Why is this a critical question? It, and others like it, can help you shape a meaningful retirement life plan. Here’s how.

In my previous post, I suggested there were three P’s to prepare for a successful retirement, Plan, Practice, and Partner. Let me suggest another—Passions.

As we did our research to understand what constitutes a fulfilling retirement, my friend and coauthor, Keith Lawrence, and I identified the key elements of such a retirement. “Passions” is one of those ten key elements—more about the others in future posts.

There are two steps to take to bring your passions into your life. The first step is to identify them; the second step is to turn them into actions. Let’s talk both.

Identifying your passions is where the question, “What did you love to do when you were 10 years old?” fits. During that time of our lives, we were old enough to make choices about what we loved to do, yet it was a time when we were too young for the other priorities of life to have gotten in the way. My 10-year old passions were baseball and books—more about those later.

There are other questions you might ask yourself to help identify your passions. What do I love to do now? What am I doing when I lose track of time? What do I do that adds energy to my life versus draining it? What would others tell me they observe that I love to do? What causes am I dedicated to? The answers to these and similar questions are your passions.

When we’ve asked our workshop attendees to call out what they are passionate about, we hear things like, “my grandchildren,” “gardening,” “volunteering at the food pantry,” “fishing,” “reading,” “traveling.” Keith would say “snowmobiling” and “classic cars.” You get the idea. But you’d find it even more inspiring were you, 1) to see the looks on people’s faces when they call out their passions—they are excited and proud, and you can see that just mentioning it energizes them, 2) to hear other attendees spontaneously call out, “I love to do that too,” and 3) to talk to other attendees who say, “You know, I used to do that and I loved it, but I’ve gotten away from it—and I’m not sure why. I’m going to get started.”

Once you identify or re-identify your passions, the second step is to “get started,” to turn them into actions. Recall I said that baseball and books were two of the things I loved to do when I was 10. If I had a bat, ball, or book in my hand, I was happy. And I’ve been fortunate enough to continue to pursue those passions throughout my life.

Importantly, I’m also pursuing them in retirement, and doing so has added untold fulfillment. At age 69, I’m still playing baseball; no, not softball; baseball. I’ve had the opportunity to coach my grandson’s team. And I facilitate a program for early-diagnosed Alzheimer’s patients who benefit from sessions during which they reminisce about the St. Louis Cardinals, our local team.

Baseball also led to turning another passion into action. I became an author, and I did so when I decided to write my first book, the story of the senior baseball community that plays around the country and, actually, around the world. I’ve been able to sustain my love of books and writing—my fifth book and first novel was recently released.

I’ve also been involved with helping put on a local book festival, and I’m on the board of a non-profit that brings authors to town to speak, with part of the proceeds going to a charity of importance to the author.

What is your passion, and have you turned it into action? If gardening is it, what are you doing both in and outside your home? Have you joined a local organization that creates gardens to beautify school grounds and other public spaces? Have you joined an organic farm that teaches young people the value of nutrition? The list is endless, and it will likely be so, regardless of what your passions are.

What did you love to do when you were 10 years old? What do you love to do now? And what are you doing to turn those passions into action—to help make your life and the lives of those around you more fulfilling?