Find Your Passion

I literally want to scream whenever I speak to a friend or co-worker about retirement planning and they say something along the lines, “I don’t know what I would do in retirement.” Really? Really!? Is it really possible that so many people can’t think of anything else to do on a daily basis than to go put in an eight-hour shift for an employer that probably doesn’t care a lot about them and would let them go at the drop of a hat if necessary for business – or other – reasons?

No Plans to Retire

While I suppose it is possible, I suspect that the reason most people continue to work, and never plan to retire, isn’t because they can’t think of other activities to stimulate their mind and fill their time, but rather because their money isn’t right. They are not financially prepared for retirement. For the time being, let’s give those folks the benefit of the doubt and assume they are – or are on the right track to be – financially prepared for retirement but really don’t have a good idea of what to do with their time. Well, folks, I’m here to help.

Perhaps the most common retirement activity cited by people is travel, both foreign and domestic. In fact, that is one of the planned activities for me and the wife. Even though we have both traveled extensively – business and pleasure – over the course of our adult lives, there are still plenty of places (e.g. New Zealand, China, India, multiple countries in Africa, and multiple locations here in the U.S.) that we are anxious to visit.

Travel and Photography

We’re looking forward to short-term renting for the locations we want to visit in the States. As an example, we might rent a home for 2 – 3 months in the downtown area, heart of a city, like Seattle – which we have yet to visit – and enjoy all that the city has to offer (restaurants, parks, museums, galleries, sports teams, etc.) for that period … and then return to our home base, Arizona. The next year, perhaps we head to another place on our list of desired cites for a short-term rental or head overseas to Rome, Auckland, Havana … .

Travel - Prisma Candy

Travel is one of the activities that will tie in nicely with one of my wife’s long-held passions, one she recently started to immerse herself within and enjoy, photography. In the last couple of months she bought herself a camera and is taking classes with a local group.

Canon Camera

In fact, on two occasions we have gone out with the class, visited a local horse rescue ranch, and taken pictures of the animals – horses and donkeys – in their natural surroundings. The first picture below is one she took of one of the horses, the second is one I took – with my iPhone – of the group taking pictures …

Single Star Photo Shoot

Group Photography

When it comes to finding a new hobby, something that will keep you engaged and perhaps you will develop a deep passion for, the options are unlimited. Some of the activities/hobbies the wife and I have talked about, in addition to traveling and photography, include …

  • Learning to play guitar
  • Learning a foreign language
  • Taking cooking classes at the local community college
  • Taking dance classes

Follow Your Curiosity and Push Past Fears

Although you may not have a clear vision about how to stay engaged in retirement, you are probably curious about things which may or may not be immediately obvious. Don’t be afraid to follow your curiosity and see where that road leads; you will likely be pleasantly surprised.

It’s often easy to tell ourselves that we’ll do the things that intrigue us, the things we might be passionate about, after we deal with some contributing factor (e.g. we have more time, more experience, more money, etc.). If those excuses are really just masking fear, identify them as such and push past them.

Final Thoughts

By combining some new retirement activities with activities (e.g. yoga, running, hiking, and lifting weights) we currently enjoy, I have no doubt that staying busy, staying engaged will not be a problem for us in retirement and it shouldn’t be a problem for anyone … as long as the proper financial retirement planning has taken place.

Find new activities and hobbies to combine with your current activities; or if you placed an old hobby on the shelf years ago, something you were passionate about but gave up for some reason, take it down and dust it off. It isn’t enough to have money in retirement, you must have a reason, multiple reasons in fact – besides going to work for someone else – to get up every day.

You’re only limited by your imagination. Find your passion and cultivate it. And just as you need to cultivate your passions, if you’re a significant other, engage with and support your partner’s passion.

Stay savvy, my friends!

Blogger-in-Chief here at RetirementSavvy and author of Sin City Greed, Cream City Hustle and RENDEZVOUS WITH RETIREMENT: A Guide to Getting Fiscally Fit.


  1. I know many people who work well past retirement age and money should really be a worry since we work in government and the pension is pretty good. Well for some, the pension is not enough but for others, I think they really wouldn’t know what to do with their free time. It’s understandable being that we spend so much of our time commuting to and from work…and working. And outside of work, unfortunately, many people just watch TV and don’t have any hobbies that they are passionate about. I can’t really pinpoint a passion I have other than blogging, some travel, family time…but I’m sure I can find a bunch of things I’d rather do than working!

    • Even if someone can’t think of an engaging passion/hobby off the top of their head, I would encourage them to try anything. In the process of trying to find something new, they are bound to meet new people, be exposed to new ideas, go to new places, etc. and even if they don’t find the first ‘thing’ they try to be interesting, there is a good bet that the effort will launch them down a path where they will stumble across something that does.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, Andrew.

  2. Hi James,

    Sometimes, I feel I have too many passions, lol, blogging being one of them.

    Prioritized to do Lists are a great way to channel energy.

    I just write a list of all the cool things I want to do in life in a spreadsheet. Some of them come to fruition years later.

    When I write those things down, sometimes, I don’t believe I will every get to it. Sooner or later, I seem to surprise myself pleasantly by the accomplishing what I wrote down.


    • Great approach. I’m also a big believer in writing things down and establishing priorities; works well for me!

      Thanks for stopping by, my friend.

  3. Hi James and happy weekend to all of you still working. Since retiring early back in March this year, I’ve found so many different ways to fill my day. I don’t really have a routine but have found myself constantly busy. But busy at my pace, not someone else’s.

    One of these days I’ll sit down and put some thought into a post on what I spend my retirement days doing.

    Travel is on the list but hasn’t become regular yet as Ms MM is still working full-time but we have been able to get away for some long weekend camping trips, and we’re booked for a month in Bali this coming February.

    So if anyone uses the excuse of not having enough to do as a reason not to retire, I say ha!, you just haven’t thought about it enough.

    Let me know when you’re planning to travel down under, James. Hopefully we can catch up. And feel free to contact me for ideas on things to do down this way too.

    • “But busy at my pace, not someone else’s.” Definitely looking forward to that!

      “One of these days I’ll sit down and put some thought into a post on what I spend my retirement days doing.” Definitely looking forward to that read. I have a couple of friends who are retired and I love learning about their transitions into retirement and how their days differ from when they worked full-time.

      “Let me know when you’re planning to travel down under … .” I mentioned in another post that I would be in Australia in September … actually it’s going to be in October. Once I have more specific information on dates/locations I’ll let you know.

      • I’ll be here in October James. I live in Brisbane so if you’re passing through, I’ll be happy to catch up with you.

        • Sounds good, my friend.

  4. Financial anxiety has got to be one of the biggest reasons for this behavior, but another thought that immediately comes to mind is that most people are creatures of habit. Working everyday for 40 years can create quite the habit and I’ve heard horror stories (horror for me anyway) about folks going back to work because they are bored. I’m wondering if they are actually bored or rather just missing the relationships and camaraderie that they’ve been a part of over the years.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • ” … most people are creatures of habit. Working everyday for 40 years can create quite the habit and I’ve heard horror stories (horror for me anyway) about folks going back to work because they are bored.” Becoming a victim to the habit is one element I haven’t given lots of thought to. Great point! Therefore, that reinforces for me that cultivating new habits/passions is a critical part of retirement planning, perhaps on par with the ‘money’ piece.

      Thanks for stopping by and providing great food for thought.

  5. I don’t hear it but I see it. There are a few (I’ll assume) over the retirement age still working alongside me. I wonder what keeps them there, possibly a combination of both; money and the thought of not having anything to do.

    Along with cooking, photography, fitness … and a few other things I’m passionate about I see myself volunteering time, energy & sharing of my experiences in a way that may help others. I’m still one of the “I don’t plan to retire” folks, just shifting from work that we have to do to work that we want to do 😉

    • ” … just shifting from work that we have to do to work that we want to do.” That’s a good way to look at it. As we’ve discussed before, it [financial security and retirement planning] is really about choices.

    • This thought line agrees with mine. Moving from what I have to do to what I want to do. But without adequate finances can we do this? That’s why I still have to work?

      • No doubt that establishing financial freedom is important. It gives you choices and makes so many other things possible.

  6. I’ve had many folks ask me the same (“Why do you want to retire, what will you do?”). How sad is it that folks can’t imagine the freedom and excitement that not HAVING to work can bring! I’ll see you in New Zealand (also on our bucket list)!!

    • I’m genuinely surprised at the number of people who claim they wouldn’t know what to do with their time in retirement. However, as I noted, I have a strong suspicion for most, their trepidation regarding retirement has at least as much to do with [the lack of] financial preparedness.

      Indeed. We’ll see you in New Zealand. Heading to nearby Australia next month. Should be interesting.

  7. Excellent post James! And I am seeing this back at my job now too. I work with a few ladies in their 60’s who complain bitterly about (and at) work. But they say they have no idea what they would do if they didn’t work (both are widows with grandchildren in the local area…) And both could use the time to take care of their health for sure. One of them could also be collecting her maximum social security benefits/retirement benefits from the district (a 30 year employee but goes to work as a secretary and hates it most days…
    Work is totally getting in the way of all my passions right now. Glad it is over in a few weeks!! LOVE those pictures!

    • “Work is totally getting in the way of all my passions right now.” I know exactly what you mean. The unfortunate reality is that too many people fail to plan – financially, physically, etc. – for retirement and never put themselves in a position to find a passion, nor develop it.

      Thanks for stopping by and adding your thoughts, my friend.

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