Author Topic: How did you find that "something" to engage/energize you in retirement?  (Read 819 times)

herbgeek

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I'm just about 2 years into retirement.  The first 6 months was just exhaling, then came my dad's illness and death, and dealing with my mother's dementia after dad was no longer there to manage everything.  Then there's the pandemic.  So I've been mostly isolated with family, with either little room for outside stuff or outside stuff not being available.  I'm an introvert, and like being alone a lot with my garden and other crafty-type hobbies, but even I have had enough.  I want to be valuable and do useful things.   Just doing things for me and my family just isn't getting it done for me as the only thing in my life.

A post from Malcat, indicating she'd fallen into some passion project with people she enjoys working with got me thinking.  How do you go about doing that?  How do you find a project, how do you find the people?  How do you let it be known you like to join an effort? 

FWIW,  I think I'm socially a little awkward in the sense of it being difficult to move from saying hi to a person regularly in the orbit with small talk, to asking them to participate in something with you/moving towards real friendship.

I would be interested in hearing any stories of how you found that thing or things that really make you excited about the day. 

ixtap

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I have done various volunteer jobs most of my life, even in grad school. Some even turned into paid work.

What interests you? You mention gardening. Is there a local community garden that needs volunteers? Would your local library let you teach crafts as an after school program? Sometimes homeless shelters or children's hospitals are looking for volunteers to do crafts with kids.

Villanelle

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I'd start by trying to figure out a general area of interest/passion.  Animals?  Books?  Old people?  Education? The environment? 

That will really help you narrow things down.  Once you have that, then start researching volunteer opportunities in that vein.  And not all volunteer activities require a lot of time with people.  You can work shelving in the library or help an animal shelter with paperwork, if that's more comfortable. 

dblaace

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As much as I despise what Facebook has done with groups and pages they are still  a great way to connect. There is a group for almost anything you may be interested in. I am also an introvert, and with the groups you can participate at your own comfort virtually and face too face.

ixtap mentioned libraries, you local library probably has a page and promotes its activities on it.

Pick something out you might be interested and just go.


draco44

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The short answer is that you show up and try a bunch of things until something clicks.

The longer answer is that making and maintaining connections to others is a lifelong process, and what activities and groups are a good fit for you will likely change over time as your interests do, your knowledge of what's happening in your area deepens, the groups you are in change in character, and your web of personal connections evolves. I am also an introvert and the reality that you can never really be "done" building a social network can be disheartening (and even when you think you're done, people seem to have an annoying habit of moving away or changing their own interests), but recognizing that's just the nature of the beast can also help you strengthen your resolve to keep trying things.

I tend to find out about learning/volunteering/social groups by going to events for something else. Attend guided nature walk organized by the county; see flyer for blacksmithing class at the park visitor center while I'm there. Attend lecture on topic of interest; volunteer for community service event the speaker mentions during their presentation. That sort of thing. Or by talking to other people at an event and learning about their other interests. There's a chain effect. Newsletters for groups I'm already in or local rec. centers also introduce me to lots of new activity possibilities.

Also, try not to get too hung up about the times you show up for a group event and things don't click. It sucks to feel out of place or rejected when you are making an effort to try something new, but being able to distinguish between cases where you just need to give things a little more time vs. bail and move on to something else is actually very empowering. You don't have to prove your worth to anybody. Value your time and go where you feel welcome.

For example, I once tried to join a recreational club for a sport. Their advertising didn't mention any particular experience level was required to join (which would have been fair - clubs can within reason run themselves as they see fit), but when I showed up for my first sesson, the group leader quickly assessed my skills as subpar and I was told to practice by myself in a corner of the gym (with no guidance) while everyone else played together. I decided that group was not a good fit for me and never returned. It wasn't worth it to me to try and force them to accept me when there were so many other things I could do with my time. The next week I tried a different club I was considering and stuck with them for years.


infromsea

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The short answer is that you show up and try a bunch of things until something clicks.

This, this, this, this, this, this, this (infinity).

Pick a direction, go that way, do you like the results? Learn from each experiment, don't bullshit yourself.

I thought working for a non-profit Veteran Support ORG would be the best thing in the world, it requires an annoying level of meetings and admin work (think really boring meetings where folks wanna play corporate and lots of excel spreadsheets with too much information that no one needs AND very low pay...).

I thought that if the "mission" was "strong enough" I could put up with the "salt mine" aspect of the job.... nope... moving on.

Had a guy ask me to rehab a very small home for him from floor to ceiling, I didn't care how much he was willing to pay, I'm in, night and day difference and I've done enough experiments to know I'd rather be hanging siding on a cold crappy day than updating a spreadsheet.

Experiment, don't BS yourself, have strong plans/convictions that are loosely held (don't feel obligated to stick with something out of sunk cost fallacy etc.). Make mistakes, go a different direction, rinse/wash/repeat.

Good luck!
« Last Edit: May 03, 2021, 06:27:34 PM by infromsea »

Indio

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I registered on volunteermatch.org and listed some of my interests and hobbies where I could potentially volunteer in my area. Every month I get an email about groups or activities that need volunteers. It took a couple of months till something came up that I was interested in. It gets me out of the house, meet other volunteers and I walk the trails when I'm done.

Malcat

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LOL! I don't find projects, they find me!

In all seriousness though, I didn't fall into something that sparked my passion, I just HAVE a lot of passion and I'm constantly engaging it in so many ways, and one day I'll read something or watch a show, or just be passively thinking and my brain will go "I COULD DO THAT!"

I mean, that's basically my secret. I'm constantly exploring the world through people and media and my automatic reaction to hearing about anything interesting is to imagine myself doing it, and if that sparks anything in me, I start researching what it would take to do it. I basically ALWAYS try to imagine myself doing whatever it is that I'm exposed to. I was sick on vacation and watching a Chinese news station I had never seen before, and a special on the economic interests of various countries in the arctic. I thought it was interesting because Canada and Denmark are two of the players and I'm a Canadian and my family is from Denmark.

So I read more about the arctic, because the second I find something interesting, I read more. That lead me down a fucking rabbit hole of learning about norther Indigenous communities. I immediately imagined myself there, and that felt so interesting. I read voraciously, read blogs about people who had moved there, talked with a bunch of people about it, mostly online.

Anyhoo, I've made tons of connections, learned an enormous amount about the region and it's challenges, figured out what value I could offer, and basically have an open ended opportunity to be flown up there for a month or so to do some very valuable and interesting work. While I'm up there, I'm sure I'll fall down more rabbit holes of cool stuff to become fascinated by and involved in.

That's just one small thing that caught my attention and turned into real life opportunities.

But that's how I approach everything. If someone tells me about their job and it sounds interesting, I contemplate doing it myself or doing some work connected to it. I probably won't, but my immediate reflex is "Ooh, I wonder if I want to do that". If I see something in the world that I'm not okay with, I immediately start thinking about how I might contribute to making it better, and if I don't have the skills or ability to do so, I contemplate what skills and ability I would need to be able to.

There's literally nothing I encounter that's even remotely interesting that I don't contemplate becoming a part of somehow. 99% of them I'll pass on, but it's never automatically dismissed as out of the question.

I think that's the big difference. I don't put myself in a box of who I am or what my life is. I constantly can be and can do all sorts of things, I just choose not to.

So for me, the world is a constant stream of exciting options perpetually slapping me in the face and screaming to be considered. I don't go looking for them, I can't avoid them. Every tv show, every book, every conversation, every interaction with the world shows me possibilities of things I could be part of and almost all of them are interesting.

The limiting factor is my capacity. That's all.

So no, I was not inspired to do one big thing. I'm inspired to do several hundred big things, there's just one big one that I definitely have the capacity for, that I think may be the best use of my bandwidth for the opportunities it will give me.

I guess my only advice is to start imagining yourself in more dynamic ways. Take the boundaries off of who you think you are as a person and what you think your life is. Maybe you're an introvert who likes gardening. Maybe you're also a person who gets really into epic hikes, and falls in love with natural wonders, and then becomes inspired to get involved in conservation. I don't know, but neither do you.

You can't know unless you open yourself up to what's out there. I could never have predicted some of the things along the way that have captivated me. It always seems to come out of left field.

The best way I can describe it is that when I love things, it's easy to want to do meaningful work related to those things. And I am supremely open to falling in love with new things all the time. The world is a vast place with astronomical possibilities, but most people live in very tiny spaces and think that's the world.

If you aren't finding yourself inspired, then you are living in too small a space.


IslandFiGirl

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I tried 2 different strategies....the first was...try anything and everything, even if I think I won't like it, I'd still try it.  I still had fun doing the things I wasn't sure I'd like, but it did help me decide if I didn't feel the need to do those things again.  The second was to really think about what I like to do and go after those things.  Obviously that's worked out a little better.  The one thing I landed on was raising a puppy to be a guide dog for the blind.  It's a lot of work, it's challenging, it's rewarding, it's for a good cause...and...I get to hang out with an adorable dog for over a year.  It's been great...people want to ask questions about the dog and I get to talk about something I'm passionate about. 

I do volunteer quite a bit, but I have to follow a few rules that I made up so that it doesn't end up feeling like work.  1-It has to be something I believe in and think will actually make a difference 2-I have to enjoy it on some level 3-I will not be in charge of anything no matter what.  I'll do the grunt work, but never be in charge.  And lastly, I try not to volunteer for anything that has to be done on any type of regular schedule.  These are just my own issues I'm dealing with due to my burnout from my previous life....and it has worked for me so far. 

Good luck, you'll land on something, or a lot of somethings that you like, I'm sure of it!

2sk22

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I have no shortage of things to keep me occupied. I just love retirement!

I have two big categories of things to do:
- Studying things
- Creating things

Regarding study: By nature I am intensely curious about everything around me. For years I have been building up a list of topics that I wanted to explore but did not have a chance to do so when working. I have started tackling these items since I retired. For example, I am watching a lecture series on virology on YouTube by Vincent Racaniello. I know nothing about biology except the very basics from high school. I have learned so much by simply pausing the videos and digging into various things mentioned in the lectures. I spend at least an hour a day working on this.

I am also working on building my model train layout. This is a fun activity that keeps me enjoyably occupied for a few hours a day. For me its not enough to just read stuff - I need to create things with my hands.

I would suggest having at least a few things going on in parallel so you can switch between the activities when you get stalled on one. Take a look at my journal as well, if you want suggestions.

herbgeek

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Thanks all for the thoughtful replies! 

I have plenty of hobbies, and I'm plenty busy most days, but with the pandemic,  outside activities have been curtailed and so I'm not naturally meeting people.  Before the pandemic, I was showing up to everything that looked interesting and trying it all.  I hope those days come back soon.

I'm more struggling how to find projects where smart capable people create solutions, without going back to work to have that.  :)  All the smart capable people I currently know are already working full time, so I need to find where the retired/folks with more free time are.   And how to do this when meeting in person is not yet an option.

Malcat

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Thanks all for the thoughtful replies! 

I have plenty of hobbies, and I'm plenty busy most days, but with the pandemic,  outside activities have been curtailed and so I'm not naturally meeting people.  Before the pandemic, I was showing up to everything that looked interesting and trying it all.  I hope those days come back soon.

I'm more struggling how to find projects where smart capable people create solutions, without going back to work to have that.  :)  All the smart capable people I currently know are already working full time, so I need to find where the retired/folks with more free time are.   And how to do this when meeting in person is not yet an option.

The pandemic has not slowed me down and has not limited my capacity to connect with people.

If anything, I might suggest that you do more reading. Spend some time expanding your understanding of what is out there, what is possible, what kind of communities exist, and how to get access to them.

A lot of really great projects aren't the kind of thing you can just join, that's a certain type of community, but people tend to get convinced that that's the only option, when really, that's a small part of the interesting project world.

I haven't worked on anything cool in years that I didn't need to be invited on to.

dblaace

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Thanks all for the thoughtful replies! 

I have plenty of hobbies, and I'm plenty busy most days, but with the pandemic,  outside activities have been curtailed and so I'm not naturally meeting people.  Before the pandemic, I was showing up to everything that looked interesting and trying it all.  I hope those days come back soon.

I'm more struggling how to find projects where smart capable people create solutions, without going back to work to have that.  :)  All the smart capable people I currently know are already working full time, so I need to find where the retired/folks with more free time are.   And how to do this when meeting in person is not yet an option.

You might look into the Maker Community https://make.co/

Not retired really but a mix of curios people. You might find something that interests you and lead to something.

Goldendog777

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I quit my full time career in December 2018 after being completely burned out.  We were FI at the time.  My thought was that I wanted to pursue something meaningful and rewarding to me and help people at the same time.  Iím super interested in nutrition, health and longevity so I started taking classes at the university to become a registered dietitian.  After a year, I realized that while I was interested in the subject matter, I was not interested in educating others.  I also love animals so I decided to pivot and took a vet nursing class.  While that was super interesting too, I donít think I would like to work in a vet clinic so now I just volunteer at our animal foundation so I can work with animals.  My point is, you arenít really going to know what excites you unless you are open to trying different things.  Some sound really good in theory but arenít in real life.  Some stick and some donít.  But itís sure fun trying different things if you are open to it!

I forgot that I also had a very part time job working as a hallmark merchandiser for about a year too.  That was fun until they messed up my super easy route so I quit.  Part of the power of being FI...if itís no longer fun, donít do it!
« Last Edit: Today at 02:02:50 PM by Goldendog777 »