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Retirees Not Sure What to do Next? Find Yourself by Getting Lost!

What does the title of this blog mean? Simply put: In this journey called life we may spend countless hours and even thousands of dollars trying to figure out “who we are…what makes us tick… what’s next…and what is our purpose in life?”

The quest for joy and purpose can become especially acute as we approach the end of our working years and enter retirement. What do we do when the thing, (work/career), which has defined us for the last 30 years is over? Is the satisfaction of a job well done, done? Does your “ship of life” feel rudderless?

There is only a certain number of projects around the house to complete. What do you do when your “honey do list” jar is empty?

I remember watching my Dad struggle with house projects when he was retired. He started to invent projects that needed completing. It seemed that every time I visited there would be a new stairway to nowhere project being planned, built, or improved.

My poor Mom, Betty June, would look at me and try to make herself heard above the din of hammering and sawing. “Timmy” she would plead, “ would you please take Herbert, (my Dad’s name), out for a hamburger?” She knew that the only way to get Dad to stop working on the latest unwanted and needless project would be that magical question, “hey buddy, would you like to go out and get a burger.”

The "burger ploy" worked every time. Dad would wipe the sweat from his brow and try to look tired. However, Herb's eyes would betray his excitement at the thought of biting into a greasy cheeseburger. He would mutter, “OK, I guess I could use a break. " He would then add, "but I first need to ask you mother if it’s all right I stop working on her project.” You see, it was always “her project” he was working on. Of course, Mom would say it’s OK. She would wink at me and say in her West Virginia drawl, “you fellers take your time and enjoy yourselves.”

Now, after my short trip down memory lane, back to the task at hand, the quest to “find yourself” in retirement.

The search to find joy and purpose in our life has become a cottage industry. There are self-improvement workshops, goal setting books and courses, celebrity endorsed “Guru’s,” and “experts du jour.” While these tools and resources can be a real help in your search, I want to suggest one simple idea which has helped me uncover the love of writing as my “next step” in retirement:

“Find something you love doing so much that you lose track of time while you are doing it.”

That’s it. Simple yet profound. Follow your bliss. Just open up your eyes and be aware of what you love doing. Let me share with you how rekindling my dormant love of writing has made all the difference.

After a 30-year career in financial services and real estate I retired without any plan for what I would do next. After over three decades of goal setting, sales achievements, and wearing the many hats needed to run a business, I was bored, and felt aimless.

My wife had encouraged me for years to write. She would remind me of all my stories about the enjoyment I experienced researching and writing my Master’s Thesis at Drew University’s library. I would lose all track of time sitting in the “stacks” at the library, writing. There were a number of times I was almost locked in at closing due to my intense focus on the writing task at hand. I would miss hearing the librarian's closing announcement and only made it out in time due to another student warning me to “get going,”

Well, I started to write again and began to experience that old feeling of excitement when I finished a page, chapter, or story, and the anticipation of what to write next. I currently have one book in the process of being published, and this website and blogs are the result of following my renewed passion. Where it will take me, I don’t know? I am just having so much fun in my writing journey, I think I will follow where God leads.

Start your journey today. Find yourself by getting lost in what you love.

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