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  • Writer's pictureDan Haylett

Don't fade away but thrive in retirement

Updated: Mar 14



Here are my top 3 takeaways following a wonderful conversation with author and journalist Celia Dodd on episode 9 of The Humans vs Retirement Podcast


1. Retirement is not limiting.


Retirement is not limiting or the end, but rather a new beginning. There should be big importance placed on finding purpose in retirement as it can bring many benefits, including social connections and a sense of fulfilment.


Retirement is an individual thing, and what works for one person may not work for another. It is essential to talk to other people and seek advice, but ultimately, the decisions must be yours. Retirement is an opportunity to pursue your passions and interests, and it is never too late to start something new.


We must challenge the idea that older people are stuck in their ways, because it’s a load of rubbish. As we age, we become more resilient and adaptable, having dealt with many difficulties and problems throughout our lives. However, it is easy to fall into self-limiting beliefs, such as thinking it is too late to start something new.


I encourage people to look back at the skills they have built up throughout their working career and think about different ways they can use them in retirement.

Volunteering is a popular option for people, but it is essential to think about what is in it for you. If volunteering does not provide non-financial rewards, it can be challenging to feel like you are adding value or doing a good job.


2. Start somewhere, find curiosity.


One key piece of advice is to start somewhere and find curiosity. This means that it is essential to take the first step towards finding purpose and meaning in retirement, even if it is just a small step. Retirement is a time to explore new opportunities and interests, and there are countless options available.


One way to start is by volunteering, as it can provide a sense of fulfilment, but it is essential to find something that resonates with your interests and passions. There are many websites that offer search options for finding volunteer opportunities that match your preferences. Volunteering can be sociable or solitary, depending on your preferences.


Retirement can be a sudden gift of time and freedom, but it can also be overwhelming. It is essential to narrow down options and not cram your diary with commitments. It’s essential that you take an objective look at how you would like your life to be in five years and figuring out how to get there.


Furthermore, you must accept that you may not achieve everything you want in retirement, such as winning the Masters or playing at a music festival. Instead, it is about doing things for the pleasure of doing them and finding fulfilment in the process.


One of the key concerns for many people entering retirement is cognitive decline, particularly dementia. However, studies have shown that having a strong sense of purpose can lower the risk of dementia by 2.4 times. People with clear goals and a mission also tend to live longer than those without. This statistic highlights the importance of having a purpose in life, especially in retirement.


Having a purpose keeps the brain active and engaged, leading to new ideas and continued learning. It also provides motivation to stay physically fit and healthy, as a healthy body and mind go hand in hand. In addition, having a purpose gives individuals a reason to get out of bed in the morning and a reason for living, which can prevent depression and other mental health issues.


Retirement should be seen as an opportunity to find new meaning and purpose in life. Pursuing passions and interests, trying new things, and challenging oneself can lead to a fulfilling retirement. It is important to stay open to new ideas and to mix with people of all ages, as this can help prevent cognitive decline and keep the mind active and flexible.


3. Retirement mindset: focus, mastery, challenge.


The mindset of retirement is often associated with relaxation, rest, and slowing down. However, retirement can also be a time to focus, master new skills, and challenge oneself. Developing a new mindset in retirement that is not about stress and busyness but rather about doing things properly and relishing the different experiences that life has to offer.


Retirement provides an opportunity to develop a new mindset that prioritises doing things with more focus and attention. While a successful career may have led to being decent at many things, retirement allows for the opportunity to master one or two things that are truly important and fulfilling. Research into the human brain suggests that the feeling of expertise or mastery in something can provide a sense of purpose and meaning in life.


Retirement also offers the chance to challenge oneself and take on new experiences that are outside of one's comfort zone. While it may be tempting to only pursue activities that are enjoyable and stress-free, some retirees miss the feeling of achievement that comes from overcoming challenges and accomplishing difficult tasks. Volunteering or pursuing hobbies that create a sense of nervousness or concern can still provide a sense of accomplishment and fulfilment.

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