Contributed by Jenny Holt

During our working lifetimes, we undergo a journey  to find professional fulfilment, often leaving our personal life as an afterthought squeezed out by the daily preoccupation with all things work-related. But as retirement looms, it becomes apparent that work isn’t everything; once retirement age hits, many will be left with a void in our lives that’s difficult to know how to fill.

A 2008 study by the U.S. Census Bureau revealed that 12.4% of the population was over 65 in 2000; it was estimated this will increase to 15% in 2020 and 20.7% in 2050. Given that over one-fifth of the population will be retired in the not-too-distant future, it’s becoming more and more evident that we can’t just rely on our jobs to keep us feeling satisfied, useful, and engaged. It’s recommended to choose other ways to find fulfilment.

Choose a perspective

How well retirement goes is very much a self-fulling prophecy. If we see it as a decline in usefulness and purpose in life, or go into it already feeling defeated by the lack of direction, chances are that those expectations will become a reality. Conversely, if wesee retirement as your opportunity to do, see, and experience the things that work has made difficult or impossible in the past, we can start to view it as a time filled with potential, hope, and excitement. Even years before we reach retirement, we can start to make plans and frame the entire experience in a positive light to prepare oneself to love it. At the same time, we can start to define what ‘fulfilment’ really means; if we don’t know what we want, then it’s difficult to attain it. Make concrete goals and objectives and schedule to move towards them.

Think holistic

Retirement is one of the most significant changes you’ll ever experience in your life. As such, you’ll need to readjust your mindset gradually and get accustomed to a completely new way of life. Even if you continue to be occupied and busy, the very fact that you’re not working to earn money will necessitate a shift in mentality. This change can often lead to apathy which can cause stress, depression, poor physical health, and an overall decrease in your quality of life. It’s essential to address the causes of stress during retirement with regular introspection, and clear goals and objectives to help give your time purpose and focus. Many people find that picking up a mentally reflective practice like mindfulness or meditation can help them find this focus and make the adjustment without too much difficulty.

Be prepared

It’s difficult to pursue fulfilment when we’re preoccupied with financial issues, so one of the keys to enabling fulfilment as we retire is to get finances in order well in advance of finally leaving work. See a financial advisor about how best to do this – something many Americans fail to do and end up simply unprepared for not earning money during retirement. Make sure all legal issues are in order as well (e.g., making a will, organizing Power of Attorney, and making arrangements for care, should it be needed it later in life). All of these things will allow the time and head space to concentrate on the here-and-now without distraction.

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Jenny Holt  is a freelance writer and mother of two. She loves nothing more than getting away from it and taking her pet Labrador Bruce for long walks, something she can do a lot more now she’s left the corporate world behind.”

Let me know when you pop it live, looking forward to seeing it up there – more than happy with your edits, thank you so much for putting the time in.

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