What did you want to be when you grew up?

This article is all about some fun reminiscing and a little daydreaming.  You get to think about your younger days, from when you were a little kid until you were a young adult.  You know the time I mean: before the world made you conform to reality and beat you up a little.  Doing so can give you hints as to what will excite you in retirement.  What did you want to be when you grew up?

Did you want to be a Train Engineer, a Race Car Driver, Ballerina, or an Astronaut?

Tell the truth.  At some point you wanted to be one of the above!  Let’s use them as examples and see where they might lead to interests in retirement.

Train Engineer

Can you:

  • Take short or long train trips
  • Build a model train layout
  • Travel around taking pictures of trains and train stations
  • Collect and/or read books on trains
  • Start a train related website or small business.

Race Car Driver

Can you:

  • Go to races
  • Race model or RC Control cars
  • Visit famous race tracks
  • Restore a hot but old classic car
  • Start a race car related web site or small business


Can you:

  • Attend Ballets
  • Organize trips for others or seniors to attend ballets
  • Volunteer and assist a young people’s ballet class
  • Collect ballet slippers
  • Start a web business selling young people’s slippers and outfits


Can you:

  • Collect space exploration pictures
  • Build model spacecraft and rockets
  • Watch a real rocket launch
  • Collect books on space exploration
  • Build a website showing what prior and current astronauts are doing now

My Story – Astronomer, Park Ranger, Scientist, Storekeeper

OK, so its time to come clean on some of my young career plans.  At different points I wanted to be:

  • An Astronomer
  • A Park Ranger
  • A Scientist
  • A Storekeeper

So what could I do in retirement or semi retirement?


  • Get into amateur astronomy (great way to make new friends,) maybe get a new telescope
  • Collect space pictures
  • Start an Astronomy library
  • Visit dark sky locations around the country

Park Ranger

  • Volunteer in a state or national park
  • Visit every national park
  • Visit every state park in my state.
  • Build a very detailed guide of nearby parks and post it on the web.

A Scientist

  • Set up an amateur laboratory
  • Buy a microscope and learn how to use it
  • Collect science books
  • Pick a science subject I like and build a very detailed web site
  • Find a way to volunteer and introduce young people to science


  • Open a small web store specializing in something that interests me
  • Open a retail business
  • Make part time income working in a store

 It’s time to grow up –  what dreams can you fulfill?

Now it is your turn.  Hopefully you get the idea from the examples above.  Start by doing a little of that reminiscing and daydreaming.  List a few of your early career ideas.  Then, instead of just a few activities try to list 10 or more for each.  Hopefully from that list you will come up with some that both excite you and are relatively feasible.  As you gain experience with the easier ones you’ll gain confidence to try the more adventurous!

Until next time…

Life Lessons from an 84 year Old RV Driver

Sometimes you learn lessons that stick with you long afterwards at the strangest times.  Such was the case when I had a short discussion with a sharp 84 year old many years ago.  This article tells that story.

Our Camping Story

It seems like either you are a camper, or you are not and you think people that sleep in a tent are nuts.  Chances are that if your parents took you camping as kids then you go camping when you grow up.  My wife and I have camped our entire married lives, although I admit as we get older we sometimes trade the tent for a cabin.  We haven’t taken the RV route yet, but who knows.

The Bear Tooth Highway

Years ago we had spent a week in Yellowstone National Park.  We had heard of the Bear Tooth Highway and its description as “the most beautiful drive in America.”  The highway goes from the northeast entrance at Yellowstone from Wyoming into Montana and consists of miles of switchbacks, zig zags and high mountain driving.  It eventually goes over the 10,947 foot Beartooth pass.  It is breathtakingly beautiful and I recommend it highly.  We drove it in a conversion van and believe me when I say it was a white knuckle experience, with limited guard rails and thousand foot drops off the edge of the road!

His Camping Story

After the ride we ended up camping at a KOA in Wyoming.  That evening outside the shower house I ended up having a nice conversation with an 84 year old guy.  He proceeded to tell me he also had just came over the Beartooth Pass, except he was driving a huge RV towing a car!  I felt rather like a big chicken being so nervous in a more conventional vehicle.

He told me he had been forced to retire at the age of 65 and started out his retirement miserable. It was obvious his personal value was all tied up in his career.  He had nothing to do and mostly just sat around watching TV.

At 67 his neighbor somehow talked him into buying his used pickup and travel trailer.  Neither he nor his wife had ever tried camping before but he was so bored he was willing to try anything.  At this point he laughed a little when he said they left for their first camping trip when he was 67, but he never went home again!  Eventually they sold their house and just kept trading into bigger RVs over the years.  He said the past several years had been the happiest of his life.  At 84 he had no intention of stopping and he certainly seemed mentally and physically sharp as a tack!

Lessons to be learned

So what lessons did I learn that have stuck with me for many years?  Here are a few:

  • Try new things
  • Try new things even if you don’t want to
  • You are never too old
  • Plan for retirement beyond just money

What are your plans?

Probably the biggest lesson here is that retirement planning is much more than financial planning.  I got the impression that money was not a major concern to my 84 Year Old RV Driver, but yet he was miserable when he first retired.  Why not make some plans ahead of time so you don’t waste any precious time!

What Will I Do With Myself?

We All Have Time Categories

Before retirement, life has a way of gobbling up all the time available to it.  After retirement it probably does too, but at least we should have a little more say in where we spend our time!

Before retirement it is probably useful to plan how to use our time by breaking down our activities into categories.  The categories might vary from person to person but some examples might be Work, Sleep, Hobbies, House Chores and Volunteer work.  Some of our time is mostly determined by others, with work and commuting time being the biggest obvious example.

After retirement I’d like to think time is a little more flexible.  However it still may help for planning purposes to start with some categories.  Here are four to consider:

  • Work
  • Play
  • Travel
  • Volunteerism


Most of us will work at least some in retirement, both for income and for the social contact.  What percentage of time do you want to spend working?  Look for options including part time, seasonal, and short term “consulting” type gigs.  How will your working time fit around you other time priorities?


Play could probably be broken down into lots of categories depending on your interests.  In here might be hobbies, hanging out with friends, reading, or just plain relaxing.  You might even want to throw in things like learning new skills, or higher education in topics of your interest.


Travel could take many forms.  It might be anything from an around the world cruise to regular trips to see the grandkids.  Camping and road trips would fall into this category.  And don’t overlook the simple “travel” destinations.  For example I live outside Philadelphia and there are dozens of historic sites and museums available for day trips.  Most of these I haven’t seen since I was a kid and I am long ovedue!


Volunteering can take many forms and this is a subject that certainly deserves many posts.  However for our purposes here think about how important volunteerism is and what percentage of your time you want to devote to it.

How To Use Your Categories

Once you have some basic categories defined you can start to dig more into the question of “What Will I Do With Myself?”  Try this approach – get a piece of paper or use your computer and list your categories.  Then list a whole bunch of ideas under each category.  Don’t worry about how practical they are for the moment.

For example under “Play” you might list dozens of possible hobbies (another topic that needs more posts.)  Then decide on a couple that you want to pursue.  Obviously it probably pays to pick some inexpensive ones first.  For example say you pick Coin Collecting.  Coin collecting can take many forms, and get rather expensive if you start collecting valuable coins.  But you might start by collecting pennies of different dates from your pocket change.

Your category List and the ideas it contains can be very useful both before and during retirement.  Let’s say you find yourself in a situation where you know you are spending too much time sitting in front of the TV (you know the feeling.)  Well you can pull out your handy dandy list and come up with a new hobby to try!

Hopefully you now have some ideas on how to figure out what you will do with yourself.

Until next time…