Is Religion or Spirituality Required for Retirement?

So after last week’s post on faith in your plan, I thought I would branch out a bit and ask: is religion or spirituality required for retirement?  Do you need something in your life to provide meaning to be happy in retirement?  Or is it just another activity or hobby?

To be absolutely honest here I’m not sure if it is required or not.  I have noticed a fair number of people that have retired do take a more active interest in their religion or spirituality.  I suspect is is driven partly by the loss of identity that follows leaving your job.  In a world that doesn’t make sense people often reach out to faith to help fill the void.  Also I suspect that having that extra time to think about your place in the world does provides an opportunity to explore your faith that typically doesn’t occur as much during a busy working life.  Religion or spirituality can often provide feelings of belonging, understanding and reflection.  These feelings are critical to having a overall sense of happiness.  So on that hand religion or spirituality does help a number of people find happiness in retirement.

Yet on the other hand I’m not sure if people need it.  Could that void of meaning be filled with other activities or goals that make you feel valued and provide meaning in your life?  It is possible.  Working with kids, or the disadvantaged often provide feelings of meaning and accomplishment.  Exploring philosophy in general is a stimulating mental exercise that does not require God to be meaningful.  Also your identity doesn’t have to flow from your faith.  It is possible to define yourself without it.

In the end I believe that the requirement of religion or spirituality in retirement depends wholly dependent on you.  Some people would find faith a integral part of their life prior and after retirement, while others don’t need it at all.  Then there is a large grey area between the two extremes, where there is room for people to change and perhaps find some happiness doing it.  I personally think I have room to grow as person so I’m leaving some room for myself to explore.  Perhaps I’ve even find some happiness.

So do you need religion or spirituality in your retirement plan?  Or are you not sure?

[By the way, I’m basically done on faith tangent for now.  Blame a brainstorming session where I had a few post ideas related to it.  So if you’ve been feeling uncomfortable you can relax, I’m not turning this into a religious/money blog.]

7 thoughts on “Is Religion or Spirituality Required for Retirement?”

  1. I think you are right when you suggest that, to retire, it’s important to have found a way to make your life meaningful. But it would probably be even better to find meaning in life as early as possible. Whether or not you call that spirituality, or even find it in religion, is probably beside the point.

    Having said that, it seems natural that more people turn to religion as they age. One reason may be a realisation that there are a lot of things in life that are more important than work and money. Another is the approaching end of their natural life.

    But why wait until you’re old before working with kids or helping the disadvantaged? If you don’t have the time now, will you really make the time later?

  2. Topic suggestion.

    I just reviewed rates and interest calculation methods comparing Banks and Credit Unions. All banks had significantly lower rates. What might this mean over say 20 years for those trying to retire earlier?

  3. I have been an atheist since I was 13 years old. I have no religion in my life whatsoever and am very happy about it, and it will be that way for the rest of my life.

    I was doing volunteer work with kids when I switched from working full-time to part-time back in 2001. When I retired in 2008 at age 45, I was able to more easily schedule my volunteer work and have done more of it. Sure beats hauling my ass to work in New Jersey LOL!

  4. @ Robert,

    Excellent questions. I suppose one way to think of retirement is it is a super charged version of yourself. If you do X now, you will likely just do more of X then.


    Mmm, interesting suggestion. What’s the rate spread and inflation values? I’ve noticed you need to account for both to determine how different they really are.


    Not a bad way to spend the time. Thanks for your input.


  5. Tim,
    I suppose we will find that retirement is a magnified version of our current selves. Because we’ll have all the time we want to create that reality. I had the same impression after reading Richistan (very entertaining). The ultra-rich aren’t better or worse than us, their money just magnifies who they really are. When there’s no limit, people have no reason to hold back.

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