Can You Have a Purposeful Retirement?

Contributed by: Sandra Adams, CFP® Sandy Adams


It is quite often we find ourselves as financial planners delivering the good news to clients that their financial plans are on solid footing and their retirement goals are on track, only to hear from the client that they still don’t feel that they are “ready” to retire.  These clients, while financially prepared, express that they don’t feel they have put enough planning into the practical side of retirement – what will we do every day that will give our lives meaning, purpose and joy?

A book I found recently gives guidance for clients struggling to design the next phase of their lives. Hyrum Smith, the author of Purposeful Retirement: How to Bring Happiness and Meaning to Your Retirement, provides tips, tools, and stories based on his journey through this very process.  In his words, “The rest of your life can be the best of your life” if you have the right attitude, embrace this stage, and bring enthusiasm to the process.  He finds that folks entering this phase are in one of two camps – those who can’t wait and those who will need to be dragged into it kicking and screaming.  It is important to identify which camp you are in and check your attitude at the door.

Takeaways from “Purposeful Retirement”:

  • Being proactive is the key to transitioning well into retirement. If you simply let yourself drift into retirement, you can become lost without the purpose or structure that your work life provided. 
  • Take charge of planning your next phase by defining your mission, your purpose and core values which will help direct how you spend your time in retirement.
  • The book offers options for how to take your purpose and translate it into action on a weekly and daily basis.
  • Fear or losing your identity or role is a key fear for many entering retirements.  For those folks, asking, “How will I make a difference?” will help fill that gap.
  • For many, retirement is not a solo endeavor (we do it with our spouse).  The book offers lessons on how to retire well as a couple and make adjustments that may need to be discussed and made to make retirement successful for both of you.
  • Just because you are entering into the last phase of your life doesn’t mean you are dead yet!  This can be your most successful, joyful, fulfilling phase of your life – if you are intentional and embrace it with enthusiasm.

Financially planning for your retirement is just the first step in the process.  Emotionally and psychologically planning for the last phase of your life may be the more challenging part for some – especially if you don’t want to coast to the end.  “Purposeful Retirement” may be a good place to start, and/or or have a conversation with your financial planner about other ways to help you plan your NEXT best phase of life.  We are always here to help!

Sandra Adams, CFP® is a Partner and Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.® Sandy specializes in Elder Care Financial Planning and is a frequent speaker on related topics. In addition to her frequent contributions to Money Centered, she is regularly quoted in national media publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Research Magazine and Journal of Financial Planning.