Why it's important to find purpose in retirement
Your retirement is a time to reflect, make positive changes and spend time building a lifestyle that’s focused on you. Here at Retirement Villages, we believe this is the time to live life to its fullest – to discover and pursue new hobbies, passions and volunteering opportunities as part of a thriving community.
1. Take time to reflect
One of the most important elements in achieving purposeful living in retirement is giving yourself the time and space to think.
Over recent years, over-70s have spent time thinking about their professional and personal lives, with the Covid-19 pandemic a key driver in the urge to ‘make up for lost time’.
Consider what matters to you, what makes you happy, what you’re good at, and what you want to get out of the next part of your life.
Are you a good conversationalist? Do you have a flair for painting or have a qualification in something you haven’t used?
Look back on any dreams or ambitions you may not have pursued earlier in life. Retirement can be the perfect time to reignite an old passion or return to a goal that wasn’t right at the time – so put on your ‘anything is possible’ hat and don’t be afraid to think big.
Despite this, finding your purpose in retirement isn’t always simple. With the burden of financial and logistical planning often a tiring and time consuming exercise, carving out space to focus on you and what you really want to get out of your next chapter can be a challenge.
Taking time to assess your goals and plan ways to embrace the things that make you happy can help you make your retirement everything you want it to be.
We’ve put together some top tips to help you find purpose and meaning in retirement.
2. Find a new hobby
Retirement means more free time; finding new and exciting ways to fill it is one of the most rewarding parts of post-work living. Taking up a new pastime or learning a new craft are great ways to feel fulfilled and purposeful in retirement – but what’s the best way to find a new hobby when you retire?
Use your reflections to identify some areas you’d love to try but never have – maybe you’ve always wanted to try macramé, gardening or being part of a book club.
With hobbies proven to help us relax, reduce stress and keep our cognitive and motor skills firing on all cylinders, going in search of a brand-new hobby is the perfect way to discover happiness and purpose.
Activities are a big part of life in our Retirement Villages communities, where you’ll find resident-led meet-ups for everything from yoga to singing. They’re a great way to try new things and find a new passion.
3. Become a volunteer
There are lots of brilliant reasons to give something back in retirement, and volunteering is a great way to feel rewarded as you do something for a good cause or local community. Plus, volunteering can help you expand your social life, uncover new hobbies and passions, improve your wellbeing and learn new skills, all while making a difference.
Volunteering for over 60s holds many possibilities, so it helps to think about the skills you want to use, how much time you have, and what you’d like to get out of the work you do.
From animal homes, libraries and theatres to homeless shelters, community gardens and after-school clubs, the options for volunteering seem endless. This type of work can bring more purpose and meaning into your life, all while helping you keep routine and structure.
4. Join a community
We know that feeling connected to a community is particularly significant as we get older. A strong social life adds meaning and a sense of belonging.
You may already have a great social network around you. However, if you don’t, there are plenty of fun ways to create your own community at any age. Some of our previous suggestions are great ways to find like minded people too!
You could also try exercise classes, local walking groups and getting in touch with old colleagues who may, too, have recently retired.
We’re so proud of the communities at each of our villages. Buzzing with activity, our residents are incredibly proactive when it comes to designing exciting and interesting social calendars, with events all year round. One resident even explained how "everyone around feels like friends, both residents and staff. It's a good life."
5. Keep learning
Continuing to learn throughout your adult life is a great way to maintain your neuroplasticity and keep your brain active. It’s also a very purposeful way to spend your time and can add great meaning to your life.
From attending local lectures on subjects you’re interested in to signing up for language courses, you’ll find what’s right for you. Learning in group settings is also a great way to meet new people.
6. Take care of your health
Taking care of your health through regular exercise and good nutrition will help boost your self-worth and self-compassion, both of which are important for a purposeful life. You’ll likely find that your mood improves too.
Staying fit and healthy will also help you maintain your independence so you can keep on enjoying the rest of the activities that give you purpose.
7. Spend time outside
Getting outdoors, whether that’s a walk round your local park or joining a gardening club, may have a very positive impact on your wellbeing. One recent study explained how time outdoors allows you to feel more connected to the natural world, boosting your happiness.
The landscaped gardens that surround our communities are made to be explored, and our residents take full advantage of its lovely pathways. Many of our villages are set amongst England’s rich countryside too, offering an endless number of walks, cycleways and more.
8. Become mindful
While much of your retirement will be spent out with friends, enjoying your hobbies and more, mindfulness will help you keep still in the moments in between.
The shift into retirement can feel unsettling for many because of the change in routine. You’re used to working 40 hours a week and suddenly you have that time to yourself. Mindfulness can bring you into the present, giving meaning to each moment and helping you maintain purpose in times of quiet.
What can Retirement Villages offer?
Choosing to live as part of an integrated community in retirement can offer the support you need to feel inspired and start thriving physically and mentally. With a huge variety of creative, active and social opportunities on offer at our locations across the UK, living here offers the strong foundation of community-based independence you need to ‘unretire’ with purpose.
If you’re yet to fully retire but not sure how to adjust to the change, our guide to preparing for retirement emotionally has some useful tips. And if you just want to find out more come to an open day and experience community living for yourself.