In speaking to various groups and consulting with people either in retirement or approaching retirement, one of the common concerns is what does one do in the future? For many of us, our work or family life defines our identity. When work comes to an end or when the children have all grown up and left home, it can leave a void in our lives.
Most people who reach age 65 today are going to live another 20 to 30 years. So what do you do for the remainder of your years? It is obvious from speaking with many new retirees that they want to do something other than just tending the garden, looking after grandkids or playing golf. Frustration is exemplified by statements such as, “I don’t know what I really want to do” or “I can’t think about the future”? It’s obvious that what is missing is a lack of purpose. Without a purpose, our lives become uninspiring and unfulfilling. So how do we find a new purpose?
One way to look at it is to define in general terms what we were doing in our work life and then applying it in a new form. Here are a couple of examples:
If you had been working as a health professional––a doctor––for 40 years, your role would have been specifically defined; treating people’s ills. That is what you did, but if you defined your role as a “healer”, you have created a general category. So where in your life could you become a healer but in a new form? It might be in the form of consulting with people or selling something that people find valuable. Things that add value to a person’s life is a form of healing.
Another individual may have been a school teacher during their working life. In generalized terms, that person is a teacher. So where in their life can they teach? They can teach people how become more proficient in using a computer, teach people how to enhance their relationship or even volunteer to teach seniors in retirement villages how to be more frugal with their money.
What if you were an architect? When you retire, you might want to classify yourself as a designer. You may want to design a product or something online that you could actually market and sell. You are really doing the same thing, just in a different form. The possibilities are endless.
Rather than looking at retirement as the end of our work life with a slow downhill decline, let’s look at it as recreating a new identity with a new life purpose.
Editor’s Note: Dr Adele Thomas, semi-retired medical doctor and Dr Ely Lazar, retired chiropractor, are on a new mission as the Passionate Retirees. They are dedicated to inspiring the over 50s to live fulfilling and adventurous lives, so that “the twilight years will be the highlight years”. Their book, “Travel Secrets For Seniors” was released in early 2014. With more than 80 years combined of professional experience, their articles, books and workshops cover a range of topics from travel, health, relationships, sexuality and finances for seniors.
“Adele and Ely have always impressed me with their exceptional knowledge, professionalism and positive attitude. Mention their name and the one word that always comes up is respect.” – John Ross, Master Networker