Finding a "purpose/fulfillment" before or after retirement.

Formerlyjerseyjack

I have had this discussion with two people. One wants to retire but realizes his days would likely be unfulfilling if he retire. He is already into alcohol. Another friend recently expressed wishing for a goal in life.

Your thoughts?


iwasmim

I too wonder whether my days will be purposeful or structured enough without the discipline of a job. I've heard so many retired people say, 'oh I'm busier than ever,' but I question if any of my avocations will provide what my work does. I'm not talking about identity and self-worth but rather the daily order and structure of employment. Still working on these questions as I near retirement.


joan_crystal

I'm retired, at least from my job of 40+ years.  In October, 2017, I had exactly three days when I didn't have at least one thing scheduled.  My activities included a bus tour to the Bronx Botanical Gardens, two courses (one in painting, the other in computer applications), volunteering at four different activities (one weekly, the others single incidents), attending seven town-wide events, going to a book reading/signing, attending a club meeting, attending meetings of two different committees to which I have been appointed by the town, attending to personal business, seeing films with a friend, and going to an awards dinner.  I also found time to visit with family, work on my hobbies, read books, take daily walks, and attend a wake.   Put me in the busier than ever category. 

What I have found is that if you want to find fulfillment, if you want to stay active, there are so many opportunities out there.  Just say "Here I am," and opportunities will come looking for you.


Formerlyjerseyjack

I guess the question isn't just about filling the days. They fill themselves, even if its just staring at the four walls.


Its about, how you feel about yourself at the end of the day. What you've accomplished and what you look forward to.

These people seem to have little of that.



conandrob240

you need work to feel good about yourself?  To me, there are far more fufilling ways to spend a day. And I like my job well enough. I think this is a baby boomer or older mentality which I can’t even wrap my head around. I’d be thrilled to not have the obligations of work and be free to travel, spend more time with family, relax on a beach, read more books, have an extra glass of wine, help out others with more volunteering and I can go on and on.


My father just retired. Worked like a dog most of his life.12-14 hour days of driving a truck delivering (and loading/unloading) cases of paint cans and tile. Couldn’t walk upright because of back pain. Recent years as a head custodian, less back breaking but certainly no cake walk. Retired at 73 and was so worried about feeling useless. I can’t even imagine not doing a freakin’ dance at not having to do that kind of work. It’s only been 3 weeks so not sure how he’s doing yet but I can see him being or that loses his sense of pride and self worth.


author

I am of the firm belief that every one should finish high school or college and retire immediately.   Of course there are a few details to iron out.

I was fortunate in that the line of work that occupied most of my 40 years plus of employment,  I found fulfilling, challenging at times and certainly got to meet and interact with some wonderful people.

The decision to retire was easy as my large place of employment went under and at my age best I could 

do was a job with the EPA in LEAD ABATEMENT.  I actually did the Dilbert act of working out of a cubicle when we were not in the field.  And so it goes

So now in retirement mode I spend entirely to much time on the computer.  Am just finishing my duties as Executor to a very large estate.  Pick up and disseminate the latest town gossip on my walks through the 

Village........have done a study as to the best times and places to pick up direct sun as I am usually vitamin D deficient.   T he two most important things in your life are your health and your time. You can play ever so slightly fast and loose with your health...........we regenerate.  But your time is precious.......use it wisely



Klinker

There are always grand kids if you have them.  


Formerlyjerseyjack


conandrob240 said:
 I can’t even imagine not doing a freakin’ dance at not having to do that kind of work. It’s only been 3 weeks so not sure how he’s doing yet but I can see him being or that loses his sense of pride and self worth.

Future Shock was written around 40 years ago. My "takeaway" was the point that serious illness is more likely to occur after a major event in ones life. As I recall, these include losing one's job, death of a spouse, retirement and possible one or two others that I can't recall (my brain went fuzzy after I reached my dotage).

One of the two people I discussed earlier, mentioned he wanted to retire. I asked how he would fill his days. He said he would ride his bike and spend more time at his house in Vermont.

What about the rest of the time when weather is bad or winter? He can't spend much time in Vt. since his wife doesn't enjoy being away from the rest of the family.

So that leaves a lot of days with no plans. I told him to test out retirement. Take three non-consecutive days off from work between now and January 30th. Do whatever you think you will do when you retire. Except, don't go to the shop.

"If you can't even take those three days off, you aren't ready for retirement."

So far, he hasn't taken any days off.




conandrob240

I can't even fathom it. I'll take 3 days off anytime and not think one second about having a purpose. I'd be happy having a busy day running errands, a quiet day reading, a day seeing family, going to a long walk, or a day doing nothing but surfing the web. No guilt, no pondering life. 


Jasmo

I believe that traditionally, many men tend to have a harder time with retirement than women.  So much of a man's identity is built around career and work, as a measure of worth, both individually and as family provider.  A heavy dose of ego is built into the recognition of job status, and the money and the power that comes from career success. Although norms have been changing significantly, women have historically had more of their identity built around mothering and family roles, in which they have devoted more time.  For many men, and women increasingly so, giving up that identity and the ego perks that go with it provokes a great deal of anxiety, and retirement and lead to a sense of loss, emptiness and a lack of purpose.  Others are more easily able to channel their interests more effectively, or tweak their sense of identity in different ways.  I think it varies from person to person, but for a significant minority, it can be a difficult transition.  


joan_crystal


Formerlyjerseyjack said:

I guess the question isn't just about filling the days. They fill themselves, even if its just staring at the four walls.





Its about, how you feel about yourself at the end of the day. What you've accomplished and what you look forward to.


These people seem to have little of that.

Retirement for those of us lucky (or unlucky) enough to achieve it is a lifelong vacation in which one's time is suddenly one's own.  This can become intimidating.  Staring at the four walls = depression in my opinion and depression can lead to a sharp decline in one's mental and physical health. 

If you are one of those persons whose self image is limited to what you have been doing on the job, a transition to a new self-identity is needed.  This is best done while one is still working.  If that hasn't happened, a plan is needed to accomplish this transformation.  

Fulfillment is different for each of us.  For me it is maintaining a sense of accomplishment whether it is developing and sharing a skill (such as you are doing with your photography), being able to be there for your family, immersing yourself in community service or a combination of all three. We all need a reason to get up in the morning.


Okokokok

About 7 years ago I broke my ankle during Thanksgiving while I was up in Vermont.  At the time I was driving a car with a manual transmission which meant I couldn't drive home.  Not only was my mobility limited, but while I was up there, Vermont had one of the snowiest winters ever.  I ended up returning in February when my brother in law came up and we switched cars to drive home.  Based on that experience I would say that I will absolutely relish retirement when the time comes, and I really love my job!


unicorn33

After working hard for 40+ years, these are a few of the personal things I like most about retirement, in no particular order: (1) not having to set an alarm clock; (2) not having to worry about (or feel guilty about) being "productive"; (3) spending much of my time doing whatever activity I want when I feel like it; (4) traveling more--and at any time of year; (5) not having to dress up unless I want to; (6) having much less stress.

Are there downsides? Sure. But the pros far, far outweigh the cons.


Formerlyjerseyjack


conandrob240 said:

I can't even fathom it. I'll take 3 days off anytime and not think one second about having a purpose....

That is different. While employed, variation in routine is welcome. When I was a teacher, summers were sometimes difficult. I worked at summer jobs until the last couple of teaching years. Before that, I had a full time job and the couple of days off per year were welcome.

Now, photography offers me a diversion. I can chase birds or sunsets.

The people I wrote about in the o.p., have little outside interests that they consider rewarding.

Another factor is the value their jobs did or did not give to the world. Did Michelangelo die satisfied? Who knows. I know I changed a couple of kids lives for the better -- only two that I can think of and am aware of.

Does a bolt tightener at G.M. feel his life was worth while after 30 years?


rcarter31

I consider myself truly lucky to having downsized into a place with a special garden that was in deep need of restoration and renewal.  Intersected with my interests and skills between the necessary fundraising and the garden work,  I have such a sense of accomplishment and pride from the work.  

If I weren't doing this, I'd be volunteering in one of the many gardens near us that need help like Presby. 

Puts most of the thinking skills I needed in 40 years as a management consultant to work on a daily basis!

We can always put another volunteer to work!!!!

Best Regards,

Ron Carter


Klinker

I guess the takeaway for those of us who are not at retirement age is to be damn sure we develop interests outside of work.  

How sad would it be to devote your life to a job to pay the bills only to find out that, at the end, that job has defined you as a person?


conandrob240

my father is an example of a man who didn’t have what we’d define as “deep, meaningful work”. It was hard, manual labor. Yet he has great sadness and trepidation about his retirement. I don’t think I can ever understand that. I have what most would think of impactful, meaningful work and I like it well enough but it’s a job and I’ll be thrilled to be rid of it one day andnever look back.


sarahzm

A long time ago I took a time management class.  The instructor asked us to imagine ourselves at a funeral.  We were asked to imagine those who knew the deceased getting up to speak about his/her life.  First the colleagues, then friends, then family.   The deceased is YOU.   What are they saying, and how close is it to what you want them to be saying.  Live your life accordingly.    That's a place to start.  


mtierney

my husband, who had his own professional practice, retired at 83 — reluctantly! After my retirement several years earlier, we began to travel the world even more. 

Retirement means you never get a day off! Interests need to be cultivated over your whole life span — and both of us did just that. We both were active in civic,church, and various volunteer organizations in Maplewood.

Cultivate many interests while working and then pray you are able to have the time in retirement to enjoy them!



Formerlyjerseyjack


conandrob240 said:

my father is an example of a man who didn’t have what we’d define as “deep, meaningful work”. It was hard, manual labor. Yet he has great sadness and trepidation about his retirement.

Is that maybe where his friends are?


irishclan

I am so very grateful for this thread.  I retired in June from a job I loved, the commute was killing me.  I was fortunate enough to have found a vocation that provided me with many many rewards.  My husband will not retire until June.  I have found a passion for bridge and a great class/teacher in Livingston.  I work out six days a week and just started spin classes, tennis and volunteering locally.  I miss being social more than anything else.  I miss laughing out loud with people who "get me".  I do "NY Wednesdays" to see a show or a museum.  

A someone I recently met said, "you need to create your own retirement".  I am preparing our house for sale and have various tasks to attend to, painting, contractors, editing down our stuff (lol).  I also have a son who is still home and preparing for the "launch". 

I miss the easy interaction of coworkers and a sense of purpose I found at work.  I sometimes feel guilty with my husband still working but another person reminded me " You already did your work, for 38 years!"  

Thanks for letting me ramble on...I'd be very glad to hear from others as they transition to this new chapter.


conandrob240

Sort of. He liked being useful to the people there and some are good friends. I understand HIS reasons for being nervous or sad. Sense of purpose, old school work mentality, social aspect with people there. I get it. I think it’ll really be fine for him- he has lots of interests and grandchildren nearby that he raises anyway to thatvwill keep him plenty busy and be much more important than helping people in a work setting.


I’m just saying for me, it will never be like that. I feel the same way about getting fired or finding a new job. Oh, well. Something else will come along or I’ll find something else I like to do. I’ll meet new people who are just as nice. I’m not tied to a job for my sense of purpose or interest or social fulfillment. I don’t need to “feel useful” in the way that’s being described. It’s not a driving force. I’m sure I have days when I do absolutely nothing  useful in retirement, other days when I’ll help someone and still other days when I accomplish a lot. It’s not a worry or concern. 



Formerlyjerseyjack said:



conandrob240 said:

my father is an example of a man who didn’t have what we’d define as “deep, meaningful work”. It was hard, manual labor. Yet he has great sadness and trepidation about his retirement.

Is that maybe where his friends are?



Formerlyjerseyjack

I was driving to south Jersey this morning and thinking about this thread.... the part about my contributions to the general good.... about the two kids whose lives I know I changed for the better.

Then, I remembered, I worked in recycling for 20 years. During that time, I was responsible for arranging the taking tens of thousands of tons of waste material out of the waste stream and into a recycling stream. Now that I think of it, Damn. That's something!


conandrob240

spend more time it's your grandchildren (if you don't already). I don't think you can feel "useless" when you see what you mean to them through their eyes. My dad is especially needed in this role because their really father is useless and not around much anymore. 


shoshannah

Retirement means you are nearing the last stage of your life. That's what's hard for a lot of people. 


Norman_Bates

This is such a great thread.  

Retirement is not an event, it is a transition that takes place over time and requires forethought; one that  not only is a vocational and financial transition but also highly psychological and physical in nature.  I've known several people who thought only about the financial aspects, then suddenly retired only to soon find themselves in that Peggy Lee "Is That All There Is?" moment because they were living a pointless life and feeling miserable.

As others have noted, for people who have spent a lifetime in a vocation through which they largely have anchored their identity,  the loss of that position upon retirement can leave them defining themselves as they used to be rather than as they are or can become.  This can lead to what I consider to be an unfortunate dynamic, shifting one's life focus to one of looking back at one's life rather than looking forward...a rather maudlin and fading existence, I would think.  Most people, want to feel as though they "matter", not to live marginalized on the edge of society.  For some, I suppose that looking back and reflecting on one's past accomplishments suffices.  But I think many retirees want to feel that their life still matters, not that their life used to matter.  As Joan Crystal and others have pointed out, it's all about living a purposeful life, having something toward which to strive and which keeps us mentally challenged and physically involved.   

From my perspective as a semi-retiree, it's all about doing things to expand my world and to keep me looking forward, not to allow my world to get smaller and leave me living in the past.  I've found it doesn't have to be some earth-shaking goal or trying to transform society.  Rather, it simply can be learning to do something I didn't have time to do before, pursuing a hobby that gives me pleasure, or expanding my world through travel or reading.  It's a matter of either I keep growing or I start shrinking.

   





Formerlyjerseyjack

Norman,

That is the point of the o.p. ... friends that have no focus. They are retired or want to retire but have no plan to look forward to. I wonder how much depression fits into the question.

(Norman, you write you are semi-retired. Are you thinking of selling the motel? I may have a buyer.)


mtierney


shoshannah said:

Retirement means you are nearing the last stage of your life. That's what's hard for a lot of people. 

I try not to view it necessarily as the “last stage” — but another chapter of my life to write. All of us will die, it is how we live our life that matters. How we will be remembered by our family and friends.


Rufus

It took me a good three years to find my way into a fulfilling new life when I stopped working. Notice "stopped working." I hate the word "retirement." I figure that I can retire when I die. The transition from working to not working isn't easy. And you're right, it doesn't have anything to do with filling your days. To me, it's about accomplishing things that feel worthwhile. It took me quite a bit a experimenting to find those worthwhile activities. And I'm not talking about personal day fillers like hiking, biking, fishing, painting, etc. I'm talking about accomplishments feel like I helped individuals and the community. So, here's what I'm doing now:

Volunteer counsellor for the State of New Jersey to assist folks with their Medicare and Medicaid questions. This averages out to about a day a week, year round.

Tutor/Mentor to a group of teenagers who participate in Streetsquash Newark. I've been with these kids throughout their highschool years. I get back more than I give in watching these kids mature. If you don't know about Streetsquash, check it out at http://streetsquash.org/newark/. During the school year, this keeps me active two afternoons every week.

On the board of directors of The Montclair Inn, a communal living residence for seniors that provides affordable group living facilities, http://themontclairinn.org.

Active as the chapter secretary at the Montclair Rotary club.

Practicing Insight Meditation, including weekly group meditations, an occasional retreat and lots of reading.

I can still use additional ways to help others. I'll always be looking for more to do.


Norman_Bates


Formerlyjerseyjack said:

Norman,

That is the point of the o.p. ... friends that have no focus. They are retired or want to retire but have no plan to look forward to. I wonder how much depression fits into the question.


(Norman, you write you are semi-retired. Are you thinking of selling the motel? I may have a buyer.)

I would sell...but then where would Mother live?   See you in the shower.



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