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How to Rediscover Fulfillment and Purpose in Your 50s: Tips for Resetting, Not Retiring

Updated: Apr 27

For many, the "R" word - retirement - looms large on the horizon of our 50s. But what if there's a better option? 

I’m turning 55 at the end of this year and while I see the Next Chapter, I’m not done! And over the last couple of weeks the “Retirement” word keeps popping up. A friend said she’s “too young” to be thinking about that word. We’re about the same age and I quickly had to jump in to say retirement isn’t kicking my feet up in the sand. Yet, it’s redefining work and life on even more of my terms. 

Instead of complete disengagement, what if we reframed this chapter as a reset and learned how to rediscover fulfillment and purpose in our 50s?

Mindset Matters

The root of "retire" comes from the French "retirer," meaning "to withdraw." "Reset," on the other hand, implies taking stock and making adjustments for a fresh start. This shift in perspective is key. Retirement can feel like an ending, while a reset empowers us to see our 50s as a chance to rewrite the narrative.. 

Redefining Retirement

Jeff in NYC in front of sign that reads Enjoy Yourself!
Recent NYC trip this winter

Traditionally, retirement meant disengaging from work entirely. But a reset allows us to redefine what work looks like. Maybe it's a career pivot, a part-time pursuit, or volunteering for a cause we care about. The key is to find work that ignites our passions and contributes to our sense of purpose.

I reset and defined my work earlier in my work life when I went out on my own full time in 2013. I designed my life on my terms, played tennis Tuesday and Thursday mornings, threw in some work around it. There were no hard defined work + play boundaries — it was all LIFE.

It felt like what I envision retirement being for me as I ready for a reset. 

Wellbeing: The Cornerstone

A holistic reset goes beyond just career. It's about prioritizing well-being in all aspects of life.

This could include:

  • Physical health: Prioritize healthy eating, exercise, and preventative healthcare. (I’ve lost 30lbs this past year and the knees feel good!) 

  • Mental well-being: Explore stress management techniques like meditation or mindfulness. (I’m 2 years into my morning practice with ACIM and 12 years sober.)

  • Social connection: Nurture existing relationships and build new ones through clubs or activities. (At 54, I’ve made a few new friends on and off the pickleball court as well!) 

  • Lifelong learning: Take a class, learn a new skill, or simply read for pleasure. (I’ve been taking a few watercolor classes and even a drawing class this year!) 

By addressing these elements, we create a foundation for a thriving, not just surviving, future.

So, in your 50s, don't just contemplate retirement. Embrace the reset. Redefine work, prioritize well-being, and open yourself to a future filled with purpose, passion, and a renewed sense of self.

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