The simple truth is that most people don’t know what they’re passionate about.
Especially at each life stage that comes with its own set of responsibilities and duties.
For instance, during their working years, most people end up disengaged in their careers, just going through the motions in life.
And how many times have you heard someone say that they’re bored now that they’ve retired? It’s a common complaint, but it doesn’t have to be your reality.
The great news is that retirement creates the perfect opportunity to pursue your passions.
And not to worry if you don’t have one.
Just because you’re no longer working doesn’t mean you can’t find new passions and meaningful ways to spend your time. With a little exploration and effort, you can uncover interests and activities that will keep you engaged and happy for years to come.
Let’s break down what you need to do on your journey of finding your passions after retirement.
But first, it’s worth exploring the top three reasons why you may not already have your passions during this life phase, so you can quickly pursue them.
Why You Didn’t Find Your Passion
#1 Your Mindset Limits You
According to a set of studies on finding your passions, there are two primary mindsets — the fixed and the growth mindset.
Those with a fixed mindset believe that passions and interests are something you are born with, whereas those with a growth mindset believe that passions are developed.
By the way, this fixed vs. growth mindset goes for any skill, interest, or talent, too.
The studies found that the fixed mindsetters believed that if you find your passions, you’ll have boundless motivation to pursue them.
The issue with this belief? It’s limiting. No matter how much you like doing something and no matter how passionate you are about it, your motivation levels can never be sky-high.
A recent study from Stanford University discovered that passions aren’t something you find. Passions are partially discovered and partially developed. It won’t fall out of the sky. You have to put in consistent effort, work, and dedication to find them.
And the better you become at your interests, the more likely it is that they’ll turn into passions.
#2 You’re Experiencing an Identity Crisis
After the initial excitement of leaving work wears off (aka the retirement honeymoon phase), you might experience an identity crisis. Your job was likely a major part of your identity, and now you have to rediscover what motivates and drives you.
Research suggests that we are our passions. And if you struggle with finding your passions after retirement, you’re likely struggling with your identity.
The activities you are passionate about are internalized in and shape your identity:
If you were truly connected to your authentic self, you would already know what your passions were and you wouldn’t be able to ignore them. In other words, connect with yourself to connect with your passions.
More specifically, your first step is to find more clarity. If you discover what sparks joy and what your unique strengths and gifts are, you’ll regain and sense of self and start the journey to finding your passions after retirement.
#3 You’ve Lost Sight of What You Love
When you’re young, it seems like everything is possible. You can do anything you want and be anyone you want. You’re full of energy and enthusiasm, and the future is a blank slate just waiting for you to write on it.
Somewhere along the way, though, that starts to change. You start to get bogged down by the demands of life – work, family, bills – and suddenly you’ve lost track of what you love. The things you used to love don’t interest you as much as they used to, and you find yourself wondering what happened to your passion.
A recent study explored the relationship between passion, grit, and mindset across different ages. They found that the correlation between grit and passion was strong until your mid-50s, but insignificant afterwards.
In other words, older adults either have high grit and low passion or vice versa.
This does not mean it’s all doom and gloom if you’re over 53, however. You can reignite your spark by developing new interests and sticking to them according to the principles of neuroplasticity.
And remember, you’re designed to grow throughout every life (and retirement) stage. Passions change over time, so it’s worth digging in repeatedly to connect and reconnect with yourself.
And here are the five steps to help you on the way to finding your passions after retirement.
5 Steps To Finding Your Passions After Retirement
It’s a question we all ask ourselves at some point (maybe several times): “What am I supposed to do with the rest of my life?”
If finding your passions and purpose after retirement is proving to be more difficult than you imagined, don’t worry— there are plenty of ways to find fulfillment and happiness in your golden years.
You just need to know where to look.
#1 Open Yourself Up to New Experiences
If you think that sitting at home and repeating the same routine activities will help you with finding your passions after retirement, think again.
Most people won’t fall in love with the first activity they try. Maybe it will take a dozen tries, maybe more.
It’s important to both:
- Do the important introspection work of self-discovery
- Step out of your comfort zone to experiment with different options.
Even knowing what you don’t want is a significant first step — but you have to give it a shot before writing it off.
Your passions won’t just emerge overnight. You have to put in the effort and dedicate time to reflect on and try an activity for it to develop into a passion.
Here’s a list of 101 things to do in retirement to get you started.
#2 Expand Your Social Circle
Think about the last time you met someone new. It might have been at a party, or maybe you just ran into them on the street.
Whatever it was, you were probably curious about them and what they do with their life. And chances are, talking to that person made you feel pretty good – inspired, even.
Expanding your social circle can help reveal new passions and interests. When you meet new people, you expose yourself to new experiences and perspectives. You might even find that one of your new friends has the same interests as you and decide to pursue them together.
So don’t be afraid to reach out and make some new connections — it could lead to some great adventures. The more you get excited about certain people (aka the people in your Circle of Influence), the more they’ll lead you to your passions and what naturally energizes you.
#3 Spend Time Alone
You might dread the thought of spending time by yourself. If so, you’re not alone. One study even found that people would rather administer electrical shocks to themselves than be alone with their thoughts for 15 minutes.
But being alone and just reflecting on your life can be beneficial.
Sometimes, the best way to find out what you’re truly passionate about is to spend some time alone. Quiet reflection can help you uncover long-buried interests and talents and give you the space to explore new possibilities.
It’s worth analyzing which people, activities, places, and events energize you and noting which ones drain you. Those are key signposts leading you to your passions.
If spending time with only your thoughts for company still sounds too scary, try journaling instead. We recommend taking the time to do nothing but think and reflect, uninterrupted and without distraction — it could be precisely what you need to discover your true passions.
#4 Look to Your Childhood
What did you do when you were a kid that made you happy? It’s time to revisit those activities and passions – they may hold the clues to what you should do in retirement.
Your passions may have been hiding in plain sight all along. All you need to do is look back and think of what made you happy.
And remember, your childlike passions are likely to take on new forms in your current life phase since you’re designed to grow, change, and develop throughout life, so don’t be afraid to explore your past for inspiration and clues — it could be the key to finding your future.
#5 Be Inspired By Others
To find your passions after retirement, look to others for inspiration.
Among the many benefits of reading books and listening to podcasts is the opportunity to get your creative juices flowing. Dig deep into the experiences of others who have found their passions and follow their lead.
Not in the sense of mimicking their passions and interests, but in the sense of studying their journey of self-discovery to inspire your own unique process.
Exposing yourself to different ideas and approaches could shift your perspective and help you uncover new interests that are uniquely yours.
Don’t Retire Your Spark, Reignite It
Will you let your retirement be a time of solely rest and relaxation, or will you use it as an opportunity to explore new passions, re-discover your purpose, and seek adventures? The great thing about retirement is that there are no rules – only those you make for yourself.
Keep exploring and reconnecting with your authentic self until your new passions reveal themselves. Once you do, put all of your energy into setting new goals and making it a success.
Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s too late to find your passions and do what you love. It takes work, effort, and dedication, and it’s totally worth it.
If you need some help getting started with building a purposeful life after retirement, we can point you in the right direction – just book a free Breakthrough Session with one of our trusted team members who will help you brainstorm and find clarity.