Author Topic: How do you keep your "sense of purpose" post FIRE  (Read 3542 times)

whywork

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How do you keep your "sense of purpose" post FIRE
« on: November 18, 2018, 05:44:13 PM »
Work life can be painful due to bad bosses, work politics, lack of freedom etc..

But work also has the benefits like financial, giving a sense of purpose (even if what you are doing is not ground breaking), social status and identity

FI takes care of the financial part. But when you retire, this sense of purpose is suddenly lost. How do you keep up this sense of purpose and a feeling of being productive once you retire? I see MMM kept it through his home renovation passion and some through his blog.

What are some ideas to keep this up post FIRE? Or is the lack of sense of purpose not a problem post FIRE?
« Last Edit: November 18, 2018, 05:53:00 PM by whywork »

Greystache

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Re: How do you keep your "sense of purpose" post FIRE
« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2018, 07:04:48 AM »
In my case, my identity was never attached to my work. Stated another way, my work was what I did, not who I was. Perhaps if I had a stronger attachment to my work I would not have hated my job so much and been in such a hurry to retire early.  I think the key to happiness in retirement is to find some way to be creative. It can be building things, writing, gardening, whatever. I always devote a certain amount of my time to making things or making things better.

dude

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Re: How do you keep your "sense of purpose" post FIRE
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2018, 07:15:33 AM »
I've never found my sense of purpose in my work, honestly. I find it in long hikes in the mountains, in challenging myself on technical rock and ice climbs, in pursuing a high level of fitness that allows me to move confidently in the mountains, in working towards mastery in Brazilian jiu jitsu, in getting better at surfing, in tinkering with and fixing things around the house, in cultivating a really good crop of tomatoes; things like that.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2018, 08:29:38 AM by dude »

Linda_Norway

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Re: How do you keep your "sense of purpose" post FIRE
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2018, 07:18:46 AM »
You will get the sense of purpose by finding the right hobby for you and maybe by volunteering of some kind.
Just look around, there are lots of things you could volunteer for, either in clubs, organizations, events or otherwise.
You could also try to publish your hobby results on social media and get followers there who might give you a feeling of purpose or pride.

Financial.Velociraptor

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Re: How do you keep your "sense of purpose" post FIRE
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2018, 10:52:43 PM »
Personally, I have found sense of purpose doesn't mean shit.  I am who I am.  By which I mean I know what my personal core values are and they don't entail anything corporate.  If anyone doesn't like who I am and what do or don't do, fuck them! 

FI is a fact.  RE is OPTIONAL.  The community doesn't get to define what is appropriate to you.   Do some personal exploration and do what is right for YOU.  I know you will get it right.  You are welcome to private message me if you want to talk privately. Gogogogogogogo~

pecunia

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Re: How do you keep your "sense of purpose" post FIRE
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2018, 11:24:39 PM »
What is a "sense of purpose?"

Is this a sense of moral and social responsibility to others?  Does this get into a sense of beliefs including those of religion?

I guess I'm just going to try to be a good person and not worry about it.

As for the job thing, let me tell you a little story.  I'm working with this guy who didn't do the college thing.  I did the college thing years ago and have been in 9 to 5 jobs playing the pecking order game and performing the BS work for years.  I've been like a horse chafing at the bit for the whole while.  When I was 17, I had other dreams.

Meantime, here's this guy I work with and he wanted a guitar.  He couldn't afford one.  So, he builds one.  After a time, he sees how it could be better.  So, he builds a better one.  he builds one after that getting even better.  So, now as a side gig, he builds professional musicians custom guitars.

So, as part of the conversation on this guitar building thing, I asked him, "How many lives have been ruined by 9 to 5 jobs?"  He replies without hesitation - "A lot."

I would think the artistic expression in the craft of building fine musical instruments would give one a much better "sense of purpose" than doing the bidding of corporate America.

One does not know where the road of life will take you, but I don't think it will be too hard to find a better "sense of purpose" than that posed by most of the jobs I've held.  I've vacated a lot of cubicles over the years and never missed any of them.

Dicey

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Re: How do you keep your "sense of purpose" post FIRE
« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2018, 12:04:57 AM »
Huh, I hit FIRE and never looked back. I do stuff in my community. I started with volunteering at the library and ushering before I retired. If you're good at your volunteer gigs and approach them with enthusiasm, other things will present themselves. Now I have a waiting list for things to do in the future. I am never bored.

reeshau

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Re: How do you keep your "sense of purpose" post FIRE
« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2018, 02:51:32 AM »
I think this question shows an irony of FI taking root in the US.  I expect that most Europeans wouldn't have any issue with this; as a German colleague told me, "We work to live, while you Americans live to work."  However, retirement savings in Europe is still pension or annuity based, one downside of which is that there is a set age for you to begin.  Defined benefit plans are being introduced, but they are a 21st century phenomenon in Europe, and generally run by insurance companies, with the expected costs.  So, my colleagues in Europe are still trying to get used to the FI side of things--how do they ramp up savings with 50% total taxation rates (or more)--while we struggle with the RE: now that we're here, we have to shift gears to enjoy it.

Humans.  Go figure.

MasterStache

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Re: How do you keep your "sense of purpose" post FIRE
« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2018, 05:31:33 AM »
Hmm, I actually feel more of what I guess you could describe as "a sense of purpose." Working in an office full of other engineers I never felt like I stood out. I always felt expendable. Now I work for myself doing what I want when I want. I am my own boss. And my carpentry skills are in high demand (apparently).

So perhaps the answer to your question is as others have said, find your passion and focus on it. It may not be any sort of "work." It could be rock climbing, hiking, furniture making, volunteering, or whatever.   

Dances With Fire

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Re: How do you keep your "sense of purpose" post FIRE
« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2018, 06:25:39 AM »
Interests lead to "hobbies" and some hobbies lead to passions.

My "sense of purpose" is building on those passions and rediscovering some that I put on hold while I was *working* long hours and flying around the country to help start new businesses and train new employees. Deep down I knew what that sense of purpose was and it wasn't spending hours waiting for my next flight. It was spending time with family and/or friends in the outdoors, out on the lake, or in the hockey arena. It was studying finance and investing. Some days it was just me spending time in my organic vegetable garden something that I couldn't do while on the road.

Find YOUR interests, turn them into hobbies, and make a few your passion.

Moustachienne

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Re: How do you keep your "sense of purpose" post FIRE
« Reply #10 on: November 20, 2018, 10:48:05 AM »
Some of us are more motivated by extrinsic factors; others by intrinsic factors.  I'm an "extrinsic" so work had many great features for me: structure, goals, rewards, consequences.  Mostly I was able to match my own values and priorities with these external prods so had a very good career.

But I always had the goal of deciding for myself what I'd spend my time and energy doing and FIRE delivers that!  But I know I still need external prods so I build them in, but now by my choice.  So I take classes and workshops, buy concert and play tickets in advance, commit to volunteer work for a couple of afternoons/week, create a very high level to do list weekly, etc.  Finding the optimum balance between external structures and my internal rebel who hates obligations is ongoing but fun. :)

Here's Mrs. MM on the same topic.  Excellent piece which also included a link to MMM's previous article.  tl;dr She's an "extrinsic"; he's an "intrinsic". http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/05/24/mrs-money-mustache-routine-will-oil-the-machine/

soccerluvof4

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Re: How do you keep your "sense of purpose" post FIRE
« Reply #11 on: November 21, 2018, 03:32:10 AM »
I can relate to your question because for over 25 years I was a business owner and always had 10-50 employees. There was always that sense of being needed and decision maker and also a respect I received by people in my industry. It took me along time to adjust all of a sudden not "being needed" and all that goes with that. The flip side of that was all the stress and risk that went with the business. My industry what big ticket smaller profit percentage and a lot of lawsuits all the time. Employees were a pain in the ass and regulations seemed to be changing by the week. So I never missed leaving the place and to this day the best decision I made was to walk away.  I absolutely hated it the last 5-10 years but missed the income. So every once in awhile if that creeps into my mind I just focus on remembering that part of it. And whats transitioned over time is I have become more satisfied by the needs or better yet the desires to be more involved in my kids lives, doing a lot of things for myself vs paying people and helping people out. Also concentrate more on a healthy lifestyle etc.. I believe that is why people always say its better to have something to retire to. I really didn't have that luxury but I look back and it was the best decision I could have made. So my answer would be to if you can have something to retire to and you probably will limit feeling that way for at least an extended period of time like I did and as others mentioned focus on getting involved in other community type stuff or hobbies. I recently was helping my oldest son working on his transferring colleges in over this winter break as hes a college athlete and I was so damn busy helping him I was looking forward to being done with that project. Now I need a mental break again because it was to much like the work stress I had all those years!

Good Luck to ya

austin944

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Re: How do you keep your "sense of purpose" post FIRE
« Reply #12 on: November 21, 2018, 12:38:47 PM »
Why seek a sense of purpose?  Is it too depressing to think that there might not be any purpose in life to be found?  Maybe finding purpose is a means to keep you busy and prevent you from thinking about whether purpose can exist or not.  In the end, does it matter whether you climbed that mountain, finished that personal project, or helped others in their own possibly purpose-less existence?

oblivo

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Re: How do you keep your "sense of purpose" post FIRE
« Reply #13 on: November 21, 2018, 04:39:27 PM »
I don't think this is a bad question.

I FIREd with the intent to change careers, to work on art. I knew it would be a struggle.
There is something much easier about going to work because I will be useful there.
Now I have to do this art that nobody cares about because it was something I decided to do years ago.
Sometimes it's fun and satisfying and I get better, sometimes I don't. I find it much easier to do things that other people ask for.
The flip side of that: No matter how bad a day at work was, it was always someone else's fault. I didn't ask for that company to be created!
Now, I can't shift blame and it's difficult to seek external motivation.

Mmm_Donuts

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Re: How do you keep your "sense of purpose" post FIRE
« Reply #14 on: November 22, 2018, 05:13:07 AM »
I don't think this is a bad question.

I FIREd with the intent to change careers, to work on art. I knew it would be a struggle.
There is something much easier about going to work because I will be useful there.
Now I have to do this art that nobody cares about because it was something I decided to do years ago.
Sometimes it's fun and satisfying and I get better, sometimes I don't. I find it much easier to do things that other people ask for.
The flip side of that: No matter how bad a day at work was, it was always someone else's fault. I didn't ask for that company to be created!
Now, I can't shift blame and it's difficult to seek external motivation.

You sound like me!

I ask the 'sense of purpose' question a lot. I do find it very rewarding to be given a task by someone else, and to fulfil the task. I also like getting positive feedback for my work, and to feel like I'm contributing to something that is bigger than me.

I have done mini-FIREs (sabbaticals) where I tested out being an artist and working for myself. It's tough. Setting my own deadlines, working alone, setting my own goals, these are all important skills but they didn't seem as fulfilling as having a job where I'm working with others. Sometimes it felt like a pointless slog, other times it was a challenge that I enjoyed, but for the most part it was tough working alone 24-7.

Perhaps it's having a sense of community that helps with purpose.

I'm still working but when I think about downshifting again or FIREing permanently this is one of the big concerns I have.

whywork

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Re: How do you keep your "sense of purpose" post FIRE
« Reply #15 on: November 22, 2018, 09:25:23 AM »
You sound like me!

I ask the 'sense of purpose' question a lot. I do find it very rewarding to be given a task by someone else, and to fulfil the task. I also like getting positive feedback for my work, and to feel like I'm contributing to something that is bigger than me.

I have done mini-FIREs (sabbaticals) where I tested out being an artist and working for myself. It's tough. Setting my own deadlines, working alone, setting my own goals, these are all important skills but they didn't seem as fulfilling as having a job where I'm working with others. Sometimes it felt like a pointless slog, other times it was a challenge that I enjoyed, but for the most part it was tough working alone 24-7.

Perhaps it's having a sense of community that helps with purpose.

I'm still working but when I think about downshifting again or FIREing permanently this is one of the big concerns I have.

That (one in bold) is what worries me too. I don't enjoy work for countless other reasons but completely stopping it seems to have other issues. I read a book yesterday called "The joy of not working". He says passive leisure activities (watching tv, browsing in bed etc..) don't give as much satisfaction as active leisure activities (taking a course, hiking, playing a sport etc..). So that's one tip to keep retirement happy. He says work gives the below three things which we need to find alternatives for in retirement to make it joyful

- structure
- sense of purpose
- community

pecunia

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Re: How do you keep your "sense of purpose" post FIRE
« Reply #16 on: November 22, 2018, 03:06:07 PM »
You sound like me!

I ask the 'sense of purpose' question a lot. I do find it very rewarding to be given a task by someone else, and to fulfil the task. I also like getting positive feedback for my work, and to feel like I'm contributing to something that is bigger than me.

I have done mini-FIREs (sabbaticals) where I tested out being an artist and working for myself. It's tough. Setting my own deadlines, working alone, setting my own goals, these are all important skills but they didn't seem as fulfilling as having a job where I'm working with others. Sometimes it felt like a pointless slog, other times it was a challenge that I enjoyed, but for the most part it was tough working alone 24-7.

Perhaps it's having a sense of community that helps with purpose.

I'm still working but when I think about downshifting again or FIREing permanently this is one of the big concerns I have.

That (one in bold) is what worries me too. I don't enjoy work for countless other reasons but completely stopping it seems to have other issues. I read a book yesterday called "The joy of not working". He says passive leisure activities (watching tv, browsing in bed etc..) don't give as much satisfaction as active leisure activities (taking a course, hiking, playing a sport etc..). So that's one tip to keep retirement happy. He says work gives the below three things which we need to find alternatives for in retirement to make it joyful

- structure
- sense of purpose
- community

This looks like a good book to read:

http://www.thejoyofnotworking.com/

soccerluvof4

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Re: How do you keep your "sense of purpose" post FIRE
« Reply #17 on: November 24, 2018, 05:10:27 AM »
You sound like me!

I ask the 'sense of purpose' question a lot. I do find it very rewarding to be given a task by someone else, and to fulfil the task. I also like getting positive feedback for my work, and to feel like I'm contributing to something that is bigger than me.

I have done mini-FIREs (sabbaticals) where I tested out being an artist and working for myself. It's tough. Setting my own deadlines, working alone, setting my own goals, these are all important skills but they didn't seem as fulfilling as having a job where I'm working with others. Sometimes it felt like a pointless slog, other times it was a challenge that I enjoyed, but for the most part it was tough working alone 24-7.

Perhaps it's having a sense of community that helps with purpose.

I'm still working but when I think about downshifting again or FIREing permanently this is one of the big concerns I have.

That (one in bold) is what worries me too. I don't enjoy work for countless other reasons but completely stopping it seems to have other issues. I read a book yesterday called "The joy of not working". He says passive leisure activities (watching tv, browsing in bed etc..) don't give as much satisfaction as active leisure activities (taking a course, hiking, playing a sport etc..). So that's one tip to keep retirement happy. He says work gives the below three things which we need to find alternatives for in retirement to make it joyful

- structure
- sense of purpose
- community

This looks like a good book to read:

http://www.thejoyofnotworking.com/



I agree, sound like a good book so going to see if my Library has it as well

Dicey

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Re: How do you keep your "sense of purpose" post FIRE
« Reply #18 on: November 24, 2018, 08:57:34 AM »
Pretty sure the author, Ernie Zellinski, has an account here. Paging @ErnieZellinski. (<---That didn't seem to work. Anybody know his MMM handle?)

whywork

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Re: How do you keep your "sense of purpose" post FIRE
« Reply #19 on: November 25, 2018, 07:19:00 PM »
The book wasn't that great. Just some basic commonsense stuff that can be figured out.

Cassie

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Re: How do you keep your "sense of purpose" post FIRE
« Reply #20 on: November 25, 2018, 07:55:37 PM »
I fully retired at 58 and 7 months later I was asked to teach a online college class. 6 years later I still love it. I also do a little consulting in my field. I did volunteer work but they mostly wanted you to do grunt work despite your skills. I did that for awhile and it got old. At one point a new place was opening for young single moms. I was excited when they wanted volunteers and wanted to provide free vocational testing and career counseling to the moms. I sent the director a email explaining my background in human services and how I could help. She sent me a email saying to come to the orientation and then they would assign me a job.  A retired friend of mine has run into the same thing when trying to volunteer. She now just consults for a fee.

FIRE_at_45

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Re: How do you keep your "sense of purpose" post FIRE
« Reply #21 on: November 25, 2018, 10:33:17 PM »
I often wonder about this question as well as I'm not yet RE.  My work gives me a sense of structure but not a sense of purpose.  When I accomplish things there is a minor sense of accomplishment but it's nothing like what I've felt at other jobs.  I do think that sense of purpose is out there for me but I don't think I'll find it until I quit and look for it.  And that purpose may be some PT work, along with a good dose of recreation. 

Dicey

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Re: How do you keep your "sense of purpose" post FIRE
« Reply #22 on: November 26, 2018, 12:12:59 AM »
I fully retired at 58 and 7 months later I was asked to teach a online college class. 6 years later I still love it. I also do a little consulting in my field. I did volunteer work but they mostly wanted you to do grunt work despite your skills. I did that for awhile and it got old. At one point a new place was opening for young single moms. I was excited when they wanted volunteers and wanted to provide free vocational testing and career counseling to the moms. I sent the director a email explaining my background in human services and how I could help. She sent me a email saying to come to the orientation and then they would assign me a job.  A retired friend of mine has run into the same thing when trying to volunteer. She now just consults for a fee.
This reminds me of a cool friend of my brother. He was a Military Pilot, with an outstanding record and extensive training experience. Upon retirement, he was hired by a major airline as an entry level pilot. When he showed up at the training facility (early, of course) he discovered there was a meeting of more senior pilots going on down the hall. He casually joined that group instead of the newbs, because he spoke their language. Somehow, everyone agreed that he should rightly be placed with the more experienced pilots and not have to start out as a milk run grunt. He went on to have a full and rewarding career with said major airline. When my brother asked him how he pulled off such a feat, his friend just shrugged and said he knew where he belonged, even if the airline hadn't figured it out yet.

To @Cassie's point: If I really wanted to contribute to a particular group, I wouldn't lead by telling them how wonderful "me" could improve their organization. I'd just join and then start looking for opportunities to do what I know I know how to do. Just like my brother's friend did.

Cassie

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Re: How do you keep your "sense of purpose" post FIRE
« Reply #23 on: November 26, 2018, 11:24:16 AM »
I volunteered at one place for 2 years and did grunt work the entire time. I am not going to repeat that experience. What I was offering for free including the cost of the tests and my time was worth 500 per person.  Now I do it and get paid. I explained in great detail what I was willing to provide and how it would benefit them. Offered to have a private meeting to discuss. My friend had a similar experience with a different organization. 

Linda_Norway

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Re: How do you keep your "sense of purpose" post FIRE
« Reply #24 on: November 27, 2018, 05:47:23 AM »
I volunteered at one place for 2 years and did grunt work the entire time. I am not going to repeat that experience. What I was offering for free including the cost of the tests and my time was worth 500 per person.  Now I do it and get paid. I explained in great detail what I was willing to provide and how it would benefit them. Offered to have a private meeting to discuss. My friend had a similar experience with a different organization.

Smart. DH has seen his father doing his original work as voluntary work after early retirement. I didn't give less hassle than a paid job would have done. DH himself intends to contribute to some things after RE, but do it as paid work.

meteor

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Re: How do you keep your "sense of purpose" post FIRE
« Reply #25 on: November 29, 2018, 05:59:19 PM »
I think it's OK to live in a purposeless discomfort for awhile. It will help you observe the difference between the things you do that just keep you busy vs. the things you do that really matter to you deep down. I've been living in that grey area for about 5 years and only recently did I discover a direction that was right on target - and it came unexpected. You just have to be willing to hold still and not mind being uncomfortable.

TartanTallulah

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Re: How do you keep your "sense of purpose" post FIRE
« Reply #26 on: December 04, 2018, 02:22:58 AM »
I'm old enough to take the view that it doesn't matter whether or not I have a sense of purpose. I've spent my entire life in roles that have defined me, both as a doctor and as the parent of an unwise number of children. As the children have left home I've retired from parenting and developed relationships with them as adults, and I've had time to prepare myself for losing the sense of identity that comes with my occupation, because retired doctors who can't let go and keeping doling out well-intentioned medical advice are just a nuisance.

Although I still do a few hours of freelance work, when faced with a form that asks for my occupation I'm making a point of writing "retired". And when asked what I do, I say, "Nothing."


Dicey

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Re: How do you keep your "sense of purpose" post FIRE
« Reply #27 on: December 04, 2018, 07:24:57 AM »
I'm old enough to take the view that it doesn't matter whether or not I have a sense of purpose. I've spent my entire life in roles that have defined me, both as a doctor and as the parent of an unwise number of children. As the children have left home I've retired from parenting and developed relationships with them as adults, and I've had time to prepare myself for losing the sense of identity that comes with my occupation, because retired doctors who can't let go and keeping doling out well-intentioned medical advice are just a nuisance.

Although I still do a few hours of freelance work, when faced with a form that asks for my occupation I'm making a point of writing "retired". And when asked what I do, I say, "Nothing."
I am the treasurer for a friend's political campaign. There is a lot of reporting to do, even post-election. All donors must be listed, including their address, occupation and employer. My favorite are those who are "Retired" and "N/A". Note that "N/A" is even shorter than "Nothing". In my mind, N/A translates to "None of your fucking business", which makes me smile inside every time I fill in the blanks. Kind of subversive of me, no?

As to your first paragraph, as long as you have the ability and willingness to save a life, you will never be a nuisance.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2018, 07:04:27 PM by Dicey »

chrisgermany

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Re: How do you keep your "sense of purpose" post FIRE
« Reply #28 on: December 06, 2018, 08:53:32 AM »
My purpose is to be my best self for myself, my DH, family and friends.
Other than that, I live each day in purposeless comfort.
Good enough for me, not missing anything.

Candace

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Re: How do you keep your "sense of purpose" post FIRE
« Reply #29 on: December 12, 2018, 10:12:26 AM »
I'm old enough to take the view that it doesn't matter whether or not I have a sense of purpose. I've spent my entire life in roles that have defined me, both as a doctor and as the parent of an unwise number of children. As the children have left home I've retired from parenting and developed relationships with them as adults, and I've had time to prepare myself for losing the sense of identity that comes with my occupation, because retired doctors who can't let go and keeping doling out well-intentioned medical advice are just a nuisance.

Although I still do a few hours of freelance work, when faced with a form that asks for my occupation I'm making a point of writing "retired". And when asked what I do, I say, "Nothing."
I am the treasurer for a friend's political campaign. There is a lot of reporting to do, even post-election. All donors must be listed, including their address, occupation and employer. My favorite are those who are "Retired" and "N/A". Note that "N/A" is even shorter than "Nothing". In my mind, N/A translates to "None of your fucking business", which makes me smile inside every time I fill in the blanks. Kind of subversive of me, no?

As to your first paragraph, as long as you have the ability and willingness to save a life, you will never be a nuisance.

Hey, me too, @Dicey! The reporting won't end until my friend decides not to run for re-election, which is doubtful. It makes me feel good to help my friend, who's one of the good ones.