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Meaningful Purpose
Old 06-01-2011, 03:12 PM   #1
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Meaningful Purpose

Sorry.... I didn't really see a better forum to post this.

The main reason that I might seek ER is to try to find meaningful purpose in life. My job, most of the time, doesn't provide that and I feel that I'm not doing much more than trading my life for $$$. In some ways, that borders on prostitution!

I don't have any hobbies that would fill the void and buying an RV and traveling all over wouldn't do it for me or DW. I have a small side business that I planned to work on developing in ER so that wouldn't be REAL retirement, more like changing jobs... but it's work that I would much prefer over current job.... I THINK. I hope!!!

I know that people who retire and haven't figured out how to deal with this issue struggle because their daily routine is no longer there to fill the void. I know some say "follow your passion" but I think that's a bit dramatic and a more reasonable approach would be to just find meaningful purpose.

What do you think
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Old 06-01-2011, 03:26 PM   #2
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Brad, what you are going through is pretty common for most of us. Some studies suggest that guys ought to change jobs when they get to be around 40. Other studies suggest that we get burnt out really quickly if we can't find that purpose you are looking for. Some people find it through religion, some through hobbies, some through leisure activities and some never do.

Purpose is great. What would you do all day if you could do whatever you wanted without having to worry about getting paid for it? And somebody will say absolutely nothing, which is okay. But what would you do if money wasn't the issue? If you can figure that out and then figure out how to use that to make a difference somewhere, you've got it figured out.

Good luck.
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Old 06-01-2011, 03:27 PM   #3
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Real retirement or not, sounds like you need a change. I've said it before and I'll say it again, retirement is what you make of it. If you want to engage in a small business, don't let anyone dissuade you. If you want to call that retirement, more power to you.

I'm not sure what you mean by a meaningful purpose. Makes me think you are looking for something deeper than golf or fishing. Maybe not. Maybe you just mean something that makes you want to get out of bed or something that challenges you.

If you are longing for a "real" retirement, you won't become deeply depressed on day one if you aren't pursuing a passion. Take some time to relax, decompress and find your bearings. I think the best way to find a passion or meaningful purpose is to try a little bit of everything. Don't commit to one thing until you find something that sticks. Start by trying the stuff you day dream about or wanted to do when you were younger. You might find you have more than one thing that interests you.

Look, retirement takes a little bit of work and planning, but it sound like you've been thinking on it a little too much. It's a good time and not as hard as people make it out to be, me included, sometimes. Some people are actually very happy just puttering around the house, or reading books, or knitting. Maybe you need more, I don't know, but even if you do, you'll find it.
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Old 06-01-2011, 03:40 PM   #4
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I would struggle with these kinds of things had I not children, and now a grandchild. So no matter how unimportant my current life might seem to others, to me it is important because I have things to give emotionally to these people who wil be here long after I am gone.

Also, I believe that learning to be kind to oneself and to others can give some us all the sense of purpose we need. I know that I really appreciate even small personal interactions in which people share some part of themselves.

Ha
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Old 06-01-2011, 03:49 PM   #5
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I would struggle with these kinds of things had I not children, and now a grandchild. So no matter how unimportant my current life might seem to others, to me it is important because I have things to give emotionally to these people who wil be here long after I am gone.

Also, I believe that learning to be kind to oneself and to others can give some us all the sense of purpose we need. I know that I really appreciate even small personal interactions in which people share some part of themselves.

Ha
This is why those of us who don't have children often are drawn more strongly to pets. Not that an animal can compare to a child or grandchild, but it does fulfill a need to be needed.

I also appreciate people who share some part of themselves. That's one thing I like so much about you, and many others on this forum.
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Old 06-01-2011, 04:11 PM   #6
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but it does fulfill a need to be needed.
You must have better luck with cats than me, or at least with any cats I've ever met

Now, my dog worships the ground I walk on, especially when I bring bacon.
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Old 06-01-2011, 04:11 PM   #7
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I think you should work a few more decades to give yourself time to get over this purpose thing.
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Old 06-01-2011, 04:23 PM   #8
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Let me know when you find this "purpose" thing. Lately it just seems like life is a series of choices where the main goal is to pick the least bad option.
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Old 06-01-2011, 04:33 PM   #9
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Now, my dog worships the ground I walk on, especially when I bring bacon.
Many around here would do the same thing
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Old 06-01-2011, 04:55 PM   #10
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BradMM, right now you have days off, like Saturdays and Sundays most likely, and you probably take vacations now and then like most working people.

Do you have any problem finding purpose on those weekend or vacation days when you are not at work?

Vacations are a lot like weekends, only better because they are longer.
Retirement is a lot like vacations, only better because it is forever.

I see my retirement as a different phase in life, and I am absolutely sure that I have more than earned my retirement through a life of hard work. I have accomplished some things and I have done what I could for others. So, now that I am retired I have absolutely no qualms about spending my time doing whatever I feel happiest doing each day.
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Old 06-01-2011, 04:59 PM   #11
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If you are longing for a "real" retirement, you won't become deeply depressed on day one if you aren't pursuing a passion. Take some time to relax, decompress and find your bearings. I think the best way to find a passion or meaningful purpose is to try a little bit of everything. Don't commit to one thing until you find something that sticks. Start by trying the stuff you day dream about or wanted to do when you were younger. You might find you have more than one thing that interests you.
A few years ago I was really worried about what I'd do with myself, until I read a couple of great books. Now with less than a month to retirement, I only worry a little about the same thing as the OP, and FFN has the answer I plan to follow.

I found the Get-A-Life Tree exercise described in How To Retire Happy, Wild & Free by Zelinski and the concept from movie The Bucket List gave me tons (more than 50) of good ideas. I am just going to dive into all that, what doesn't pan out is fine, some of it will (or lead to other things). And Clyatt's book Work Less, Live More gave me lots of ideas too.

Now I have specific plans for the rest of this summer, but just a bunch of ideas for after. I'm really not worried anymore that I don't have everything pinned down, such is life. If I decide I want to go back to work, that's an option too. Life is uncertain, that doesn't change just becase we "retire."
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Old 06-01-2011, 05:15 PM   #12
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Just me, but I did not have to retire to find my 'Real purpose in life'.

I am.

That pretty much sums up my purpose.
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Old 06-01-2011, 05:17 PM   #13
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"What would you do all day if you could do whatever you wanted without having to worry about getting paid for it?"

If I had the purposeful answer to this, life would be easy. I'd just do it and figure out how to get some money on the side

It's not easy. Everytime I drill into the question with others, I find they are using XXXXX to avoid answering. Most will admit it, and acknowledge they don't have a clue how to really answer the question.

I've made a few runs at trying to answer it for myself. The excitement of the initial pursuit is engaging and feels purposeful. As I achieve the goals, I find that the only real fun was in the chase of an imaginary life. Reality quickly shatters the picture.

After doing that a couple times, the pattern sticks out. I don't fall for it any more, but it also means youthful passion is no longer present. The harsh truth is most of our actions are futile and hold little meaning outside of our immediate circle.

Thus far, I've settled for enjoying each day and positioning myself for financial freedom. I try to embrace the non-financial benefits of work and develop myself more as a person. The only common thread I see across happy people is relationships, so I invest in them.

The assumption is when I figure out a good purpose, I'll be ready to pursue it. However, my suspicion is there's nothing more to life. I am not happy about that, but have no clue what to do about it.
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Old 06-01-2011, 05:18 PM   #14
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Until recently the injuries and sore back from my bike crash prevented me from exercising and playing piano. There was very little I could do. Some days I was going crazy from boredom.
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Old 06-01-2011, 05:21 PM   #15
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Sometimes purpose finds you. Sometimes you try something that doesn't work then try something else and so on until a bell goes off and voila!

When I spent my days in the grey cubicle I knew it was killing my spirit and my body. Once freed I have spent time taking care of myself and being a better spouse, parent, grandparent and friend. That is enough right now for me.

I also have a killer garden and besides the beauty of my flowers I am able to share my produce with everyone. Sometimes the little things are enough.
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Old 06-01-2011, 05:29 PM   #16
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Sometimes purpose finds you. Sometimes you try something that doesn't work then try something else and so on until a bell goes off and voila!
I don't disagree and I realize this is obvious, but I know nothing will find me sitting on my couch. I will have to put myself out there and try things to see what comes. I have a friend who retired and moved away about 18 months ago who just sits and watches TV most of the day, purpose may not find you that way...hasn't found him yet.
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Old 06-01-2011, 05:36 PM   #17
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Sure it has! It not the same purpose you might seek, but his is to sit on the couch and watch TV all day!
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Old 06-01-2011, 05:45 PM   #18
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BradMM,

I'm not sure exactly how to find meaningful purpose but let me offer a suggestion - Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. YMOYL started me and DW down this path a little over 10 years ago. We had been saving money knowing that one day we'd retire but reading YMOYL and working through the associated workbook and attending a local study group really helped us.

I have subsequently facilitated several YMOYL study groups and would like to continue down that road. I've started a list of things I always wanted to do but never had time (sort of a bucket list but much more practical). I've also started a bucket list of more unusual and non-purposed things to do. I don't know where this is headed but I like the sound of it.

Maybe for you (and me and others) the idea of simply exploring and having freedom is the purpose.

I'm really intrigued with Work Less, Live More and plan to read that soon. And I highly recommend YMOYL as there are significant portions of that book that discuss and lead to finding purpose.

DW and I never engaged a specific plan for early retirement or semi-retirement but it seems to have fallen in our lap. She resigned from a full-time, high-paying, high stress job a few years ago and took a 3-day-a-week job. When that got to be too much she resigned from that. All the while, I continued working at megacorp. We knew we'd retire early but how early?

Now megacorp has offered a package that's hard to resist. If things play out as planned I'll be leaving on July 8, 2011. While this isn't what we had in mind a few months ago I think we can make it work.

Do we have a purpose? Hmmmm.... part of me says yes part says no. Right now we're coming to terms with not working, spending more time together and enjoying our community and families (no kids but lots of nieces and nephews). So I'm declaring my purpose is to explore and see where this takes us. I know that's vague but I think we can make it work.

Perhaps you're focused on finding a purpose but if you let things play out your purpose will find you.
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Old 06-01-2011, 08:05 PM   #19
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The main reason that I might seek ER is to try to find meaningful purpose in life.
Could it be that the purpose of your life was merely to serve as a warning to others?

Sorry, had to. DW game me a T-shirt with that on it for my birthday (and 4th anniversary of retirement) today.
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Old 06-01-2011, 08:57 PM   #20
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I don't disagree and I realize this is obvious, but I know nothing will find me sitting on my couch. I will have to put myself out there and try things to see what comes. I have a friend who retired and moved away about 18 months ago who just sits and watches TV most of the day, purpose may not find you that way...hasn't found him yet.
exactly. You only get out of this life what you put into it. Try new things, things you always wanted to do or try. Make your own "bucket list." Read all the books you can get your hands on, focus on exercise or learn something new. Life is short, don't waste your opportunity not to have to work.
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