A Guide to Meaningful Post-Retirement Engagement

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Transitioning from a long-held career can be both daunting and exhilarating. As one bids farewell to the familiarity of professional roles, they embark on a quest to rediscover purpose and reignite passion for life’s endeavours. In this journey of self-discovery, exploring effective strategies becomes paramount to finding fulfilment in new pursuits.

We asked our WisGen, people who are retiring or are retired and are seeking out ways of staying engaged, “What are some effective strategies for people or those leaving their primary career to find new sources of meaning, engagement and productivity?”

Anchal, Master Mind Coach & Happiness Coach, says, “After completing the primary career, one needs to revisit their learning and skills and determine if there are any gaps in knowledge. Acquire current knowledge and skills. Explore rewarding avenues like passions you didn’t have time for, volunteer in your community, pursue further education or certifications in areas of interest, start a small business or consultancy, travel, mentor others, or even write a book about your experiences and expertise. Taking up a spiritual journey helps in practising some amount of detachment progressively. Plan to be independent and self-sufficient since there are a lot of learning and experiences gained during the first half of life. Try to add value wherever you are. Avoid advising as it is counterproductive.”
Ajitha Radhakrishnan, Teacher, says,  “Post-retirement is an excellent time to pursue hobbies, travel and engage in community services. Try to find a new meaning and purpose in your life. Begin your day with a health routine, and if you find it difficult to do at home, join a gym. Join a library and pick up classics/ motivational books, as well as best sellers. Set a task list for each day. Write a journal about your thoughts and experiences. Help your spouse/ partner/ children. Try to make new friends and learn new skills. Sudoku and crosswords in the newspaper are good activities to pass the time. Take an interest in your surroundings and community and join clubs of like-minded people.”

Kul Bhushan Gupta, Entrepreneurship Crusader, says, “I think one should follow his or her passion. This can become a second career also. If I give my example, when I retired from my job after completing 37 years of service, I wanted to do something for society. I noticed that unemployment is a big problem, and the number of unemployed people is much higher than that of people with jobs. I made the opinion that entrepreneurship can only be the answer to this problem. To guide people, I started my YouTube channel, ‘K B Gupta Live’, where I upload videos on entrepreneurship and startups, among others. I have published a book, ‘You Can Become An Entrepreneur’, which is a step-by-step guide to becoming a successful entrepreneur. I address students of many institutions to become ‘Job Givers’ and not ‘Job Seekers’. I also mentor founders to ensure the success of their startups against payment.”

Dr. Palash Biswas, with over 25 years of experience in Hospital Management & Administration, says  “Choosing to continue working or returning to it can help beat loneliness by maintaining social connections and forging new friendships. Combating loneliness isn’t the only mental benefit that working in retirement brings. Continuing to work beyond 60 can provide mental stimulation through, cognitively demanding work, new problems and challenges to overcome, change in environment, combating boredom, and boosting income.  By continuing to work, I can enjoy my retirement in the comfort of financial security and stay mentally agile and active. 
Kenneth Scott, Hotel General Manager, says, “Maintain health and wellness by following a routine, being part of a professional community and groups and keeping an ear to the ground to understand the kind of openings that may come up through networking.”  
Sujatha A, Manager – Admin, says  “It’s good for the mind to continue working, and in turn, physical activity helps to retain the happiness of getting out of the house, and a disciplined life continues like the busy days during the peak of one’s career. Most importantly, knowledge sharing is important for the younger generation. Interacting with youngsters daily is also very good.”
Sunil Kumar, a positive person who enjoys problem-solving, says,  “Some effective strategies are:
  • Rely on values, interests, and strengths.
  • Explore new hobbies or activities to discover what brings you joy.
  • Consider volunteering or mentoring to share your expertise.
  • Skill development/upgrade,
  • Network and build connections,
  • Leverage your experience and skills to consult
  • Prioritise self-care, maintaining physical and mental well-being.
  • Join communities or groups aligned with your new interests.
  • Be patient and open-minded, allowing yourself time to explore and adjust.”
Bonita Menezes, who has worked in the Service Sector, says,  “In my opinion, we need to rediscover ourselves and our interests. During the course of our career, we are so busy taking care of our duties and our guests and their requests that we hardly have time for ourselves. Meeting deadlines and targets is what our professional journey is all about. But when we leave our primary career, we need to explore new horizons and dwell as much with nature and animals and plants, ones that always give joy to our inner being. We need to know how to do things that make us happy and remain free in spirit and heart. We need to become spiritual and give more importance to the Almighty God and thank Him for the numerous times He has blessed us.”

Prakash Raghunath Mysore, who worked as a Hub Project Manager, says,  “The priority I had was to compensate for activities I missed while working. Keeping things uncomplicated is key, so I opted for simple thought and action. Cooking had long intrigued me, so I began assisting in the kitchen. This not only allowed me to use my time more effectively (helping my wife, who then had more time for her hobbies) but also served as a significant stress reliever. With 45 minutes of morning walking daily, three days dedicated to playing table tennis, and time spent in the kitchen, my morning routine is perfectly structured. I still have half a day ahead to engage in other activities. 

It’s a sentiment shared by many that, for much of our lives, we become absorbed in our pursuits, living in our own worlds. From personal experience, I believe that retirees in my age bracket are particularly well-positioned to break free from this cocoon and extend their focus beyond themselves. There are abundant opportunities to lend a helping hand. The key lies in identifying those genuinely in need; skills seniors possess with their mature perspective and compassionate hearts. Thus, I keep myself occupied during the day and sleep soundly at night.”

Srirupa Mukhopadhyay, an Ex-scientist in Medical Research, says,  “Some effective strategies for finding new sources of meaning, engagement and productivity involve implementing existing knowledge through exposure to the public. Team building, problem-solving, and inspiring as a potential leader will be beneficial. It will be a second career as well as a pursuit of happiness and satisfaction by maintaining health and wellness and motivating people to seek their goals.”
Gautam Shirali, a retired company treasurer, says, 
  • “Try and do some work – not full time; maybe work-from-home in your work area or area of interest, say, social impact or teaching.
  • Keeping fit and maintaining good health; walking, yoga etc.
  • Look for ways to keep oneself occupied and engaged. Plan your day (just as one plans his/her work day) so that every day is spent fruitfully and meaningfully. It is important to maintain a routine and to keep track of one’s personal finances.
  • Purse one’s interests, hobbies, and reading, which one would not had time to do earlier. Do some educational courses and training in one’s area of interest – work-related or otherwise (say Udemy). Listen to music at least once a day or keep music on while working, etc. Read at least one book a week. Watch some television every day – entertainment, infotainment, sports, news affairs.
  • Go for holidays at least 2-3 times a year; long car journeys.
  • Try and develop a circle of friends to meet, and chat regularly. Call and speak to at least one friend a day: Spend a little time on social media.
  • Spend some time every day maintaining a neat home and doing household chores. Cook at least one meal a day (say, breakfast), and try new recipes.”
Dhananjay Kavathekar, with engineering experience in project management, says , “At a young age, we select a career for earning and spending our life in a rat race. It is after 55 that you start looking for your interests and passions. At retirement, one should introspect their passions. It is the right time to pursue further education, acquire skills, and volunteer. One must try to thrive and flourish. Although one’s physique might not support it, intelligence, experience and positivity can help one remain energetic and enthusiastic. It is time to share your wisdom and life experience with youngsters. Keep the positivity ratio above 3. Positive emotions broaden thought repertoire and build resources for any adversity.”
Indrani Guhathakurata, a certified self-discovery Coach, says,  “Some effective strategies of self-discovery for people transitioning to a second career are to have a better understanding of themselves, their thought patterns, feelings and experiences to give a better insight into their values, which can guide them towards a second purpose. Exploring new hobbies, trying new activities and courses like a self-discovery framework can help them discover what gives them the highest level of joy and what they are passionate about. These are a few strategies that can help one have a deeper understanding of themselves and thus pave the way for a purposeful life with an authentic experience.”
Kumuda Gururao, Consultant2U for e-learning and digital marketing, says,  “Leaving a primary career can be daunting, but it’s a chance to rediscover fulfilment. Here are some strategies:
  • Self-reflection: Before diving in, reflect on what sparked this transition. What skills did you enjoy using? What causes matter to you? Journaling or personality tests can help uncover hidden passions.
  • Explore options: Don’t limit yourself! Research fields that align with your values and skills. Talk to people in those fields, attend workshops, or volunteer to gain first-hand experience.
  • Phased approach: Consider a part-time job, freelance work, or online courses to test the waters before a full leap.
  • Develop new skills: Bridge the gap between your past and future by acquiring skills relevant to your new direction. Online courses, certifications, or mentorships can equip you for success.
  • Build your network: Connect with people in your desired field. Attend industry events, join online communities, or reach out directly. Networking opens doors and provides valuable support.
  • Celebrate small wins: Transition is a journey, not a destination. Acknowledge and celebrate your progress, no matter how small. This keeps you motivated and focused in the long term.
  • Remember, finding meaning and engagement is a personal journey. Embrace the exploration, be patient with yourself, and enjoy the process of crafting a fulfilling future.”

Ramachandran R S, a seasoned IT Professional, says, “Transitioning away from a primary career can be a significant life change, but it can also be an exciting opportunity to discover new passions and purpose.

I feel that post-retirement, when you start your second life, initially, it would be a rude shock to wake up in the morning and realise that you have no work to attend to, no schedule to follow and will start wondering, “What should I do now?”

Soon, we will also realise that there are ways and means to be fully engaged and even surpass the happiness and satisfaction quotient that you had during your primary career.

Having said that, for everyone, the situation and scenario will vary, and each must find their own meaning, purpose, and engagement to maintain good productivity levels. There is no one-size-fits-all concept here.

People at this stage could consider the intersection between what they are good at, what they love, what they could be paid for and what the world needs. They can self-discover and explore by assessing their strengths and values, turn their passion into something beneficial for society or vice versa, explore new hobbies and activities, try out different things like volunteering, taking classes, travelling – anything that sparks their curiosity and allows them to experiment with new possibilities.

Connect with individuals who have successfully transitioned careers, mentors, or those pursuing their passions. Learn from their experiences and gain valuable advice.

There are activities like pursuing further education if one has a passion for acquiring knowledge, as age is no bar for gaining additional knowledge, which hitherto was not possible in their primary career. Further, people can develop practical skills, volunteer their time, or take on freelance projects to gain practical experience and build a portfolio in their new area.

For a few people, reconnecting with old colleagues, attending industry events, and building their network in a new field of interest can be productive and could lead to finding a new purpose. Joining online forums or groups (like WisdomCircle, for example) focused on career transitions or retirement-related connections and discussions, as well as specific industries to connect with others on similar paths, could be another area to look at to continue a meaningful second life. 

Finally, one must remember that finding new sources of meaning and engagement is a personal journey. One must be open to exploration, stay adaptable, and prioritise what truly matters to him or her, as this is a process and not a destination. There will be challenges and setbacks, but one must view them as opportunities for learning and growth. 

Patience, being ready to explore different avenues, and not being afraid to experiment until one discovers what truly ignites their passion, which could bring them fulfilment in this new phase of life, is the key to a happy and meaningful second life. 

To ensure that this journey of second life is really turning out to be successful and that the person is serious about what they have embarked on, it is important to regularly assess their feelings, motivations, and alignment with their purpose. 

One must cultivate gratitude and focus on the positive aspects of their journey. Mindfulness can enhance well-being and clarity.”

To share your articles, blogs, and other written content related to your post-retirement experience, write to us at content@wisdomcircle.com.

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