How do I identify my passion before retiring early?

Published: May 10, 2022 at 6:00 am

A reader writes, “I work only for money and have not identified my passion yet. I am not sure if I can identify it. I would also blame my character as I seek change quite too often. If I plan to achieve FIRE (financial independence and early retirement) by the age of 45, I don’t know what to do next! Is there a way to identify our passion?”

How do you define a passion? Especially when one says, “I don’t know what is mine”. All my life I have cringed whenever I heard people say “science is my passion” or “financial literacy is my passion”(yuck!). I have no idea what my passion areas are. Is it physics? Is it personal finance? I have no clue.

I think ultimately we need something to pass the time with until we conk off. When our net worth is low, it is matter of survival and we don’t stop and ask, “what is my purpose in life?”; “What is my calling?”.  We are busy trying to make ends meet.

With some effort, prudence and a dash of luck if we find ourselves financially comfortable, then we can afford some leisure. We cannot sleep and party and watch movies all day (although we long for just that when we are trying to survive). We need some fodder for our huge brains (in size, that is).

If we have gone through life without ever stopping to think what effort would make us happy and satisfied (= “passion” = “calling”), now is the time to do so. Considering the way we are told to approach school and college education without taking “risks”, it is hardly surprising many of us never stop to think about our “passions” let alone pursue them.


Build a complete financial plan with our Robo Advisory Tool. More than 1000 investors and financial advisors use it!
Get free money management solutions delivered to your mailbox! Subscribe to get posts via email! (Subscribers get exclusive discounts!)


New Tool! => Track your mutual funds and stocks investments with this Google Sheet!

That said, I think it is perfectly normal for someone to say, “I don’t have a passion” or “I don’t know what my passion is”. It is no law of nature that we “should” have a passion.

If I were to ask myself “what would make me truly happy?” Thinking and doing something creatively does it for me. It can be pedagogy, physics or finance or history or movies or comics. The area does not matter. Only the activity does.

I was lucky to have a great English teacher in my 11th and 12th std who indirectly told me “teaching” or “communication” will make me happy. Once I had the opportunity to communicate (after 5 years), I realised “getting to the crux of any issue” as quickly and as directly as possible is the way to elegant communication.

The topic of communication is secondary. I am extremely fortunate  to make a living while doing things I love: communication and creativity. The point is, I feel we must think about “what action” will make us happy instead of “what area” will make us happy. The area does not matter much.

Is there a formula to find this? I don’t know.  I would recommend the following though:

1) Imagine you are burdened by some worry. What kind of activity would make you forget your troubles at least as long as you are engaged in it?

  • In my case it is writing code (related to physics experimentation) or making calculators or speaking (although I will struggle to prepare for a talk or class if I am burdened with worry)

2) How will this work be useful to others? This may not be obvious immediately. It can start as a quest for personal improvement. Freefincal was (and to some extent still is) all about answering questions that I have. At some point I realised others too would have the same questions and started sharing my work.

3) Can this work solve a problem for others? Again it need not be obvious. The self-exploratory journey can answer this.

If we can answer these questions gradually, we would head closer to being “happy in our work” – à la Colonel Saito in Bridge on the river Kwai.

Maybe, just maybe we can have some clarity on how to spend time productively after early or normal retirement. In fact, planning for post-retirement activity is just as important as building a robust retirement corpus. We recommend that those who have achieved financial independence not quit their job until and unless they have a solid activity schedule. See for example: Is it wise to retire early in my 40s if my portfolio is sufficient?

Hard work is the best distraction and therapy to stay away from the devil’s workshop.

“It has been my experience that one cannot, in any shape or form, depend on human relations for lasting reward. It is only work that truly satisfies.” – Bette Davis

Assuming you have a port-retirement plan or are working on one and assuming your corpus is robust and sufficient, here are some retirement planning case studies.

Do share this article with your friends using the buttons below.

Use our Robo-advisory Excel Tool for a start-to-finish financial plan! More than 1000 investors and advisors use this!
  • Follow us on Google News.
  • Do you have a comment about the above article? Reach out to us on Twitter: @freefincal or @pattufreefincal
  • Join our YouTube Community and explore more than 1000 videos!
  • Have a question? Subscribe to our newsletter with this form.
  • Hit 'reply' to any email from us! We do not offer personalized investment advice. We can write a detailed article without mentioning your name if you have a generic question.

Get free money management solutions delivered to your mailbox! Subscribe to get posts via email! (Subscribers get exclusive discounts!)
 
Explore the site! Search among our 2000+ articles for information and insight!

About The Author

Pattabiraman editor freefincalDr M. Pattabiraman(PhD) is the founder, managing editor and primary author of freefincal. He is an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. He has over nine years of experience publishing news analysis, research and financial product development. Connect with him via Twitter or Linkedin or YouTube. Pattabiraman has co-authored three print books: (1) You can be rich too with goal-based investing (CNBC TV18) for DIY investors. (2) Gamechanger for young earners. (3) Chinchu Gets a Superpower! for kids. He has also written seven other free e-books on various money management topics. He is a patron and co-founder of “Fee-only India,” an organisation for promoting unbiased, commission-free investment advice.
  Our flagship course! Learn to manage your portfolio like a pro to achieve your goals regardless of market conditions! More than 3000 investors and advisors are part of our exclusive community! Get clarity on how to plan for your goals and achieve the necessary corpus no matter what the market condition is!! Watch the first lecture for free!  One-time payment! No recurring fees! Life-long access to videos! Reduce fear, uncertainty and doubt while investing! Learn how to plan for your goals before and after retirement with confidence.
Our new course!  Increase your income by getting people to pay for your skills! More than 700 salaried employees, entrepreneurs and financial advisors are part of our exclusive community! Learn how to get people to pay for your skills! Whether you are a professional or small business owner who wants more clients via online visibility or a salaried person wanting a side income or passive income, we will show you how to achieve this by showcasing your skills and building a community that trusts you and pays you! (watch 1st lecture for free). One-time payment! No recurring fees! Life-long access to videos!   
Our new book for kids: “Chinchu gets a superpower!” is now available!
Both boy and girl version covers of Chinchu gets a superpower
Both boy and girl version covers of Chinchu gets a superpower.
Most investor problems can be traced to a lack of informed decision-making. We have all made bad decisions and money mistakes when we started earning and spent years undoing these mistakes. Why should our children go through the same pain? What is this book about? As parents, what would it be if we had to groom one ability in our children that is key not only to money management and investing but to any aspect of life? My answer: Sound Decision Making. So in this book, we meet Chinchu, who is about to turn 10. What he wants for his birthday and how his parents plan for it and teach him several key ideas of decision making and money management is the narrative. What readers say!
Feedback from a young reader after reading Chinchu gets a Superpower (small version)
Feedback from a young reader after reading Chinchu gets a Superpower!
Must-read book even for adults! This is something that every parent should teach their kids right from their young age. The importance of money management and decision making based on their wants and needs. Very nicely written in simple terms. - Arun.
Buy the book: Chinchu gets a superpower for your child!
How to profit from content writing: Our new ebook for those interested in getting side income via content writing. It is available at a 50% discount for Rs. 500 only!
Want to check if the market is overvalued or undervalued? Use our market valuation tool (it will work with any index!), or you buy the new Tactical Buy/Sell timing tool!
We publish monthly mutual fund screeners and momentum, low volatility stock screeners.
About freefincal & its content policy Freefincal is a News Media Organization dedicated to providing original analysis, reports, reviews and insights on mutual funds, stocks, investing, retirement and personal finance developments. We do so without conflict of interest and bias. Follow us on Google News. Freefincal serves more than three million readers a year (5 million page views) with articles based only on factual information and detailed analysis by its authors. All statements made will be verified from credible and knowledgeable sources before publication. Freefincal does not publish any paid articles, promotions, PR, satire or opinions without data. All opinions presented will only be inferences backed by verifiable, reproducible evidence/data. Contact information: letters {at} freefincal {dot} com (sponsored posts or paid collaborations will not be entertained)
Connect with us on social media
Our publications

You Can Be Rich Too with Goal-Based Investing

You can be rich too with goal based investingPublished by CNBC TV18, this book is meant to help you ask the right questions and seek the correct answers, and since it comes with nine online calculators, you can also create custom solutions for your lifestyle! Get it now.
Gamechanger: Forget Startups, Join Corporate & Still Live the Rich Life You Want Gamechanger: Forget Start-ups, Join Corporate and Still Live the Rich Life you wantThis book is meant for young earners to get their basics right from day one! It will also help you travel to exotic places at a low cost! Get it or gift it to a young earner.

Your Ultimate Guide to Travel

Travel-Training-Kit-Cover-new This is an in-depth dive analysis into vacation planning, finding cheap flights, budget accommodation, what to do when travelling, and how travelling slowly is better financially and psychologically with links to the web pages and hand-holding at every step. Get the pdf for Rs 199 (instant download)