Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Find Your Purpose in Retirement

You are never too old to find your purpose in life, although some people give up long before they should.  Two of my friends were talking recently about how they spend their days now that they are retired.  One said she does a lot of reading and goes to a water aerobics class a couple of times a week.  The other one said she was still trying to "find herself."  She was not sure, yet, what she wants to do with the rest of her life, despite the fact that she is in her mid-60s and recently retired from a long career.

This conversation made me sad.  Both of these women could afford to explore a wide variety of activities, yet something is holding them back.  Upon reflection, it seems that neither of them have found their purpose in life. They are still looking for something meaningful to do in retirement.  Unfortunately, they do not realize that this is the very time in their lives when they have the time to really immerse themselves in something meaningful!

Even if you have spent your entire adult life simply taking care of your responsibilities, working at a job, raising children, and caring for other family members, it is never too late to find a purpose in life.

Meaningful Opportunities are All Around You

Unlike the women above, another friend of mine began her retirement by signing up to spend three years in the Peace Corp, beginning at age 62.  She spent most of that time in Ukraine, where she made lifelong friends.  More than a decade after completing her Peace Corp tour, she still meets with former Peace Corps members once a month and occasionally makes speeches to other organizations about her experiences and what she learned during her years abroad.  While this was a life changing experience for her, I have discovered that many other people are not aware they can still join the Peace Corp in their 60s and 70s.  What a wonderful way to find a purpose in life and explore the world!

My husband and I have found meaning by volunteering at our local homeless shelter, pictured above.  Preparing food and feeding the homeless helps us appreciate our own lives.  We have also become involved in the political campaign of someone we know who is running for Congress.  In addition, we regularly spend time with our grandchildren and help out one of our daughters who is raising two teenage children on her own.  For me, even writing this blog and providing people with a wide variety of useful information about retirement has given my life meaning.  All these activities give my husband and me a purpose in life.  

Other retirees I know have found meaning in second careers or volunteer opportunities.  Below are just a few of the choices our friends have made to bring joy and meaning to their retirement years:

A retired school principal opened her own delicatessen
A retired semi-conductor salesman became an actor
A former WW II veteran reads to school children once a week
Several women have built new careers involving art or crafts
A number of retirees I know have written and self-published books
Countless other retirees volunteer in churches, hospitals, food banks, schools and for non-profits.  All these organizations need volunteers and the people who offer to help are greatly appreciated.

A Thought-Provoking Movie

While you are thinking about how to live a meaningful life, you may want to watch the Shirley MacLaine movie "The Last Word."  It tells the story of a wealthy, but very lonely, elderly woman who asks the obituary writer for the local newspaper to write her obituary while she is still alive. When she reads the first draft, she decides to make changes in her life.  This decision takes both women on a journey of self-discovery.

This movie will make you laugh, but it will also make you think.  It could also help you change your life!

How to Have a Meaningful Retirement

The time to start planning what you want to do in retirement is before you retire, if possible, although it is never too late to try something new.  Do you have an unfulfilled dream?  Is there a different job you have always wanted to try, but didn't think it would pay you enough while you were raising a family?  Is there a place you would like to visit?  Are there people you would like to help?  Is there an organization which is meaningful to you, where you could volunteer?  The ways you can find meaning are endless.

Below are a few places you can contact to get ideas:

Your place of worship
Your local school district
Your local hospital or animal shelter
Your local homeless shelter - A site which helps match people to potential second careers or volunteer opportunities with non-profits in their community.

Don't Settle for a Boring Retirement

After living in a retirement community for nearly 14 years, I have learned that retirees can either choose to be bored and lonely, or they can choose to live their dream life.  This is your opportunity to write a book, start a business, help people in need, travel, volunteer or try a new career.  You can use this second chance at life to improve your own financial situation or the lives of other people.   Don't settle for a boring retirement.

It is never to late to find meaning in your life!

If you are interested in more information about retirement planning, where to retire, Social Security, Medicare, common medical problems and more, use the tabs or pull-down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

Watch for my book "Retirement Awareness: 10 Steps to a Comfortable Retirement," which will be published by Griffin Publishing in 2018.

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Photo credit: Photo of homeless shelter taken by author


  1. Yes, find your purpose in life, and you'll enjoy your retirement more. Don't settle into a daily routine, instead find the reason why you wake up in the morning. Finding your purpose will boost your happiness and outlook on life. Also, it will keep boredom at bay all throughout the retirement. I also wrote a similar post to this, how to love your retirement even more. You can read it here: Now it made me think that your post should be included in that post if it were only made in February. Enjoyed your post! Thanks.:)

  2. Purpose and passion seem to go hand in hand. It's the difference between a boring and a fulfilling life. Great article.

    1. Thank you! I agree that finding a purpose can be the difference between a boring and fulfilling life. Thanks for the comment!


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