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  • 4-Minute Article
  • |
  • Oct 12, 2018

Secrets to Pursuing Your Passion in Retirement

3 people share their tips for finding deep and lasting fulfillment.

For many, retirement can be an exciting time to discover or expand a personal passion. As the daily grip of careers and other responsibilities loosens, retirees may have more time to explore the activities, hobbies, or interests that can kindle a renewed sense of joy and commitment in their lives.

Taking cues from peers who have deepened their passions in retirement may help you develop yours. Consider these three insights to successfully make the most of the pursuits that lie ahead.

1. Build on Core Interests

Find clues to passions by looking at inspirational elements of your work and life. Think about aspects of each that truly motivate you. Then, let those factors help guide post-career choices.

Let’s say you loved the team-building responsibilities of your job and enjoy horseback riding in your spare time. Consider how you might unite both in ways that have meaning and bring enjoyment. Perhaps volunteering at a stable to help coach riding teams is an option.

For example, Mari’s passion in retirement builds on her keen interest in discovery. During her career as a research microbiologist in California, she always enjoyed the problem-solving aspect of the work. In science, “you’re always looking for a new horizon,” she explains. And now that she’s retired, Mari has more time to pursue another much-loved pursuit that involves problem-solving: rock climbing.

With their patterns of cracks, knobs and holds, rocks present a natural puzzle. “When you go to climb, it’s like this unfolding problem and you’re watching it appear in front of you,” she says. 

Mari believes that sense of invention and breakthrough is central to the appeal of both pursuits. “They both informed each other in a way. Science has endless frontiers. Climbing has endless frontiers,” she says.

2. Share Your Passion with Others

To take a passion to new levels, consider expanding on longtime, consuming interests to make a difference in the world. One way might be sharing your unique knowledge or skill set with others. Teaching is a great way to continue feeling empowered and useful. 

Case in point: A pioneer in natural process agriculture farming, Bob grew up working in his family’s nursery in Northern California. He taught horticulture at a junior college — a mentorship that he would return to years later in a new way.

Today, at his 140-acre farm, he raises sought-after crops, which grace the tables of highly regarded farm-to-table restaurants. “Fifty percent for nature, 50% for people” is his motto, meaning soil improvement is equally important to growing produce for people to eat.

As he got older, expanding his farming mission became a priority. He co-founded a nonprofit institute to share his knowledge with the next generation of sustainable farmers. Every 90 days, a group of 10 to 15 students come to the farm to live, work, and learn. And Bob delivers a lecture each afternoon, hoping the interns embrace his life’s work.

To him, it’s a fundamental pursuit.

“Go teach the younger generations that which you’ve learned,” he says. “Everybody has something to teach somebody.”

3. Approach a Passion with Discipline

For many people, the key to pursuing a passion is to establish a diligent daily routine. To be fully engaged, they follow a schedule that prioritizes their passion the same way they would a job.

For example, professional roofer Matthew painted in the off season for 30 years in Ohio before turning to art full time in retirement. He traded mopping roofing tar for putting brushstrokes on canvas and says his passion for large-scale abstracts has evolved through day-to-day dedication.

“It might sound cliché, but I try to be productive each day,” he says. His schedule calls for getting up early and going right to his studio.

“My studio is my domain. Sometimes, I come here with nothing. I’ll have a million excuses why not to come,” he says. “But keep the hands busy, and the mind will follow.” In his new life as an artist, maintaining a routine can provide the structure that spurs enjoyment, sparks ideas, and allows fulfillment to grow.

“If you just start something, your creativity will lead you somewhere,” says Matthew, who has reached his goal of selling a painting every month. “Variety is the spice of life, but routine is the essence of life.”

Planning Your Journey

Learn more about how Mari, Bob and Matthew followed their passions here.

Don’t worry if a personal passion isn’t immediately clear; identifying and pursuing a new path is a gradual, ongoing process. And, it’s one that may take new or unexpected directions.

In addition, stay focused on what means the most to you by reviewing your retirement plans with your financial professional. Together, you can create strategies that help provide the financial security to follow your dreams.

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