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What’s next in retirement?

People think their retirement is set once they have their super. It’s not. There are plenty of financially well-off people who are bored and dissatisfied with their retirement.

People think their retirement is set once they have their super. It’s not.  There are plenty of financially well-off people who are bored and dissatisfied with their retirement.

The Institute of Economic Affairs in London recently foundthat retirees are 40% more likely to suffer depression than their non-retired colleagues, and are 60% more likely to suffer at least one physical condition1.

How does this happen? It happens because we are hard-wired to find satisfaction through work and contribution. That’s what rewards us. Gabrielle Leahy, Principal at Retire & Flourish, says that this problem is best understood when you consider that you have built a powerful internal engine over 30 years and suddenly it’s left to idle. You can feel it deteriorating, unloved and unused.

No wonder people feel uneasy, bored or irritable. Retirement comes without a road map for living it well. Unlike the workplace, there is little feedback on our behaviours and attitudes in retirement, other than through your feelings and energy levels.  Wealth, intelligence and success in your past career will not save a retiree from the retirement traps: acting out their workplace persona socially; being drawn into other people’s agendas; or busying themselves with tasks that don’t engage their ‘engine’.

Fall into those traps and ‘your engine’ stays idle. Before long you get lost in a retirement fog. “People tell us that they thought they would be happy when they retired, but find it difficult to let go of yesterday’s work identity”, says Gabrielle. It doesn’t mean we need to keep working, when we want more leisure and less stress. It means we need to use ‘our engine’ to continue to create meaning in our lives.

She says that having ‘a purpose’ will rev our engine in retirement---one or many activities that engage our core values and skills, and keep us motivated and curious. Our Super pots are an important resource, but they don’t fulfil our need for friendship, self-esteem, respect of others, creativity, spontaneity, and problem solving.

People who really ‘get’ that retirement is about finding another purpose after work, who are vital and engage with others in doing so, are healthier, happier, more resilient and more independent. They know what they want, how to get it, and why they get out of bed every day. They are not derailed by life’s adversities and they ensure that they create as much energy as possible to do what they want in their lives.

Above all, they need less money because they don’t need to ‘purchase’ from their environment for their ‘jollies’: they have found their inner compass to joy. Use your retirement dollars to support your life’s purpose, not rule it.



‘This article has been reproduced with permission from Gabrielle Leahy of Retire & Flourish Pty Ltd’


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1 Sahlgren, Gabriel H. IEA Discussion Paper 46, Work Loner, Live Healthier, May 2013, Institute of Economic Affairs


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