Searching for Your Life Long Passion May be a Waste of Time

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By Bob Lowry

I read something not long ago that has stuck with me over the last several weeks. It was a piece of advice that seems counter intuitive to common wisdom. But, as I thought about where my life is right now, it made sense: spending time and energy looking for my next great passion or overriding interest might be a  waste of time and opportunity.

Let me explain.

There is no doubt that a passion or hobby that is meaningful to you is one of the keys to a satisfying retirement. Just filling time will not keep you happy for long. So, why might searching for those things that inspire and motivate you be a waste of time? Because it may mean you miss so many other experiences that will enrich your retirement.

If you spend all your time searching for the perfect passion, or the one activity that will define you, are you missing the fact that all we really have is today, right now? Are you bypassing experiences or something that might be fun or memorable but you know isn’t really part of your passion search? Or, how do you know something that strikes you today as fun or a momentary pleasure may not open the door to a whole new avenue for you to explore?

Examples? OK, let’s say you play the guitar for fun. You can follow a melody or handle the most important chords – enough to have fun but that is about it. Then, one day you find yourself playing a melody or putting together some chords just because they sound good. You work at it a bit and realize you have just composed a new piece of music.

Suddenly, you realize you have an ear for making new music; melodies are popping into your head. You have stumbled onto a passion for creating music that never would have happened if you hadn’t starting playing the guitar just for fun.

How about the last time you volunteered to tutor a youngster after school. You find you enjoy watching him or her light up when they finally understand that math problem or importance of an historical fact. They get excited because they can read a page in a book without help.

You get excited: you have discovered you REALLY like to teach and interact with kids. You discover you can get a teaching certificate based on your life experiences. Your long buried passion for teaching explodes after a stint of volunteering.

How about this blog? I have always liked to write but didn’t have any outlet so I kept journals. It was pure happenstance that I stumbled into the world of blogging almost four years and discovered an important passion.

The point is don’t allow yourself to stagnate just because you haven’t stumbled onto the one thing that lights your fire. Try all sorts of activities, add to your life experiences, take a gamble on something different. When you find that passion, the thing that pushes you out of bed each morning, you will know it.

In the meantime you have had fun, learned something new, helped others, got your blood pumping, or at the very least gotten off your butt.

Posted by Bob Lowry

Bob Lowry  is the author of the definitive retirement guides: Living A Satisfying Retirement and Building A Satisfying Retirement. Bob has been profiled in Money Magazine & CNNMoney.com as well as Ad Age Insight White Papers. He is a featured author in nationally released book, “65 Things To Do When You Retire” and “65 Things To Do When You Retire – Travel” as well as regular contributor to PBS’s Next Avenue web site.

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