The idea of having more time appeals to most, if not all, individuals. In a life dominated by taking kids to soccer games, attending PTA meetings and satisfying the demands of your boss, free time can seem obsolete.

Retirement typically means freedom and more available time for most people. But the question you must ask yourself is…what will you do with all that time?

Most individuals need something that is bigger than themselves in order to feel valued and energized.

Jack Guttentag, a retired Wharton Professor once stated “The least successful [people in retirement] are those who hated what they did to earn a living, and looked forward to a retirement where they could begin to do what they enjoyed. The most successful are those who loved what they did during their most productive years, and continued their involvement with the same or closely related activities, possibly at a reduced scale, as they became older.”

Selecting Your Special Interest

Those who find a second career often identify a cause worthy of occupying their time.

These people also typically use their experience and knowledge in a different way and often feel challenged by what they may be working to accomplish.

According to a study by Merrill Lynch, people are happier, healthier, and possess a higher self-esteem and stronger sense of purpose when they volunteer in retirement. However, this sense of purpose doesn’t have to come from a second career or through volunteering. It can also be found in the form of a hobby or an activity that you throw yourself into and simply just enjoy.

Still wondering what to do? Perhaps it is time to think about looking into a phased retirement where you can work less by going part-time, all while withdrawing retirement benefits.

Realizing Your Retirement Goals

One of the hardest aspects of retirement is that many people build up their personal idea about what it will look like. Once they have reached retirement, however; they come to realize it is very different from their vision and are typically left with a feeling of overall discontentment.

The grandiose idea of retirement many of us have envisioned is long gone. In its place is the philosophy of Restylement — doing something you love that has both purpose and intention.

Shaping Success One Contribution at a Time

Peter Cappelli, Professor of Management at Wharton stated “A lot of people get both their identity and social interactions from work, so the idea of stopping [a career] means they’re going to lose both.”

Many individuals are concerned about their financial well-being in retirement. But true happiness is more likely to be found in the people who take time to maintain their social engagements and those who have created and sustained an identity for themselves.

While having an unlimited amount of free time sounds enticing, it’s important to remember the most successful people in retirement are those who enjoy the time they have and use their talents and passions to make a contribution.