I recently came across an infographic that summarises retirement age trends across 45 of the more prominent countries in the world.

This table fascinated me for days. Yes, not surprisingly, the 60 – 65 group represents the median or average age of retirement worldwide, with some countries carrying on several years beyond that.

What interested me more, were the countries where people officially retire much earlier. In one case, in Saudi Arabia, people exit their professional lives as early as age 47! Turkey modestly waits for the following decade, at an average of age 52.  Surprisingly South Africa is in 3rd place at an average retirement age of 56.

While it may feel like everyone we know is working longer and harder, research shows that the middle-50s category is progressively where more and more South Africans would like to hang up their gloves. This is where we want to start phase 2 of our lives - with energy, health, and accumulated wealth, in hand.

Although building enough retirement capital is critically important before one can even consider such a step, the bigger challenge may well be in finding a new purpose after work-life has ended.


Planning for purpose

Finding purpose in retirement is as necessary as it is rewarding. While retirement offers more free time, filling that time with activities that give your life meaning and satisfaction is critical.

What can you do to help you discover how you should direct your time and energy once you retire?


Reflect on your values and passions

Think about what truly matters to you and what you're passionate about. Consider the activities or causes that have always interested you. This can provide a strong starting point for your retirement.


Set clear goals

Establish specific goals for your retirement years. These could be related to personal development, travel, hobbies, volunteering, or anything else that brings you joy and fulfilment. Having objectives to work towards is likely to provide structure and motivation.

James Clear has a wonderful book, entitled “Atomic Habits” on identifying and setting clear goals you can achieve. 


Explore new interests & personal growth

Retirement is an ideal time to explore new hobbies or interests that you may not have had the opportunity to pursue during your working years. People are often far more open to trying activities like painting, gardening, photography, cooking, or learning a new instrument during their later years. 

There are wonderful online courses that teach adults in an engaging, practical manner.  For instance, you may want to consider joining a Masterclass on creative writing taught by Margaret Atwood or learn a new language through a proven interactive platform like Duolingo.

Use your retirement years for personal growth and self-improvement. Only you can decide what this may look like for you but continue to push yourself and always strive to evolve.


Stay physically and mentally active

Regular exercise and mental stimulation are crucial for overall well-being. Engage in physical activities like walking, biking, or yoga, and challenge your mind through reading, puzzles, or learning new skills. 

Dr. Peter Attia recently wrote an engaging and scientifically led book called “Outlive: The Science & Art of Longevity”. In this absorbing book, he discusses the science behind prolonged longevity and how we find our “aliveness”.


Connect with others

Building and maintaining strong social connections is essential for happiness in retirement. Join clubs, attend social events, and stay in touch with friends and family. Consider connecting with like-minded individuals who share your interests.


Give back through volunteering

Volunteering can be an excellent way to find purpose. Consider contributing your time and skills to causes or organisations that you're passionate about. Helping others can be deeply rewarding and fulfilling. South Africa has no shortage of volunteering opportunities, once you’ve decided on what causes lie closest to your heart.


Travel and explore

Retirement often offers the opportunity to travel and explore the world. Whether it's exploring new cultures, going on adventures, or simply relaxing in beautiful places, travel can provide a sense of purpose and excitement. 


Consider part-time work or consulting

Some retirees find purpose in part-time work, consulting, or mentoring. It allows them to use their skills and experience while maintaining a work-life balance that suits their retirement lifestyle. 


Practice mindfulness and gratitude

Cultivate a sense of mindfulness and gratitude in your daily life. Being present in the moment and appreciating what you have can bring a deep sense of purpose and contentment.

As a starting point, I can highly recommend that you listen to Brené Brown’s podcast Finding Focus and Owning Your Attention”.


Embrace a flexible schedule

One of the advantages of retirement is having the flexibility to structure your day as you please. Embrace this freedom and create a schedule that works for you, allowing you to balance leisure, productivity, and relaxation, as you embark on your journey to finding what will bring meaning to your life after your professional life has come to an end.



Having the right financial partner in retirement

Finding purpose in retirement involves a combination of things: activities that bring you joy, a sense of accomplishment in what you set out to do, and ensuring that you keep growing a connection to your values. Keep in mind that it's okay to explore different avenues and adjust as you go along, your interests and priorities may evolve over time.

At Foundation Family Wealth, our team specialise in tailoring investment strategies to provide retirement flexibility for our client.

Speak to us if you would like to revise your financial planning.  We can help you structure your planning to suit your unique circumstances and aspirations for retirement.



<Foundation Family Wealth is an Authorised Financial Services provider>