Finding your purpose in retirement

Everyone looks forward to being retired. The idea of not having to abide by a schedule every day or to commute somewhere to work is very appealing. Even if you have a work-from-home job, people get excited when they think about the freedom retirement can bring.

However, retirement is not without its pitfalls, Forbes reported.

“The transition from working to not working can often lead to feelings of being lost or lonely as you adjust to new routines and you may be feeling that you no longer have a purpose without your former career goals,” wrote Andrew Rosen.

There is comfort in routine, and some people thrive in the structure of a daily routine, while others fall apart when that structure is gone. Yet, more that structure, having a purpose for your life is the most important aspect of a happy, successful retirement.

Without purpose, your life is consumed by the selfish pursuit of doing things like obsessively watching YouTube or TicTok videos. It helps nobody. It takes no advantage of your vast skills or experiences. It is the ultimate in social isolation.

“Finding a source of purpose can help you to feel more content and happier in your life and in your retirement, leading to a longer life expectancy and overall healthier and happier life,” wrote Andrew.

He is correct. I have tried it both ways myself, and life is considerably more joyful when I have a purpose to pursue.

Just look around you. There are truly more opportunities for meaningful things to do and people to help than you can count.

In the Forbes article, Andrew offers a few suggestions that I think are worth repeating.

Focus on relationships

This is huge. There have been a number of articles appearing on Forward From 50 outlining the epidemic of loneliness among seasoned citizens. Separated from their families and living without the social structure found in work, it’s easy to fall into loneliness and depression.

Andrew said there are many outlets for social opportunities. You can find support in classes, online and within your community.

Visit to find a bunch of groups focused on all types of activities in your local area. Most public libraries have bulletin boards inviting people to participate in group activities or to attend classes.

Joan Turley, whose People With Purpose profile was published on Forward From 50, said you do not need to wait to be invited to an activity or to a group.

“If you don’t get a seat at somebody’s table because you’re too old, then set your own table and invite others to yours,” said Joan. “Do what God is telling you to do. If you open your eyes, you will see divine appointments everywhere. It doesn’t matter how big or little they are.”

Stay active to reduce stress

It is amazing how good I feel after I have had a nice, long walk. When I lived in Wisconsin, a walk in the woods did wonders for refreshing my spirit and soul. Here in Arizona, wooded areas are hours away, so a walk around the neighborhood has to suffice. Yet, the impact is the same.

A lot of people defeat the benefit of a walk in solitude by trying to cram in a podcast or audiobook at the same time. What your mind needs to reduce stress is not more information, but rather silence.

Jeff Crider, who was also interviewed for a People With Purpose profile, found relief from stress by walking outside.

“All the sounds of nature are therapeutic, from listening to crickets, to hearing the wind and leaves. Just walking along a beach or on a desert trail is so peaceful and serene,” said Jeff. “We have so many things at our disposal that don’t cost us anything to enjoy. It is a real gift.”

An extended time of solitude works to quiet your mind. It’s funny how often a solution to a problem becomes apparent after a good walk or a nice nap.

“When you’re taking good care of yourself, both mentally and physically, it provides a sense of purpose as well,” wrote Andrew. “That’s because part of your day is dedicated to your own self-care and ensuring that you’re doing the best that you can for yourself both today and in the future.”

Retirement is a gift that allows us to slow down and smell the roses, if you will. We can trade in treading on the 40- to 60-hour-a-week hamster wheel at work to pursue those things that truly fill us up and give us more energy.

Everything we do before retirement serves to prepare us for the life-changing impact we can have in our 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond.

I read a story this week about a 116-year-old woman celebrating her birthday. Edith Ceccarelli was the guest of honor at a drive-by parade that lasted more than an hour. The woman is 53 years older than I am right now. I can only imagine the impact she had on the lives of people that would warrant them taking hours out of their schedules to pay tribute to her.

That’s what legacy will do. And legacy is born of purpose.

Don’t squander your legacy by sitting in isolation watching videos and recalling past accomplishments or rehashing regrets.

The Shawshank Redemption is one of my all-time favorite movies. One of the most memorable lines from that film was spoken by Andy Dufresne, a prisoner who had been serving 19 years after being wrongfully-convicted of killing two people. He said, “I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy living or get busy dying.”

Retirement could not be more simple than that.