Making your passion a reality in retirement

Attractive smiling senior woman holding pen sitting at the table with laptop

Image: LightField Studios/

What are you passionate about? Retirement is when you actually have the time to focus on your passion because work can get in the way.

Beryl Matthews had that problem.

She grew up in London during World War II. She wanted to be a professional singer, ‘But the need to earn a living drove me into an office.’

The war was still on when she began to work—as a tea girl—in the Inspection Office of an aircraft factory. She remained an office worker until she retired. By then she had risen to the rank of credit controller.

Retirement meant she could follow her passion. No, not singing. Writing.

1. She was able to identify her passion

It wasn’t hard to identify her passion. In her words, ‘My family were avid readers, and like them, I loved books.’ But there was more than this, ‘I had always scribbled down stories and constantly made them up in my head.’

She wanted to take her ‘scribblings’ to the next level. To tell a story and have it published.

2. She took steps to make her passion a reality

The first step was writing her novel. It was based loosely on her mother’s early life.

Her next step: ‘As soon as I had something on paper I joined a Writers’ Group, attended conferences, meeting as many writers and people in the business as I could.’ This helped her to develop skills, polish her work and make contacts within the ‘industry’.

Finally, ‘After some time I met an agent who liked what I was doing.’

3. She became a successful, published author

Success came with her agent finding a publisher—Penguin—for her book, The Open Door, in 2002. She was aged 71. I mention the age because sometimes we feel that age somehow places limits on our endeavours or creativity.

But it hasn’t stopped there. ‘Quite a few books later [19 at last count] and I am still writing,’ she says. ‘Now, in my retirement, I am busier than ever.’ But there’s no regret. You’ll find her story here.

What about you?

Can you identify your passion? For Beryl Matthews it was obvious. It isn’t as obvious for everyone, but you might find evidence of your passion in what you have done or love to do.

She waited until after retirement to work on it. Is that what you want to do? Or are there some things you can do now to prepare for your retirement?

Keep in mind that your retirement is your retirement, not someone else’s. If you have a passion for building matchstick models, beginning with the Sydney Harbour Bridge, go for it.

Bruce Manners: the author of Retirement Ready?, Refusing to Retire, and founder of

Category: Lifestyle, Planning

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