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Retire to Do What You Love

In my forties I started to feel that life was passing me by. I had a very busy job in Corporate Human Resources in a large multinational and the days, weeks and months seemed to fly by faster every year! I thought it was normal to experience this as we get older – but it still worried me. I realized that I didn’t have forever to do the things I really wanted to do.

I was writing stories in my spare time but finding the energy to do creative work after putting in a full day at the office became increasingly difficult. I even tried getting up at 3:30 a.m. to write for a couple of hours before leaving for work! That only lasted a few weeks because I became too exhausted.

My uncle died at age 59, before he had a chance to retire and live out his dreams. That gave me a big message that there are NO GUARANTEES in life. I retired early (age 49) to pursue my interests in writing and life coaching.

Ask yourself this question: If you died tomorrow,
what would you regret not having done?

Chances are that you will live a lot longer than my uncle did, probably into your eighties.

Don’t buy into the notion that it’s all downhill after age 40 or 50! The reality is actually the reverse. As we mature, we have more life experience, skills and wisdom. We also have a better understanding of ourselves and what we want to do. Hopefully by the time we hit our mid-fifties, we have more financial resources as well. All this makes us MORE able to pursue something we are passionate about or even accomplish incredible things!

Also our children are grown and have hopefully left the nest by the time we retire. For once in our lives, we actually have free time.

In It’s Only Too Late If You Don’t Start Now, Barbara Sher writes, “People in their fifties and sixties report the feeling that all kinds of new things are beginning for them. More people over 45 travel to unknown places, start new studies and begin new enterprises and relationships than those under 45.”

Her inspiring book helped me to see the advantages of getting older and how this is really the BEST time of our lives when it comes to satisfying our personal dreams.

Sher also explains how our sense of time actually SLOWS DOWN when we are doing what we love, because we are absorbed in the activity and completely in the moment. Now that I have been “retired” for 18 months, I know this is true. The hours seem to stretch to accommodate my interests – and my life feels so much richer and more meaningful because I am following my own agenda.

Think of retirement as a NEW LIFE – because that’s what it is. You are not “retiring” from the world, only from a way of life that controlled you for so many years. It’s really a passport to freedom, but only if you know where you’re going!

It’s important to develop at least one strong interest
while you are still working.

A worst-case scenario is to retire with nothing in mind except taking more vacations, maybe playing golf, and catching up on your reading. You will get bored within a few months, guaranteed. You will also become depressed if you don’t have a sense of purpose and excitement about what you’re doing.

Using your skills, talent and experience in retirement will help you maintain a strong sense of identity and self-worth and, as an added bonus, you will find yourself with a whole new network of friends. Too many people retire to DO NOTHING. If you still have your health and vitality, make the best of the productive years you still have left. Now is your chance to make a larger contribution to society or simply lead a more SATISFYING and meaningful life.

Wondering if you should write a novel, go back to school to study languages, or embark on a new career as a landscape gardener? What do you have to lose? GO FOR IT!

You don’t need great wealth to enjoy a happy retirement. You need a sense of purpose, a feeling of connection to others and to know that what you are doing is meaningful.

Retirement is not the end of life as you know it …. it is the START of a bigger future, one filled with enormous possibility.

Mark Twain gave us some great advice:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

To read about people who met new challenges to create an exciting second career in the latter half of their lives, go to and click on True Stories. Some examples:

  • Ann Mariah Stewart, who at 58 ended thirty years as an educator to author a health column for San Diego Magazine On-Line and pursue her dream of sailing. She later fulfilled another long-time interest by becoming a park ranger.
  • Kathleen Cano, 60, who after years in administration as well as customer service for the Friendly Restaurant chain, returned to the Tompkins Square Playhouse in New York’s East Village to indulge in her love for community theatre – dancing, singing and costume designing.
  • Peg Heglund, 68, a veteran nurse who started a thriving employment agency called Back to Work for people 55+
  • Shia Saltzman, a 69-year-old grandfather of three who retired from his career as a paint salesman to become a drama coach at Bayonne High School, NJ.

It’s normal to feel apprehensive or afraid when starting a whole new chapter in your life. You need to research your area of interest, talk to others in the field, and find people to encourage you.

For personal guidance and support in exploring or pursuing something you love for your retirement years, go to Life Coaching.