And the pursuit of satisfaction.
Editor’s note: “Living the Dream” was the title of the article in Monthly magazine’s October issue, the same month that financial markets experienced a great deal of turmoil. Many retirees have expressed deep concern over their nest eggs, and rightly so. The following article is not about financial management — our advertisers offer that — but about other aspects that lead to a satisfying retirement.
No, the subtitle is not about that famous phrase, “the pursuit of happiness” in the Declaration of Independence. This is about satisfaction, which admittedly is an important component of happiness, but that’s a rather philosophical subject for another time.
First we need to recognize that retirement is simply another of phase of life and that all phases of life — whether education, career, post-career, pre-retirement, or whatever you choose to call it — involve some form of endeavor. And endeavor can take many different forms; even basic survival is an endeavor.
Studies * have shown that the forms of endeavor that lead to satisfaction in retirement fall into six areas where an individual retiree can allocate some portion of his or her time.
- Income-producing work, usually on a part-time basis;
- Volunteer or humanitarian activities, often called “giving back”;
- New learning that promotes continued growth in knowledge, intellect, etc.;
- Leisure and recreational activities;
- Connecting or reconnecting with family, friends on a recurring basis;
- Engaging in spiritual or faith-based programs.
All of these areas represent forms of endeavor, but not every retiree will embrace all six, and the proportion for an individual retiree will vary according to personal preference and motivation. One should be cautious about taking on too many phases at once and risk being spread too thin across a range of activities, deriving little or no satisfaction from any.
If you are just entering retirement, you may find it helpful to look at each of these areas of endeavor and make a preliminary decision on how you want to allocate your time. Then explore each area individually until you have a collective plan, a “retirement portfolio,” to pursue.
If you’re a veteran of retirement, take a hard look at how you are spending your time and how your endeavors relate to the above areas. Then decide whether your current mix is providing all the satisfaction you need, or whether some “tuning” would be appropriate. Consider an area where you are not presently active and explore the possibility of adding it to your retirement portfolio.
Studies* also show that over time a retiree will continue to adjust and refine the proportion of time and effort in these varied endeavors. With people living longer, spending 15, 20 or 25 years in retirement offers an abundant opportunity to do so, and the pursuit of satisfaction will continue to be adjusted according to a retiree’s changing circumstances.
The message here is that pursuing satisfaction in retirement depends or is conditioned by which of the six phases you want to constitute your retirement endeavors (at least initially) and what proportion each should represent.
In coming issues of Monthly magazine, we will strive to elaborate on how your skills, interests and values add enlightenment to your further pursuit of satisfaction.
* Reference: “Portfolio Life: The New Path to Work, Purpose and Passion after 50,” by David Corbett and Richard Higgins.