One of my friends over in our “Younger Next Year” Facebook group posted this photo and I smiled while I looked at it knowing that I had found my ‘Ikigai” my own “sweet spot.” No, let me rephrase that, I didn’t actually find it, I created it. I purposely designed it for myself and since then life has never been better.
We talk about Ikigai in the Victory Lap Retirement (VLR) book but instead of defining it as “a reason for being,” we simplified it to “a good reason to get out of bed in the morning.” It is important to remember that no matter how old you are, you still need a good reason to get out of bed in the morning to be happy. We weren’t born to just stop thinking, moving, learning, or creating at some arbitrary age. That is why you may experience a feeling of discomfort when thinking about retirement because you might think of it as the traditional “full stop” retirement. Let’s be honest. Most of us are not wired that way – it’s unnatural and you know it. You still have much to learn and offer.
Victory Lap Retirement is not a book about retirement. It’s about creating a values-based, low-stress, healthy lifestyle. A reason to get you out of bed in the morning with a smile on your face and eager to experience the day ahead. I am an example of this new lifestyle. After getting pushed out of my thirty-six year banking career, I really didn’t know what to do with myself. I knew that retiring to a boring life would not make me happy. I wanted more than endless golf games, walks around the mall or binge watching television. These activities would not deliver the life that I was after, that I deserved after working so hard for all those years. I eventually figured things out by deciding to help people that were struggling with the same retirement issues that I had worked through.
The prospect of helping people excites me because one of my values is helping others and sharing my life lessons. I didn’t want anyone to experience what I went through alone including all the unnecessary stress, worrying and anxiety. I wanted to help alleviate these feelings by shortening their learning curve. To get my message out I needed to write a book, give speeches, build a website, run a blog and start a retirement coaching business. Successfully realizing my vision seemed like an impossible task. I had never written a book, was terrible with technology and had a severe fear of public speaking. Overcoming these obstacles taught me that when you have passion, you can push through the fear that is holding you back and accomplish some amazing things.
Today I find joy and satisfaction through the work I created. Work that I love doing, that I’m good at, have a great passion for, and that I don’t have to retire from anytime soon. My work gives me energy and it doesn’t feel like work because it is what I want to do and that is a big difference. I’m not worried about making a lot of money, the reward is helping people. I look at it as my way of contributing, staying involved and relevant. The satisfaction you can get from working at something you have a passion for is enormous. You should give it a try.
Bonus Ikigai Story
I was at Home Depot the other day looking for some parts to fix my toilet. To be honest I’m a klutz with these things and luckily bumped into an employee who knew what they were talking about. He gave me the parts that I needed but instinctively knew that I had no idea how to assemble them. He took the parts out of their packages and assembled them on the floor and took a picture of it on my iPhone so I could use it as a guide when I returned home. I was impressed with the service and could feel that he cared. I asked him how he started working there. Previously, he was a plumber running his own business but the work became too demanding and he retired, but quickly became bored and ended up working at Home Depot.
He doesn’t need the money but loves working there as it gives him a chance to socialize and help people using the knowledge he has gained over the years. It’s a triple win when you think about it. The company wins because they have a great employee who cares, who wants to be there and the customer has a positive experience. The customer also wins because they get the parts they need along with good advice and they feel good when leaving the store. The employee wins by having a good reason to get out of bed in the morning. The moral of this story is that your Ikigai doesn’t have to be complicated, it just has to give you what you need.