Happy in Retirement — What Drives You?

What gives you a happy retirement? What drives you?

The motto for the gym where I work out is “What drives you?”

I think it’s a reference to the many options for exercise and recreation that members enjoy.

What drives you?  -- photo courtesy of mdiocuh galeals
What drives you? — photo courtesy of mdiocuh galeals

The slogan “what drives you?” made me think about what drives a happy retirement. The life lived in retirement is different from the life lived during the hey day of career or during those busy years of parenting.

For a full and meaningful retirement it’s important to identify those things that ‘drive’ you now as well as to consider what influences you may desire in the future.

Retire with a Sense of Purpose

We know that it’s important to retire ‘to’ something rather than retiring ‘from’ something.  If you had a career filled with goals and challenges it is likely that you will need to keep challenging yourself during retirement as the desire to succeed doesn’t leave once your leave your work.

After retiring many people develop new skills, move into a different type of work, start a new business, return to university or pursue a challenging hobby.  They take the lessons learned during career and parenting years and apply them to further accomplishments during retirement.

Others use their retirement to attend to those items on their ‘bucket list’ that weren’t possible when work consumed too much time. It might be travel or spending more time with grand children or volunteering in a not-for-profit.

This is the time in life to live the dreams, to have the experiences and to take some risks. It is a time for endings but also a time for new beginnings.

Most importantly, it is a time to ‘get on with it’ because this is the third age of life and not one to squander while waiting for something better in future.

Recognize life changes and Endings

Retirement brings life changes that involve endings.  Work ends and relationships with colleagues end. Death may rob us of dear family members and close friends. Diminishing health may lead to loss of capacity to engage in active physical activities such as skiing, wind surfing or running.

Endings often lead to feelings of hopelessness, emptiness or resignation.

If life changes and endings leave you with overwhelming feelings of sadness or hopelessness — and these feelings don’t go away — then you should seek professional help.  There is no shame in asking your doctor for a referral to counselling so don’t be afraid of this.

Life changes happen to everyone and regret about what has ended won’t bring happiness.  It’s important to accept what life has given to you, do your best to resolve situations over which you have control, and then move on.

Your attitude about life changes and endings plays a big part in meeting and overcoming life challenges.  Your attitude will influence your retirement happiness.

Hope can drive you and make your happier 

A few years ago June Callwood a Canadian feminist, journalist and philanthropist, when faced with a diagnosis of cancer, adopted an attitude of hope.  Instead of retreating into despair she decided that hope would ‘drive’ her future.  She continued with her work

Closely linked to hope is having a sense of purpose for your life.  A sense of purpose often includes the belief that things can change and that things will get better in the future. It is the energy that keep you moving ahead with your life.

Callwood could have let her diagnosis stop her. Instead, she was public about the challenges she faced and remained hopeful that she would continue to have a full life. Moreover, she was adamant that her health would not stop the drive she had in fulfilling the various philanthropic roles that she had undertaken.

Many believe that hope is strongly connected to religious and spiritual beliefs.  It provides energy to face the uncertain future with hopefulness. A few minutes every day spent on prayer and/or meditation will bring peace of mind and restore hope. It helps you to keep a positive attitude.

As spring slowly arrives in Canada there is a hopefulness about the greater intensity of the sunlight, the cheerfulness of songbirds returning, and the brave tulip tips bursting through the flowerbeds as snow melts around them.

An attitude of hope affects the way you think about and perceive life changes and events.  Hope links to optimism and the belief that you can control aspects of your life and meet challenges as they arise.

Deciding what drives you 

Here are a few techniques you might try as you consider what drives your retirement now and what helps you to stay positive and hopeful about the future.

  1. Identify your values.  Think about what matters most in your life.  Is it spending time with your grand children?  Is it an accomplishment that you have put off? Do your values involve giving back in some form of volunteerism? Do your values lead you to give generously of your time, talents and/or money?
  2. Think about what you love to do.  What brings a smile to your face every morning?  What makes you feel good about yourself and joyful as you anticipate indulging yourself in that activity?  Is it bridge?  Is it spending time with friends?  Is it a hobby that absorbs you completely? Is it travel that you dreamt about for years?
  3. Review key successes in your life.  What were they?  How do you feel about them now?  Do they give insight into what will drive your retirement? Cherish these memories but don’t dwell on the past — let it go and live for today.
  4. Keep a positive mindset and enjoy what you have.  Accept what life has given to you. Practising gratitude will help you to feel more contented with what you have.  Regret and envy won’t bring happiness.

Time spent discovering what drives you will make your retirement days happier.  Knowing yourself, feeling hopeful about the future and having a strong sense of purpose for your life will keep you enjoying your retirement.





2 Replies to “Happy in Retirement — What Drives You?”

  1. I very much enjoy your blog Jeanette, thank you.

    1. Jeanette Lewis says: Reply

      Thanks for your comment. I am finding much enjoyment in researching and writing the blog posts. It’s increased my retirement happiness to find that blogging is a fulfilling retirement hobby.
      Be well,

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