How To Find Your Passion in Retirement (A Reader’s Story)

My editor said I was crazy, but I did it anyway.

As I was thinking about how to conclude my book, “Keys to a Successful Retirement”, I decided to issue a homework assignment to the reader.  If you’ve read the book, you’ll know what I’m talking about. My editor encouraged me to think of the implications, and the potential workload I was adding to my retirement.  I thought about her advice and decided to keep the challenge as the conclusion for my book.  I’m glad I did.

Today, I’m publishing the first submission. 

“RC” is two years away from crossing “The Starting Line” at age 55.  He’s been working as an engineer since age 22 and is being intentional as he prepares for his retirement.  He’s a “Type A” guy who gets easily bored on vacation and is struggling with “how to find your passion in retirement”. The process he’s undergoing in his final years of work will be of interest to anyone who has the same concern. 

I’ve gotten positive feedback from “reader stories” I’ve published in the past, and trust that if you’re concerned about how to find your passion in retirement you’ll find his approach helpful on your journey.

Today, a reader's story of how to find your passion in retirement.
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How To Find Your Passion In Retirement

Just as most of you, I am a fan of Fritz and his Retirement Manifesto’s blog about his retirement journey.  I found Fritz’s website via several podcasts that I listen to and found that he has blazed a very similar path as mine, about 5 years ahead of me.  I then read his book “Keys to a Successful Retirement”.  At the end of the book, he assigns homework to write about your passion.  For the past several years, my passion has been to find what my passion will be in retirement, so this was a great book for me to read. 

My Background:

 I will go by the name “Retire Confident” since I have not revealed my retirement plans to my employer yet.  A little about me:  I have worked as an engineer in the automotive sector for the last 31 years and specialize in computer modeling and simulation.  I’ve loved my job because it gives me a technical creative outlet and challenges me.  However, I am planning to retire in 2 years since retiring at 55 has always been my goal since I started working at 22.  I want to travel while my wife and I are young enough to not be limited in our physical activity and set my own schedule.

Even though we will not have healthcare provided or a pension, financially we have arrived at our retirement goal. We have always lived a modest, yet comfortable, lifestyle in our working years.  My personal definition of retirement is that I will never do work for a paycheck again. Our children are both in college and have their needs met with a 529 plan.  My wife works part-time as an Occupational Therapist.  Due to the Covid 19 and medicare changes, she has been working only sporadically this year and I jokingly say that she is already bridging to retirement.  I am lucky that my wife and I are both on the same page regarding spending habits and retirement timing/plans.

A Retirement Fear

I have never been someone who can just relax on a beach for more than a half-hour.  I always have to be doing something, mentally or physically.  Thus one of my biggest fears about retirement has been if I will have enough to keep me busy.  This is why I have put so much time into researching what others who have gone before me have done and say.  It makes me feel good when I hear, “I am so busy in retirement, I don’t know how I found time to work”, or Fritz’s recent reply to a comment saying he was so busy it would be difficult to fit in reading a recommended book.  He admitted in the book that he was concerned also about keeping busy in retirement while he was still working, but now that he is retired, it sounds like he has found that balance.

COVID – A “Forced” Test Retirement

In Fritz’s book, he recommends while on a vacation to pretend to be retired.  While I understand the purpose, I believe that there is a significant difference, at least for me between retirement and vacation.  Since a vacation is relatively short, many of the hobbies I would start (even reading a long book) would not be able to be completed or significantly started before I go back to work, and thus would add to my normal-day stress (I don’t like a lot of things to be done hanging over my head). Since the book was written prior to the Covid 19 pandemic it was not discussed, but this forced lifestyle has in several respects complimented Fritz’s suggestion.  

My wife and I have been at home together for the last 7 months, sometimes 24/7 – similar in some respects to what it will be like in retirement.  And since the start of school, the kids are back at college so it is just the two of us.  Since her paid work is almost non-existent, she has a lot of time on her hands, much longer than just a weekend.  While I am now working from home, we are around each other much more, 3 meals a day, and most of the evenings – and I don’t have my 1 ½ hour commute each day.  I am happy to report that I now think we will get along just fine in retirement being just the two of us!  She still gets out (she is a social butterfly) and has her own activities, so we have plenty to talk about.  To be honest, this was a concern to me since once my father retired, it seemed like my parents would bicker all the time.  But I now realize that this was because my father “invaded” my mother’s domain and neither had enough hobbies away from each other.

Using Buckets to Find Your Passion in Retirement

In an article about his book “You Can Retire Sooner Than You Think” by Wes Moss, he states “Unhappy retirees have on average 1.9 core pursuits, while the happy camp reports 3.6.”  When I read that statistic, it really hit me hard.  I definitely want to be in the “happy camp” category!  I, therefore, started to concentrate on filling my “hobbies bucket”.  Since I am very big on making lists, I started a list on my phone (since I always have it handy) and started listing potential hobbies I might be interested in.  While the book has different categories than I chose, mine consisted of three, hobbies (not tasks) for:  mental, physical, and social.  While some hobbies can be listed under more than one category (all the better!), it only counted for one.  I believe that each of these categories are necessary to keep one sharp.  Further, since I know only a few of the hobbies will stick, I wanted to have a long list to pick from; so I required myself to come up with at least 7 in each category before I retire.  The point, however, is to just get potential ones listed.

Just some of my ideas for retirement…

I am happy to report that I have over 21 thus far!  I also had my wife fill out her list – many of them were different from my list – which is a good thing.  Having some we do together and some separate keeps the conversation between us going.  However, when I thought about it, it didn’t seem like I had one particular “passion” like Fritz’s wife and her “Freedom for Fido” organization.  I marveled as I read Fritz’s book how she focused in on that particular niche passion so well – that is what I wanted to be able to do!  But then it hit me that I don’t believe that she started out with that particular passion – instead the book said that she volunteered with a local dog rescue charity and that in turn fostered the idea.  Then, looking at my list, I think I can probably say that to start out with, my passion will be trying new things and not worrying about which one will bubble to the top, which will occur naturally as I try them out.  But it is important to work from my own list, not someone else’s, otherwise I might suffer “trying new things fatigue”.

Finding A Nugget

As I tell my wife, ‘If I can just gather one nugget of useful knowledge from the hundreds of podcasts I listen to or books I read, it is worth it’.  Retirement for me is the biggest decision of my life and I want to do everything in my power to make it a success!  I would much rather learn from others’ mistakes and successes than to make my own mistakes.  One of my favorite parts about The Retirement Manifesto’s articles are the reader’s comments at the end – I learn so much!  Therefore I ask you, HOW (not what is) did you find your passion?


RC is far from alone in his concerns about how to find your passion in retirement.  It’s one of the greatest challenges we all face as we prepare for retirement, and I appreciate his transparency as he shares the process he’s using in his final years of work.  I agree with his statement about “not worrying about which one will bubble to the top”, and believe his preparation will serve him well when he crosses The Starting Line in two years.  Let’s keep in touch, RC, I’d like to see how your journey unfolds.

Your Turn:  It’s time for you to help RC out.  How would you answer his question:  “How did you find your passion”?   Let’s learn from each other, with the goal of “helping people achieve a great retirement” (my byline)

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How To Find Your Passion in Retirement (A Reader’s Story)