How To Get Fulfillment In Retirement? Read This!

Everyone looks for fulfillment in life, but it’s sometimes hard to find fulfillment (again) when you retire. Your life changes drastically, and you can feel lost. And there maybe comes a time where you ask yourself: How do I get fulfillment from retirement?

As a general rule, you can find fulfillment in retirement by focusing on your goals and intuition. Many retirees find fulfillment when sharing their experience, knowledge, and time by taking on a volunteering, teaching, or mentoring role. Rekindle old hobbies and focus on exploring new things to do.

In this article, I share in-depth information on how you can get fulfillment in retirement. You’ll find expert tips exercises, and we’ll explain more about what fulfillment actually is. Ready to learn how to find fulfillment as a retiree? Let’s dig in!

How To Find Fulfillment In Retirement?

Having a feeling of fulfillment means that you feel happy and satisfied. However, retirement is a life-changing event, and many people struggle with finding fulfillment in retirement. The solution might sound very simple and is true, easier said than done. You must have a purpose. A life goal, something you get excited about. Without a plan or purpose, it is much more challenging to find that feeling of fulfillment in your retirement.

A purpose or goal doesn’t mean that you have to focus on things that are hard to reach. Of course, you can focus on enjoying your leisure in retirement. Maybe that’s even a goal for you, to fully enjoy your time as a retiree. A purpose can be as simple as that.

For many of us, retirement is also a time to reflect. To focus on what you always wanted to do. Sharing knowledge and experience by helping others. These can all be goals that help you find fulfillment in retirement. However, the most important thing is that you stay true to yourself. It’s about you finding fulfillment and not filling someone else’s goals.

So before I share the expert tips on finding fulfillment in retirement, let’s take a quick look at what fulfillment actually means.

What Is Fulfillment?

In my quest to come up with the best answer on how to get fulfillment in retirement, I wanted to first know what fulfillment exactly is. Because you need to know what it is to know what to chase. And people often confuse fulfillment with pleasure, and that’s not what fulfillment really is.

You can find pleasure in a lot of (external) things, but finding fulfillment is something much deeper (within yourself). And this is what the definition of fulfillment is according to Vocabulary:

Fulfillment is a feeling of happiness and satisfaction. It’s also the completion of something, like the fulfillment of a promise.

This word has two related meanings. In terms of emotions, fulfillment is a happy, contented feeling. Many people feel fulfillment from being a parent, having a great job, or graduating from school. People often feel fulfillment when something is completed, whether it’s a goal or a dream or repair work that you’ve been waiting on. This leads to the other meaning of fulfillment — the act of finishing or doing something that was promised.

Definitions Of Fulfillment

1) the act of consummating something (a desire or promise etc.)
Types: self-fulfillment, self-realization (the fulfillment of your capacities)
Type of: consummation (the act of bringing to completion or fruition)
2) the feeling of satisfaction at having achieved your desires
Type of: satisfaction (the contentment one feels when one has fulfilled a desire, need, or expectation)

In short, fulfillment is our direct guide to what is most important to us. And to get fulfillment in retirement, we need to know our desires and life goals. And that’s not the goals culture, society, or family put on us. It’s achieving the life goals important to you as an individual. And therefore, you need to be brave and sometimes go up against the stream.

Get To Know Yourself To Find Fulfillment

Getting fulfillment is not a state of mind you once achieve, and you’ll set for the rest of your life. It’s not a destination; it’s an ongoing life journey of self-discovery, growth, and contentment with your position in life. And because your life is continuously changing, it significantly changes a lot going into retirement. Therefore getting fulfillment in retirement is consistently achieving goals that align with your dreams and desires. And to do that, you need to know yourself and your dreams. 

So to look for fulfillment is turning inside and not chasing after external sources. A lot of people do. You can do many things in life, keep yourself busy and productive, and not feel fulfilled. So it’s important to know that getting fulfillment comes from within you and not from an external source like status, money, or being able to afford the biggest car or house. 

It’s not what you do in life but the reason why you do things.

After a major life change like your retirement, you can feel a sense of loss of your identity. After working 30 or 40+ years within a specific industry or job position, you’ve come accustomed to identifying yourself to what you do. Instead of who you are as a person with many talents, qualities, flaws, and characteristics. 

Therefore it’s essential to get to know yourself again and get in touch with the person you were before you’ve become the marketing manager, CEO, or school teacher. Rediscover your identity and get to know the human being behind the job description.

It can help to do a couple of tests:

You can also list your talents, strengths, weaknesses, and ask your family and friends to do the same. 

Accept Yourself and Your Reality

As mentioned above, fulfillment can also be translated into being satisfied and content with your position in life. And to feel satisfied and content is only possible if you accept yourself and your reality. Because happiness can only exist in acceptance.

To get fulfillment in retirement is to find acceptance. And finding acceptance is:

  • seeing things for what they really are
  • being brutally honest
  • admit your mistakes
  • accepting your talents and your flaws
  • letting go of resistance
  • take responsibility
  • own your outcomes
  • forgive yourself
  • forgive others

Accepting yourself is a difficult process because it goes against your training, education, and culture. You’ve been told how you should be; nobody said to you that you are good as you are. And it’s sometimes finding the right balance between accepting yourself and improving yourself. 

Accepting your reality doesn’t mean you have to settle for your current situation and don’t go after your dreams. But when you want to change your life or your situation, you have to first accept it in order to change it.

Take Charge of Your Life

Only you can be responsible for your fulfillment in life. No one else can do that for you. So you have to take charge and come into action instead of waiting for a situation to unfold. Take responsibility and find ways to move forward to your life goals.

Fulfillment comes from within you. And many people mistake it by finding fulfillment in someone else. You can be very happy with someone else, but that person can have different goals on how to get self-fulfillment than you have. So don’t burden someone else with the job of making you happy. Look within yourself and go after the things you find important in life.

Also, avoid or stay away from self-pity because that doesn’t take you any further in life. Take responsibility for your life. And don’t make the easy mistake of copying others. We see an unrealistic perspective on people’s lives on social media, and often because of social media, we compare ourselves with others who are chasing their dreams. Which is unhealthy. And we think we have to do the same things to find fulfillment, but often that doesn’t work. You can get inspired by others but try not to copy other people’s lives, dreams, and desires.

If you tend to compare your life in retirement to others through social media and feel unhappy. Then it’s wise to limit your time on social media as much as possible, so you can focus more on yourself.

Find Your New Passion That Leads To Fulfillment

Everyone is looking or searching for their purpose in life. Once you know your purpose in life, you can work towards goals that are aligned with that purpose to find fulfillment. Sounds easy right? Well, not for most of us. 

For some people, their purpose in life is very clear from an early age, but most of us are often continuously looking to our purpose. And this can be an overwhelming feeling.

Also, working life gave you purpose: earn money to pay the bills, save money, and achieving work goals gave you an accomplished feeling at the end of the day. In retirement, this is gone. And therefore, many retirees don’t feel worthy, useful, and accomplished at the end of their retirement day. And that’s because of the lack of purpose in their lives.

Before you start to question: Why am I on this planet? Consider the following route: If you can’t figure out your purpose, figure out your passion that will lead to your purpose.

So search for something that you’re passionate about and love to do, and you grow your self-confidence and have an accomplished feeling. And it can lead you to live a more purposeful life in retirement.

Ways To Find Your Passion:

  • Passion is energy. Feel what excites you.
  • What is a topic you can read 500 books about?
  • What’s the thing you never get bored of? 
  • What is something you love to talk about?
  • What do you love to do without getting tired?
  • What is a stress reliever for you?
  • What gives you satisfaction, joy, and happiness?

Read more: How To Find Your Passion In Retirement

Practice Personal Development

Because finding fulfillment is an ongoing process, it cannot be found without growing as a person. And you can see your retirement years as an excellent opportunity for a new start.

In past years, you have developed yourself on a professional level. And this time in retirement, you can use it to grow more on a personal level. Also, practicing personal development gets you closer to who you are as a person, which will get you closer to finding fulfillment. We can work closer to our personal goals by learning more about ourselves.

Improving yourself is not about not accepting yourself. It’s about building on top of self-acceptance to be a better person. And by reflecting on a regular basis, you can figure out what areas need improvement, or you like to work on. Maybe you want to become more conscious about life decisions, learn to be more of a positive thinker, or transform your weaknesses into strengths.

Ways To Practice Personal Development:

  • Read books
  • Watch TEDtalks
  • Listen to inspirational podcasts
  • Get a mentor or coach
  • Create new routines
  • Reflect regularly
  • Watch inspirational videos on YouTube

Read more: The 30 Best Hobbies In Retirement

Know Your Core Values

Only by knowing your core values, you can set life goals that align with your values, and you can find fulfillment. And nothing creates more stress than when our actions and behaviors aren’t congruent with our values.

A value is what you value. And a “core” value is one of 4-6 values that you prioritize above all other values. And when these values are obvious to you, it’s easier to make life decisions and setting goals to get fulfillment in your life eventually. Here’s how to discover your core values.

Step 1: Collect Data
Collect data from the past. Your life is a record of your values and you can find them out by questioning the following: what are the key moments, decisions, highlights (and low) that have defined your life, to-date?

Maybe you weren’t aware, but your values guide you to decisions and also influence your choices, both big and small. By asking yourself questions about your life, you can identify the values that form the basis for who, and how, you are.

Questions you can ask yourself:

  • What was the best day of your life? 
  • What are you most proud of?
  • What makes you angry?
  • Who do you respect?
  • What are your obsessions?
  • What is your favorite quote?

Step 2: Find the ‘Why’ in the data
After answering the above questions, you can ask yourself “why”? The answers to these questions: are the values.

Here’s a list of 200 core values to make things easier, but below is a list of the most common human values.

  • Achievement: It is important to work hard, challenge myself, and be the best.
  • Belonging: It is important to be accepted by others and to feel included.
  • Concern for the Environment: It is important to protect and preserve the environment.
  • Concern for Others: The well-being of others, and helping others, is important.
  • Creativity: It is important to have new ideas, create new things, or be creatively expressive.
  • Financial Prosperity: It is important to be financially successful.
  • Health and Activity: It is important to be healthy and physically active.
  • Humility: It is important to be humble and modest about my accomplishments.
  • Independence: It is important to have a sense of autonomy with my decisions and actions.
  • Interdependence: It is important to meet the expectations of my family, social group, team, or organization.
  • Precision: It is important to use logic and data to understand and solve problems.
  • Privacy: It is important to have time alone.
  • Responsibility: It is important to be dependable, trustworthy, and maximize potential.
  • Spirituality: It is important to have spiritual beliefs and act accordingly.

You can use the above list as a guide to identifying the values that fit the best to your answers in step 1.

Step 3: Prioritize your Core Values
Now that you have a list of different values, it’s time to narrow it down to 5 core values. This can be a hard process but prioritizing your most important values gives you a lot more clarity. And if you value everything, you value nothing. So you have to make decisions. 

Step 4: Translate what the core values mean to you
Values are single words, but that isn’t enough. So the next step is to translate each of your core values to what it means to you. What kind of behaviors, expectations, and/or actions reflect this value to you.

Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is often the quickest way to learn more about yourself. You never know what kind of qualities you have if you don’t challenge yourself once in a while. And getting out of your comfort zone has many benefits: 

  • it creates just enough good stress to ramp up your focus, creativity, pace, and drive
  • it helps you be more productive, 
  • it boosts your creativity
  • it helps you to be more flexible when unexpected things happen in the future 
  • and it contributes to more happiness in your life

And exploring new things is the only way to find out if you like something or not. Maybe your passion is something you have never done before, so how can you find your passion if you don’t go out to explore?

See your retirement as one big adventure of exploring new things in life. Create a beginner’s mindset where you have an attitude of openness, eagerness, curiosity, and a lack of preconceptions when studying a subject. Just like a beginner or child.

Sticking to old hobbies and routines can make you feel bored. And stimulation is one of the things most retirees miss in their life, so make sure you stay stimulated in retirement.

Read more: What To Do When You’re Retired? 65 Ideas

Contribute To Something Bigger Than Yourself

The most authentic way to get fulfillment in life is to contribute to something bigger than yourself. And most people find fulfillment by helping others. And this can be in any shape or form. Like doing volunteer work to help others within your community or being a mentor or coach for the next generation within your old job field.
Fulfillment isn’t selfish gain but contributing and experiencing a more enriched life for everyone around us. And by volunteering or taking on a mentoring role, you can interact with other people more often. It helps you to stay socially active. Interactions, sharing opinions, and experiences with others keep you focused and help you focus more on what you really want to do. It works both ways. You can help others with your experience and learn from others as well!

Question Yourself

You can do soul-searching by asking yourself questions. You know, the harder questions that require an answer from the soul and not the brain. It’s not about knowing the right answer to the question but feeling the answer to the question. And therefore you have to be honest with yourself completely. And be open to maybe surprising answers that you don’t want to hide or run away from but be curious and interested in. 

Examples of Soul-searching Questions:

  1. What’s the one thing I’ve always wanted to do? 
  2. When my life is ideal, I am_______?
  3. If I could spend today doing whatever I desire, what would it be? 
  4. Where do I really want to live? 
  5. What are the reasons I don’t go after my dreams? 
  6. More than anything, before I die, I want to ___________?
  7. If I were to make just one radical change in my life right now to make life better, what would it be?
  8. What could I do today that would fill me with joy?
  9. How do I feel when I put all my effort into accomplishing one of my goals? 
  10. What’s missing from my life? 
  11. Do I follow the crowd or listen to my inner guidance?
  12. What emotions am I afraid to show?
  13. What are limiting beliefs holding me back?
  14. Is there someone I need to forgive?
  15. Is there a conversation I need to have?
  16. What do I need to let go of to move forward?
  17. Who do I love spending time with?
  18. Are my actions guided by love or fear?

You don’t have to answer all these questions, because that can be overwhelming. Look for a couple of questions that you find most important in life and see what your honest answers are.

But be aware that when we are afraid of something, we’re likely to run away from it. And in this exercise, it can mean that you tend to avoid certain questions because you’re scared of the answer. These are the most important questions you need to answer for yourself. Because that answer is probably what your soul is trying to whisper to you (for a long time). And you need to hear it.

Calm Your Mind – Start Meditating

As I mentioned earlier, you will experience stress when your actions and behaviors aren’t congruent with your values. In short, stress is caused by tension between the ego (false self) and the soul (true self).  

The alternative to that is to be at peace. To be satisfied and living a life in harmony: fulfillment. 

To be at peace with yourself is also to have peace of mind. And that’s why you need to quiet the mind regularly. Our behavior is caused by our thoughts, so we need to be aware of our thoughts to change our behavior, actions, and outcome in life. 

Meditation is an excellent way to train your mind and create more awareness of your thoughts and feelings on a daily basis. It’s not about controlling the mind, but it’s to stop letting the mind control us. And only when we quiet the mind, we can hear our soul speak. The softer voice of our heart and signals from our intuition gets often over yelled by our thoughts. Certainly, if we don’t listen to it.

We can drive ourselves crazy with our thoughts and that changes our perspective and reality in life. When we feed our ego with negative thoughts, it will drive us further away from who we really are. And when we’re in our head, we’re not living in the present moment and only in the now is where we can find happiness. 

I use the app Headspace often for my meditations. It’s now one of the most used meditation apps worldwide, and that’s because it’s easy and accessible for everyone. 

Listen To Your Intuition – The Key To Unlock Your Fulfillment

Our intuition is a source of knowledge and wisdom we can use to guide us in the right direction in life. Often our intuition shows us what we must or mustn’t do without any proof other than our gut feeling we feel in our body.
And (almost) every time your gut feeling will have it right.

In modern society, we listen more to our rational minds because that’s more logical. We can’t prove or see intuition, and that’s why we neglect it and see it as something non-worthy. And because we are so trained to think with our minds. We don’t even know how intuition feels like anymore. So, how does intuition feel like?

Intuition is a peaceful feeling that you will feel in your chest or stomach. It’s often a soft feeling that something is off. You feel a tightness in your chest or stomach arise in a situation.

Sometimes your intuition tries to warn you, and you can feel stronger physical effects in your body. It screams out you. This often happens when we ignore our intuition for too long. When our mind and heart aren’t aligned with what our body is telling us.

Intuition is the voice of your soul, and only by listening to your soul, you can find fulfillment. But you have to train your intuition to become a better listener to the soft voice inside you. It’s like a muscle. We need to train it to make it stronger. And for you to hear it more loud and clear.

Train Your Intuition:

  • Calm the mind and relax your body to listen carefully
  • Ask simple questions and feel out the reaction
  • Recognizing when intuition speaks (stomach or chest sensation)
  • Follow the decisions of your intuition. (follow the peaceful feeling: that’s the direction your intuition is guiding you towards). 
  • Listen to your intuition each day to make the muscle stronger

You can practice following your intuition with small daily decisions, so you become more comfortable with the feeling of your gut feeling. Because what you will feed, will grow, so if you feed your intuition every day by following it what it says. Your intuition will become more present and easier to recognize. 

Don’t Mistake Pleasure For Fulfillment

We can find happiness and pleasure in things we like, but fulfillment is something deeper. We can have pleasure, fun, or feel happy in something we do, but fulfillment comes from the reason why we do it.

Getting pleasure from an external source gives us short-term satisfaction like a good cup of cappuccino.

Fulfillment is rewarding and gives us a long-term feeling of satisfaction. With fulfillment, you feel that warm feeling deep down in your soul. It’s the difference between liking something and loving something. It’s a peaceful feeling. And not to be mistaken with the short period of sensations and feelings in your body during a happy moment. It is a more delicate feeling.

Being Busy Is Not Being Fulfilled

Many retirees want to stay active in retirement. But you can have a busy schedule full of different activities and not feel fulfilled. Only with activities that are aligned with your purpose in life is where you’ll find fulfillment.

It’s good to stay active in retirement. Many retirees fall in the habit of staying at home too much: watching TV or scrolling aimlessly on the internet. So it’s good to get out there and be active in retirement. And the best way is to have a combination of physical, mental, and social activities to live a happy retired life. But to feel fulfilled, you have to make room for the activities that feed your soul in retirement. And not fill up your schedule to stay productive.

Read more: How To Stay Active In Retirement

Have A Plan For Your Retirement

Having a plan for your retirement, creating goals helps you to reach fulfillment easier. Fulfillment is a constant process of being satisfied with your life and achieving goals. And without goals, we have no direction in life. So, it’s important to keep setting new goals for yourself to move your life forward in retirement.

Goals In Retirement Are Essential Because:

  • You move your life forward,
  • You push yourself out of your comfort zone,
  • You can make dreams reality,
  • It fuels your ambition,
  • It makes you feel useful, worthy and accomplished,
  • It boosts your self-esteem,
  • It motivates you to be better,
  • You prioritize your time better,
  • It gives you the inspiration necessary to aim for things we never thought was possible,
  • You can live your retirement to the fullest.

Celebrate Your Achievements

I was the type of person to set goals, and once I achieved them, I was already busy with aiming for the next target. I rushed from goal to goal without taking a moment to celebrate them or look back and see how far I’ve come. I was always too busy moving forward.

It’s the internal drive I have which will help me achieve a lot of things in life. But now I’m better at also enjoying life as well. I’ve learned not only to be focused on the end result but also to enjoy the journey and celebrate smaller milestones.

Also, how can you feel fulfilled if you don’t take the time to pay attention to important moments in your life? So take the advice from me and celebrate the small steps in life as much as the big ones. It will keep you motivated and inspired to keep going. And also learns you to be thankful for where you’re at in life.

Read more: How Do You Celebrate Your Retirement? 30 Awesome Ideas

Stay Positive

Getting fulfillment in retirement is staying positive. A negative mind can’t feel fulfilled.

When life happens and things not always go the way we like or have planned, we can always rely on a positive mindset that will help us create a different perspective.

And by staying positive doesn’t mean that everything turns out to be okay, but knowing that you’ll be okay no matter how things turn out. Having confidence in yourself.

A bird is never afraid of the branch breaking, but her trust is not in the branch but in her wings.

You can be at peace with things not going the way you want. And you can still be fulfilled if something doesn’t go according to plan.

Tips To Stay Positive:

  • Learn to be a positive thinker
  • Use positive affirmations every day
  • Enjoy the little things in life, however small
  • Transform negative self-talk to positive self-talk
  • Express gratitude every day
  • Surround yourself with positive people
  • Exercise regularly: it boosts a positive mindset
  • Meditate
  • Start journaling 
  • Find humor in bad situations 
  • Turn failures into lessons

Know The Stages Of Retirement

To keep focusing on your goals and reaching a happy state of mind as a retiree (fulfillment), you must learn more about the life-changing process retirement is. Almost everyone that retirees deal with the emotional stages of retirement at one moment in their process. While these stages are similar for everyone, the length and time someone gets in a particular stage differ. It all depends on the individual.

It helps to get to the stages of retirement more easily when you have a plan for your retirement. So you can focus on your goals. Also, having enough social interactions helps to get to the retirement stages. This is because you can share your experiences more easily with others and learn from other retirees. So, make sure to contact your friends, old coworkers and maybe revisit old friends.

The stages of retirement are;

  • Pre-retirement stage (years before retirement), 
  • Honeymoon stage (when you just retired), 
  • Disenchantment stage (a period after retirement asking yourself ‘is this it?’), 
  • Reorientation stage (learning new things, creating new goals), 
  • Stability stage (you live a happy and fulfilled retired life).

It’s basically a transition from working life to a happy and fulfilling retirement life. You can find an in-depth description of these transition stages in this article.

Recommended Articles

The following articles might be interesting for you to read as well:

Kirsten Veldman

I'm Kirsten. In 2017, my husband Léon, and I decided to retire from the rat race to travel the world and work and live location independently. In the last couple of years, I wrote over 200+ articles about retirement and did extensive research to help people prepare, enjoy and celebrate retirement in the best way possible.

Recent Posts