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Retirement Passion Its More Than Filling Time

Cathy Severson

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"What am I going to do with my time?" is the question Baby Boomers are raising as they near retirement.  Realizing life on the golf course may not be enough activity to last for ten or even twenty years, the new crop of aging adults is looking for experiences and activities that will be engaging and challenging for a long time to come.

Authors of the large number of books coming out on the subject implore new retirees to find a passion.  However, finding a passion when work and family have consumed you for the last thirty or forty years can be a daunting task.  If you have no idea what your “passion" is, how do you start to find it?

Experts also advise new retirees to have a life plan, but how do you plan when you have minimal context for what your life is going to be? Most people plan their retirement activities based on what they didn't have the time to do while working.  Sitting by the side of a stream and fishing sounds delightful to an angler who only gets to fish a few days per year.  Can a person spend the rest of his life with only fishing? While there may be a few die-hard souls who proclaim “yes", most people realize occupying twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week for the rest of your life is a challenge.

The mistake many people make in looking for retirement activities is to ask the question, “Is that my passion?" before they try it.  If there isn't a flutter in their heart, they are reluctant to pursue it, for fear it won't be their “passion. "   When the passion doesn't zing them like cupid's arrow, they feel frustrated and lost.  

In the television show What Not to Wear, a chosen guest has a clothing makeover. The hosts, Stacy London and Clinton Kelly review the guests clothing mistakes, give her (or occasionally him) a list of new rules for selecting clothes and then send them to shop alone.  The first day the guest usually wanders from store to store looking at clothes, but seldom trying any on.     They'll pick a jacket off the rack and say things like, “I could never wear that.  This follows the rules, but I hate that color or it looks too frumpy. " The next day, Stacy and Clinton join the guest and explain the key to a makeover success is to try clothes.  The hosts start picking items off the racks and counters, saying, “Try this on, and this and this. " It is only in the act of putting outfits on that the person starts to see herself in a new light.  At first reluctant to move away from dated, baggy clothes, the guest eventually starts to admire the new person in the mirror wearing a stylish jacket, or new dress.    

Making a successful transition to retirement requires the same kind of effort.  When your previous time was occupied work and family, exploring new activities can feel like trying on a new outfit.  On the rack, it may not look like it will fit.  Undertaking a new activity will give you the opportunity to experience it and then decide whether it is for you.  If your retirement is six months or six years away, make time to explore new activities.  Look for activities just for the fun of it, not because it may be a life passion.

Cathy Severson, MS helps you make the most of your retirement. If you're spending more than 8 hours a day on the Internet, are you sure this is the life you want to live? Visit for resources, tools and community for The New Aging.


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