The editor's letter in this month's issue of AARP magazine features Roy & Helen, a couple in their later decades (he's 92, she's "unlisted"). One of the wonderful aspects of their story is how they've pursued interesting and fulfilling post-retirement careers. Helen went from being a photo researcher and stay-at-home mom to a decorative painter whose works were exhibited at Tiffany's and auctioned at Sotheby's. And Roy is no slouch either--the paperback edition of his ninth book, Never too Late: A 90-Year-Old's Pursuit of a Whirlwind Life, is to be published in September.
I was struck by Roy's comment that their second-stage careers helped feed their passion for life. Though he doesn't use the specific word, their story illustrates that retirement is a reinvention and how important it is that you include fulfilling activities--paid, or not--into your retirement plan.
Here are four questions from my book, The 10 Laws of Career Reinvention, to use to identify what passions you might like to pursue in your retirement:
- When am I in flow? Flow, as defined by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, is when you're so totally absorbed in an activity that time seems to stand still. What do you do normally that feels so effortless and joyful that you could happily do it for hours? I'll bet Helen's was painting! Yours might be gardening, helping friends through personal life issues, or programming apps for your iPhone. Flow activities are a great source of ideas for post-retirement careers.
- What feels "easy" to me? This is the talent you have that feels as natural as breathing. People probably call you all the time for...something. Roy's easy talent is clearly writing, as evidenced by his nine books! What do people come to you for? If you're the go-to person for restaurant recommendations or lemon-mint cookies, it's time to start paying attention to that gift.
- What are my inexhaustible interests? These are the things that spark an unending sense of curiosity, or that you can never get enough of. Perhaps yours are history, sailing, or home design shows on HGTV. The topics you find consuming are a rich fountain to tap into when planning your retirement reinvention.
- What do I think should exist in the world but doesn't? This is a great question for aspiring entrepreneurs in search of a market niche or those with a strong sense of social justice who care passionately about a particular group. Either way, you'll gain a deep sense of satisfaction from knowing that your efforts will make a difference in the world.
Whether you're in the planning stage, just entering, or well into your next phase of life, let yourself be inspired by Roy and Helen. What are your passions, and what ideas do you have for pursuing them in your retirement? Do you see any particular hurdles to making it happen? Let's discuss in the comments below!