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There is No One Right Way

I talk to people all of the time who can't imagine a life of retirement. With questions like, what would I do? Or thoughts like, I'll never be able to afford it, it's no wonder there are some who see retirement as something that is unachievable or even, perish the thought, undesirable.

That's one of the things that I love getting to do. I enjoy helping new friends go beyond the traditional idea of retirement and focus on what brings value and meaning to their lives. We might work on financial health, but we could just as easily be focused on physical and spiritual health.

And we all continue growing and learning.

I recently ran across some stories in the Wall Street Journal about people who were making deliberate choices, in retirement, doing things they enjoyed. The stories were fun and heartwarming. So, I thought I would share.

Meet Dave - He spent 40 years of his life working as a civil engineer. Little known fact: his entire life, Dave enjoyed being nude around the house when no one else was around. At age 80, he designed his backyard so he could be free outdoors without offending his neighbors. And, if that's not enough, he now models, in the nude, for art classes at the local university.

Susan worked as a nurse in her early years. Richard, her husband, worked as an electrical engineer spending a good part of his career designing nuclear power plants. A few months after Richard retired, he read an article about someone who had left an engineering job to join Mercy Ships, a non-profit medical mission helping people in West Africa. He shared with his wife - she could be a nurse on a Mercy Ship and he an engineer.

After some thought, she agreed. Together, they have spent the last 25 years traveling to South Africa, Gambia, Benin, Togo, Sierra Leone, and Libera. They have also traveled back and forth to China while a new Mercy Ship was being built there.

And then there is Paula. She was an ER doctor who didn't have time for much else for many years. She grew tired of all the long hours, nights, weekends, and holidays. She took an early retirement and worked a reduced scheduled for several more years.

Looking for other ways that she could help people, she came across a non-profit that provides support to former gang members by removing tattoos. This seemingly small act helps people make a fresh start in a new life with a clean slate.

One memorable experience was removing a swastika from a former inmate. She, Jewish, was overcome helping someone set things right. Making that kind of impact, Paula shared, is "emotionally fulfilling."

The point in sharing these three, incredibly different stories, is to remind us all that there is no pre-set formula for retirement. It's about finding that thing that brings us meaning - whatever it is.

Have you found your path? Would you like to brainstorm some ideas? Or maybe we could just get together and volunteer at a local mission. I look forward to being a part of your journey.

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