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How To Maintain a Sense of Purpose as a Retiree

After spending decades in the workforce and working forty or more hours a week, retirees may find it difficult to find purpose in daily life.

This transition can be challenging, as individuals often define themselves by their careers, and suddenly they are faced with an abundance of free time and no clear direction.

However, there is plenty of life to enjoy after your career is over. Retirement presents a unique opportunity to explore new hobbies, interests, and passions that were previously sidelined due to work commitments. It’s also an ideal time to focus on personal growth and self-improvement.

From spending time with friends and family to volunteering in their community, here are seven ways for retirees to find and maintain their sense of purpose.

Retirees can maintain fulfilling lives and make positive contributions to society by embracing this new stage of life and actively pursuing meaningful experiences.


1. Reconnect With Friends and Family

Retirement can give you the time you need to reconnect with your friends and family. If you have children, you’ll have more time to celebrate new milestones in their life. You can also deepen your relationship with your spouse as you reach your golden years together.

Focusing on your social life can have positive effects on your mental and physical health, including: 

  • Physical mobility: Older adults who socialize with others in their community have higher physical mobility on average. 
  • Positive health-seeking behavior: Another benefit of community on older adult’s health is more positive health-seeking behavior. Older adults who spend time with friends and family regularly are less likely to smoke and more likely to engage in healthy habits such as regular doctor’s visits and cancer screenings. 
  • Cognitive health: One study that evaluated over 1,000 older adults without dementia symptoms over 12 years found that those who participated in regular social activity experienced 70% less cognitive decline than older adults with low social activity. Therefore, seeing people regularly will not only brighten your day, but may maintain your overall cognitive well-being.


2. Travel to New Places

When you retire, you may feel bored with daily life, but you can easily spruce up the boredom with travels to new places every once in a while. Each destination will introduce you to new cultures, experiences, languages, and people. 

Retirement is a great time to travel to places around the world — from the islands of Hawaii to the ruins of Greece. When you aren’t on a trip, you can spend time planning future trips, reading about possible travel destinations, writing about your travels, and talking with the people you’ve met around the world. 



3. Look for Volunteer Opportunities

You can even use the skills you used in your career during your volunteer work. On the other hand, volunteering may allow you to build new skills or pursue a new interest. No matter what skills you build, though, they’ll be used to improve your community and contribute to causes you are passionate about

If you are interested in volunteering, so options include: 

  • Walking dogs at your local animal shelter; 
  • Reading to children at the public library; 
  • Feeding the hungry at a homeless shelter; 
  • Providing professional services for local nonprofit organizations. 

By engaging in volunteer opportunities in your career, you can help make your community a better place while also increasing your social interactions and personal support group. 


4. Take up a New Hobby

If you are trying to find purpose and fill your free time, consider taking up a new hobby. Some possible hobbies include: 

  • Sports: Many sports hold the trifecta of benefits — they engage your mind, improve your physical well-being, and open up social opportunities for you. Many communities often offer exercise programs or sports teams that anyone can join.
  • Creative Arts: It’s never too late to stretch your creative muscles. This may encompass anything from oil painting or learning to play a new instrument. 
  • Nature: Your local state park or national park is an excellent resource if you want to spend more time outdoors. 
  • Learning: Even if your career is over, you can still learn new things and further your education. Community colleges and other organizations offer a variety of classes in many different areas. 

During your journey of finding a new hobby, you’ll often build new skills, keep your brain active, and meet other people with similar interests.


5. Organize Your Finances

Taking more control over personal finances can give many older adults a lasting sense of purpose and can make their retirement more successful. If you are interested in organizing your finances in retirement, there are several actions you can take that will help you succeed financially, including: 

  • Changing your spending habits: Retirement often motivates people to look at their life and their consumption habits with new eyes. You may also need to cut your spending habits due to living on a fixed income.
  • Converting your IRA: One way to organize your finances in retirement is to convert your Traditional IRA to a Roth IRA using a backdoor strategy.  
  • Making a budget: Once you’ve started changing your spending habits, you can start making a monthly or weekly budget and sticking to it. You’ll be amazed by your savings.

Taking these steps can help you to better care for yourself and your loved ones as you age. 


6. Find Temporary Work

Finding temporary work can give retirees a sense of purpose and an additional source of income. Temporary work provides many benefits, including a flexible work schedule that doesn’t normally exist in traditional work environments. 

If you are a retired health professional looking for temporary work, some options include: 

  • Medical surveys: If you are interested in a few hundred or thousand dollars each year, then you can complete medical surveys online. Many sites are looking for input from experienced medical professionals. 
  • Locum tenens: A locum tenens is a traveling or temporary healthcare provider who fills an interim role. There is temporary work for anyone with experience as a doctor, nurse, or administrator 

Temporary work can provide retirees with a chance to utilize the skills they spent decades developing throughout their careers


7. Get Into Investing

Investing can give retirees a continual sense of purpose as they look for new investment opportunities and track the progress of their current investment portfolio. 

If you aren’t a financial expert, and you are interested in safer investment options, then passive real estate investing can be a safe and low-maintenance investment strategy. 

However, if you’re interested in the technical aspects of investments, there are plenty of online resources and local classes that may help you in your investments and financial planning. Learning more about investing can also help you to catch up if you are behind on building up your retirement savings.


Why Is It Important To Have Purpose? 

Before people retire, 90% spend their planning time thinking about the financial side of retirement, and the remaining 10% think about the non-financial side. Once someone retires, they often flip the script and begin to spend 90% of their time making non-financial plans and decisions. 

The 90/10 Rule isn’t true for everyone, but if you are going to spend 90% of your retirement making non-financial plans, you may have a stronger sense of purpose during your Golden Years. 

This sense of purpose also offers the following health benefits: 

In short, living a purposeful life can improve your mental and physical health and increase your longevity.


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1 thought on “How To Maintain a Sense of Purpose as a Retiree”

  1. Love this list, too often readers are so busy getting to retirement when it happens they don’t know what to do with all of their free time, hence the many books that have been written on the topic. In addition to volunteering (many seniors in our community are volunteer police, parks stewards, and substitute teachers) I would also add becoming a community advocate can be a great use of the extra time.

    Many of us are passionate about one thing or another, and during the working years don’t have time to go to city council meetings or volunteer for a community board or campaign. It takes a lot of time to advocate for community needs, gather signatures, and perform due diligence for things as simple as expanding a pedestrian trail or obtaining funding for library services. I look forward to this myself!


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