What does April mean to you? Spring bulbs? Easter eggs? Family get-togethers? Or a getaway to sunnier climes?
For me, it’s a ‘third time lucky thanks to COVID’ trip to the theme parks in Florida. I admit, I’m a complete sucker for the sheer delight and joy of doing nothing but play all day and spending time with my family. It is also great to see other families enjoying themselves together, with kids running everywhere, making the most of every minute.
Some people view retirement like that, a never-ending day at the theme park of life. A chance to have fun all day doing what you want, when you want. With candyfloss. Great!
The reality is that as with any holiday, it’s not always full-on, 24/7. You might want a break from the rollercoaster of constant excitement to just to sit by the pool with a book and chillax.
What’s more, even the best fun-fuelled holiday will ultimately come to an end. You’ll find yourself looking forward to returning home to your own home, your own bed, your own well-stocked fridge (or is that just me?).
Retirement needs ebbs and flows of excitement too. At the start, many retirees go flat out, cramming every minute with favourite hobbies, days out, sports, cruises, visits to friends, etc.
If it’s not endless excitement, it’s endless activity, including doing everything on the ‘to do’ list from DIY to skydiving.
And then the list runs out. Or at least, gets shorter. Then what?
At this point, some retirees may notice that their retirement financial pot is disappearing more rapidly than they expected. Most retirement planning is based on a balance between living costs, lifestyle costs (not always the same thing) and the fun stuff.
If you didn’t get the budget quite right, endless fun can be pricey.
And then comes the real crunch question: what’s it all for? Do you actually want a fifth city break, or another week by the sea, another roller-coaster ride? Or is it just filling time?
Retirement with endless fun can feel rather unsatisfying, and many struggle to pin down exactly why.
Here’s why. After decades of work with projects, goals, and a reason to get up in the mornings, some find themselves with a lifestyle where there are no goals, no colleagues, no ‘need’ to do, well, anything.
Retiring with purpose is about setting some new goals. The more those goals benefit others as well as yourself, the more likely you are to enjoy achieving them.
Here’s an example. As a family, we’re going to get a new puppy when we get back from Florida. We can’t wait to do things with our new canine buddy, from long walks to fireside snoozes. We also need to keep our pup stimulated, engaged and eager for what each new doggy day brings.
It’s as important for canine health as our own to have something to do. Dogs that were bred for a specific job are often bright and want to work. The trick is to find things you both can do and enjoy together, from canine agility to dog showing.
These shared hobbies no doubt help you and the dog in terms of activity, but do they help others?
Many owners think that to help others, they and their dog need to do something dramatic like search and rescue. That’s not the case.
Read to Dogs is a simple idea. Children who struggle with their reading are encouraged to read aloud to a dog. The dogs help the kids to relax, and in turn the children feel comfortable reading to a furry listener.
PAT (Pets as Therapy) dogs go into care homes and other medical environments to ease stress and help life the mood of residents. As a volunteer from Pet Partners said:
“Therapy animals offer affection, enjoyment, and entertainment, and can break up a routine that might otherwise be all about medical care and required activities. They can give residents the motivation to participate in activities, exercise, and treatment plans. They can ease loneliness for people who are missing their homes or their own pets and increase socializing among residents by giving them a reason to gather.”
As a PAT dog owner, there are huge benefits for you too. You get out and about, meet new people, and experience first-hand the benefits your pet offers others. You also are often ‘rewarded’ in unexpected ways – letters and drawings of the dog from school kids, a specially-saved doggy snack from a resident, an invite to visit a new hospice or hospital.
Or, as happened to one friend, the sheer joy of hearing an entire class of kids crack up laughing when her laid-back spaniel let forth an enormous burp mid reading session.
So, as I ride the rollercoasters, check out the shows, and sip cocktails in the hot tub, part of my mind will be looking forward to home, and the challenges of a new puppy. It marks a new phase in our lives with a new canine personality to enjoy and experience.
It’s also how I want my retirement to be, blending the fun stuff with the meaningful stuff, the personal and the community, the tail wags with the snoozes.
- If you’d like help planning a retirement with purpose, call me to discuss one to one coaching.
- If you just want to dip a toe into retirement planning, why not sign up for my introductory workshop here.
- Or just enjoy this video of a horse with a real sense of purpose…