“Retire from work, but not from life.” ~MK Soni
We often visualize a retired life as happy, stress-free, and relaxing. While getting a little R&R is important, there is a limit to how much napping and puttering around one can do. Without a plan for life after retirement, many retirees may find themselves feeling vaguely restless and unfulfilled. As a result, it leaves you feeling like you are craving something more. But, you have no idea what that something might be. The truth is many retirees spend so much time focusing on the financial aspects of retirement, that they forget about the personal side. Ultimately, meaning and purpose are the keys to a happy life no matter how old you are. And, retirement is no different. There is a difference between being busy in retirement and being fulfilled. Most retirees think filling up their free time with pleasures such as seeing their grandkids, or playing tennis is enough. And while pleasures are important, they do not satisfy a lack of purpose. For this reason, finding true fulfillment and purpose in your retired life are as important as air is to your lungs.
Why Purpose in Retirement Matters
For many of us, there was always a reason to get out of bed. Whether that reason was work or getting the kids to school, when that ends, many forget to plan the what’s next! A lot of retirees think retirement will be one long vacation, and, for some, it is. But, for many others, retirement is a struggle to maintain interest and vitality. Lose a sense of purpose like working, and life seems, well, purposeless. That’s because losing a job even when by choice can create a hole in your sense of purpose and self worth. For most of us, what we have done to earn a living is what defined us. For this reason, many retirees struggle to figure out how to validate who they are without linking it to a job. And though it can be hard to figure out who you are without the trappings of a career, but it can be done.
Finding New Purpose in Retirement
Finding a new purpose in retirement can arise from learning something new, or trying new things. By finding new interests and making the most of your unique talents, you can achieve the kind of fulfillment and meaning in your life you have been looking for. In fact, the very pursuit of happiness is what thwarts happiness. And, once you have a reason to be happy, happiness comes automatically. For those who seek it, happiness is about looking inward. It’s about satisfying your needs and wants. However, meaning is different. It’s focused outwards, on others. It’s about contributing to your community, and society as a whole. When you see your purpose as larger than yourself, you no longer need to pursue happiness. In fact, it will come naturally even when you are faced with setbacks or discomfort. Remember, life is too precious a commodity for trivial pursuits. So, let curiosity be the compass that leads you to your passions.