Retirement – Recreating Your Life Purpose

Behold the transformation of retirement. We are increasingly seeing deep changes in focus and understanding about what happens after that last day of work at a traditional career. The old paradigm of retirement envisioned withdrawal from the world of work, followed by entry into a life of leisure. This image of retreat has been replaced with one of expansion.

Where once retired people were mainly defined by what they would not be doing–with their life purpose and attainments spoken in past tense–they now increasingly speak in future tense, wanting to know what they will be doing and contributing next. A more common question now is what will my purpose be for the rest of my life?

Your own sense about retirement may be less about entering a life of reduced expectations in terms of social, professional and vocational contribution, and more about determining what meaningful work or pursuits will engage you for the next 30 years. You may plan to retire your job, but not to retire yourself.

Take the example of Dr. Wesley Walton, a lifelong educator, whose vigorous, passionate career resulted in the establishment of scholarship and other educational programs, including Sponsored Scholarships, National Merit Scholarships, and the National Arts Awards. In retirement, he shifted his considerable energies and zeal towards community and environmental leadership, long-range funding and programming for the arts, and lecturing and writing about the deeper connections between science and spirituality. He led a successful initiative for beach renourishment in Bellaire Beach Florida. He created the Rogieri Society to enlist major donors in support of the Ocean City Pops. He wrote a book, “The Spirit of the Universe.” Through his continuing pursuits, he remained vibrant and engaged well into his 90s. This type of post-retirement story is becoming less the exception and more the norm.

Three principles are essential to the task of re-creating your own life purpose as you yourself shift gears.

Give Yourself the Time to Redefine

During earlier stages of life, our questions were about becoming, with our focus on obtaining the skills, degrees, and certifications required to gain entry into the profession or pursuit of our choice. This stage of becoming was followed by cycles of being, as we settled into work and family life. Some of us found work about which we were passionate. Others found employment that may not have been as fulfilling, but that was at least secure and steady, and that did provide us with a living.

With retirement from the demanding career or employment that absorbed us, we are at a different juncture in life, with different questions. After exiting these two earlier stages, we enter a cycle of redefining. The task at this point is to take a new look at ourselves–who we are, what we want to become, where we want to go and with whom, and how we plan to get there.

Whereas before our choices were controlled more by outside forces–building our résumés, seeking promotions, increasing our paychecks, and otherwise keeping our noses to the grindstone–this redefining stage finds us more clearly in charge of our futures, assets and time.

In this third stage of redefining, we bring forward all the talent, skill and experience from before, to be recombined into our own version of “what happens next.” At this point, given that we have the considerable and powerful assets of time, well-polished and marketable skills, and networking connections, as well as some degree of financial security, we are ready to ask ourselves: “What captures my mind, attention, and efforts most fully, resulting in my total sense of losing track of time?”

As you determine what will be your own choice of purpose and direction after you retire, ask yourself the essential questions. Have I used in my work life the skills and talents I most value in myself? Did my work veer off at some point, or otherwise become less meaningful to me? Did I follow or lose my career compass? Are there elements of my past work or study life that I am finished with forever?

Sometimes these and other questions lead to important, even surprising, realizations. Did you set out to become a writer, then veer off into developing training materials? Maybe you hoped to have your own photography business, but ended up working as a caterer. Was your dream to sing professionally, but you became a lawyer in order to support your family? Was your passion for French horn, but you instead trained and practiced as a physician to follow in the footsteps of your father?

At the moment you retire from your career–from training development, from catering, from law, from medicine–you have the option of returning to your original source of engagement and delight. Give yourself the gift of time to redefine yourself, to reconnect with your earlier more visionary self, to reach beyond what you have known of yourself so far to the unexpected self you held back from expressing.

The life groove that has been established over the past 40 years or so may be a deep one, even entrapping. The challenge is to pull free of your past and consider, then reconsider, the direction or directions of your new life. The redefining stage is a process, not an event. It takes time and creativity. Grant yourself all the time and resources you need to get it right for you.

Expand Your Pathways of Pursuit

As you consider what comes next for you, expand the number of pathways that will make up your new life. What do you hope to gain, to contribute, to experience, to learn? What will be the path or paths of your continued engagement?

Some of us have high expectations of adventure. Others dwell on empowerment and professional enrichment. Many have interests in learning and studying. Still others envision a flexible agenda consisting of alternating periods of work and leisure.

The essential point is that you now have the latitude to pursue multiple pathways instead of narrowing to a single focus. There are at least seven retirement pathways, as well as their many combinations. These include pathways to the life of new work, to the life of leisure, to the life of an entrepreneur, to the life of a volunteer, to a life of creativity, to the life of travel, and/or to the life of a student. These pathways can be pursued in various combinations that together shape a meaningful, purposeful retirement life.

You may choose a life of new work combined with travel, or travel combined with volunteering, or creativity combined with leisure. If you choose a life of new work, or the life of an entrepreneur, or even the life of a creative, you may need to add to the mix the life of a student in order to gain the knowledge and skills you will need for your new pursuits. And, naturally, all of these pathway choices are impacted by the directions your life partner selects as part of his or her own shifts to life after retirement.

Rediscover and Reinvent Your Self

In this process of evolving your own life purpose after retirement, the locus of insight, awareness, inventiveness, and activity will be your own self. This fact presents its own challenges. During your earlier work life, you likely were defined by your work, not the other way around. Now there is a shift from having your work define you to having your self define your work. Now you will need to act as the definer.

Four elements of your self combine to create a single profile that provides essential guidance as you recreate your life purpose. The first of these is “what are you like”–your type and temperament. Second, and equally important, “what engages you”–your interests. Third, “what has meaning for you”–your values. And fourth, “what can you do”–your skills and productive traits.

By re-examining these four dimensions of your self, you will know how to expect more from your life ahead in terms of expressing and fulfilling the true you. Beginning with your type and temperament, are you a guardian type, a service and duty keeper, with the need to belong and serve, seeking stability, orderliness, cooperation, consistency, and reliability? Or are you an artisan/experiencer type, a teacher of freedom and joy, valuing spontaneity, and living for action in the present moment?

Perhaps you are a giver type, a bearer of truth and meaning, an excellent communicator and an effective catalyst for positive change. Or you may be a thinker type, a provider of logic and understanding, seeing possibilities, understanding complexities, and designing solutions to real or hypothetical problems. Each of these vivid and compelling definitions of self, point to what you need and what you are drawn to.

Your interests, what engages you, are also critical as you redefine your purpose after retirement. Are your interests realistic? Then you are in the category of doers, and prefer practical, hands-on, physical activities, with tangible results. Or are your interests investigative? This would suggest that you are a thinker, interested in solving abstract problems and curious about the physical world. This means that for your work to engage you, it needs to involve observing, learning, investigating, analyzing, evaluating and solving problems.

If your interests are artistic, you are a creator. If your interests are social, this indicates that you are a helper, liking to work with people. Enterprising interests signal that you are a persuader, meaning you are most engaged when you are having an influence on others. And conventional interests would suggest that you are an organizer, valuing efficiency and order. You are most engaged when carrying out projects that involve analysis and structure. Most likely you are some combination of several of these.

Your values and your skills and productive traits add additional dimensions to your definition of self. Taken together these four elements of self form a picture of what you may be uniquely and even passionately ready and able to do next. Equally important, they suggest clearly what would not engage or excite you as you move forward.

As you recreate your life purpose after retirement, there’s no need to limit your self to what you’ve done in your career so far, or even to what you already are good at doing. Instead focus on what you are enthusiastic about doing, given your type and temperament, your interests and values, and your favorite skills and traits. Consider the expanded version of your self, including what you would like to learn as well as what you already know. And last, but certainly not least, base your choices on what you value as well as on what you have to offer.

However accustomed you have become to doing, doing, doing for others–caring for them, working for them, raising them, being their spouse or their friend–now is the time to break free and learn to listen to your own true self. Give your self permission, immediately, to take charge of your own life and to speak up. After a lifetime of effort to avoid being selfish, or otherwise putting your own self first, this is the time that you have been waiting for. Now it is your turn.

Move forward, firmly, with no regrets from the past, into the future. Find your own way–your own work–your own legacy. Surprisingly, you will be of more value to the others in your life when you are acting as your own true self than you ever were when you were attempting to put your own self–your wants, enthusiasms, passions, and purpose–on hold in favor of accommodating others. Above all, as you recreate your life purpose, heed the words of Shakespeare: “To thine own self be true.”

5 Common Photography Mistakes to Avoid

Humans have one thing in common: they all make mistakes. The same applies to photographers as well. While some of them are naturally gifted, others have to work hard to be really good at this art. If you are new to this art, you may mess things up a few times. However, this should not make you feel bad. Newbies end up doing things the wrong way in the beginning, so it’s normal. Given below are a few common mistakes that you should avoid as a newbie.

1 – Don’t bring everything in the middle of the frame

First of all, you don’t have to bring all the things in the photos you take. As a matter of fact, this is one of the most common mistakes photographers make. In some cases, it’s good, but not all the time. The thing is that it will cut the photo in half leaving the people confused as to which half they should focus on.

If you are going to photograph a person, make sure you put them to either left or right side of the frame. You can take a few shots to find out which one will look great. You should not be afraid of doing experiments.

2 – Focus on the main subject

At times, you may capture something in the image without any intention. This may shift the focus from the main subject to that unimportant object. It may be a light post or a bush for instance. Therefore, we suggest that you don’t pay too much attention to the main subject of the photo.

3 – The frame edge

At times, people look at a photo only to ask, “Where did their feet go?” In most cases, the answer is, “Oops, I forgot to include their feet.” This is so embarrassing in some cases.

Actually, this mistake is very common in newbies. At times, they even miss the hands or feet of the subject. Usually, it happens in landscapes and architecture photos. For instance, the photographer may miss the tip of the dome of a church or the top part of a tree. Actually, it all boils down to making sure that the main subjects are included in the frame.

4 – Great Camera

If you think that having a high quality camera is enough for taking great shots, you are mistaken. Just because you own a DSLR doesn’t mean you need no basic training. Behind good photos, there is always a good photographer. What you need to do is learn composition and a lot of things that matter.

5 – Behind your subject

While taking photos, make sure no tree is growing out of the subject’s head. As a matter of fact, you should take into account all the things that you can see in the frame. If you see some annoying things in the photo, you should move a bit to the right or left side.

So, these are 5 mistakes that you should avoid as a new photographer. This will help you develop your skills.