What is Retirement?

Purpose and Meaning in Retirement!

The two terms I spend a great deal of time discussing in my practice at Career Vitality Services are purpose and meaning. I find this curious because as a child and young man I never really gave much thought to both the definition and connection of these two terms but now as a fifty four- year old and a Career and Retirement Coach they seem to have an ever increasing importance to both me and the people I serve. Now this is not a new realization for me as an individual and of course as mentioned this is certainly not something that is unique only to me. As we get older many of us are making life altering decisions to change our careers, relationships and how we will live our lives with the expectation and hope of clearly defining a sense of purpose will provide us with a happy and meaningful lives.

The question of purpose and meaning is very pervasive in all aspects of our life’s including family, friendships work and leisure and has become even more important as many baby boomers embark on one of the most transitions of their lives, retirement.

So how do we create define a retirement life with purpose and meaning? To understand this we must first understand the meaning and differences between the two concepts


  • Purpose:  What is important and the driver to why we behave the way we do.


  • Meaning:  The outcome or consequence we experience after taking action

The first step in any type of transition is  to define who you are! We always have to look inside first as that will uncover the activities and relationships that we are passionate about. If I had a dollar for every person getting to retirement saying that all they are going to do is golf. Well how much meaning will golf alone provide if you are doing it all the time in your retirement?

  • Identifying what you love to do. Take some time with this but remember nothing is set in stone and your list is a living document that you can add and delete entries whenever you want. Don’t be afraid to try new things to what I call “try on the suit”. How do you know if you don’t like doing something unless you try.
  • Next you have to start connecting with people by doing the things you do. If you like spending time with your dog walk your dog in dog parks to meet other people that share your passion for animals, volunteer at an  animal rescue center or shelter .The idea here is to do the things you love because that opens you up to meeting others in your life that are like you. The significance of this is really about doing the things you love and developing relationships with others.
  • One of my former clients once said to me that he really did not provide much note to connecting with people prior to retirement. He shared that as he was feeling compelled to develop activities outside time with his family and that could take the place of work. He loved cooking and wanted to take a cooking class in Calgary. (but he didn’t want to tell his wife that). He also loved the social component of playing cards, euchre in particular. He decided that he was going to start a weekly coffee club with a group of friends where they could go to a coffee shop and play cards. A similar social outlet exists at the coffee shop I frequent. A group of four people meet every Saturday morning to complete the New York Times crossword puzzle. The meaning that each person gleams from these weekly activities will be different for each participant but the important thing is that they are acting to participate in an activity that they enjoy doing with people they enjoy being with.
  •  Taking Care of your health is extremely important as life cannot be enjoyed if your quality of health is poor. It is very important that you are objective in your own health appraisal and that you have regular medical check ups and seek medical attention when you are not feeling well. A second part of good health maintenance is to ensure that you take care of six important things. These include; a regular and appropriate exercise routine, balanced diet and nutrition, developing a regular sleep routine, relaxation time, being socially active and keeping your mind stimulated with learning and other activities of interest.

Ultimately the most important thing you have to do in retirement that will get you started in the right direction is to act and to not be afraid to continually re-evaluate what is working and what is not working. Remember, this is your life and your retirement and you hold the key on how to create purpose and meaning in your life.

“   Dicover Your Passion Live Your Dream”

Brian Lambier is a career coach , certified retirement coach and President/Owner of Career Vitality Services in Calgary. For more information on all of the services offered by Career Vitality Services contact Brian at (403) 234-9119 or info@careervitality.ca