What I Learned From Retired People About Pursuing Their Passion Project

When I was talking to people at retirement age, I talked to many different people. Before retirement, in retirement, people who were employees (leaders, managers, experts) people who were entrepreneurs, freelancers, business owners.

I noticed one thing across all people I interviewed.

When people were excited about what they were doing in their lives, when they were passionate about a cause, activity, or project, it was giving them a lot of meaning and energy. They looked and seemed mentally and physically younger.

One of them, Johan made a direct link to one’s own mental health. He said:

“You need something that gives you a reason to get out of your bed in the morning.”

Some other people mentioned the importance of goals.

At the same time, the challenge is that at the third stage of life you don’t want to get stressed. But is it really possible to find a perfect project, a perfect activity that will give you only joy and no stress? It depends…

I want to share a story of Jonathan.

Jonathan retired from an international chemical company from the role of a commercial leader and manager. He shared that he wasn’t really prepared for retirement.

And so, he did the first obvious thing where he could use his experience and knowledge: becoming a consultant in the chemical industry.

However, after a while he realized that he was not enjoying it, he was not feeling engaged enough. When the pandemics and lockdown came in March 2020, he decided to ditch his consultancy completely, he deleted his LinkedIn profile and dived into his long-time hobby – photography.

Photography was his passion for very long – Since he was a kid actually…

He took all the photos he took in Glasgow years ago and started posting them on Twitter… From a couple of followers, he got to a couple of thousands of followers within a couple of months. 

It was so incredible that BBC even made a video about him.

Go and check the video, it’s great!

And the rest is the history. This opened new opportunities for him in the field of photography. Amazing.

Listening to Jonathan’s story, I thought of 3 key learnings:

  1.  It’s good to nurture your old hobbies and share them with the world.
    Jonathan had this passion from his childhood, but at that time he couldn’t pursue his passion professionally. Posting his old photos on a social media platform helped him make a switch to photography at 65.
  2. Your own way is the best way
    BBC mentioned to Jonathan that he used Twitter in a completely unique way. Jonathan admitted that his use of Twitter was innocent – he used Twitter because it was the easiest for him.
  3. Even if it’s your passion project, there will still be a bit of pressure and stress – especially if you put yourself out there on social media.
    When I asked Jonathan whether there was a bit of stress involved with this project and how he coped with it.  He answered: “Yes, of course, but I think you know how to manage the pressure. The difference is that at work, you are put under pressure, but with this project, I was choosing to put myself under pressure. I also knew I could stop any time.”

Jonathan’s story tells me that there is probably no such thing as a perfect project or a perfect idea. There will be always some challenging moments and a bit of stress (especially if you want to share your passion project with the world).

So, you really want to find something that will make you so happy or will give you so much meaning that a bit of stress will be an ok price to pay.

What about you, do you have a passion project that you want to share with the world? You never know… It can open new opportunities for you too!