Retirement: How to Find Purpose after Career

Our career gave us purpose, goals, growth and tasks on which to focus. Yet, research has shown, we still need a sense of purpose after our careers to live a rich and satisfying life. Retirement gives us a new opportunity to discover what truly sparks our vitality, but many career-hardened boomers struggle in this endeavour. Here is a valuable approach to discover your new purpose. Get ready for that “aha” moment!


Why Purpose?

I can see some of you rolling your eyes. I’ve had a few skeptics in my strategic planning sessions who thought discovering the organization’s core purpose was a waste of time. Au contraire. Knowing your true mission saves you time. It gives you direction, helps you in decision-making and gives focus on how to spend your efforts, energy, and resources.

Do you volunteer for this or that group? Do you invest in this or that activity? Do you spend time with these people or those? How do you apply your skills and talents? How do you grow? How will you spend your time?

More importantly, research has shown that your overall wellness is linked to having purpose and meaning in life. A purposeless life can lead to depression and is often expressed as “frustration, anger, a feeling of worthlessness and internal angst” explains Dr. Peter Johnson, co-flounder of Retirement Options. Working toward something that is important to you, energizes you and fires your vitality. It gives meaning to your life. Isn’t that the ultimate goal in our 3rd act of life, our Next3rd?

“Ever more people today have the means to live, but no meaning to live for.” 

– Viktor E. Frankl



Yours to Discover

Your purpose is in there, inside you already. It probably has been buried since childhood, covered with external demands and tasks asked of others over the years. Now you can mine it. Let’s go digging. It may be muddy at first, but over time and with focus, your purpose will become clearer.


The Venn Diagram Approach

Andy Stanley reminded us to reflect on ‘why we are here’ in the 2017 Leadercast “Powered by Purpose” conference. For those less into existential thinking, his simple Venn Diagram just might hit home.


“Instead of asking what am I most passionate about, ask what breaks my heart?’” 

– Andy Stanley


“What breaks your heart?” That’s hitting the bone. Your answer will give you insights into what you truly care about and what problems you may be inspired to help solve. Your first seeds of your life’s purpose.

Take an inventory of your skills, talents and wisdom that you can offer. Revisit those personality profiles you may have completed in the past for more insights. How can you apply your gifts to the problems or challenges you’ve noted above? You may want to do something completely different than in your past career. This is your opportunity to bring out the real authentic you.

Who were you thinking of when examining what breaks your heart? Troubled kids, the polar bears, your family?  Who can you help by applying your gifts?

Meaning in life often comes from serving others.


What is the overlap or the intersection between these spheres of what breaks your heart, your gifts and who needs your help?  What is at the centre of your Purpose Venn Diagram?  There’s your first iteration of your current life purpose!  Is that “aha” that I hear?


Just Do It

Congratulations.  You’ve planted a seed to your life’s purpose and meaning.  Now act on it.  It’s not the thought that counts so much as the action driven by that seed that gives you life meaning.  It’s an iterative process.  As you act to fulfill your life’s purpose, your mission and life meaning become clearer.  Enjoy the quest!

Purpose feeds action.  Action feeds meaning.



Retirement: How to Find Purpose after Career blog was originally posted on the Next3rd website.

The views of the author are hers alone and may not represent the views of hers affiliated firms. Any data, information and content on this blog is for information purposes only and should not be construed as an offer of advisory services.

By: Kristine van der Pas-Norenius | 0 comments

This Couple Shares Wisdom on Retirement Togetherness 24/7

They had demanding, top-tier careers in the fast-paced world of high tech. Busy, A-type, long days at the office with world travel thrown in, type of careers. With little time for planning, they each retired early, at 50, and have been happily together, a lot, ever since. What’s their secret for harmonious retirement togetherness?

Retirement Trailblazers

Full disclosure. I have known Denise and Karl for 25 years. Most of that time, has been during their retirement. Conversations with them are always interesting and thought-provoking, and usually involve good food and wine.  Denise was a trailblazer in her career, usually the only woman in the room, and Karl was leading change in a change-adverse organization. When the opportunity came, they each had to decide quickly about early retirement. Karl retired first, and Denise followed about four years later.

“Society wasn’t ready for us”


Denise and Karl were leading the new wave and paradigm shift in retirement and society hadn’t caught on yet.  They were young, healthy, had good financial resources, and wanted to do things. (They haven’t changed.) What was available to the new retirees was, in a word, depressing. Retirement living, activities, travel or hobbies offered were geared to the less able elderly. So, they paved their own way, together.


Pace Adjustment

How did these former executives adapt to retirement life? It took both Karl and Denise about six months to adjust to their new life. Initially, they missed the benefits of work such as the social interaction and teamwork. Otherwise, their lives hadn’t changed that much.

“We never said, let’s wait until we retire. If we wanted to do it, we did it.”


They continued their leisure, hobbies and interests they enjoyed before retirement. Travel, dining out, visiting friends, equestrian, wine and other interests continued. Having a variety of interests was important. “If you sew five days a week, it becomes a job.” The only change was their pace. They have the freedom and flexibility to set their own pace. But, her pace is a tad different than his!


That Togetherness Thing

Karl and Denise definitely have different personalities and neither of them are ‘pushovers’. She’s got to be busy, doing things, learning things, going places. He’s the calm, yoga-practicing, meditating, art-appreciating type. They are together almost all the time. In the time I have known them, I have never heard one complain about the other. Never. Not one nit-pick.

“We really enjoy each other’s company. We like each other.”


That’s the key. They are best friends. They want to do things together. They want to experience retirement together. And they have made a conscious choice to do so. Choices like having one car, a nice one, even though they live in the country. Errands, activities or socializing – they do it together.

“Never say no.”


That’s Karl, the self-described introvert.  If one wants to do something or follow a new interest, they discuss it first and come to an agreement that works for both. They find a way they can enjoy the new interest together.

Case in point, wine university in France.  Wine is Denise’s love. She wanted to live in France for a year and study to become a Master Sommelier. Wine is a secondary interest for Karl, but he wanted to practice his French and work in the vineyards. And that’s what they did. Togetherness.

“Do things that you like.  Don’t be a clone of the other.”


If someone does what you want to do all the time, you will lose them. In retirement, your mate is the most important person, you don’t want to lose their uniqueness, their individuality. Remain who you are. Which means, you must know yourself. “If it means going on a 5-day trip on your own, then do it.”


Words of Wisdom

Denise: “Do it earlier rather than later.  There’s so much to do, and it may be more difficult to do later.”


Karl: “Mutual appreciation of each other:  If you’ve got that, you’ve got it made.”


Both Denise and Karl continue to be fully engaged in life following their individual interests, together.  Best buds!

“It’s amazing what two people can do together, when they really appreciate each other.”



This Couple Shares Wisdom on Retirement Togetherness 24/7 blog was originally posted on the Next3rd website.

The views of the author are hers alone and may not represent the views of hers affiliated firms. Any data, information and content on this blog is for information purposes only and should not be construed as an offer of advisory services.

By: Kristine van der Pas-Norenius | 1 comments