Planning to Find Purpose in Retirement

How are you planning for retirement?

For many adults, retirement planning means making sure there’s enough money saved to stop working.

In reality, retirement is a stage of life that requires planning beyond financial concerns. A series of workshops through Concordia Continuing Studies is focused on this aspect of retirement.

The Transitions Retirement Series is designed for the soon-to-be and newly retired, whether you’re in your 50s, 60s or 70s. The purpose is to encourage conversations about how to make the most of those retirement years.

“Too many people make plans to end working but don’t spend enough time talking about how they’re going to live when they’re done,” says Dr. Laurie Dahley, a Concordia faculty member who is coordinating the series. “We want people to be intentional about how they’re going to spend those years.”

Indeed, the average U.S. life expectancy increased from 68 years in 1950 to 78.6 years in 2017, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Roughly 44 million people in the U.S. are now 65 years or older. By 2050, the Census Bureau expects that figure to double as the largest generation in American history lives longer than any before it.

The Transitions series starts in September and is held monthly. Participants can attend a session separately or all of them as a series. Discussion topics include:

·         Intro: “Finding Joy, Purpose and Meaning in Retirement” (September)

·         “Redefining Our Purpose” (October)

·         “Conversations That Matter” (November)

·         “The Spirituality of Aging: Honoring the Wonder and Fragility of Life” (December)

·         “Food for Thought: Nourishing Your Body Through a New Life Stage” (January)

·         “Finding or Reigniting Our Passions” (February)

·         “Putting Our Wisdom Into Service: Community Service and Engagement” (March)

·         “Decluttering: Who Am I Saving This For?” (April)

The Transitions series will emphasize that retirement is a time of adjustment and change, Dahley says. Participants will discuss, explore, learn, and plan. They’ll also be encouraged to have intentional conversations with their partners, family members, and friends, which can help soon-to-be-retirees “transition” into a new reality.

These conversations are important because they remove ambiguity and uncertainty. For example, many people dream of traveling during their retirement years.

“But what does ‘travel’ mean?” Dahley says. “Does that mean spending winters in Florida? Flying to Paris? Visiting the kids? Exploring the Boundary Waters? If you don’t clarify what you mean, there will be disappointments.”

Retirement is a milestone that should be anticipated with joy and excitement – and perhaps even a bit of nervousness. But with good planning and an open spirit, this stage can be full of growth and purpose.

“We want people to explore what life looks like when it’s not controlled by pay or a work schedule,” Dahley says. “We want it to be meaningful.”

For more details about the sessions and to register, visit Concordia Continuing Studies.