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How to Create a Meaningful Retirement: Build Your Future on Your Past

How to Create a Meaningful Retirement: Build Your Future on Your Past

December 06, 2021

Find that “aha” moment to help you plan a fulfilling and meaningful retirement.

Human beings experience life stages: infancy to childhood to adolescence to young adulthood to primary career years and then to “elder hood.” Once you reach “elder hood,” you have spent the past sixty-five to seventy years collecting valuable information, life experiences, wisdom, education, and common sense. You have met people along the way who have impacted your life in some way. You may have a family whose lives you have guided and maybe continue to guide. You may have risen to the top of your field with total dedication to your career. Finally, you may have nurtured strong, lifelong friendships and relationships that have supported and guided you through the past many years and have been the foundation of your social life.

Your first realization is, “Wow, what an amazing past I have,” along with the massive amount of smarts you now possess, in many ways. Consider what a waste it would be if you did nothing with that amazing accumulation of life experiences.

A client of mine retired recently from a nuclear power plant where he worked at a job he loved. To stay busy after retirement and to stay in the game, he returns to the power plant twice a year to work for one month at a time. This allows him to stay connected with his previous coworkers socially, and he knows this helps to keep him mentally sharp. He and his wife don’t really need the money, but it is nice to have the extra cash to help them increase their travel funds.

Human beings are living longer now and taking better care of themselves in many ways. Their bodies are not as worn out as they were once. You may even want to extend your primary career years into your seventies or eighties— maybe not in your career job as it was in the past, but in other ways by thinking about what you have, what you enjoy, what you want to learn, and how you want to live as you transition to the retirement stage of your life.

You may have heard from others that they are so busy in retirement they don’t know how they ever had time to build a career. They may have planned how to fill their days with meaningful focus, or they may simply be gliding from one day to another and letting life happen. In reality, doing various projects around the house, puttering in hobbies, and enjoying leisure time gets old pretty quickly. After the honeymoon period is over, what do you plan to do? Don’t just hope for the best, spend time now—before retirement—and consider the possibilities, opportunities, and challenges.

Maybe for the first time, give some serious thought to finding your purpose in life.

Here is an example to illustrate this even further.

A gentleman retired several years ago at the age of sixty-two. He and his wife have two grown children and three grandchildren. When recently asked what he was doing with himself in retirement, he mentioned that he and his wife spent a lot of time “catching up with things on the Internet and watching a lot of TV.” Over time, their physical health began to deteriorate and as a result when they are not surfing the web, they are spending time at doctors’ appointments. Maybe they have been researching illnesses, getting those illnesses, and then spending time at doctors to treat the illnesses. Generally speaking, retirees probably do see their doctors more, and retirees probably do research on the Internet more. But this couple seems to have no direction in retirement and therefore, their retirement lacks a passion. In addition to the way they spend their days, they report that they spend very little time with their children or grandchildren and in fact spend very little time doing anything of substance at all.

Don’t find yourself with empty days in retirement. Get to know you. Find your passion and go for it. In the next blog, we’ll give you nine questions that will help you dive deeper into planning your retirement and finding your purpose during this next phase of your life.


This excerpt is from Ryan S. Kidd’s book The Art of Retiring Whole. Ryan is a Senior Partner with Validus Financial Associates and specializes in the financial aspects of retirement. Additionally Ryan has a master’s degree in counseling that helps him better understand the non-financial issues that retirees face.