Having a purpose is an important driving force in selecting what we want to do and how to do it. When we work, whether we are professionals, have a trade or are stay-home parents, we like to feel that our contribution makes a difference. Perhaps we help people in need, or raise organic vegetables in our garden and sell them to the local farmer’s market. Or we work in an office, or answer the phones, or clean houses, or do surgery. Or we choose to raise our kids and spend many years involved in PTOs, immersed in after school activities and teenage angst. Whatever we do, we have a purpose, and this drives us to continue to do what we are doing – or change it, if we feel we don’t contribute enough.
As you plan your retirement, think of what purpose you want your days to have: do you want to learn new skills? Or do you want to volunteer and give back to your community? Do you want to travel, and share with your local school the slides and experiences from your trips? Do you want to get more involved in your neighborhood? Do you want to do philanthropic work? Or do you finally want to learn to play the piano? Whatever you do, think of what purpose your choice will provide in your life and then ask yourself if this is what you want.
Retirement without any planning may lead at best to boredom and disorganization, and at worst to isolation, depression, excessive drinking and disconnection.
Being connected to loved ones is another important element that needs to be included in any retirement plan worth exploring. Being surrounded by loved ones keeps us involved, a part of a group. Loved ones, however, don’t necessarily have to be members of your biological family. They could be good friends, neighbors, fellows in the church or synagogue you attend. They can be people with similar interests to yours, with whom you resonate and feel close. Choosing a community where you can find the kind of neighborhood spirit that makes you feel ‘at home’ is very important, as isolation is dreadful, particularly as we age. So, stay involved in their lives. Ask what’s going on with them. Be interested.
If you plan your retirement right, you will get up each morning looking forward to a new day. You will be active, but not overwhelmingly so. You will feel positive. You will be better able to stay in the present and enjoy it, rather than worrying about what the future will be like for you.
After all, these are the “golden Years.” So, make sure that they are as golden as possible!