From my US News & World Blog
To enjoy a fulfilling and meaningful retirement, you need to identify what you are passionate about and figure out a way to pursue that activity. Living each day with the simplistic goal of just keeping busy can kill some hours. But to really enjoy retired life, there should be a purpose for each day.
Finding a passion that drives and excites you is not always easy. Just consider all the people who are drudging through life in careers they hate. If fully living each day were easy, everyone would have figured it out by now.
Once you have successfully identified a passion to pursue in retirement, there’s always the possibility that your passion for that activity could begin to dim. Over time you might not get as excited about what used to delight you. When this happens, your days may begin to drag on listlessly. Or perhaps your passion will become too expensive to afford when you are living on a fixed income and inflation slowly erodes your purchasing power.
A friend retired about twelve years ago from a fulfilling teaching career. Each day he was inspired to try to positively impact his students. He was a favorite among the students because of the passion he brought to the classroom and his clever ways of presenting otherwise boring material. When he retired, he knew exactly what he wanted to do: dancing and travel. So he became a dance instructor on cruise ships.
During the next ten years he danced the night away teaching novices the steps to ballroom dancing. As a passenger on various cruises traveling the world, he was able to fulfill his travel goals at the same time. He spent the early part of his retirement dancing with new people each evening while aboard a luxurious cruise ship sailing toward the next port of call.
Then, for some inexplicable reason, his passion for dancing and travel began to flicker. He found himself less interested in what had been giving meaning and inspiration to his retirement. Was he getting tired of the same thing? Had ten years of travel been enough to satisfy his bug to see the world? Although he is still a dedicated Dancing with the Stars viewer and remains physically fit, his desire to dance has diminished.
It is not surprising that the things that drive and excite us change over time. But it is scary to think that discovering your passion and pursuing it offers no guarantee of long-term satisfaction.
It may be that the best we can hope for in retirement is to pursue our passion for as long as it exists. The reality that a retirement passion may lose its luster at some point should serve as renewed motivation to keep at it while we are still drawn to an activity and to continue to search for new passions throughout retirement. Having more than one passion to pursue can help keep us engaged, should one passion lose its luster.
Dave Bernard is the author of Are You Just Existing and Calling it a Life?, which offers guidelines to discover your personal passion and live a life of purpose. Not yet retired, Dave has begun his due diligence to plan for a fulfilling retirement. With a focus on the non-financial aspects of retiring, he shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement–Only the Beginning.