Pursuing Purpose After Retirement
As one of the major life events, retiring from a lifelong profession is both a celebration of accomplishment and also a transition. Many mixed emotions and questions can come up now that there’s no longer a pursuit of career goals. For many, their identity and a sense of purpose can come into question.
Defining your unique purpose after retirement—which may or may not be the same as during your career—can help you stay grounded in your identity and can also help soften any experience of loss. While retirement may be closing one chapter, it offers the opportunity to start new ones or devote more time to an existing one. Your career likely required the bulk of your energy, but retirement gives you a chance to use that energy for new goals, experiences, and experiments. Sit down with a journal and try these writing prompts to help you reflect on what you want your retirement to look like. You might be surprised at the possibilities that come up.
Define what drives you
Purpose is often described as that which motivates us to get up in the morning and make contributions to the world—something we strongly believe in. This can often start as a simple desire, such as wanting to help build a stronger community or reduce pollution. A clear purpose is linked to long-term happiness and a sense of meaning—that what we do positively impacts others—and can shed light on how you want to spend your retirement.
List what energizes you
This may come down to figuring out where and when you feel your best. If you’re more on the introverted side, you may love spending quiet time in your garden or with family and close friends. If you love meeting new people and being active in the community, you may be excited to join a board, volunteer, or exercise group. Some people are also energized by learning a new craft, dancing, or exploring new areas of study. Think about the things and activities that help you feel refreshed and recharged.
Think about how you want to spend your time
Retiring from a full-time job frees up at least 40 hours a week—and that can feel like a luxury at first. However, an expanse of time without any goals or structure can leave some people feeling lost, bored, or restless. Certain types of people need a schedule with set times, like one with exercise classes, group meetings, and movie dates. Others may do best with an open schedule, preferring to play each day by ear. So it may help to think about how, during your career, you felt on your best day off. Maybe you laughed with family and friends, attended a lecture, exercised, connected with an important cause, or worked on an ongoing project. By looking back at what stands out as the most gratifying, you can build your schedule around that. And keep in mind, this is your retirement—you can try out different things and change it anytime.
Take stock of unexplored opportunities
Everyone has those aspirations that were limited by time, responsibilities, or resources. Now is the time to let yourself think back on those missed opportunities that you may now have the resources to revisit and explore. It may be learning gourmet cooking, traveling, or simply spending more time outdoors—however big or small, this can be the time to act on a lifelong dream.
Saying goodbye to a long-time career opens the doors to new passions and experiences. At Era Living, we help seniors see the possibilities in starting a new chapter after retirement, and offer opportunities for residents to discover new interests, make new connections, and live vibrantly. Learn more by browsing our selection of retirement communities today.