’t change your investment strategy just to add some excitement to your life; keep investments safe and secure.
  2. Health risks — retirement often means changes to health and the goal is to keep the health you have; no drastic changes to avoid what your primary physician advises. While I like changes, I’m not about to experiment with risks to my health as I know that my body takes longer to heal.
  3. Environmental risks — some environments are downright toxic.  You don’t want to risk living in a poisoned environment with exposure to toxins.  Remember that toxic environments are not only physical such as a house with asbestos contamination.  More often family or relationship situations produce emotional toxins that are equally dangerous to health and well-being.
  4. Safety risks — although many older adults continue to pursue active sports, it might not be smart to start doing adventure sports such as sky diving, alpine ski racing, or race car driving.  Use your body’s wisdom and agility as a guide.

Start with small changes

Experiment with becoming a risk taker by creating something new in your life.  You might pursue a neglected creative hobby.  You might begin continuing education courses to learn new skills.  Last year, I took swimming lessons and now enjoy being able to breathe properly in the water so that I can pursue a new exercise.  This fall, I’m enrolling in a HTML course to learn background computer skills needed to manage this blog more effectively.

Trying new habits is another strategy to introduce novelty.  Many older people don’t drink enough water, so making an effort to take frequent sips of water during the day can develop a habit with beneficial health effects.  Playing with habits like using your non-dominant hand to brush your teeth can be fun and can also act as a brain teaser!  Taking a different route as you drive to regular appointments might change your perspective and encourage you to see the world differently.

Adopting a new schedule for your day/week. Much as I love sleeping until I naturally awaken, I am experimenting with getting up at 6 am to write my blog posts and my journal before I go to the gym for my morning exercise.   Hopefully rising early will become part of a new schedule — and a new habit.

Reviewing the bucket list might also give you some ideas.  Why not book that special trip?  Our recent European river cruise down the Rhine and the Danube was a great way to end the summer of 2012 and allowed achievement of another item on the travel list.

Benefits of Taking Postworksavvy Risks

Taking smart risks keeps life interesting. The ruts of a ‘same old’ perspective are avoided.

Morale improves as regular routines are ignored in favour of novelty.

Brain activity increases with challenges — new activities and new experiences challenge established ways of thinking about life and about the world in general.

Too often older people abandon risk taking. While predictability brings a sense of security to retirement, may people lose out on rich experiences due to a fear of change.

Finding the courage to challenge yourself to become a smart risk taker in retirement brings many potential payoffs and creates the postworksavvy lifestyle that keeps retirement exciting.

Finally, remember that the postworksavvy retirement lifestyle is a journey.  You are not too old to keep asking  ‘who never takes a risk, never has a chance’.

Photos courtesy of and donireewalker

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