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Successful Aging: Find your passion — more strategies for the road to discovery

Dear readers,

Last week S.G., a recently retired scientist, had difficulty answering this question: “What is your passion?” He felt guilty having no answer. We provided 10 questions to help him. This week, we offer another approach.

But first, a few lines about passion. It’s defined as “a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something.”

The humanitarian Albert Schweitzer emphasized its importance and also a concern. He wrote, “As soon as you notice the slight sign of indifference, the moment you become aware of the loss of a certain seriousness, longing, of enthusiasm and zest, take it as a warning. You should realize your soul suffers if you live superficially.”

That seems like a good enough reason to find or develop a passion, particularly in mid to later life. As in, “what are we waiting for?”

Jeri Sedlar and Rick Miners just released the third edition of their book, “Don’t Retire, Rewire!” (Alpha Books, 2018) substituting the word retirement with “rewirement.”

According to the authors, “rewirement” is a way of “staying active in work related to your field, working at something new, doing what you love or staying connected to what makes you special.”

The authors devote a chapter to “Dreams, Interests and Discoveries” which are precursors to finding one’s passion. The first step the authors recommend is to get rid of the “should haves” and “would haves” in your life.

One way to find your passion is to think about your dreams — a wish or fantasy which usually is easy to identify. A dream may be traveling around the world, walking in the shoes of a great author, owning a ranch, designing a clothing line, teaching at a college or running for office.

If our dreams are obvious to us, what prevents them from occurring? Sedlar and Miner offer four reasons which they call dream stealers:

• “I can’t afford it.” Money is always a great excuse. Sometimes it’s true but not always. To determine if your dream is too expensive, figure out how much your dream will cost in terms of dollars and time. Is it worth it? What will you have to contribute in terms of money, hours and time versus what you will get from the experience. If you can’t afford it, go back to the drawing board and determine what you can afford. It does have to be “all or nothing.”

• “I don’t know how.” The authors provide the example of wanting to collect antique toys. Assume you know nothing about them and nobody else you know does. Get started by going online, find an association specializing in antique toys and make personal contacts with association members. Get on their mailing list; become a member and attend some meetings or shows. It’s OK to be naïve; no one is born an expert.

• “What if I fail?” Dreams involve risks. Fear of failure stops many in pursing their dreams and passions. If you are fearful, consider asking yourself, “What is my worst fear? How would I react if it happened?” Usually it’s not as bad as you thought. Anticipating the worst is one way to address your fear ahead of time. Then you need to assess whether your dream is worth pursuing.

• “What if she/he hates it?” Although one’s dream is about you, a partner, spouse or family member is another person in this dream pursuit. Exercising good communication and compromise may solve the hurdle. If you are trapped by this dream stealer, think about some creative solutions.

S.G., Here is a response to someone who asks you about your passion and you don’t have answer: “Thank you for asking. This is a great time in my life to explore so many options. This time just after retirement is really a gift to delve into areas I never had time to do before. And … how about you? What is your passion?”

Enjoy the journey…and live fully.

Contact Helen Dennis at

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