Purpose and Power in Retirement

New Opportunities for Meaning and Significance

Harold G. Koenig

Eighty million baby boomers are heading toward retirement. Some are retiring now, either out of choice or because they have been laid off. Others will work for a few more years until their retirement plans kick in, until they feel they can retire, or until they're forced to retire. Whatever their age at retirement, they will have better health and live longer than their parents. And each of them will face these questions:

  • Do I want a reason to get up in the morning and be excited about the day ahead?
  • Do I still want to make a difference in the world?

They need a vision—a goal that takes into account their experience, wisdom, strengths, and limitations, and gives purpose to their lives.

Dr. Harold G. Koenig, with expertise in the fields of geriatrics, mental health, and religion, explains that the notion of retirement was in fact a marketing tool developed in the post–World War II period. Continuing today, society's image of retirement is based largely on myths, such as: things will get better when you retire—you'll be able to do everything you wanted to but couldn't when you worked. In fact, these beliefs can be harmful, leading to emotional issues, identity crises, and problems with physical health.

Citing current scientific and medical research, Koenig illustrates how having a purpose motivates and energizes people in their retirement years. He presents a step-by-step guide to identifying a goal toward which they can strive. And he shows how striving for that goal in itself brings meaning, satisfaction, and a sense of reward to retirement years.

"Finding purpose is more urgent than ever during the retirement years, when the search for purpose becomes one of the deepest of human longings," says Koenig. His Purpose and Power in Retirement is an invaluable resource for everyone heading toward retirement, and for anyone seeking meaning in life.

Foreword by Sir John Templeton / ix

Introduction / 3

Chapter 1 The History of Retirement / 11

Chapter 2 Myths of Retirement / 26

Chapter 3 Retirement Can Be Deadly / 41

Chapter 4 The Alternative / 54

Chapter 5 Volunteer / 71

Chapter 6 Cultivate Generosity / 96

Chapter 7 Develop Spiritually / 115

Chapter 8 Reduce Stress / 131

Chapter 9 Live Healthy / 151

Chapter 10 Steps to Purpose and Power in Retirement / 165

Conclusion / 172

Notes / 177

Index / 197