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4 Ways to Get What You Want in Retirement

By Marcia Smalley December 15, 2017 Lifestyle

I don’t consider myself ‘retired,’ but I do include myself among those who are retooling their lives now that a full-time job is a thing of the past. I’ve written previously for Sixty and Me about living a happy retired life, one without career demands.

First, I examined ways retirement can take us by surprise. Then I took a look at what we’re yearning for in retirement. The last article in this 3-part series brings us to how. How can we get what our hearts desire during retirement?

There isn’t a formula for a more fulfilling life. Exactly what you do to make you happy is unique and up to you. But I have four suggestions to consider on the way to a happy retired life, whatever that looks like for you.

Follow Your Curiosity

We read often about finding our passion or our purpose even at 60 and beyond. I’m on the fence about this matter. Those terms can feel like a lot of pressure, and I’m not sure I’m wired these days to go on a quest for such lofty goals.

But I’m devoted to curiosity. It’s a feeling of wonder, of true interest in where a path is leading. Curiosity leaves us whispering, “Hmmm… what’s that all about?”

We nurture our curiosity by paying attention to anything that draws us in. Maybe we love cooking shows or home improvement series. Maybe we find ourselves bookmarking web sites about hospice volunteering, or we gather course catalogs with thoughts of going back to school.

When we observe our behaviors and our responses to the outside world, we identify what truly attracts us. Then we can turn those interests into actions… take baby steps toward our what’s next.

Do What Makes You Lose Track of Time

Discovering what we truly want at this stage of life is often about recapturing what we had in previous stages. If not the same activity, then certainly the same feelings the activity brought us.

If you’re unclear about what makes you lose track of time, make a list of at least five things you loved doing as a child and five things you love doing as an adult.

There are probably common threads in those things. Just by writing them down, you begin to tap into that feeling of being totally immersed in what makes you happy.

That’s where your treasure lies. Now you can dig for it.

Suspend your definitions of who you are and remember what you love, then watch what’s presented to you.

Be Open to Serendipity

Serendipitous events can be called ‘God winks’ or coincidences, or even messages from our higher selves hoping our body-selves are listening.

You’ve considered getting a real estate license when you notice an article about increasing home sales. You’ve wondered about learning a new language when you notice the local college has opened registration for next term’s classes.

Regardless of why you think these sorts of events happen, remaining open to serendipity is about receiving inspiration from unlikely sources. Paying attention to everyday signs gives your curiosity a chance to take the lead.

There are countless ways the universe is conspiring in our favor.

If we open our minds and our hearts to those unexpected messages, we might just find ourselves looking at our what’s next.

Allow the ‘New’

Welcoming the new in our lives can feel risky, even scary. At this stage of life, many of us are set in our ways, comfortable.

But this suggestion is not about rocking the boat, although if that’s what you’re drawn to, then sail on! Sometimes all we need to do to allow something fresh into our lives is to make space and time for it.

Leave empty spots on your calendar, say no to obligations that feel less than fulfilling. Give yourself permission to daydream or to be spontaneous.

If we excuse ourselves from the ‘shoulds’ and grant ourselves permission to just see what comes up, we might be delighted by what’s waiting for us.

It takes a while to learn how to live that happy retired life. And it doesn’t happen all at once or because we’ve tossed out our alarm clocks. Whether we go in fits and starts or glide blissfully along, every option we experiment with, each step we take, brings us a little closer to our heart’s desire.

Maybe that’s what a happy life is really all about.

Are you following what makes you curious? What new, surprising things have you discovered in retirement? Please join the conversation!

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The Author

Marcia Smalley is a certified retirement coach and life coach, a writer and a teacher. She delights in helping mid-life women step confidently into their next act and design a joyous, expanded life. Marcia provides coaching support to women who are navigating retirement or other life transitions and writes a monthly e-newsletter to her entire online community. Please visit her website at

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