Earlier in your life, you were likely deeply committed to building your career. And you may also have been busy with a range of other activities involving social connections. But once you’ve retired, where will you find your sense of purpose?

This issue is of real concern to many. In fact, 31% of new retirees – those who have been retired for less than five years – say they have struggled to find purpose in their retirement, according to the Edward Jones/Age Wave Four Pillars of the New Retirement study.

But as long as you are financially prepared for retirement, you’re free to explore any number of areas that can contribute to fulfillment and joy at this stage of your life. In deciding what’s next for you, ask yourself some questions: What’s important? What do I value? What would I like to do that I haven’t done?

Here are some possibilities:

  • Work – You may have retired from one career, but that doesn’t mean you can’t ever work again, whether you need the money or not. Perhaps you can work part time or do some consulting in an area that interests you.
  • Pursue your hobbies – Now is your chance to devote more time to those activities you enjoy or would like to try for the first time: golf, pickleball, boating, writing, painting, woodworking – the list is almost limitless.
  • Volunteer – You’ve accumulated a wealth of knowledge and experience – why not share it with others by volunteering at those charitable or nonprofit groups you support?
  • Continue your education – Have you ever wanted to learn more about science, literature, history or the arts? Or even take up a new musical instrument? You can find a world of opportunities at your local college, university or continuing education center.

While these activities differ in many ways, most of them share two things in common. First, they give you a chance to create some of the same types of social connections you enjoyed when you were working full time. Second, they can give you reasons to be excited about your future – and when you’re driven by a sense of purpose, that future can be a bright one.