Many people look toward retirement as a culmination of their life’s work, only to be surprised when they reach it that all those years don’t seem to add up to lasting fulfillment. One of the benefits of being retired, however, is the luxury of time to embark on something new.
Whether chasing a dream that’s been in the back of your mind for years, picking up a hobby that never occurred to you, or finding a way to give back, the road to fulfillment looks different for everyone. Here are some of the ways that people we’ve spoken to have found fulfillment in retirement, along with a list of articles to help you delve deeper into the ideas that appeal to you.
1. Learn Something New
School days may be long over for you, but perhaps it’s time to think about heading back to the halls of knowledge. Learning can and should be a lifelong pursuit. Not only does it keep aging brains nimble, but it’s a great way to meet new people. In our article “How Lifelong Learning Contributes to Happiness in Retirement,” Scott Guerin, professor of psychology at Kean University, says, “Keeping involved with others and learning new exciting topics can be one of the best prescriptions for a happy and healthy retirement.”
Just because you didn’t love school the first go around doesn’t mean continuing education isn’t for you. Education in retirement can take many forms, from planning a vacation that gets you up close with something you’ve always wanted to know more about to volunteering as a docent at a museum whose subject matter you’d like to learn more about.
Get tips and resources to help you continue your learning journey in our articles dedicated to continuing education.
- How Lifelong Learning Contributes to Happiness in Retirement
- Educational Resources for Seniors
- Educational Travel Ideas for 2022
- Retirement in Focus: Let’s Go Skydiving
2. Return to the Workforce
If you’re missing the sense of purpose a full-time job once offered, consider returning to the workforce. Your second go-around doesn’t need to be in an office or even paid. Many retirees find fulfillment in starting a new career or sharing expertise from their old one as a consultant. Volunteering also offers an avenue for getting involved and restoring that sense of purpose.
Find more tips and inspiration in our articles devoted to second careers.
3. Make New Friends
Socializing is essential to maintaining a connection with your community. Continuing to make new friends, as you keep the old, offers a multitude of benefits. Rena Yudkowsky, a memory coach and geriatric social worker says, “Retired people have a wealth of life experience and wisdom to share. As they age, they need to feel useful, purposeful, and productive. One way to fill this need is to have meaningful relationships with younger people.”
There are many compelling reasons you might want to make some younger friends; our article below explores some of them.
4. Get Out in Nature
Whether pruning your rose bushes or forging a mountain path, finding ways to spend time outside can improve moods and help you stay active. In our article, “The Age Defying Benefits of Gardening,” gardening columnist and author Mary-Kate Mackey says, “[Gardening] lets us reflect, observe, and meditate on what is often overlooked. It allows us to get into the tiny world of scavenging ants, tune in to the birdsong, or simply step off the usual hamster wheel of thought.”
Gardening isn’t the only avenue for tuning in to the natural world. Hiking, visiting a botanical garden or arboretum, or even taking a moment each day to sit outside and experience the wonders of our world can be grounding and soul-affirming.
Find inspiration for getting out into nature in the following articles that focus on staying active in the outdoors.
- The Age-Defying Benefits of Gardening
- 6 Hiking Tips for Seniors
- Hiking Preparations Checklist (Pdf Download)
- Hiking His Way Through Retirement
5. Get Out of Town
Exploring the world is one sure way to get out of your shell. Of travel after retirement, RV enthusiast Donna Brown says, “This is the time to visit those places you’ve really wanted to see. You can go anywhere, and what you see from your trailer is absolutely incredible.” Whether you’re crisscrossing the country in an RV or jetting to your desired destination, travel can offer new vistas, friendships, and even a new lease on life.
Our travel-related articles give tips and ideas for retired people looking to hit the road.
- Packing Guide for Older Travelers
- Is 70 too old to start RV Travel?
- Best Ideas for RV Road Trips
- How Home Exchange Can Improve Your Retirement
- 7 Ways Home Exchange Makes Travel Better for Retirees
This article is intended for general informational and educational purposes only, and should not be construed as financial or tax advice. For more information about whether a reverse mortgage may be right for you, you should consult an independent financial advisor. For tax advice, please consult a tax professional.