What’s the number one solution people propose to folks who are nearing retirement or recently retired?
Get some hobbies.
Spare me! If only it were that easy to be happy; why we’d all be playing the guitar, and the problem would be solved.
One of the biggest issues in the post-work struggle for happiness is finding a purpose that you are passionate about pursuing. I know, I flunked retirement twice!
Getting to a post-work life you want starts with the identification of personal goals. The goals you develop will likely sound vague or lofty. It’s ok, trust yourself for a minute and just think about what would make you happy in terms of your “feelings”. To me, some of those goals were feelings of fulfillment, pride, purpose, and contribution. My goals also needed to fit within certain parameters like meshing with other priorities in my life and being financially responsible.
The important and essential next step is breaking down each of those goals, feelings, and parameters into a more specific description of attributes or activities.
For me, the translation looked something like the following:
My activities must give me excitement when facing each new day.
The activities have to be more than a reason to get up in the morning, they must engender real enthusiasm.
My activities must build a new body of work.
Everyone can look back on their work career and see an accumulation of work they accomplished. Oftentimes, though, the goals they accomplished mattered more to a company or an organization than they did to the individual him/herself. The opportunity in the post-work world is to engage in activities that build a new body of work – something different from what a lifetime was spent doing in the work world.
My activities need to be meaningful to me and to others in the world.
We’ve all had to spend some time shoveling “sh–” which is to say doing routine, mundane work that does not seem to add anything to the world. The post-work world is an opportunity to do work that is actually impactful and good for others and contributes to our families, our friends, and/or society.
My activities have to be something I am proud to do and proud to disclose to others.
I need to feel good about what I am doing.
My activities have to mesh with other people and priorities in my life.
Most people have had to, at times, subjugate needs of their family or even their own health to the demands of a job. No more of that. My new activities are important, but I get to chose to put them behind commitments to family, friends, and my own health.
My activities need to include an element of play.
Said differently, I want to have fun with what I am doing and not feel it is in any way a burden.
My activities need to leverage the skills and interests I spent a career developing.
Let’s face it, our post-work endeavors don’t necessarily have the same time horizon that our careers had to blossom. So for me, being able to participate in activities that leveraged what I already knew how to do was important.
My activities have to be consistent with my financial means and plans.
The post-work world is a fixed-income reality. The regular paycheck is gone, and we are left working with the income from a financial portfolio, maybe a pension, and at some point– social security. For some people, the fixed income is a lot of money, but for most people, it is not. So my activities need to fit within my post-work budget and not “break the bank.”
After establishing how I wanted to “feel” about my post-work life, my efforts turned to brainstorming the myriad of possibilities. Look at each “feeling” you are going for or parameter that must be met, and list anything and everything you can come up with. For me, public speaking, helping companies with sales and marketing strategies focused on an older population, engaging with smart people, training, and writing were examples of things I have fun doing.
Don’t try to do all this in a day. Something may sound fun one day might not sound like such fun the next. So keep adding to and refining the list over the course of several days. After you feel like you have exhausted your list of possibilities, you will start to see that some of these activities are very interrelated. You will also notice that some of the activities meet many of the criteria you established. You can then craft your own idealized design of just what it is that you want to do.
Some people might suggest running your post-work plans past a spouse, friends, or a financial advisor. Certainly there could be merits to doing so in some circumstances. However, you paid the tuition for your post-work life through a lifetime of working for someone or something else. You now have the freedom to do what you want to do. No one else is going to be as jazzed about your plans as you. In fact, you might actually get some push-back.
If you aren’t going to do what you want to do with your life now, then when exactly are you going to do it? Following your gut, your heart, your dreams isn’t just good advice we listened to during a graduation ceremony; it’s good advice to a graduate from the work world as well.
I would agree with whoever said, “If you love what you are doing, you will never work a day in your life.” I’m done working, but I’m busier than ever now, and enjoying life more than ever.
Life after-work can be – should be – is meant to be – Fun and Fulfilling! So go for it!
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Whether you are an avid TWE reader or first time downloader, a member of the iGeneration or on the brink of retirement, my hope is that through this eBook you can discover what matters most to you in life and and time to appreciate it all.