5 Ways to Find Purpose in Retirement

Recently I’ve seen an influx of clients who are experiencing a life transition so many of us dream about—they are retiring!  Many of us long for the days when we don’t have to answer to anyone….we can travel, play golf, spend more time with loved ones, and take up a new hobby.  The possibilities are endless!

However, I’ve recently realized there is a downfall to all that free time.  Imagine living your life for 50, 60, 70 years with consistency and structure….and then one day it all goes away.  It may be great for a few weeks, but eventually reality sets in.  Many retirees I meet are depressed, and are struggling to find purpose. 

Purpose is so important.  It’s common in our society to find your identify in what you DO.  Whether you were climbing the corporate ladder, content being a worker-bee, or even had a career as a stay-at-home parent….the loss of your job and purpose can be hard.  Not only do you lose a consistent schedule, but you also lose constant social interaction.  It’s not unusual to experience the stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression….and eventually acceptance) when you stop working.  It’s also not uncommon to wonder “Who am I now?”

If you find yourself struggling to transition to retirement, here are some tips to help make the change a little easier:

1. Give yourself grace- It’s going to take some time to get used to this new “normal”.  Don’t stress out or beat yourself up if you find yourself wandering around the house, trying to stay busy.  Recognize this big change and allow yourself to grieve as needed.

2. Find a new hobby- If you’ve always wanted to pick up woodworking, sewing, horseback riding, hiking, camping, etc. then do it!  It’s ok to try new things.  And it’s actually kind of fun!

3. Volunteer- There’s no greater gift than the gift of your time.  Find a charity or cause you are passionate about and join in.  Get involved in church, mentor a young person, serve meals, help build a house.  Give back to others and be a blessing.

4. Don’t isolate- It’s really easy to just stay at home all day.  This is okay to do occasionally, but it’s a slippery slope to depression.  Make sure you are making plans with friends and family and staying engaged.

5. Keep a schedule- Some people really, really thrive with schedules and structure.  If you are one of these individuals, make sure you still get up at a decent time, eat meals around the same time, and go to bed around the same time.  Keep a calendar and be aware of the date.  Schedule consistent plans each week, so you have things to look forward to.

What are some other ways you can make the transition to retirement easier?

Written by Christy Fogg, MSW, LCSW

*Christy Fogg, MSW, LCSW is a licensed therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Christy enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Christy also provides family counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling.

Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield.