KEEPING ACTIVE – DAVE BERNARD-One of the great hopes when entering into retirement is that we will finally find ourselves with sufficient free time to pursue those interests that most excite and stimulate us. For some the working world may offer a degree of satisfaction and engagement that adds meaning to our day. But for many that working world is something we would happily leave behind. Who wants to continue endlessly with stress and deadlines, dealing with pressures and politics, doing those same things day in and day out? Face it, if it were not for the paycheck at the end of the road, how many of us would really chose to work?

That said, as we joyously cross the finish line into retired life and now actually have the time to do what we want, what exactly is it we will do? How will we occupy our days? Taking it easy doing nothing may work for awhile but will it enthrall you for the next 20 years?

While planning for their future, a helpful starting point for retirees-to-be is to honestly evaluate what retirement means to each personally. How do you see yourself living the next twenty-plus-years during which you are responsible to no one other than yourself (oh, and of course your partner)? Are you a go-getter who envisions retirement as a time to attack that bucket list of adventures and do all you can with every available moment? Or are you content with sitting back a bit, taking it easy while living at a leisurely pace, happy to be removed from the hectic life that defined the working you? Perhaps find yourself somewhere in between, envisioning a balance between doing and not doing.

Once you determine how you see yourself navigating the retirement jungle, you might want to compare facts with your partner to see where you are in sync as well as where you may be a bit at odds. There is nothing wrong with having different expectations of retirement but understanding the perspective of each can be insightful.

As you begin to dig deeper into what it is you will do to fill your retired days, try asking yourself what you are most passionate about. What is it that excites you, intrigues you and gets you out of bed each morning ready to take on the day? Is there anything currently in your life or that you can incorporate into your routine that you will truly enjoy doing day after day? Since you now have the time to do what you want, a focus on what really lights your fire is a good course of action. And try not to make the mistake of waiting until after you are retired to begin to figure out the specifics. Preparation ahead of time can help you more smoothly transition into your post-work lifestyle with minimum issues and maximum opportunities.

Not everyone is so fortunate as to clearly know what they are most passionate about. But I believe that we all are passionate about something – we just need to figure out what!

If you are not quite sure, try asking yourself the following to help hone-in on your individual passion(s):

What do you value most?

What excites you?

What subjects/topics fascinate you?

What do you find most meaningful in life?

What is most important to you?

Who is your hero? Why?

What of your skills do you most enjoy using?

What do you hate doing?

If money was no object, what would your perfect job look like?

You can do whatever you want – what would you do?

What is it that when you start talking about it you find it hard to contain your enthusiasm? 

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “When you do a thing, do it with all your might. Be active, be energetic and faithful, and you will accomplish your object. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”

In retirement, with the slate clean and choices unlimited, we have the opportunity to fill our life with meaningful rewarding activities. If at the end of the day we can look back and say that we have done something good, that we have accomplished something that matters and not wasted the day, then we can be confident we have lived a day well spent. Staying active and engaged in retirement is not something to do from the sidelines – we should take the initiative and get involved. But if we are doing what we really love to do, pursuing what we are most passionate about, each day can be a new opportunity to look forward to with gusto.

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