Curiosity, core pursuits and happiness in retirement
As for curiosity, Moss said: “We hear curiosity killed the cat. A lack of curiosity kills the happy retiree, plain as simple.” The happiest retirees, he learned, were very curious about finding new core pursuits or what Moss calls “hobbies on steroids.” The average number of core pursuits of the happiest retirees, Moss discovered: four.
Noted Moss: “Not only do they find new ones, but they also want to get better at the ones they currently have. So, they dive deeper into them.”
On his website, Wesmoss.com , you can take a free core pursuits quiz to see which types of pursuits you might want to explore in retirement. I did and learned that part-time work was the core pursuit I should explore. Savage said one of her core pursuits is helping fund a horse rescue program.
Krueger strongly endorsed Moss’ view of curiosity and core pursuits in retirement. “I see more vibrance among those who have tapped into something, whether it’s out of curiosity or it’s just out of love and passion,” she said. “In some cases, it’s stumbling into pursuits they didn’t even realize would show up as opportunities.”
Krueger pointed to a family member who is a retired widow and has gotten into yoga, as well as babysitting her grandkids. “She’s got that nice — I hate to say it, it sounds corny but it’s true — balance of different activities,” Krueger noted.
Finding meaning and purpose in retirement
The core pursuits idea dovetails into Hixon’s view of a happy, rewarding retirement — something that, sadly, his mother Pam Hixon didn’t have.
Hixon’s mother was a hospice nurse; he describes that job as her calling. She was set financially for retirement. Problem was, she hadn’t thought much about how she’d spend her time in retirement and find fulfillment like she had while working. That led to spiraling depression.
“She really began to lose her way,” said Hixon. “And her decision to retire actually became her biggest regret. The main reason for that was because she just no longer really felt needed.”
And, Hixon added, “she certainly knew what she was retiring from ; didn’t prepare enough for what she was retiring to .” Ultimately, due to her depression, Pam Hixon took her life.
As a result, Hixon hired a life coach for his clients, alongside his firm’s financial advisers, to help them view retirement planning more holistically. He now strongly believes you can avoid becoming one of the unhappiest retirees by finding meaning and living with purpose in retirement.
“It’s not just about checking those quantitative boxes” about how much money you’ll need for retirement, Hixon said. “It’s about determining and doing the hard work of what’s next.” To Hixon, becoming a happy retiree isn’t just about having enough money to sleep at night, “but enough purpose to get up in the morning.”
His advice: “Identify your values, understanding what it is that you really do value that you want to continue” into retirement.
And, he said, “think about a Plan B in case retirement doesn’t prove to be as meaningful or purposeful as you’d hoped.” Your Plan B could be teaching students about the work you did in your career, for example.
Savage called finding meaning and living with purpose in retirement “a really profound and important point.” I agree, and hope you do, too.
Richard Eisenberg is the Senior Web Editor of the Money & Security and Work & Purpose channels of Next Avenue and Managing Editor for the site. He is the author of “How to Avoid a Mid-Life Financial Crisis” and has been a personal finance editor at Money, Yahoo, Good Housekeeping, and CBS Moneywatch.
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