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Finding purpose
Old 10-06-2020, 04:31 PM   #61
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Finding purpose

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I saw an interesting video today in which a psychologist from UCSF said that studies show having a strong sense of purpose extended the life and health of retirees. This got me thinking. What are the activities that are worthwhile, that give retirees a sense of purpose? Is there a commonality in the things that give us a sense of purpose, or is it all individual? So far, the things that meant the most to me in retirement have been traveling around the world, learning to paint and sculpt, taking creative writing classes and learning Spanish. Please share what you find most rewarding about retirement and what activities give you a sense of purpose.
I vote for this being extremely individualistic. For me, I was not able to find “meaningful” volunteer work after about 3 different tries. Some people are happy sitting at the hospital information desk and gabbing with other volunteers, but not me.

So try it for a while, or cut back to part time, and see what works for you. If working is not stressful, why not keep doing it? If you know you. have the money to ER, it is your decision alone.
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Old 10-06-2020, 04:44 PM   #62
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Old 10-06-2020, 04:55 PM   #63
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I think the “work purpose“ is part of a continuum of practical problems, purposes, in plain sight.

Once you achieve financial escape velocity, work and money progressively lose their financial meaning.

It can take on a different meaning, such as being a dignified way to fill your day, especially if the work has a social purpose, is interactive, creative or is self-employment.

And filling your day, becomes a problem.

But, I think the universal question is what is the practical problem before me?

In the north, I look up and down the street, and every second house is a widow. While they generally have retain good lives, the lesson for me is that I have a duty, a purpose, to minimize my wife’s period of widowhood, maybe even outlive her. My health and longevity are a serious, moral, purpose.

In the south, in Florida gated land, I see a huge array of lifestyles. There, I learned to value sport and social activity, as serious purpose, to avoid depression, addiction, and the decline of purposeless malaise. I learned to avoid condo politics.

Renting out a vacant home or vacation home has a lot of upside. The costs are sunk and offset revenue at tax time. Tenant problems give a mental focus from time to time.

Retirement is twice the spouse on sometimes half the money. The mental challenge of retirement and aging, magnifies relationship stressors. Working on those stressors is hugely important as a purpose.
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Old 10-06-2020, 05:42 PM   #64
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I walk the neighborhood every day. I pick up trash and look for anything that is different. I have found some things that made my hair stand up. That way I know what might be going on. The police and HOA are always appreciative of being informed of the knowledge of goings on. One time I found a large pile of what I thought were CO2 cartridges. After a little research on the internet, I found out they were whipits use to make whipped cream. Kids huff it and get high. It can freeze your face and/or lungs. The police took it away. I also get a good idea of what goes on after dark. It serves a purpose to help keep the neighborhood clean and aware of what is going on. It also gives me a purpose to walk and exercise.
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Old 10-06-2020, 06:06 PM   #65
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I try to keep the wife happy. Serious purpose.
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Old 10-06-2020, 07:40 PM   #66
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I have no purpose other than to try and stay healthy, entertain my mind a bit each day, be a good person and have fun. Right now, work is in the way of all that. When it is not, I don't intend to have much greater purpose and I feel that is OK.

Too much emphasis on thinking about meaning and purpose I always come up empty and people just disappoint. Most of us are here, then we are not, and the world goes on. For me acceptance of that was the most liberating thing ever.
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Old 10-06-2020, 08:39 PM   #67
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"Before Enlightenment chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment chop wood, carry water"

Seems appropriate enough.

I have a huge outdoor organic garden, a large yard, 25 acres of woods including a 3 acre food plot for the local elk, deer and whatever. If that wasn't enough, I grow organic marijuana indoors for a handful of patients who use this as a legal medicine.

I stay busy enough to not ponder my purpose much, my thoughts run more to a good meal, a hot shower, medible and something good on tv.
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Old 10-06-2020, 08:52 PM   #68
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I try to keep the wife happy. Serious purpose.
+1
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Old 10-06-2020, 11:12 PM   #69
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It is an excellent point and many can't cope with retirement. I have found new hobbies and have taken it upon myself to learn new skills. I built a Bitcoin mining machine 10 years ago and have made roughly $25k off it. That required a lot of new learning.

Then I took up oil painting, and aerial photography using drones. I also got big into mountain biking and hiking. Additionally, I learned digital art and now paint using a computer rather than messy paints.

I thine got into 3d printing and have two 3D printers. Lately I have worked diligently to learn Fusion 360 CAD design and now design my own parts. I will now be building a CNC machine and learning programming and design so I can start milling aluminum parts.

On top of that I decided to get into home automation and now am learning programming in C++ and Python so I can write smallish programs for the ESP32 series of Arduino compatible tiny IOT computers. I am in the middle of building a swimming pool automation system using a series of these ESP32 devices to measure temperature, filter pressure, Ph, water level, and chlorine levels and then automatically adjust itself. I already designed and built a garden irrigation system and also put together a 7 router hard-wired internet system for the property.

I also bought a smallish high performance yacht which eats up a lot of time but provides an endless supply of tinkering projects.

We also do a lot of travel which is curtailed until COVID-19 gets under control. So, now I have a lot of time to get several projects completed. I just built an e-bike using a Bafang 750W mid drive kit and am tinkering on that to get it perfect. I am printing a small box to hide the wires under the motor. I am designing a top down furling system using Fusion 360 and will print it in polycarbonate. I am nearly finished with the design of the main furler and ready to print test models. If it works then I will print it in polycarbonate and then test it out on the yacht. I am thinking of sewing my own Code Zero sail and will print a separate configuration for that sail. I am also printing an adapter in PC for a carbon fiber forestay I am making.

So, lots to keep busy on top of gardening and cooking. I actually don't have a lot of free time anymore.
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Old 10-07-2020, 12:45 AM   #70
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Old 10-07-2020, 04:57 AM   #71
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Old 10-07-2020, 06:44 AM   #72
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It's been said here numerous times, you may have a job to retire from, but you need something to retire to.
People that have defined their lives by work tend to have trouble with retirement. To me that is sad, life has so many things to do and experience.
I am not sure I agree with retirement having to have purpose. You do need to enjoy the time in order to have happiness.
I was in the transportation industry (trucking) for most of my life. I knew more than one driver that retired and was "lost" and perpetually "bored," some to the point of finding another much less paying job so they could work and be happy.
I always felt sorry for those guys. We had one driver that we had to MAKE retire at 82. The irony was that him and his wife had worked all of their adult lives and had FOUR pensions between the two of them.
Like so many jobs, the transportation industry usually demands more hours of service from an individual than the normal eight hour per day job. I was in management but still had to focus on making time for hobbies and NOT lose myself in my job.
I am happily retired now. God has led me embrace my "servant" attitude. I took care of my beloved sister with stage four cancer until her recent death. Several of us take care of our aging mother (103 yrs) who still enjoys life at home.
The rest of my free time is being spent to hone my gardening skills, refresh my photography skills, and travel with my wife.
I wake up and thank God for a healthy mind and body not burdened by some nagging disease that will chip away at my livelihood with pain, suffering, and never ending trips to the doctor until my death.
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Old 10-07-2020, 07:44 AM   #73
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I was in the transportation industry (trucking) for most of my life. I knew more than one driver that retired and was "lost" and perpetually "bored," some to the point of finding another much less paying job so they could work and be happy.
I always felt sorry for those guys. We had one driver that we had to MAKE retire at 82. The irony was that him and his wife had worked all of their adult lives and had FOUR pensions between the two of them.
Like so many jobs, the transportation industry usually demands more hours of service from an individual than the normal eight hour per day job. I was in management but still had to focus on making time for hobbies and NOT lose myself in my job.
I am happily retired now. God has led me embrace my "servant" attitude. I took care of my beloved sister with stage four cancer until her recent death. Several of us take care of our aging mother (103 yrs) who still enjoys life at home.
The rest of my free time is being spent to hone my gardening skills, refresh my photography skills, and travel with my wife.
I wake up and thank God for a healthy mind and body not burdened by some nagging disease that will chip away at my livelihood with pain, suffering, and never ending trips to the doctor until my death.
Wow a mother at 103 who still lives at home! Bless you for taking care of her and your sister. My mom is 89 and I spend more and more of my time helping her out but I am grateful and honored to be able to do it. If she makes it to 103 I will be 84! Maybe we can take care of each other.
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Old 10-07-2020, 08:13 AM   #74
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I've always speculated that the studies that show a negative impact of not having purpose was because they studied people who retired too late to have time to discover the joy of the rabbit hole; it took me a few years, and I'm still sensing improvement in my abilities there after 6 years.

I need to get better at ideas, because once I start on something, it's effortless to continue. I'm not sure about "meaning", and "purpose", but getting in the zone on my own idea is fulfilling. But sometimes I lack ideas, and end-up doing less interesting stuff. I realize that's happening if I look forward to getting the mail, hehehe!

Another thing I need to work on is realizing when it's time to move on; things can be fun... until they aren't. But I might push on with something, thinking "I know this is fun, because I remember how fun it was before". But humans generally suck at really knowing what our former selves were feeling and really bad at guessing how our future selves will be feeling, given choices in the present. And knowing we suck at it doesn't help.

I'm doing the occasional tech or engineering project, so quite impressed at the rabbit holes listed above by OM. I have a family members who, when we get together, launch "crazy" projects, just to see if we can make them work. It helps to have a community to play off of. But we live in separate states, and nobody is much of a distance hang out kind of person, so I'm mostly on my own for ideas that get me motivated.
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Old 10-07-2020, 09:19 AM   #75
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Another thing I need to work on is realizing when it's time to move on; things can be fun... until they aren't. But I might push on with something, thinking "I know this is fun, because I remember how fun it was before". But humans generally suck at really knowing what our former selves were feeling and really bad at guessing how our future selves will be feeling, given choices in the present. And knowing we suck at it doesn't help.
+1

A wise old fellow I knew in my 20's and 30's told me that he frequently 'grew out' of the old thing and 'grew in' to the new thing. For about a decade he loved to spend his vacations traveling about the MidWest and Rocky Mountain states visiting sites and historical areas from the Old West. One year he realized he was now more interested in European history and culture. Over a period of years he sold his Western art, books, photos, etc. and replaced them with his new interest. It's just part of being human, growing out of one thing and into another things.
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Old 10-07-2020, 09:28 AM   #76
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I think the biggest con job on mankind is employers guilting employees that their life must have purpose and that their job working for them is that purpose. So many people I worked with were terrified that after retirement, their lives would no longer have a purpose. To that I say BS!
I truly feel I am made to enjoy all of creation within the bounds of God's divine plan. My sole purpose for work was to become FI as early as possible and in the meantime, conning myself that the work ethic was the honorable path to that end. Once I met my financial goal, I shed that self-con and started really living. I'm a much better person being free of financial constraints and so much more able to help others as we all share in life.
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Old 10-07-2020, 09:56 AM   #77
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Lucky enough to have worked in a field that still allows me to be involved in the education and mentoring of highly motivated and intelligent young adults. In some ways, I feel more purpose now than when I was in my 'real' job.
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Old 10-07-2020, 10:29 AM   #78
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I found, right around when I hit 40, that I needed more purpose in my life, so I started working for nonprofits (might as well be doing good if you’re going to be working 50-60 hrs/week). I made less money, but it fed my need for purpose. I retired at 58 and then consulted part-time for non-profits for two years. Then I retired completely. I thought I would spend considerable time in retirement volunteering, but I quickly realized (like many others in this thread) that I didn’t want restrictions on my time. To me, the primary awesomeness of retirement is that you get to decide minute to minute how you are going to spend your time.

That being said, I’m the type of person who wants purpose in life, so I’m trying to think of a way to make my current main hobby (botanical art) serve a broader purpose without giving up my time-autonomy. Perhaps I’ll start selling my artwork and donating the proceeds; who knows?
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Old 10-07-2020, 10:53 AM   #79
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Must I have a purpose? So far, I'm doing pretty well without. I just wake up every morning, do what I want all day and then go to bed when I get tired.
I really like this. I used to feel guilty that I was quite happy, but really had no purpose. People kept telling me that I must find my nitch. But, I guess I never did or ever will. But I am happy and healthy and do not miss work one bit.
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Old 10-07-2020, 11:48 AM   #80
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There is a lot of research with hard data on what really makes people happy in life. The longest running study on happiness found the number one factor is social connections. Other common factors include getting out in nature, bonding with a pet, eating healthy, meditating, scenic surroundings, being near water, mindfulness, art and culture appreciation, good health, volunteer work, community involvement, exercise, music and keeping a gratitude journal. For most jobs, work and commuting take up a lot of time, maybe 50+ hours a week, that isn't being spent on research based happiness factors. If you retire and spend those 50 hours sitting on your rear watching news shows designed to make viewers fearful and angry, sure maybe working is better. But if you spend those 50 hours with family and friends, taking an art class, museum visits, joining a hiking group, going to farmers' markets and cooking fresh food, gong out dancing, gardening and meditating, I can't see how any of the jobs I had in the past would be more enjoyable than spending an extra 50+ hours a week on happiness promoting activities.
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