Ahh, retirement. Hours of time to do… what? You’ve dreamed of it for years, just waiting for time to do whatever struck your fancy. But now that it’s looming on the horizon or actually here, you find yourself at a loss.

How do I make my retirement purposeful when there’s nothing on the calendar?

Without having purpose to your days, it’s easy to become disengaged with life. And being disengaged is a slippery slope towards depression and health risks—with nowhere to go, nothing to do and nothing bringing you joy, the resulting isolation and inactivity leads to health problems.

Humans have an innate need to be needed, but just as everyone is different, everyone’s purpose is different. What fascinates you may bore someone else.

The big question is—what do you find fascinating? There are the usual pursuits that are typically top-of-mind, such as traveling, volunteering, exploring museums, etc., but finding the thing that enthralls you can take some deeper soul searching.

Let Your Brain Tell You

Not sure where to start? Try this simple writing exercise described by motivational speaker and founder of Daily Love, Mastin Kipp, who helps people find their purpose. Sit down with a piece of paper and write down any words, phrases or sentences that pop into your thoughts when you ask yourself, “What is my true life purpose?” Keep going until you write a sentence that makes you cry—that will be when you’ve identified what is meaningful to you. He describes this process here.

Create a Life Map

For life coach Richard J. Leider, drawing a life map to visualize what you want (and why) is helpful. As he explains in this AARP article to create the map, “cut out pictures from magazines or download online images that calm you, inspire you, spur you into action, make you happy, and represent your life goals and dreams.” Paste them onto cardboard, add words or quotes that resonate with you, then let it inspire you.

Just… Create

Cooking. Art. Playing music. Making sandcastles. Any of those sound fun? Do they excite you? If not, what does? As they describe in this article on Next Avenue, a website “where grown-ups keep growing,” another way to find your meaning and purpose is to explore what it means to you to create something. How and what gives you a feeling of connection or contentment, or makes you feel alive when you create it? Whatever it is, incorporate that into your life.

Change The Question

If simple exercises to explore your interests seem overwhelming, try changing the question you’re asking yourself. By taking the overwhelming “life purpose” out of the equation, the question becomes more manageable.  In his blog post, “7 Strange Questions That Help You Find Your Life Purpose,” Author Mark Manson changes the question from “what is my purpose in retirement?” to “What can I do with my time that is important?” By rephrasing it, it may help you identify what you enjoy—which can then lead you to finding purpose in your retirement.

The most important thing you can do in making your retirement purposeful is to challenge yourself to truly live. Retirement is your chance to do what you love, to try things, learn new things and immerse yourself in life. Follow opportunities and you’ll create a much more satisfying retirement.

One of the main tenets of Sun Health Senior Living is Masterpiece Living®, a nationally recognized program focused on four key dimensions of successful aging: physical, social, intellectual and spiritual. Click here for more information, or download our “Defining The New Older Adult” eBook to learn more about defining your retirement.

For more information on Life Care, please call Jackie Lusson at 623-236-3767.

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