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Retirement provides many opportunities to give back to others

When your vocation is something you’re really passionate about, you know exactly what your purpose is; there’s no questioning it’s where you’re meant to be and what you’re meant to do. You find fulfillment in working long hours, meeting with clients, and inspiring people to feel the same passion that you have for your industry.

But once you decide to retire from that profession, it’s common for an emptiness to set in. In fact, according to a 2013 report released by the Institute of Economic Affairs, retirement can reduce your risk of clinical depression by a staggering 40 percent. Retirees often feel as if they’re groping in the dark–like they’ve lost that purpose that once seemed to clear. Does this sound familiar? Or perhaps it’s just a fear at the back of your mind for what may happen someday.

Well, I’m here to tell you that retirement shouldn’t be a time of despair. Rather, it should be a time of hope for the possibilities that lie ahead.

I know change is never easy. It’s common to lose sight of what’s important when you’re no longer performing the job with which you’ve become so familiar. You may also no longer have the same healthy salary rolling into your bank account each month. But your life means much more than a paycheck.

In these tough moments—when you’re no longer on your path of comfort— it’s important to take a step back. Before you mourn the profession that’s no longer a part of your life and sink into into a state of sadness, define a new purpose for yourself.

In the recent Forbes article “The Road to True Wealth and Success Is Driven By Purpose,” Jason Selk writes that we must exhibit mental toughness by defining our “win.”

“You begin to achieve the success you want by determining your purpose and priorities…when you decide who you want to be and what you are going to stand for, you begin to rise above the masses in business who have no idea,” Selk wrote. “You set the course for winning, quite simply, by defining what winning means to you.”

In other words, now is the time to decide what you want to define the rest of your life. If the answer is to still be involved in your former industry, perhaps you can find a new role as a freelance consultant or volunteer mentor. Or maybe you could start a program of your own that teaches young people the fundamentals of your business niche.

“Once you define your “win” you will always have a scoreboard of life that tells you if you are winning or not,” Selk wrote. “Defining your purpose will help you stay focused on an end goal, and assist you in setting goals as well. Some envision their purpose as helping others, achieving greatness, experiencing love, or making the world a better place. Remembering your purpose helps you set priorities on a daily and yearly basis, so that you fulfill it—the ultimate ‘win.’ ”

To help you visualize and achieve your purpose, Selk recommends the following three activities:

1. Tell someone you trust your purpose in life. It’s also a good idea to write your purpose down. That way, you’ll have two people to which you’ll be accountable for carrying out that purpose.

2. Tell someone you trust your top three priorities in life, in the order of importance (this includes your relationship with yourself, family and career). Again, it’s also good to document these priorities on paper. This will help you have a clear vision of what’s most important to you as you’re mapping out the next step after retirement.

3. For the next three days, look in the mirror once a day and tell yourself your purpose and priorities in life. “True greatness comes from having a purpose you believe in and achieving it,” Selk said.

The bottom line is that you excelled in your profession because you were a hard worker and had a passion for your industry. Retirement is a prime opportunity to let your talents shine in different ways, and believe in your ability to achieve a whole new set of dreams.

Author Ron L. Brown, CFP®

Ron is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and President of R.L. Brown Wealth Management. He specializes in retirement, estate, and business planning for professionals and entrepreneurs. Ron assists his clients with creating a financial plan to ensure they are able to live their ideal lifestyle during retirement and leave a strong legacy for their family. Ron has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, US News, Yahoo Finance, Investopedia, and numerous other high profile financial publications.

More posts by Ron L. Brown, CFP®
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