The image of retirement has always been one of relaxation and leisure. However, the retirees who fully embrace this idea often find that they are missing something. If you’re in this boat, you may feel you lack a sense of purpose or direction, and end up finding yourself overly involved in the things you never wanted to deal with - such as your investments, your grown children’s families, or the media’s rampage of our current economic conditions.
One of the questions I always ask our clients is, “If this is the last day of your life, what do you want to look like – mentally, physically, spiritually, and regarding family and friends?” For some retirees that day may come after 30, 40 or even 50 years of retirement. It is a real possibility that “relaxation and leisure activities” alone cannot fulfill your psychological needs over that period of time. Imagine that you grew up without having to learn, engage or be challenged... Imagine you never had a sense of meaning in your life... Would you be the person you are today? Of course not! Would you want to have missed out on these life lessons? Well, probably not most of them. So what makes the second half of your life any different? As a retiree, you still have the same emotional, social and psychological needs you’ve always had.
As a Life planning firm, our mission is to help clients “Live Life on Purpose!” And there’s a reason we’ve been using that phrase for years – well before “The Purpose Driven Life” became famous - we want to enable them to leave perhaps the greatest legacy: happiness. Thanks to the International Foundation of Retirement Education and the Certified Retirement Counselor Program, we have several worksheets and resources available to us to assist retirees recognize any gaps or future gaps in living their lives. They also provide solutions to help fill these gaps or avoid them altogether. The following is excerpted from one worksheet entitled: “Approaches to Retirement Happiness.” Grab a pen and piece of paper, and follow along:
- Pleasure: activities that relate to relaxation, leisure, travel, and/or entertainment; simple pleasures or enjoyments and bring positive emotions;
- Engagement- challenging activities equal to my skills which bring a sense of engagement;
- Meaning- activities that relate to personal achievement (e.g. charitable, teaching, volunteer), that contribute to something larger than myself, and bring a sense of meaning and purpose.
Of each of the three “Approaches to Happiness” – Pleasure, Engagement, and Meaning – write down:
- Which do you currently use the MOST?
- Which do you currently use the LEAST?
Next, determine what you can do now to begin creating a retirement that includes all three approaches:
Create two columns for each of the three “Approaches to Retirement Happiness.” Title the columns “pre-retirement” and “post-retirement.” Under pre-retirement, list 3 activities that you currently do or did before retirement that fit this approach. Under post-retirement, list 3 activities that can replace the pre-retirement activities.
Though this may seem like a simple exercise, it will actually help you visualize and find direction for your future.
For more information about implementing these ideas, feel free to contact us.