Five ways to achieve a happy and purposeful retirement

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Questioning one’s life purpose can happen at any age, but for those facing retirement – when the era of family and work focus is slowing down – the question becomes overwhelming. Having a ‘raison d’être’ (‘reason for being’ in French) or ikigai (‘a life worth living’ in Japanese) is a cross-cultural human experience that has to be addressed. Because for those who’ve found purpose in life, happiness follows suit.

There have been several studies done that back this up. According to research conducted by Psychosomatic Medicine: Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine, ‘Possessing a high sense of purpose in life is associated with a reduced risk for mortality and cardiovascular events’. Those with increased physical and mental wellbeing enjoy a much more contented existence without ongoing pain, stress and worry.

More recently, research performed by the University of Pennsylvania found that people with a sense of purpose experienced less loneliness and made better life choices during the Covid-19 pandemic, than their counterparts. A decrease in loneliness is undeniably connected to increased happiness and contentment in oneself.

While it’s clear that having a strong sense of purpose is inherently better for one’s health and happiness, many retirees are unsure of how to find this sense of purpose – or ‘revivement’. Here’s a look at five ways that have proven results when seeking out this sense of purpose.

1.       Managing finances

It’s true that managing finances is not a sense of purpose in itself, but the stress related to financial mismanagement can impede the path to purpose. Time and energy spent worrying about finances means there is less time and energy to focus on finding a sense of purpose. Once this fundamental need is addressed, it’s time to start the process of purpose.

2.       Getting regular exercise

Exercise in retirement age is vital for mental and physical health. Although life might have been too busy for exercise previously, retirees have the opportunity to not only find an exercise routine they enjoy, but achieve those lifelong fitness goals. Exercise can take many forms, from hiking in nature through to yoga classes on the beach. Improved physical fitness – and the associated health benefits – is a basic need that needs to be addressed before finding that sense of purpose.

3.       Joining a community group or volunteering

Many people don’t know where to start when embarking on a journey to find purpose. Often the best place is by reaching out to local community groups whether it’s a church group, NPO, or local animal rescue centre. Whatever strikes a chord. Many find that, through such selfless acts where they’re actually making a difference to the lives of others, a sense of real purpose can be found.

4.       Working part-time on something that brings joy

While many people look forward to retirement as an end of to the daily grind, work can create a strong sense of purpose. If the line of work is not particularly favoured, retirement could be the time to explore different avenues. Alternatively, it could be continuing with the same line of work, simply cutting down on the hours and working remotely. Consultancy, advisory and mentorship positions are also incredibly valuable and bring significant sense of purpose.

5.       Trying new hobbies or travelling

Hobbies are activities that bring an individual satisfaction and joy. Although the hobby itself might not bring about a sense of purpose, it can bring an individual closer to discovering this purpose. The reason being that a sense of purpose must bring about satisfaction and joy, so by engaging in activities that do this, it’s more likely to find the right path. Travelling, although somewhat restricted the past few years, is also about discovering new people, new cultures and new experiences. This is often a great way to get an individual out of their comfort zone and force them into discovering a sense of purpose.

“Where one’s purpose in life used to be earning a living, raising kids and then caring for elderly parents, suddenly one’s purpose disappears,” explained Phil Barker of Renishaw Property Developments. “The individual is then left with feelings of uselessness or being unwanted. This sense of despair is compounded by the physical challenges of ageing and other day-to-day struggles.

“However, when retirees have found their sense of purpose – and it’s always different for everyone – the individual’s wellbeing, disposition… really everything about them is completely different. This can be found by researching, self-evaluation, or just getting involved in local community activities to find one’s interests and skills. When an individual has found a sense of purpose, it’s truly amazing to see, and has been particularly evident throughout the lockdown period.”

Renishaw Hills, located in Scottburgh on the KZN South Coast, is a quality coastal estate. With its extensive nature trails, high-end facilities, and welcoming communities, Renishaw Hills offers retirees numerous opportunities to discover their purpose.

Renishaw Hills has just launched Phase 6, a series of high-end maisonettes boasting spectacular sea views and houses surrounded by coastal greenery. Start a new adventure by booking an in-person or virtual tour of phase 6 and other Renishaw Hills offerings. Email or visit