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Six Tips to find Meaning and Purpose in Retirement

Updated: Aug 13, 2022

Someone drawing
What have you always wanted to do?

Our expectations of what our retirement should look like has changed from previous generations. Retirement is often considered ‘the third stage of life’ and with advances in medicine, many retirees can expect to live up to 30 years in this stage.

While some people look forward to retirement and doing what they have always wanted to do, many others can’t imagine not working. Have you asked yourself any of these questions? What will I do all day when I retire? What can I do so I won’t be bored? How can I meet people? Sometimes it is not easy to get your head around the concept of retiring.

For many of us our work provides us with our meaning and purpose and is also a large part of our identity. When that no longer exists, we are left wondering who we are and why we are here.

After the initial euphoria of retirement subsides you are left with the realisation that this is how you are going to spend the next 20 or 30 years. One of the key factors to having a meaningful and fulfilled retirement is to find something that gives your life meaning and purpose. Here are some suggestions for finding that purpose.

1. Search for and find your true passion

What is something you have always wanted to do, but because of other people’s expectations or your responsibilities, you weren’t able to? Now is the time to make this happen. Perhaps it is something creative, such as painting or craft or maybe you have always wanted to write a book. Or is there something new and different that you want to study just for the sake of it? You might want to take a course or even go to University. This stage of your life is a great time to explore new options and expand your horizons. Retirement is a great time to try something different and perhaps take some risks.

Paint pots of lots of colours
What is your passion?

2. Know the difference between pleasure and fulfillment

Pleasure comes from an external source and is temporary in nature whereas fulfillment comes from within, and the satisfaction it provides is long term. Fulfillment and purpose are harder to come by than pleasures. You can find pleasure in simple things such as meeting a friend for coffee or reading a book as well as going on an overseas trip. But once the trip is over, or the book read, the pleasure has ended. There is nothing wrong in finding activities that give you pleasure. For some people though, this is not enough, and they need to find a way to get a deeper feeling of satisfaction.

3. Giving back

Volunteering is a great way to give back and find purpose and fulfillment. There are many organizations that will happily take volunteers and the range and variety of volunteer work is endless. Volunteer at a local school and help some children with their reading; mentor a young person; if you like animals, work at a zoo, wildlife centre or animal shelter; volunteer at a hospital: visit people in nursing homes; work for a charity in their retail stores or behind the scenes. As well as providing a purpose, these activities will also help you maintain social contact and connection.

4. Identify your core values

If you are stuck and finding it difficult to identify activities that will give you a sense of purpose and fulfillment, identifying your core values will help. Your core values are the principles by which you live. They provide your life with meaning and will help you to identify what is important in your life. A lot of us are not consciously aware of our core values. You can find a free online values assessment tool here or you can look out for the online course I am publishing soon on Values.

Once you have determined your top 3 – 5 values you will be able to brainstorm all of the activities that align with these values and these activities will be the ones that give you a sense of purpose.

5. Strengthen your inner world.

Learn to look inwards, and practice reflection, mindfulness. Meditation, or yoga, Tai Chi or QiGong are all great ways to do this. For many of us, our work years required conforming to external guideposts and demands. Now we have the opportunity to develop new skills that are typically more reflective, practicing gratitude will also help to strengthen our inner world and help us feel content and happier with what we have.

6. Find a part time job

For many people a part time job may be a financial necessity, but part time work can also give you the purpose you are looking for. An added bonus is also the social contact you will get from working part time.

Job ideas for opportunities for retirees are many and varied. Working from home and running your own small business may be an option for some people.

Some creative and fun things to do are to make and sell craft e.g. jewelry; grow plants from seeds and sell them, build a website – and perhaps earn some money from blogging and affiliate marketing, writing e.g. copywriting, ghost writing; advertising your freelance services on Upwork and lots more. For more information on earning money after retirement check out this post.

Do you feel like you need some more support to navigate the transition to retirement? Book a complimentary 15 min call to find out more about my coaching packages and on-going support with your transition to retirement.

If you have decided to retire from teaching but are looking for a new career, this short online course will help you get started with the career transtion process and work out what you can do next that is both meaningful and rewarding.

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