With average life expectancy now approaching 80, Americans can look forward to spending almost two decades enjoying retirement. That free time can seem heavenly at first—until the days stretch on. “[After] the honeymoon stage comes the disenchantment stage,” says Dr. Sara Yogev, psychologist and author of A Couple’s Guide to Happy Retirement. “People feel like everything is purposeless. They can get depressed, and we would like to avoid that stage.”
Discovering your purpose—your driving force—is a proven way of escaping that emptiness. “From what we know from research, those that have a sense of purpose are happier,” says Dr. Yogev. “Their adjustment to retirement is better and their marriages are happier.” What’s more, studies show that retirees with a defined, actionable purpose have improved cognitive function and a reduced risk of stroke.
Of course, uncovering your fundamental motivation is no small task. We asked Dr. Yogev for tips on how to get the ball rolling.