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How to Have Fulfilment When Retiring Early or at 65

Retirement means you’ll finally have the time freedom to do what you want, or at least it should. After working for 10 or 20 years or more, building wealth and security for the future, this is your time to realise your dreams.

But many Kiwis find themselves bored after a few months of doing whatever makes them happy. It turns out just having the time freedom doesn’t mean you know what to do with it.

Why you need fulfilment, not happiness

You’ll likely have 10 – 30 years or more in retirement.  

That’s a significant chunk of your life sitting around and doing nothing, so without the structure of having to go to work every day, you’ll need something that drives your life forward. 

That’s why you’ll need to find fulfilment not happiness. 

Happiness is a temporary feeling of pleasure directly in relation to something that has happened. Though being happy is great, it doesn’t last long, and you’ll have to experience something else that pleases you to feel it again. 

Fulfilment is different. It’s deeper and longer lasting, which makes it harder to come by. You’ll feel fulfilled when your life is of significance and makes a difference to others.  

Fulfilment is reached when your life and what you do taps into a cause or vision that’s greater than yourself.  

In short, a happy retirement is focused on yourself and a fulfilling life in retirement is focused on others. 

a retired woman dedicating her time to preparing school lunches

Identify how you can contribute 

A big part of living a fulfilling life is contributing to the lives of others. To find out what that means for you, you’ll need to do a bit of soul searching. 

Whether you choose to do an in-depth process like we’re doing at Futurebound (using Find Your Why) or if you use a simpler method, you’ll need to find out why you do what you do.  

Some of the questions to explore are: 

  • Which past experiences have shaped who you are today? 
  • What causes are you passionate about? 
  • What about those causes make you care deeply about them? 

Once you get to the core of who you are and your why, you’ll be set to start living a life inline with your why. 

You’ll simply need to find opportunities to do activities, hobbies and/or volunteering that are consistent with your why. 

Start living a life of fulfilment now 

It’s unrealistic (and a little depressing) to think that you need to retire before you can live a fulfilling life. When fulfilment is a part of your life now, retirement is a time to expand on what you’re already doing. If you already get fulfilment from your work, then what you do in retirement would be an extension of that. Even if your work isn’t fulfilling, you might not need to quit and change jobs.  

You can volunteer, help someone you know, or simply change your perspective about what you’re currently doing. Once you know you’re why, look around at what you do every day and try to see how your why fits into what you do.

Keep in mind this article is providing general information and not individual advice.

If you’d like a review of and advice regarding your situation, please book a free 15-min investment property chat