Have you thought about how you’re going to spend your time in retirement?
Since I last wrote about the role of work in retirement, I’ve been cooking, sleeping, walking, reading, playing golf and cleaning the house. I’ve also been writing and gearing up to establish my business as a communications consultant. I’m busy and sometimes wonder if I am setting myself up for the same sort of drudgery I escaped when I retired.
Afraid to fail? Afraid to succeed? What if this isn’t my passion? My life is good, and I don’t want to mess it up by taking on too much. Or taking on boring. For many of us, finding a balance between work and play will be the challenge of our older years.
Retirement is freedom, and I love having more time to pursue many interests. However, my interests include some sort of work. Paid? Maybe. Volunteer? Maybe. Work redefined. I don’t want to go back to my pre-retirement life, no regrets there, but I’m not wired to take it easy, either.
As I explained this angst to my long-suffering husband, he said, “You can’t be rudderless.” And once again, he nailed it. I need to feel a sense of purpose. Jobs gave me purpose but not always passion. Writing gives me a sense of purpose, sometimes even passion, and part of me says that should be enough. But the other part of me wants to see what else I can do. What else?
But wait. Then there’s the voice in my head that says, why can’t I be rudderless? More is not better. Would learning to handle life without a rudder be a worthy pursuit?
For me, aging well is not only about being physically active but also about engaging in intellectual pursuits, connecting with people and contributing in a meaningful way. Retirement could be 30 years or longer, and we need hopes and dreams that will carry us through to the last breath.
All that to say I’m still not sure what this 30-year gig is going to look like, but I’m choosing purpose, and I’m choosing to stay visible. Whether you are retired, just starting out or somewhere in the middle, most of us don’t find an all-encompassing passion, but purpose is attainable.
Find your rudder.
Donna Pekar is an aging badass (for real) who lives in California and writes Retirement Confidential.