Retiring on Purpose

Mike Drak

WHEN I GIVE presentations on retirement, I ask folks about their worries. For pre-retirees, their biggest concern is not having enough money. That’s no surprise. Financial firms spend millions pushing the importance of saving for retirement.

But when I pose the same question to recent retirees, I get a completely different answer. Overwhelmingly, their biggest concern is finding purpose in retirement. Similar results emerge from a recent survey by Age Wave and Edward Jones, which found that 92% of retirees agree that “having purpose is key to a successful retirement.” Indeed, 93% believe “it’s important to feel useful in retirement” and 87% agree that “being useful helps them to feel youthful.”

I’ve always believed that doing work you love and are passionate about can serve as a personal “fountain of youth.” After initially failing miserably at retirement, what I’ve learned is that a successful retirement is much more than a money problem. Instead, it’s a design problem that needs to be solved.

It takes a lot of thought, time and planning to design a sustainable, satisfying retirement that you’ll be happy with for the next 30-plus years. But if you do it right, the payoff is enormous.

Don’t make the same mistake that I made and expect to fall into a happy retirement simply because you’ve accumulated a lot of money. The key to a successful retirement is to figure out exactly what you’ll be retiring to. Prior to retirement, your goal is to identify what your sources of purpose will be and then build a life around that. Do that, and retirement will be pretty good.

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