Most people spend part of their work day wishing they were somewhere else or had some more control over their time. The reality is, work gives structure and purpose most people miss in retirement if they leave the job. Of course, your family, your friends, your church, your hobbies, your aspirations add to the quality of your life, but work plays a role - or at least finances it. What is your purpose in life after you retire? Does your sense of purpose end right after your final goodbye lunch?
Whether you run the company or sweep the floors, you do something that contributes to the company and that gives you a reason to get up every day. Maybe your work life is not as meaningful as you wanted it to be; you wanted to rock the world, but you answer phones or push papers. Even if you do not get the recognition you deserve, you are vital to how things function. If you don't show up, the work flow is disrupted and people miss you. You have a purpose. Without feeling needed on the job, will the other things in your life give you a sense of purpose?
Having family, friends, and children can make you feel needed, but just being with them might not give you purpose. You cannot live through other people. You need to plan something of your own. This may be a post retirement job, volunteer work, an ongoing hobby, a renewed interest in faith, or even a pattern of things you do with your circle of family and friends. Even if you felt trapped in a meaningless job in your working years, you can redefine your future.
If you are 65 year old, statistically, you have nearly two decades ahead of you - too long to drift without purpose. The stereotype of retired people rocking their way through the next decades is not considered reality these days- for good reason. Numerous studies have shown that people who sit around all day, watch TV, and let their life go by tend to die sooner after retirement than those who have specific things to do. People whose life revolves around their deceased spouses or significant others tend to pass away shortly after them. You do not want a rocking chair life as your future.
If you do not have interests you want to develop in your retirement years, it is not too late to take inventory of your skills and your desires to find a new path. With budget cuts in schools, libraries, and organizations, you have many opportunities available to make a contribution to your local community. You can even create a plan for yourself that includes a balance of work and play, with some unstructured time. You may come a point in life where you are less mobile and mentally able, but while you are able to execute your plan - go for it.
When you retire, a new life is yours for the asking. Long after your last goodbye lunch, you can live a life with purpose after retirement.