What do you want to be when you grow up? It’s a question we ask kids of all ages. We get really serious about the question in high school and college, though. We’re pretty much required to figure out what it is we want to do for the rest of our lives by the time we get into our 20’s.
And then we stop asking. You’re all grown up now, you picked your thing, and now that’s what you are, a doctor, a lawyer or an accountant. But at some point you are going to retire, and it’s too bad we aren’t going around asking the question, “What do you want to be when you retire?”
One of my friends who retired several years ago, spends his retirement keeping his airline premier status alive. He travels a lot and he has also become the primary caregiver for his aging mother.
Another of my friends that retired from a finance career a decade ago in her 30’s became interested in native California landscaping, and started a little business in that. She also runs a vacation rental in Hawaii. She recently became interested in becoming a mommy and just started that gig about 6 weeks ago.
Another of my friends retired from her paying job to focus exclusively on creating art. Not necessarily with the aim to replace her old income but to pursue her passion, although I’ll bet she sells more artwork now that she’s at it full-time.
When I retired, I mostly thought I would do things that I didn’t get enough time to do while working, gardening, reading, exercising. I’m also enjoying a new interest in writing, which I never really explored while I was still working.
But I’m realizing that with something like 40 or 50 years ahead of me, it’s time to ask, “What do I want to be in retirement?” Because that’s not a question I even thought to contemplate when I was still working.
Maybe it’s not something you can really think about until you’ve disassociated yourself with the working you, the one you decided you wanted to be back when you were 21, and started to get to know the post-working you, the one you’ve been for a couple of years since retiring. Because those two people have turned out to be more different from each other than I would have expected.