retirement, retirement planningRetirement is a great opportunity to pursue a new career in something you’ve always dreamed of doing. Whether it’s teaching scuba lessons or opening your own retail store, the best job for you in retirement is one that you love—and sensible retirement planning can help make your dream a reality.

If you asked me as a child what retirement was, I most likely would have told you it is when you go to the old folks’ home for a few years before you die. Now don’t get upset with me; when I was younger I also thought people who were 28 were old. As you get older, age becomes a relative number and priorities change.

Don’t believe me? Think about yourself before retirement (right now, for some people). Your pre-retirement career may not have been (or may currently not be) your dream job, but you stuck it out because your priorities were your children, your spouse, paying the bills, and putting away money for retirement.

But after retirement, if you’ve planned correctly, your priorities have likely shifted to determining what you want to pursue and what makes you happy.

If you’re trying to figure out what new career you should take on in retirement, try this exercise: Pull out a piece of paper, grab a pencil, and take out your checkbook. Write down three things you love to do, three things that take up the most of your time, and three places you are spending the most money.

After you have completed this exercise, do you notice any overlap? For example, let’s assume you like planting or gardening, you spend a lot of time doing it, and when you review your checkbook you see a lot of your money is going to a local home improvement store. You might consider putting in your application at that favorite establishment—or someplace similar—to start recouping some of your money. Given your love of gardening, it also is likely to be a very enjoyable working experience.

Retirement brings opportunity for adventure, and it could mean starting a new career or trying something you have always wanted to do. If you have planned properly you can now choose a career or job not based on how much money you have to make to keep the lights on, but more in line with what you consider fun. Now that I am older and wiser, if you ask me what I think retirement is, I will tell you it is finally having the time to discover what you truly love doing—and then getting paid for doing it.

Steve Repak is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, CFP® Board Ambassador, and financial literacy speaker. He is also an Army veteran and the author of Dollars & Uncommon Sense: Basic Training For Your Money. Follow him on Twitter: @SteveRepak