I see it daily.
Happy retirees living life with purpose and meaning. Less than happy retirees feeling a bit lost and bored.
Studies consistently show, and my experience proves, that retirees who seem the happiest and healthiest are those that are regularly engaged in activities that inspire them and give them a reason to get out of bed in the morning. They pursue activities such as hobbies, sport, volunteering, reading, study, part-time work, travel. They are in reasonable health and maintain connected with friends and family. They may have retired from full time work, but they have not retired from life.
Spending 30 something years working fulfils many human mental and physical needs. We are challenged and stimulated, we create social networks and achieve personal and team goals. All these things help contribute to your sense of self-worth.
Unfortunately for some, their whole identity and their whole sense of self-worth is tied to their career. Work gets them out of bed in the morning. Work is what gives them purpose and meaning. Leaving that job then leaves a massive hole in their life that, if not filled can make for unhappy days, months and years at a time when they finally have the freedom to do what they want to do.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Even the word ‘retirement’ needs a re-think. It literally means to withdraw, to go away, to retreat. This completely fails to describe the possibilities available to us lucky enough to be alive today – greater prosperity, education, and health leading to an increased life expectancy. Our latter years should be a time of rewarding, not retiring.
If you are currently working, what hobbies, pastimes and interests will you continue to cultivate into retirement? Maybe you can ease into retirement by working less and less hours as you get older?
If you are retired and feeling a bit lost, what can you do today to begin to move you back to a meaningful, purposeful, happy and engaged retirement?
Don’t stop living when you cease paid employment. Reward yourself!