I recently retired from a lifelong career of working as a CPA accountant. My career brought me an incredible amount of fulfillment in life. I was one of the lucky people who looked forward to waking up in the morning and going to work. I built relationships that will last the rest of my life and was able to learn from wonderful people. I really came to feel that the work I was doing mattered, that it was more than just crunching numbers and making a profit.
As retirement came, an important part of my life was suddenly gone. I will never forget the feeling waking up on that Monday morning, my first day of retirement, and thinking to myself, “What do I do now?” It was a strange feeling. While I got off to a slow start, I have come to find ways to be productive and make something meaningful out of my time. Here are a few ways I have been able to find meaning in retirement.
It’s not just about what I want to do
Some people see retirement as a chance to finally do what you have always wanted to do but never had the time for. Maybe they want to travel world or read that long list of books they never got around to. While I think this is partly true, I also believe that real fulfillment comes from helping others. With the extra time on my hands I am always looking to serve people in any way I can, whether it is a neighbor down the street or a family member. As an accountant I always felt satisfied when I helped with a big problem. I don’t want to lose that feeling and found that I can keep it by looking outward rather than inward.
During the first week of my retirement I sat down and set a number of goals. I didn’t want to simply float through each day with no real end in mind. My goals included things like reading a certain number of books each month, going on hikes I never had the chance to before, writing this blog, and becoming more technological. I also set longer-term goals such as loosing a certain number of pounds by the end of the year. Goals give the activities of each day meaning and prevent me from getting bored.
Refocus on what is most important
Retirement has provided me a good opportunity to step back and remember what is really most important in my life. I loved my job, but I didn’t live for my job. Ultimately I worked because I needed to provide for my family and my family has always been at the top of the priority list. Now that I no longer work, I can spend more time with my wife, my children and my grandchildren.
My wife and I wake up every morning together and go on a walk. We eat breakfast, read, and spend most of the day talking and laughing. Some people’s marriages struggle after retirement but ours is only growing stronger. I also get to visit my grandkids on a weekly basis, play with them at the park and go to their soccer games. Remembering that my family is truly what’s important has brought me more fulfillment than anything else.