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Danielle Howard | February 23, 2022

You have crossed over the proverbial finish line of retirement. You set your financial goals, and your financial advisor says you have the resources to sustain your income needs.

You are in good financial shape, and have started doing the things you had planned, but something is amiss. The days fly by, you feel busy, yet you are restless, maybe even a bit depressed. You are functioning as planned, but not flourishing in your fall season.

The Elements of a Flourishing Life

To truly flourish in life, you need to step out of your comfort zone and re-script the narrative of retirement past. It will change the way you utilize your time, money, and talents.

The work of Martin Seligman, Ph.D., in the area of positive psychology and well-being theory disrupts the touted scripts. His work has profound impact on the financial decisions you make in order to support and sustain well-being in your life as you age.

Well-being theory incorporates five key elements – positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment. When your financial decisions facilitate and sustain you in these areas, you will experience deeper fulfillment in life.

The quest of traditional retirement primarily had you focus on goals and time utilization that elicit positive emotions (nothing wrong, just lacking in a vacuum).

What will bring you pleasure, happiness, comfort and joy now and down the road? This is probably the easiest bucket of well-being to fill, but over time becomes diluted and lacking.

Fulfillment Is Much More Complex

The more challenging questions address the other elements of well-being: What task or activity utilizes my strengths and talents? What can I do that will take me outside of and beyond myself?

How do I cultivate relationships that are supportive, healthy, and fulfilling? As I age, who do I want to be surrounded by? What do I want to pursue excellence in, master, or achieve?

Pay attention. Copious financial capital does not provide the answers. Optimizing how you use the financial, character, and time wherewithal you have accumulated over time wisely will.

Some people have some financial constraints in their fall season, others have bountiful resources. If you have reached a place of financial functioning, you now have the opportunity to fully flourish.

Like a glorious sunset, rich hues of color melded together, you will find that these five components of well-being many times overlay and enrich each other as you live your version of true prosperity.

Based on the constructs of your unique financial and life situation, here are some examples in using your dollars to flourish:

Relationships Matter

Use your money to build on or grow with the people you care about. Attend a workshop or retreat to learn new relational or communication skills. Create or facilitate experiences with the people you enjoy being with.

Giving gifts may be an appropriate way to flourish in your relationships. We have a growing epidemic of isolation amongst people of means. Don’t let monetary angst get in the way of relationships. Who can you reach out to today?

Find Meaningful Endeavors

You have the opportunity to be part of something larger than yourself. Create a giving plan that allows you to share your financial resources with humanitarian, religious, cultural, environmental, political, or other special interest organizations.

Utilize creative giving strategies such as the Donor Advised Funds, Charitable Remainder/Lead Trusts or beneficiary designations to maximize your opportunities. Look at how you are “spending” your time. What will it take to balance your vocations with vacations?

Positive Emotions

Use your money to fulfill your “soul needs.” Turn off the noise that sucks you in to the “ego desires” vortex. What makes you giggle, brings you peace, fills you with deep satisfaction? It is subjective for everyone and reflects your evaluation of past, present, and future.

If you spend your money on things that truly bring you positive emotions, and embrace gratitude for what you have, you will end up needing less and feeling better about life.

Engagement with Life

What activity so captivates you that you lose track of time and sense of self? Utilize your money to facilitate emersion into those hobbies or activities.

Don’t look at what others are doing or what the media says you “should” be doing. How can you stay engaged in life in a way that ignites that spark in your heart? Can you share that spark with someone?


How can you use your financial resources to embrace “mastery”? Don’t stop learning! What education endeavors, professional development, sports pursuits, or hobbies do you want to become the best at? Take a class, a course or create a curriculum to teach others.

Opening up the door to flourishing in retirement means becoming vulnerable, taking risks, and embracing failure as one step of your journey. It involves conversations as couples, space for individuality, and freedom within boundaries.

It will involve making financial choices – sometimes difficult ones, maybe scary ones. Make sure you have the right professional guidance to optimize your financial tools as you unpack more life potential. The place to start is: “Am I good with simply functioning or do I want to truly flourish?”

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