Follow Your Passion — Especially in Retirement

After spending more than 35 years as a registered nurse, I began pondering what to do with my next “trip around the sun.”

I no longer wanted to punch a time clock or ask permission for time off. But I also knew there was no way I was going to do nothing. That’s just not in my DNA.

One day, during a long walk, the answer came: “Do what you love.”

I received that message loud and clear. The two things I love are travel and writing. So, I put away my stethoscope and am now doing exactly what I love.

The benefits of following your passion are many. Once you begin to explore what sparks your interest, you develop your skills in specific areas. And using those skills to contribute to something beyond yourself leads you to the happy place we all seek.

It really is out there for the taking.

Life is too short to live with regrets.

It’s a phrase we often hear. But as we get older, we understand it even more. How many times have we heard someone say, “I’m going to get there,” or, “I’m going to do that,” but never quite make the dream a reality?

If you’ve wanted to feel the magic of Paris, or walk in the footsteps of Roman emperors, don’t dream it. Do it. Don’t live your life with regrets.

You’ll find more happiness.

Imagine waking up every day with a sense of purpose. And that purpose is pursuing what inspires you. Maybe you’ve always wanted to paint, or be a photographer, open a bed-and-breakfast, or visit Civil War battlefields.

Doing what we love is uplifting and helps sustain us when we’re experiencing difficult days. Writing travel stories or uplifting pieces during the worst days of the Covid-19 pandemic was one of my saving graces. It shifted my focus from the unknown and negative to the positive.

It will never feel like work.

Unlike our past careers, when getting up in the morning often felt like a chore, following your passion in life doesn’t feel that way at all.

My work as a freelance writer, for example, allows me to choose both the publications for which I write and the places to which I travel, all in search of fascinating stories to tell.

It provides positive perspective.

We don’t live in a perfect world. We also all have days when we feel overwhelmed, disenfranchised, and just downright down-in-the-mouth.

When I hear people focus on the negative and all that’s wrong with the world, I can’t say I disagree with their sentiments. But I will say there’s a major contrast on how happy, contented individuals face adversity and disappointment compared to those who sit in front of the TV listening to a constant dose of bad news.

Following our passion gives us a better skillset and outlook on handling life’s problems and issues. Rather than be downers, we become doers. We challenge ourselves to make the world around us a better place, even if it’s in tiny bites. And it provides everyone a new understanding about life, love, and the people that surround us.

Oprah Winfrey once said “Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes on focusing on what excites you.” I couldn’t agree more.


Noreen Kompanik

Noreen Kompanik is a freelance journalist, associate editor, and speaker from San Diego. A retired registered nurse, she now travels the world and writes about her adventures. Her stories have appeared in TravelPulse, Edible San Diego Magazine, Europe Up Close, International Living and more.

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