Do you remember being asked as a kid “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I’m almost 34 and I’m still not sure of the answer most days. Yet I take some comfort in the fact the question is a bit wrong. Asking what your going to ‘be’ rather than what your going to ‘do’ implies that we are in fact defined strictly by the jobs we have. This of course isn’t true at all. People are defined by many things like their interests, hobbies, causes they care about and their relationships to others much more than their job.
So I realized since the question is wrong, I don’t really need an answer to it. Yet at the same time if you change the question it does bring up something interesting: what do you want to be today? In retirement, you won’t have a job so your definition of self has to come from other areas of your life. It instead becomes a evolution of being more of yourself since you no longer have to dress up to impress anyone at work and you really don’t care what others think of your lunch since most people will never see it. You’ be’ what ever you want for each day since you have the luxury of time to try things out and see if it is you.
For example, you might try being an artist for a few weeks and take a painting class. Or perhaps you always wanted to learn to ski, so you take a trip to the mountains for a week. After both experiments you might find you aren’t either an artist or a skier or perhaps you are both. Yet you have the luxury of time to do that fully in retirement.
Yet it is a bit of myth that us working stiffs can’t do the same thing to a degree. We don’t have to limit our exploration of who we want to be now just because you have a full time job. You can still choose to take a painting class or learn to ski, but you have to be realistic of what you can fit in your current life. Yet that is your only limitation, time, the rest of it is mostly about what do you want most in your life right now. While this can seem a little odd to do in your life now, it becomes significantly more important do this as you get closer to retirement. Since once you get to retirement you don’t want to be bored by it so you better have a clue of what you like to do other than work or watch TV.
It’s ok to ask the question: what do you want to be today? Give yourself permission to explore the country of you. Just make sure to inform your spouse of your current obsession first as they can often save you from some potential screw ups by asking good questions like “can’t you just rent one rather than buy one to try it out?”