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Discovering Your Authentic Self In Retirement

Discovering Your Authentic Self In Retirement

By Mike Drak

Everyone has a special purpose, a special talent or gift to give to others, and it is your duty to discover what it is. Your special talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with your talent is your gift to God.” Gautama Chopra

I write a lot about the importance of working in retirement and I’ve come to believe that we were all created for a reason. Each of us was given unique skills, abilities, values, and a special purpose that needs to be fulfilled. When we can find a way of doing that life is pretty good.

The challenge is that when we are born, we don’t get a set of instructions outlining what we are best suited for nor our life mission. Without instructions we end up spending a good part of our lives trying to figure out God’s plan. Some of us will come to the answer quickly others will struggle, get frustrated and stop looking which is a big mistake.

School Doesn’t Teach Us Who We Should Be

Growing up we slowly begin to get an understanding of what we are good at and what interests us but this process of self discovery got messed up for many of us boomers when we finish school and had to decide what we wanted to do with the rest of our lives in terms of our career and what job do you want to do?

When I finished school, I had no idea about what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I had no idea about what I would be good at and just fell into the first job I was offered and ended up staying there for the next 36 years. Things started out well for me and I was successful in retail banking. I should have stayed there because I liked and had a passion for what I was doing but I was swayed by the allure of commercial banking. That’s where I thought all the successful and important people in the bank worked and I wanted to be just like them.

I jumped into this new business blindly and that’s when I strayed off God’s Plan. I ended up pursuing a path that I really didn’t like and I did it for all the wrong reasons. I did it for the professional success and status, I wanted to be a winner and make a lot of money but truth be told I wasn’t meant to be in that position. It was a bad choice for me and it’s hard to be happy when you are not doing what you like.

It’s a mistake and stressful to spend a lot of your time doing anything that you are not very good at and not having fun at. That is not to say that we should not push ourselves out of our comfort zone, but if it is not bringing you some level of joy then it is probably time to pack it in. In commercial banking I was constantly working from my weaknesses instead doing tasks which of played to my strengths. I learned the hard way that it’s easier to improve your skills when you enjoy what you do and what you are passionate about. Play to your strengths and stop trying to be someone your not.

Dé·jà Vu All Over Again

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” – Mark Twain

When we retire we are essentially asked the same question that we were asked after completing school. “What do we want to do with the rest of your life?”

Now the easy answer for most people is to just say that they want to retire like everyone else, but really when you think about it what exactly will they be retiring too? It’s foolhardy to blindly follow the status quo and shoehorn ourselves into a cookie-cutter definition of retirement because it’s hard to enjoy retirement if you don’t like what you are doing.

I couldn’t answer that question the first time it was asked of me but this time around it was easier to answer because after 36 years of working I knew myself a lot better. I had a better handle on what I liked, what I was good at, what I needed to do to satisfy my values and my passion.

People, like me, need to reclaim their path to happiness by doing what we believe we were born to do, which means not following the herd into a traditional retirement. Maybe that will mean starting your own business, working for a non-profit, or mentoring a young entrepreneur. It’s all about understanding who you are, then being yourself, and start doing what you were really meant to do while you still can. Stop wasting anymore of my life pursuing things that don’t bring you joy. I finally know exactly what I want and need to do. Just think it only took me forty years to get there! I can finally say I’m doing what I love and what I was born to do.

Even though I’ve written two books I know that book writing really isn’t my thing, writing doesn’t come naturally to me. What I learned is that story telling is something I really enjoy, which is surprising as public speaking was always one of my greatest fears. I view my speaking and seminars as my creative expression, it’s my ‘art” and I use my art to help alleviate retirement pain for boomers.My art lets me be me, and now I do the things that I’m good at things that I truly love to do. Creating my art is rewarding and enjoyable every day. I end each day feeling fulfilled and look forward to getting out of bed every morning to start a new day.

Everyone needs to find their art. Trust me, retirement doesn’t get much better than that.

This post was originally published on Victory Lap Retirement and reprinted with permission.

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Mike Drak

Author, Retirement Coach and Public Speaker at Victory Lap Retirement
Mike Drak is a thirty-eight year veteran of the financial services and lives with his wife Melina in Toronto, Canada. Mike is the Author of the best-selling book Victory Lap Retirement and also an award winning blogger, retirement coach and public speaker. Mike has also appeared on BNN, CBC Radio and iHeart radio.