Bread crumbs — Some courses are bumpy

March 17th, 2015

In my previous post I introduced a quote from Steve Job’s commencement address in 2005:

You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something: your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well-worn path.

In his address Jobs promises graduates that the dots will connect in the future. As a retiree, you have an opportunity to see that at least some of those things you started long ago have continued, even if in a different form or format. Retirement is a time for review. In looking back you can see the connections:

•    That pickup game when you were a kid turned into the softball league you are a part of today.

•    Walking with your dad while he went hunting still takes you to the woods for hunting and vacations with friends and family.

•    Riding your bike everywhere is part of the reason there is a bike rack on your car.

•    Using your pet dog as a guinea pig for bandages carried over into becoming an EMT.

•    That chemistry set may have exploded into a lifelong career.

•    The boyhood friend turned into a long-standing friendship.

•    The girl next door…?

This is the starting point. Find those connections. You can

•    Start at the early end and move forward

•    Start today and look backward

•    Start in the middle and push backward and forward

In one writing course, my instructor suggested dividing my life into seven-year segments. Remember what happened in each. Start a notebook. As you remember one more enticing tidbit, chase it around; find out where the memory leads. How does it connect to another piece in a different seven-year segment?

Another approach is to trace familiar things. Start with what you like to do or be and ask where that came from. Don’t limit your search. Ask friends and relatives. What do you remember or know of my passions and interests?

When you’ve begun your list, start your questions about the future.

Dots or ruts?

You have a choice about what to continue doing. There is no rule that says you have to keep doing what you’ve always done. Let me illustrate.

I had a 40-year career as a software developer. I chose not to continue doing that because I was tired of it. Why? I think that I got bored. I wanted something else. This passion of 40 years won’t just disappear for me though.

Your longtime passions need not just disappear either. Maybe you won’t be a chemist forever. Will that stop you from reading the journals or catching up on ideas with your friends who are still in the business? I quit a lifelong career working with computer software. I continue to get my computer fix by talking with my friends still in the game.

My wife on the other hand, had a crisis when she realized she had not only left work but also left behind a labor of love. She likes editing. She will edit this piece. And she may edit out what I just said. But she loves doing it and, as I’ve said in these pages before, is likely to continue doing it until she can’t read any longer.

One of the things you need to do then is to decide whether that well-worn path is worth continuing in some fashion.

And next time we’ll ask the hard question: Dots or stars? This is

Ed Zinkiewicz
…the retired guy – Take my free retirement assessment and check out your retirement plan. The few minutes you spend will be a good investment for your next steps. Check it out.

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