How To Find Your Purpose In Life After Retirement: 12 Tips

You’ve reached your ultimate life goal: retirement. So what happens next? How do you find your purpose in life after retirement? I’m going to help you out with this in-depth article where I share 12 helpful tips, so continue reading.

1) Relax And Take Time For Yourself

When you retire you lose daily routines, social interactions, and your purpose in life. And your purpose is the reason why you get up in the morning. This purpose can guide you through big life decisions, it helps you to set and achieve life goals, it influences your behavior, and it gives you a direction in life. Having a purpose in retirement gives you a meaningful and satisfying feeling. It gives you a feeling of contentment and that is the key to (more) happiness in retirement. Who doesn’t want that?!

Finding your purpose is very important to live a happy retired life. But you can’t find your purpose if your mind is busy, your body is tired of all the stressful years of hard work and you can’t hear your gut feeling speaking.

You need time to relax and take the time to unwind and regroup. And this is for some people not that easy. After working hard for many years, so you’ve become adjusted to a faster life, and slowing things down is very strange and feels uncomfortable at first. You’ve might ask yourself: How can I relax in retirement?

You can have the feeling of always wanting to be productive and busy but to be able to relax you need to allow yourself to relax. You’ve earned it. Grant yourself 2 months of doing nothing in retirement.

It gives you space to slow things down and not go in productive mode all the time or have an agenda filled with appointments to keep yourself busy. If you take time to relax you’ll get closer to finding your purpose because you need to have a fresh starting point to go on your search quest.

2) Do Things You Love To Do

Once you’ve taken the time off in retirement and you’re reenergized you can go on the discovery tour. Because when you want to find your purpose in retirement you need to explore and try out things. Feel, see, and taste your way to your purpose.

And you can start by doing the things you’ve always enjoyed doing. Things, hobbies, sports that come easy to you. What is your natural talent? Perhaps it’s being creative with art, active with sports, or express yourself through music, or something else that rings a bell right now. Go out and do it. Make time to really pursue it in retirement and see where it gets you.

3) Explore New Things

Another way to get closer to finding your purpose is to explore new things in life. Therefore you need to search in areas that are unexplored territory for you. Because how would you ever know how you feel about an activity if you’ve never tried it? We gain more perspective and clarity through experiences, so that’s why we need to purposely expose ourselves to new experiences. Getting out of your comfort zone is the area where magical things can happen. And retirement is the best time to do that.

Complete the following sentence: I’ve always wanted to learn….

Well, I’ve got great news for you! Whatever you want to learn, there is an amazing class for you out there on Masterclass where you learn from the best in the world. Whether you want to learn more about music, science, business, tennis, magic, cooking, basketball, or interior designing, etc. Masterclass is the platform for you!

It’s a streaming platform that makes it possible for anyone to watch or listen to 90+ classes with hundreds of video lessons taught by the most successful and famous teachers in the world. Just to name a few: Gordon Ramsey, Aaron Franklin, Martin Scorsese, Dr. Jane Goodall, Christina Aguilera, Usher, Hans Zimmer, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Stephen Curry, Carlos Santana, Ron Finley, Jimmy Chin, Serena Williams, Dan Brown, and many more.

You can learn anything, anywhere, anytime, and at your own pace and on any device. Finding your purpose gets a lot easier and more fun with an annual membership to Masterclass. It’s the best gift you can give yourself at any moment in your retirement.

4) Follow Your Intuition

As I mentioned earlier in this article you need to get familiar with your gut feeling because finding your purpose isn’t an intellectual pursuit; it’s something you need to feel. You need to follow what your gut feeling is telling you and that will ultimately get you closer to your purpose. But how do you know what following your intuition feels like?

You’ve definitely felt it before, but often because of our busy lives and career, we’ve forgotten how to listen to our intuition. We’re so trained and programmed to think with our minds and make decisions that are based on logic. But intuition isn’t logic at all. Intuition is a soft feeling in our body which is difficult to listen to because often our minds are screaming.

You need to fuel it again and train it as a muscle so that it becomes stronger, louder, and clear. Here is an example of how intuition feels like:

I should say Yes
My head says Yes
Logic says Yes
Reason says Yes
Friend says Yes
My gut says no, I don’t know why it says No but it says No. 
My answer is NO

Our intuition knows better what we like and dislike. It’s a magical well of wisdom you really want to tap into when it comes to finding your purpose. Your intuition knows what your soul wants, and that’s why you always need to listen to it.

You can train it with small decisions throughout your retirement day. For example, ask yourself: Do I want a sandwich or pancake for breakfast? And see what it feels like. It sounds so silly, but it really helps. Continue doing this with any decision during your day so it becomes easier over time and helps you along the way when you need to make bigger decisions in your life.

5) Read

Reading is like traveling to other worlds without leaving your own house. You can dive into a character, feel what they experience, and get an insight into their entire lifespan in a matter of hours or days. You connect with people you’ll never know or encounter in real life. Your view of the world becomes broader (if you read all sorts of different books).

Finding your purpose can be an act of imagination. You can simply escape reality by opening a book and start reading in retirement. Your imagination takes off and you can find a lot of insight about your purpose by reading about other people’s purpose in life.

In the research: Literary arts and the development of the life story, Raymond A. Mar and colleagues found a link between reading fiction books and a sense of purpose among adolescents. They suggest that by reading fiction and seeing the purpose in the lives of others, adolescents are likely to see it in their own lives.

And as an adolescent, you as a retiree also have the freedom in the world and can go into any direction your heart desires. So reading a lot of fiction books in retirement can be a great exercise for you that gets you closer to your purpose. And did you know that you can have unlimited access to thousands of books with a Kindle Unlimited? Get yourself a Kindle e-reader to find your purpose in retirement.

6) Question Yourself

There are provoking questions you can ask yourself to find out what really matters to you in life. When you know what’s important to you, you’re very close to finding your purpose. Because the important things in life give your life meaning and create happiness. The other unimportant things in life just kill time. Telling these things apart makes a huge difference.

And also for everyone, it’s different. What is unimportant to me can be very important to you and vice versa.

Here are some questions that you hopefully find some meaningful answers to:

  • What’s true about you today that would make your 8-year-old self cry?

Often life gets in the way. And we’re socially or professionally pressured into a direction in life that we’re not passionate about, but we do it anyway. Because we get paid to do it. Well, as a kid we didn’t seem to care what others think. We only did stuff we loved to do. We wanted to play. So see if there is something that you loved to do as a kid, but over the years stopped doing.

  • What makes you forget about time?

Which activity do you love to do and makes you forget about the time? It’s the activity that makes you forget to eat and poop. If you know what that is you’ve got yourself an answer and probably found the one things you’re passionate about. Congratulations!

  • Which “world problem” do you want to fix?

Helping others and making a difference to create a better world instantly makes you happier and fulfilled. It gives your life meaning and gives it purpose. It’s not a surprise that a lot of retirees love to do volunteer work.

  • How do you want to be remembered?

When you die how do you want to be remembered? Would you want to be remembered as a successful businessman? As the woman that cared about others? Our perspective and value of life get a lot clearer when we envision ourselves on our deathbeds. You get a sense of what’s important about your existence when you imagine you don’t exist anymore.

7) Find Your Passion

Find your passion first because that will lead you to your purpose. It sounds easy, right?

Often the roads are the same. You go through similar paths to find your passion and/ or purpose. It’s also about experimenting with activities, getting out of your head and get inspiration from books, videos, and podcasts.

If you want to find your passion in retirement, I have a helpful article you can read: How Do I Find My Passion In Retirement? | 14 Helpful Tips.

8) Think About Your Past

Another technique to find your purpose is to think about your past. Often you can find the answers when you look back and think about past happy experiences. Ask yourself: When have I felt most fulfilled? Or when have I felt the most joy in life?

Try to come up with 3 to 5 different past experiences and find the common ground. What was it that made you feel fulfilled and happy? Perhaps it’s not the specific activity that answers your question but the cognitive principles behind the activities. See which pattern you can find and try it out.

9) Do A Test

Finding your purpose means getting to know yourself better. You’ve probably known who you are in career-life, but what about your personal life? You’re not your job position anymore. So who are you outside of work?

If you can’t answer this question you can do a test or series of tests to find a little bit more about yourself.

One of the best tests out there to get clarity about things that matter most in life is the Passion Test created by Janet Atwood also the writer of the book: The Passion Test. It only requires a couple of minutes of your time where you answer 7 questions. It can help you further in the quest to find your purpose in retirement.

They’re also all sorts of other tests out there that you can do to learn more about yourself: The Meyers Briggs Test, Chakra Test, Enneagram Test, etc.

10) Look At The People Around You

Your vibe attracts your tribe. Often your purpose can be found in the people around you. Take a look at the people around you and see what you have in common? Who are they and what are they trying to be? Do they have a positive impact on you and the world? Do you want to be surrounded by them and join them in their purpose?

When you retire you lose the daily social interactions that came with the job. To be happy in retirement you need to socialize and therefore need to seek new ways to be social. But you want to be surrounded by people that uplift you and that bring out the best in you.

If your social circle brings happiness to you, take a closer look, and see what you’ll have in common. And if your social circle is a bit small or the people do not energize you then you might need to find new connections and with that, a new purpose might come as well.

11) Practice Gratitude

Being grateful won’t give you a purpose in life but practicing gratitude helps to promote your overall health and well-being and that gives you the emotional foundation for a sense of purpose.

Reflecting on your blessing naturally inclines you to consider how to give back. And helping others and being kind can make our lives feel more meaningful according to this study. Also, Daryl Van Tongeren and colleagues found by their study that people who engage in more altruistic behaviors, such as doing volunteer work or donating money to charity, tend to have a greater sense of purpose in their lives.

You can cultivate a gratitude attitude every day in retirement by keeping a gratitude journal.

12) Get Help From A Life Coach

When you’re stuck, you can get help from a life coach. He or she can give you the tools to get a new depth, clarity, and perspective about your life. Retirement is a major life change and there are coaches out there that are specialized and can help you navigate through this transition and all the emotions that come with it.

It’s very common to seek help for professional financial advice when you’re planning your retirement, but seeking psychological help is still a taboo. Unfortunately. The threshold to go to a life coach is high, but it can be very beneficial. It’s for your own happiness.

A life coach can give you practical tools to rediscover yourself, discover the things you love to do and what in life matters most to you. And how to go after it. Their experience, support, objective perspective, and insight can help you find your purpose in retirement. So don’t be ashamed to contact a life coach. You can find an ICF Credentialed Coach in your area here.

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Kirsten Veldman

Since 2017, my husband and I have been location-independent retirees. With hundreds of articles written, I'm passionate about helping other retirees!

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