May 15, 2021

How Important Is Finding Your Retirement Passion?

I read something a while ago that has stuck with me. It was a piece of advice that seems counter-intuitive to common wisdom. But, as I thought about how life unfolds, it made sense: spending time and energy focused on looking for the next great passion or overriding interest might not be the best approach.


Let me explain.




There is no doubt that a passion or hobby that is meaningful to you is one of the keys to a satisfying retirement. Just filling time will not keep you happy for long. So, why might searching for those things that inspire and motivate you be a waste of time? Because it may mean you miss so many other experiences that will enrich your retirement. 

If you spend all your time searching for that perfect passion, or the one activity that will define you, are you missing the fact that all we really have is today, right now? (see the post on meditation!). Are you bypassing experiences or something that might be fun or memorable but you think isn't really part of your passion search? Or, how do you know something that strikes you today as fun or a momentary pleasure may not open the door to a whole new avenue for you to explore? 


Examples? OK, let's say you play the piano for fun. You can follow a melody or handle the most important chords, with either hand, enough to have fun but that is about it.

Then, one day you find yourself playing a melody, with harmony and varying tempos just because they sound good together. You work at it a bit and realize you have just composed a new piece of music.

Suddenly, you realize you have an ear for making new music; melodies are popping into your head. You have stumbled onto a passion for creating music that never would have happened if you hadn't started playing the piano just for fun.

How about the last time you volunteered to tutor a youngster after school. You find you enjoy watching him or her light up when they finally understand that math problem or importance of a historical fact. They get excited because they can read a page in a book without help.

You get excited: you have discovered you REALLY like to teach and interact with kids. You discover you can get a teaching certificate based on your life experiences. Your long-buried passion for teaching explodes after a stint of volunteering.

How about this blog? I have always liked to write but didn't have any outlet so I kept journals. It was pure happenstance that I stumbled into the world of blogging almost eleven years ago and discovered an important interest.

The point is don't allow yourself to stagnate just because you haven't stumbled onto the one thing that lights your fire. Try all sorts of activities, add to your life experiences, take a gamble on something different. 

If what you are doing does not grab you, stimulate and energize you, drop it.  When you find that passion, the thing that pushes you out of bed each morning, you will know it.

In the meantime, you have had fun, learned something new, helped others, got your blood pumping, or at the very least gotten off your butt.

20 comments:

  1. Great post for beginning retirees Bob. I move in and out of many different hobbies that excite me. It seems that I am bored easily so that when I become proficient at one hobby its time to migrate on to the next one as a primary focus. It keeps my retired life of 20+ years very satisfying. The one that has stuck around the longest is my blog, but even the content of RJsCorner has changed significantly over the years.

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    1. Not only the content of your blogs, but the number of different blogs you maintain. That amount of writing and photography is quite a feat.

      Too many new retirees feel a pressure to settle on the reason to get up in the morning, well before they can. As you well know, finding out what satisfies you is a process and definitely not a straight line.

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  2. Finding things to do that I get passionate about doing is the one thing in life that I get right. And I credit my mom for that. She had me in every after school class and activity known to Man since a very early age and I continued that quest to learn new things all my life.

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    1. Kudos for mom. Our parents can have a profound effect on how we spend our time as adults. To some degree all of us model our parents' behavior, either good or bad. AS grandparents, now, we need to remind ourselves that "little people are watching."

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  3. Why limit yourself? Churchill was a statesman, yes, but also a writer, painter, and bricklayer (he laid so many, he became a card-carrying member of the Amalgamated Union of Building Trades Workers).

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    1. Good example. People like da Vinci also was skilled (or a master) at much more than just a painter.

      I try so many different things my wife jokes sometimes that my nickname should be Renaissance Man. I take that as a compliment.

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  4. So many interests, so little time. If I didn’t enjoy writing, I never would have started my blog. If I didn’t have my blog, I wouldn’t have been as encouraged to experiment with photography. Also, if I didn’t love to write, I wouldn’t have discovered my new hobby of writing short fiction. Add to those, traveling, sewing, painting, and a host of other interests, and I have a pretty satisfying retirement.

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    1. Isn't it interesting how one interest may lead to another, then another, and then a third one? That is the joy of retirement: time to follow your arrow wherever it points (Thanks Kacey Musgraves).

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  5. I retired at 58. One of my surgeons asked what I was going to do. So many interests: quilt, read, garden, become a master gardener, take piano lessons again, take voice lessons again, hike, travel, see all the National Parks, spend 3-4weeks on Route 66 (in an RV), spend 3-4 weeks in New England in the fall......and that's just what I had off the top of my head! And most of all, just do nothing anytime I want to! 🤣🤣

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    1. I think you have found your passion: sample from the full buffet of life!

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  6. One of my favorite things to do in retirement is my fairly new hobby of metal detecting. As you commented above with Janis how one interest can lead to another, I have done something similar with this hobby. Metal detecting led to joining a club which led me to taking over writing the club newsletter. I enjoy writing with my newest interest which is blogging and it now spilled over to the newsletter. I'm also trying to find new things to enjoy with my quest to do 101 new things this year. I think of my retirement as an exploration phase of my life and I'm trying a little bit of everything I can think of.

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    1. I applaud your approach. The openness to a new endeavor can have the result you (and Janis) mention: a path to an entirely unexpected destination. Contrary to " common knowledge," our ability to learn and appreciate new things does not have to diminish with age.

      101 new things for the year is a very ambitious target. I wish you the best and assume you will blog about your meeting that goal.

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  7. Your guitar example really struck a chord with me, Bob. I decided a few weeks ago to do the YOLO thing and upgrade and splurge on a high end instrument that is way more than my humble playing skills can justify in the traditional sense. The thing is, though, that once I began strumming and picking that Martin, the sound was so much richer than anything I had played before, that it gave me joy to suddenly experiment with chords.

    Writing lyrics has followed in short order and I am now giddy with excitement to see what I can string together. Not even my spouse knows about this secret project of mine. It is simply for my pleasure.

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    1. This comment was left several weeks ago when this post was published by mistake and quickly put back into its proper rotation. So, Plaino, that is why your comment is finally showing up now!

      Your story about a new-found passion for your guitar playing it perfect. A new instrument gives you new confidence. That leads to experimenting with chords and then into writing lyrics. I salute you and hope your Martin gives you hours and hours of pleasure.

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  8. Two of my goals in retirement are to look after myself and my home. Homemaking is a passion of mine. I enjoy the gardening, preserving, cooking, baking, seasonal lawn/yard maintenance, housework, etc. This might not sound exciting to anyone else but after doing things on the fly on limited time off while working FT, I'm reveling in completing these tasks without punching the clock.

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    1. I know several people who would envy your ability to tackle those projects, and complete them. Around my house, Betty and I have no shortage of things we like to do, but taking a task from beginning to complete doesn't always happen. I swear we spent half our time rearranging piles of things half done when we have veered off into something else.

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  9. Leo Buscalia said "Paradise is loving many things with a passion" I have a number of hobbies/ interests and I'm always on the lookout for more. A bonus is that when you have lots of interests you are more likely to be more interesting to others.

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    1. I have always enjoyed Leo's insights on things. That quote is a perfect match for this topic. Thanks, Dillon.

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  10. I also love Leo Busalia.. and I share his passion for many things. I also will quote Watl Whitman: Life is large,it contains multitudes...,” I love exploring the multitudes... “ I have a passion for LIFE ITSELF and this leads me to many many interesting adventures...

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    1. I could build a very interesting post just around quotes that support the premise of widening one's experiences!

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