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Finding purpose in your retirement

The first few months of retirement can be bliss and may seem like a holiday. You have no work or obligations getting you out of bed in the morning, and you suddenly have a free schedule.

Last updated: November 6th 2022
Retirement is the perfect time to pick up new hobbies, learn new skills, visit friends and family, or travel. (Source: iStock)

Retirement is the perfect time to pick up new hobbies, learn new skills, visit friends and family, or travel. (Source: iStock)

Key points:

  • People tend to forget to plan for their retirement and can end up feeling lost and unsure what to do with themselves

  • Fill up your personal calendar with lots of activities, social occasions, and hobbies

  • Don’t be afraid to try something new when considering your next hobby

But as reality sets in, it is pretty easy to fall into what some people call, the “retirement rut”.

You may feel lost and unsure what to do with all this free time you now have on your hands. And the realisation sets in that this is your new life. Where the joys of not having work doesn’t outweigh the sudden need for a purpose during your new retirement life, planning for your transition into retirement can make all the difference.

Family and friends

Retirement is a great time to bother your children and borrow their grandchildren for a catch up or two, or even a vacation!

Seeing family is a lot easier when you have all the time in the world. Retirement is a time for lots of laughs and special memories with family.

You should also have more time for social occasions. This is an optimum time to build your social circle, get to know new people, and catch up with old friends.

Keeping strong relationships in retirement is important for your health and wellbeing.

If you don’t have as many people to be in contact with or you are socially isolated, Australian Retired Persons Association (ARPA) might be the next point of call.

The organisation encourages people over 50 to keep active in both your mind and body while making friends. They provide a range of activities and groups you can get involved with, including bushwalking, cycling or tap dancing.

Alternatively, COTA Australia’s State and Territory organisations have a wide range of partnerships with over 50s Senior groups and organisations which you can choose from.

Probus, Country Women’s Associations and Lions Clubs are also always looking for new members to assist with volunteering initiatives and to create stronger community networks.

Exercise and wellness

Your retirement is a great time to focus on yourself, both mentally and physically.

This could be a time to become more in touch with your spiritual or religious side, or you may want to get on top of your physical health and pick up a sport or start going for more walks.

There is no excuse not to get fit and healthy when you no longer have work taking up your time, and your local Church or Temple would be more than happy to receive any extra help in their daily running.

Modified sports are becoming more and more available around the country. Football Federation Australia has a national Walking Football program for older people so they can continue playing the sport they love without injuring themselves. Walking Netball is also a modified sport for men and women that encourages fitness and health among older people.

Maybe this is the time to get involved with your local bowling club? A fantastic place for a natter, a drink and low-impact sport, bowling clubs are extremely popular and a great way to meet other people in your community.


With all of your available spare time, it is the perfect opportunity to invest in your personal hobbies that you really enjoy.

Whether it is gardening, reading, painting, knitting, or carpentry, you can now dedicate yourself to perfecting a craft.

Contact your local Council to find out about any hobby groups that may be available to join. For instance, gardening groups or community plots are usually organised through Councils.

If you have a general interest in a hobby, like knitting or reading, search for local groups near you on the internet or you may be able to use the directory section of your local newspaper to see if there are any hobby groups who are recruiting new members.

However, if you are looking to learn a new hobby by yourself, like learning a new language or skill, there are many online options that can assist you.

New part-time career

Even if you retire, you don’t have to completely give up work. Working part-time can give you more time to yourself without compromising on income.

Working part-time can also be a great way to make your last superannuation longer if you are concerned about your current wealth.

This could also be an opportunity to engage in a career you have always been interested in and passionate about.

If you want to stick with what you know, consultancy in your field of expertise is really common for retirees. This keeps you involved in the industry or career you love, but without the added stress of a 9-5 job.


Most older Australians will lend their time to volunteering causes. A majority of Australia’s volunteers are older retirees.

Being able to give back to your community or to others not only provides a sense of achievement, but can really give you purpose.

So whether it’s cooking meals for the homeless or helping out at your local op shop, see what volunteering opportunities are available to you in your community.

Contact your local Council to see what local volunteering options are available, depending on where you live.

Volunteering Australia has a directory, where you can find what volunteering opportunities are in your local city or town.


More often than not, older people are starting to diversify their own education at universities or learning institutes during their retirement. You can now follow interests or passions they have never had time to dedicate yourself to previously.

Why not learn another language? Or take up a course in archeology? Live the dreams you had as a child.

Heading back to university is becoming more common, and even encouraged, for older people.

University of the Third Age (U3A) is an international education organisation that provides courses to people over 50 who are no longer working. Each State and Territory has its own U3A available to older students.

Most universities in Australia also make special effort to support mature-age students, including through flexible study options and support services.

What hobbies and activities do you want to pick up during retirement? Tell us in the comments below.

Related content:

Preparing yourself for retirement
Journey into retirement and how life might change
Transitioning into your retirement life


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