During retirement: Paying it forward

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There’s nothing wrong with seeking your avocation by trying different types of work or volunteering. But you can simply enjoy “not working” for the rest of your life! You’ve earned your retirement, and you have no further obligation to society beyond living a fulfilling life that does no harm. Working and volunteering are just two aspects of life, even if they’re part of a perpetual search for your avocation.

As we get older and reflect on our accomplishments, our attention begins to shift to the next generation and our legacy of “paying it forward”. You had many mentors and benefactors who looked out for you when you were younger. You may have been able to pay them back with more than your sincere thanks, but in most cases we feel obligated to those who helped us– even at those times when we didn’t think they were helping. Now that you have plenty of retirement flexibility, it may be time for you to consider how you’ll repay the largesse of those who helped you. One of the best ways to do that is to pay it forward to the next generation by mentoring someone who needs it as much as you did. Whether you do that through teaching at a college or volunteering at a local school or just spending time with family, you may be able to pass your life skills on to the next generation.

Another way to pay it forward is to talk about retirement. Join an Internet discussion board or start your own website or blog. You may not find many retirement fans among your relatives or in your neighborhood, but there are plenty of attentive readers on the Internet. “The Military Guide” grew from several of those websites, and dozens of Early-Retirement.org readers helped bring it to print. The book is full of their stories and personal examples.

But if you don’t feel the motivation then you don’t have to work, or volunteer, or even mentor. Financial independence and retirement give you the right to enjoy your life as you see fit! Live your life as the example that you’d like others to emulate– you’ll be both mentoring and paying it forward.

Enjoy the journey

There are many paths to retirement, and there are many paths to explore during retirement. You worked hard at your military career, and you had to work even harder to build your assets. You endured frugal sacrifices that may not have been supported by friends, let alone relatives and family. Simply choosing your retirement lifestyle may have exposed you to society’s criticism and even jealousy.

Once again, you’ve earned it. Harvest the fruits of your labors and enjoy the journey through whatever paths this book helps you choose. If retirement leads you to your avocation then pursue it just as enthusiastically as you pursued financial independence and retirement. If retirement turns out to be your true avocation, then keep looking forward to exploring each new day.

Don’t just get through life. Now that you’re financially independent you should fully experience your life and enjoy it!

Related articles:
Forget about who you were and discover who you are
Retirement: don’t recreate your old environment
Retirement: relax, reconnect and re-engage

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WHAT I DO: I help you reach financial independence. For free. I retired in 2002 after 20 years in the Navy's submarine force. I wrote "The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement" to share the stories of over 50 other financially independent servicemembers, veterans, and families. All of my writing revenue is donated to military-friendly charities.

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