Finding your real purpose in life after retiring

While retiring is great, there’s one big question most people forget to ask themselves before they walk out the door

While retiring is great, there’s one big question most people forget to ask themselves before they walk out the door on their last day.

That question? ‘What the hell am I going to do now?’

Many people spend years planning their retirement and thinking about all the things they’ll do with their spare time.

The only problem is that a lot of these things are trivial and fail to fill enough time or give the emotional satisfaction to keep us happy.

While it’s great to be able to take the holidays you’ve been dreaming about or pick up the hobbies you’d set aside for later, more often than not these activates aren’t enough to fill the void.

As humans we have an innate need to be needed. Knowing that someone or something is counting on us gives us purpose. Being a part of something bigger than ourselves is what keeps us humble and in touch with the world around us – we need it to stay sane and healthy.

So how do you do to find your purpose after you retire?

The answer is different for everyone of cause, because we all have different interests and things to offer.

For Peter it was about using the skills he already had to help his local community.

Peter retired at 68 after a long and happy career in IT, but says he quickly found himself bored and wondering how to fill the hours in the day.

“The first few months were great because I got to unwind and do whatever I wanted,” he says.

“Pretty quickly though, I started to wonder what the bloody hell I’d got myself into and how I was going to fill the days for the rest of my life.”

Peter signed up with a number of local community groups including Mens Sheds and helping out at Saint Vinnie’s a few days a week.

“I find myself just as busy as I was before I retired, but I’m not exhausted like I used to be.

“Probably because I’m having a lot more fun doing this than I ever did at work!

“The people I work with now really appreciate me being there and helping out. We’re all great friends and have a laugh and get along.

“Plus, I get to give back a little, which I think is important as we get older.”

Giving back is where a lot of people come undone when it comes to retirement. Although you’ve worked for years and definitely deserve all the time off and relaxation you need, a lot of self-satisfaction is actually lost when you’re not a part of something bigger.

There are all kinds of ways to find this satisfaction and sense of purpose – you just need to find the one that makes you happy.

Some work for local charities or volunteer groups, while others go for something a little off the beaten track.

There are community gardens, Big Brother or Big Sister programs, or even knitting bomb groups that create wool clothes for charity and have a little fun leaving crazy works of knitting art in the streets.

If that’s not your thing, think about ways to use the skills you already have and turn them into something bigger.

It could be skills you picked up throughout your working life, or maybe a hobby you enjoy and would like to do more with.

While you might not be ready to give up all your free time just yet, it’s a good idea to start thinking ahead and planning how you might like to spend it in the future.

Many people find that setting aside a couple of days a week to commit to a project or community group is just what they need keep a healthy balance and find that perfect blend of giving back and taking a well-earned break.

Are you retired? Have you taken up any hobbies or community work? Do you any advice for anyone retiring soon?