Remember sitting in rush hour traffic on the way to the office, wondering how you were going to get through the day managing a stressful work schedule only to return home to your precious, but demanding kids with their dinner and bedtime schedules? At the end of the day, you sat and dreamt of having the luxury of unscheduled time that belonged to you. Now that your time is finally your own, the empty hours can loom large, both a blessing and a challenge. Making the most of retirement life is a balancing act between relishing new-found freedom and living with purpose.
The Japanese call this quest for finding your purpose ‘ikigai.” Our English dictionary defines ikigai as “a motivating force; something or someone that gives a person a sense of purpose or a reason for living.” Finding yourself after retirement is a personal journey. There is no standard road map. Your ikigai is whatever – and whoever - keeps you engaged, involved, and uplifted.
It can be daunting to realize, once you step away from the workforce, your success will no longer be measured by your professional achievements. Finding purpose in retirement requires looking inward to find that which brings you joy. Ironically, most people spend more time planning a vacation than they do considering how they will spend time in retirement. Waking up the day after the goodbye party can be a bit of a shock.
Before deciding what to do with your time, first ask yourself “What brings me joy?” Make a laundry list of the things that fill your cup! Cooking? Seeing your family? Helping others? Reading? Crafting? Being outside? Once you’ve got a better view of the things that bring you joy, let’s talk about where you could apply those passions!
So, how do you find your passion in retirement? Here are a few thoughts to get the conversation started.
Do Your Dollars Make Sense?
It’s hard to pursue your bliss if you are constantly worrying about making ends meet. It’s critical to get your financial house in order before that last paycheck arrives. Once you feel comfortable that your bank account is ready to meet your retirement needs, you will be free to get serious about self-actualization.
Dust Off Your Dreams
Remember when life’s practical concerns directed your choices? Well, now it’s time to finally take those whimsical dreams off the back burner and make them a reality. Maybe it’s a hobby you always loved but never had time for. If your inner creative writer is yearning to be free, now is the time. Or maybe there is a set of paint brushes with your name on it. Focus your energy on rekindling old passions or open the door for something completely new. Whether it’s a hobby, travel, or a new athletic challenge, now is the time to turn the flame on high.
Working Part Time
You may find full-time retirement is a little too much of a good thing for your taste. Join the ranks of retirees who are enjoying part time work that keeps them active and with people.
Reach Out to Others
For many active adults, retirement life includes meaningful volunteer work. Enjoy the camaraderie while experiencing the joy of giving to others. It’s a win/win.
Live and Learn
Whether it’s a computer class to keep up with the latest tech, a fascinating Ted Talk, or a lecture on modern art, the more we learn, the more involved we can be with the world we live in. Learn how to use that iPhone so you can Facetime with the grandkids. Get comfortable with social media so you can stay connected to family and friends out of town. The more interested you are, the more interesting you will be to others!