The simple trick to creating a meaningful retirement for yourself

By Megan Giles: Retirement Transition Consultant

First published by Over Sixty [Link:]

It’s all well and good to say that you need to find purpose in retirement but for some this is well intended but frustrating advice. They have stepped away from work, caught up on sleep, cleared out the corporate wardrobe and now want to know what retirement can look like on a day-to-day basis. They want REAL examples because without work these are now a lot of waking hours to fill.

The worry is that it is easy to fill for the days to get away from you. You can shop, have coffee and watch TV. But what will you have to show after 6 months, 12 months or 10 years? What people fear is the passing of time without a sense of purpose.


To say ‘do something you enjoy’ is just too vague. You many enjoy going to the gym, but this is not something you can do all day, every day. Not only would you be exhausted, but you’d likely have shin splints, aching muscles and blisters to deal with as well!

Rather than reinvent the wheel, why not just think differently about how you do what you already do. Here are five examples of how you can build on the activities you already enjoy in order to fill your days meaningfully and create experiences to look forward to in retirement.

Consider when you schedule activities.

Perhaps you’ve belonged to a book club for years and you always meet on the first Tuesday evening of the month. Now that you are all retired, do your really need to continue meeting at night, squeezing in these catch-ups around work? Is this something you could instead enjoy over a leisurely lunch or afternoon tea (still enjoying that glass of wine that goes hand-in-hand with any good book discussion)? A day time book club might be particularly appealing if you no longer like to drive at night.


Incorporate your interest with travel.

You may enjoy playing golf, but once or twice a week is enough. You don’t want it to become a chore. Have you ever considered planning a golf trip with friends? Imagine exploring the highlands and historic cities of Scotland, enjoying a dram of whiskey one day and playing one of the famed St Andrews courses the next! Or escaping the winter cold and heading north to play at a reciprocal club in more tropical climes. It’s a fantastic way to see a different part of the world and share the experience with friends. You might even like to make this an annual event!

Give back to your club or group.

Perhaps you enjoy netball, triathlon or restoring furniture at the local men’s shed. Have you ever thought about joining the committee and contributing your skills and enthusiasm at the strategic level to make your club even greater? Often energy, motivation and a willingness to ‘get your hands dirty’ is enough, but you may also have a specific skill set which your club or group could benefit from. It might be accounting, marketing, social media, grant applications or business development skills.  This could be a wonderful opportunity to create a bigger impact and encourage more people to follow your passion.

Avoid being limited by your circumstances.

You’ve downsized to an apartment but enjoy gardening. Does this mean you can no longer be a gardener? The answer is no! There are many thriving community gardens out there seeking enthusiastic green thumbs to volunteer their expertise and energy. Most local government websites have information on where to find your nearest community garden, and the wonderful thing about becoming involved is not only are you creating sustainable gardening practices but you get to enjoy the fruits of your labour as well! Imagine what you could cook with all of those fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs!

Teach others and pass on your expertise.

Perhaps you have a grandchild or neighbourhood kid who constantly pesters you to know ‘why do you do that’ and ‘what would happen if you did this’ while you are tinkering in the shed, re-potting those plants or mending a shirt. It is possible that they are not simply bothering you – they genuinely want to learn. Have you ever considered teaching them and passing on your skill? This needn’t require a formal qualification, it might just be a wonderful opportunity to have someone to share your hobby with. (One a side note, there are so many millennials who don’t know how to hem and instead take their pants to a tailor, paying $25 to get them altered. Maybe teaching others to sew could be your personal mission!)

You don’t need to suddenly find 10 new hobbies to fill your days meaningfully in retirement. Instead consider what you already enjoy and just approach each of those things differently!

If you enjoyed this article you may also like to read Is happiness really what we are all after in retirement and Why retirement planning is different for women.

Inspired to do some planning? Why not download your copy of the Focusing on You Reflections Sheet which has been designed to help you gain clarity and insight into what is important to you, and what you value in life after work.

What do you mean, I hear you say? I have kids, grandkids and ageing parents. I know all about their goals and what is important to them, but I draw a blank when it comes to my own dreams and aspirations – I can’t think of anything!

All too often we put the needs of others before our own, but to give our best to others, we need to first take care of ourselves.

This Reflections Sheet therefore provides an opportunity (and permission!) to take some time to focus on just you!

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