How to Keep Your PASSION Alive – Even in Retirement

PASSION (People, Activities, Set Schedule, Interests, Optimism, and Naps) keep me motivated.



There is a danger of “vegging out” in retirement if you are financially secure. Pension and Social Security checks come regularly, investments grow, and so do your waistlines! There is a temptation to sit and watch mindless TV programs, eat rich food and “enjoy life – you earned it!”

Here is an alternative I have found useful. You may too!

The photo shows my water aerobics friends (I only wish!)

A friend was having trouble keeping motivated and wondered “is it worth the effort?” He wrote “I know that Ira’s bicycling group ends their ride with a stop for coffee, danish and conversation. Is this what gets them on their bikes from a cozy bed on a chilly morning?”
I thought about it while bicycling to water aerobics on a recent Saturday morning, again at the coffee shop with my bike club friends, and yet again at Chumach (Bible) Study at the synagogue that morning. Yes, the coffee and snacks are a definite draw, but it is mostly the people, my set schedule, and naps that keep me motivated.
As I turned the pedals, and watched the world go by, People/Set Schedule/Naps” became PSSN“. That acronym, with the addition of vowels, morphed into PASSION (People, Activities, Set Schedule, Interests, Optimism, and, eventually Naps).


When young, motivation is easier. A close-knit, loving family had high expectations for me. My mom worked at grandma’s knitting shop. I was surrounded by women who doted on me. In those innocent days, it was considered safe even for young children to play outside. I had a nice nap every early afternoon. My dad, a letter-carrier, was up and out on schedule early every morning, but he also came home early and we spent quality time talking, working carpentry projects, and playing.
I walked to school on a set schedule with friends. In those days we had all-day kindergarden that included a noontime nap. The naps ended with first grade, but the set schedule, and a sense of duty to family and teachers went on through high school. I worked part-time at a shoe store and selling ice cream on the beach and in an office during those years and that motivated me to go to college so I could qualfy for non-menial employment.
Work as an engineer was challenging and often involved long hours of overtime and travel, but I was motivated by obligations to wife and children. Again it was the people in my family and at work and in the clubs and synagogue that kept me motivated. My wife and I had a full schedule of work, attendance at our daughter’s school events, square dancing, and so on. I had bike and ski and kayak club friends. My employer paid for me to get my Masters and then my PhD and that kept me busy and intellectually alert. Then, the children went away to college and had families of their own, … and we retired!


There is a danger of “vegging out” in retirement if you are financially secure. Pension and Social Security checks come regularly, investments grow, and so do your waistlines! There is a temptation to sit and watch mindless TV programs, eat rich food and “enjoy life – you earned it!”
Fortunately, my life before retirement gave me the foundation for the PASSION (People, Activities, Set Schedule, Interests, Optimism, and, eventually Naps) that keep me motivated

PeopleParticularly loved ones – your wife and family, but also friends, neighbors, co-workers and other acquaintances.

People are far and away the best motivators. Spouse and family provide a firm foundation. If you show up they have to let you in! Beyond that, what gets me up and out almost every morning are the people who are waiting for me.
As I bicycle down the street, people call out my name and I say theirs. Others nod to me – we don’t know names but we shout “good morning!” as I bike and they walk their dogs or jog along.
At the sports pool they (mostly women :^) are happy to see me. We exchange pleasantries, ask about travels, and kid around about who can hold his or her legs up higher and longer and so on. No better way to start a day than exercising in a heated pool. (My wife goes to some of the same water aerobics classes, but she travels by golf cart, often with a neighbor.)
If I’m meeting friends for a bike ride we are happy to see each other. Bicycling is probably the best form of transportation ever invented. You go fast enough to get someplace miles away, yet slow enough to talk, enjoy the sights and sounds, and “smell the roses”. And, bicycles run on peanut butter sandwiches – “green” energy!
We eat out with other couples, go to parties and entertainment events, and enjoy life. It is my wife and all those other people who make it worthwhile!

ActivitiesAthletic and otherwise

The key to living a nice long life is to keep moving! It may be “sour grapes” but I don’t think strenuous running or competitive sports are good for the body, particularly not an aging body. That is why I do “soft’ exercises such as bicycling, water aerobics, kayaking, walking, and so on. I try to put in at least an hour a day, but, I keep the civil service worker attitude in mind: “I’m paid by the hour, not by the mile!”

Set ScheduleSomething to get you up early and out of the house almost every day

When we retired we thought we were leaving set schedules behind. However, it turned out that our calendar is far more complicated than ever. Without scheduled events it would be so easy to stay in our cozy bed all morning, reading or watching TV, perhaps taking turns preparing breakfast in bed. To help prevent that, our alarm is set for 6:30AM every morning and we have no TV in our bedroom.
My morning schedule is set in stone: get the newspaper, feed the fish in the koi pond, read the paper over a light breakfast, and get outside! Monday, Wednesday, and Friday it is bicycling to regular water aerobics. Tuesdays I lead an easy neighborhood bike ride and end up at a different sports pool for deep-water aerobics. Thursdays I sometimes bike with a neighbor to a men’s breakfast club and then to deep-water aerobics. Saturdays it is early deep-water aerobics and then a bike ride to the coffee shop. After bicycling home, it is into the hot-tub with a cup of ice cream and a magazine.
Then, it is time for a nice nap!
The rest of the day is free, except for lunch or dinner with friends, shopping trips, volunteering at the synagogue office Thursday afternoons, Friday evening services, and other odds and ends. My wife and I each teach an online grad course for the University of Maryland, so that takes a few hours every other day or so. I also have email to keep up with, my Blogs (The Virtual Philosophy Club, Curb Your Enthusiasm – Fantasy Episodes, 2052-The Hawking Plan, and 2052 Life, Liberty, and Technology), my Google Knols, websites I follow including The Drudge Report, Watts up With That, Reality Prime and several others. There are TV programs I watch regularly, some automatically recorded on our DVR. That keeps me busy and involved!

InterestsIntellectual and otherwise.

My interests are wide and varied. We get lots of magazines, mostly from trading in unusable airline miles. My wife buys me books, in a so far unsuccessful attempt to change my social and political views. (My father taught me to be frugal. therefore, any book or magazine we have paid for, including those from airline miles, and idiotic political screeds, has to be read.)

OptimismOpen outlook welcoming variety

Take to heart Max Ehrmann’s beautiful words of Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, …
Be on good terms with all persons. …
The world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is … everywhere life is full of heroism.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. …
You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

NapsNoontime slumbers to refresh body and soul

This has been a protracted Knol. Time for a nice long nap!