What Is Your Magnum Opus?

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I had a bit of a revelation last week, and I thought it worthwhile to share it with you today.  The revelation was triggered by a question raised by a reader in the comments on a recent post.  That comment, and my thoughts about it, are the topics of today’s post.

Have You Ever Been Asked, What's Your Magnum Opus? Click To Tweet

If not, no worries.  Neither had I.

Until last week.

What Is Your Magnum Opus?

Until last week, I’d never really thought about that question. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you may recall the post about my Nerdy Friends.  As a “back story” to that post, there was some fun chatter amongst my Twitter friends about whether the post was of “Epic”, or “Magnum Opus” status.  I love this community, and we had fun with the banter.

Knowing the background, you’ll appreciate this comment/question from Mrs. BITA on the post, which triggered today’s writing:

I have a problem.  I think too much.  It’s an odd habit, but I rather enjoy it.  I think about everything.  As a result, I’ve thought (a lot) about Mrs. BITA’s question, and it led to the writing of this post.  What Is Your Magnum Opus?  I’m thinking about that question even as I type these words.  As I said, I think too much.

Magnum Opus – Defined

I knew “Magnum Opus Was Big”, but I didn’t really totally understand exactly how Big until I did some homework.  Mrs. BITA’s comment stirred my curiosity, and I’d no choice but to look it up.  I learned something, and I thank Mrs. BITA for that.  Here’s the first bit I found –  the definition, compliments of Google Search:

As I thought about that definition, I realized something.  More important than the definition is the implication of that definition.  What is really “Magnum Opus Big” in your life?  The more you think about it, the more the reality of how big of a question that really is begins to become apparent.

What is…..

“Your Most Important Work”

“…Especially one regarded as the most important work of an artist or writer”. 

Kinda makes you think, right?

What Is Your Most Important Work? Click To Tweet

The question goes deep in a hurry.  Being someone with a bad habit of thinking too much, I’ve been thinking about it all week.  “What IS my most important work?”  It’s a really hard question to answer.  Have you ever asked yourself that question?

Warning:  It’s A Doozie.

Think long and hard before you decide how you want to answer.

It’s a big question, and it merits some thought.

My Thoughts On Magnum Opus

One of the things I love about writing is that it forces me to think.  To develop an opinion on different topics.  To make decisions.  I’ve never really put this into words, but I’ve always enjoyed that aspect of writing.  Today, I came across a post from Steve @ ThinkSaveRetire, which led me to an interesting article written by Alex Mathers containing the following quote.  It captures perfectly the essence of my thoughts as I write about Magnum Opus:

So, as I write about Magnum Opus “for the purpose of discovery“, I’m finding the process most fascinating.  As part of that process, I’ve decided that my post about my Nerdy Friends, with all due respect to Mrs. BITA, is NOT my Magnus Opus.

Magnum Opus Is Bigger Than That

I don’t know what my Magnum Opus is yet, but Mrs. BITA’s question got me thinking about it.  It’s a worthwhile Think, and I encourage you to give it a go.  I don’t know where it will lead, but it’s a worthwhile mental endeavor.

“What’s Your Most Important Work?”

I really like the challenge that question presents.  It leads me to think of what my options are for my “Magnum Opus”.  The world is our oyster, and we can decide how to impact it in any way we chose.  To me, a “Magnum Opus” is deciding on your impact on the world.

Mangum Opus: How Will You Impact This World? Click To Tweet

As I think about what my Magnum Opus may be, I think about big things.  I think about actions I can take in my life which will impact things beyond my immediate realm.  Things with a lasting impact.  It’s a “Big Hairy Audacious Goal” to think about impacting the world, but Magnum Opus deserves that.

Your Most Important Work.

I hate to break it to you, but I suspect the work you do (or, if now retired, did) for a paycheck is not your Magnum Opus.  Most folks don’t have The Passion, The Purpose within their normal “9-to-5” job to meet the criteria for a Magnum Opus.  Some may, but I suspect most will find it elsewhere.

What Is Your Magnum Opus

What is your Purpose?  What drives you to invest energy into an area which is what you think about when you’re thinking about everything and nothing at all?  What passion fills the recesses of your mind when you’re alone with your thoughts?  What ideas motivate you with a Purpose beyond financial gain?  Think about those things, and dedicate some energy to discovering your real priorities.

To Your Magnum Opus.

Dedicate your energies to your Magnum Opus.  What does that mean to you?  As I think about it, my thoughts meander between priorities.  Between my wife, my daughter, and my circle of friends.  Work that will outlive me. Work that will influence, perhaps, generations.  The reason I’m here.

This blog, perhaps?  Maybe, but I don’t think even the 200+ posts I’ve done here merit Magnus Opus status.

A book, perhaps, where I capture the thoughts I’ve developed on Achieving A Great Retirement and share them openly with all who care to learn from my experience?  Perhaps it’s my daughter and the impact I can have on her as a Father for generations, a Patriarch for her children and grandchildren, God willing.  My wife, and my dedication to a relationship that was ordained by God?  My Faith, and the belief that there are things we do here on earth which have eternal consequence?

Magnum Opus

It’s a big question, and one I haven’t answered yet.


Challenge yourself to answer the question, “What Is Your Magnum Opus?”  What is your “Most Important Work”?  Think about our priorities, your purpose, your reason for being.  Be intentional, and pursue your purpose by investing energy into those areas which you believe can make an impact on the world.

What’s Your Magum Opus?

It’s a big question.

Have you answered it?


  1. Fascinating. Reminds me of “Mr. Holland’s Opus” with Richard Dreyfuss. Upon reflection, his opus had nothing to do with music, but rather the children, including his own son, he’d influenced and guided during his career.
    I’d like to think my kids will become my big Opus. When I retire early I expect to have more time to help them navigate and explore this world. Should be fun.

  2. My Magnum Opus will be the freedom that FIRE will give me at the end of the journey. The freedom to do what pleases me, to do what I find important; the freedom to start and stay with my family (I’m pretty young), to be there for my children and to what I can to teach them my values and be a good parent and husband.

    It’s a bit vague, someone might think it’s cheating a bit to be this broad with the definition, but I believe that even one’s Life might be their own Magnum Opus. In fact, I think more people should strive to achieve just that, instead of dying full of regret for a life never fully lived.

  3. I’ve definitely not completed mine yet, but look forward to the challenge. Hopeful I leave a positive impact on my children and family at minimum. Thankful I’ve the opportunity to try and reach others as well.

  4. I force myself not to think about this much because my magnum opus (opi? is that plural) was in the past. and pertains to what I perceive as God-given talents.

    I used to sing professionally and performed a 1-woman show in cabarets and supper clubs in NY. I remember one particular show around Christmas time where my friends in the audience began harmonizing with me on “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.” It was an unbelievable moment.

    The other magnum opus was from my pre-professional acting career. I did “Of Mice and Men” with Jimmy Smits in college. Even back then he had star quality (and was a really great human being). Plus, I was the only female in the show which was a mega senior-year ego boost.

    1. Wow, I’m blown away Mrs G! Amazing that you were a professional singer in NYC, certainly a goal many strive for without success. Congrats on a life well lived. Acting and singing with the stars, who’d have known? You’re a woman of many talents, Mrs G. I’m happy to hear you were able to get the opportunity to use them to achieve your Magnum Opus!!

  5. My Magnum Opus was my development of unique and superior teacher education programs at Georgia College. After 25 years they continue to be the best in the state and among the best in the country. I’m really proud of that. It was the culmination of my career in higher education.

  6. I like to think of living a life with impact as a collection of numerous Minimus-Opuses (Opi, Opera??).

    Each adds up to one big kick-ass contribution. Analogy would be the “Aggregation of Marginal Gains” in lifestyle, saving, helping others – all little by little.

    Sometimes big questions can easily be broken down into little answers. Yet we never find ALL those answers. Which is a reminder to Never Stop Learning. If that can be a philosophy that my kids can live by, I will take that as one Minimus-Opus.

  7. A “balanced life” consists of multiple Magnum Opuses in different areas of life. Family, career, impact on others etc. If you can do a magnum opus as part of your career and make a living, that is great, but FI gives you the freedom to go for that second act, perhaps a magnum opus to impact other people. That freedom is worth much more than any material things. Balance family with career can be difficult, but in the end, family has to come first. That is where you can make the most difference and where it’s needed the most and only you can provide.

    1. Sidney, I like the way the concept of Magnum Opus is evolving through these comments. I like the concept of multiple Magnum Opuses, or even an aggregation of Minimus-Opi as recommended by Mr. PIE! I agree that Family should be one of the highest priority areas in our lives, would through Spirituality in the mix as well. Thanks for stopping by!

  8. This is a post that gets you thinking. I feel like my Magnum Opus is my kids. Of course, this was a team effort with Mrs. FIways and Byways. Raising kids is a challenging journey in that it can be demanding both emotionally and financially. It is a work in process that goes on for many years. So many decisions are made throughout the years that have consequences, both positive and negative, that may not be realized for many years down the road. I think my individual Magnum Opus is yet to come.

    1. Sorry for sharing my addiction to thinking, hope it doesn’t keep you awake at night! I’ve long felt like raising our daughter was our Magnum Opus, but “Empty Nest” makes you rethink many things (there’s that “thinking” thing again), and I’m now on my quest for the Magnum Opus in my “Freedom Years”.

  9. So I’m one of those rare people who’s magnum opus would be my job. On a daily basis I am fortunate enough to get to help people and make a difference in their lives. Not only do I help the children and families that I work with, but I also love being an educator and a mentor to the new therapists entering the field. I even want to keep doing my job even after reaching FI, whether I am paid or not. As much as I hate to admit it, I spend so much time and energy thinking about my work. I am thankful that I happened to stumble into a profession that has brought so much value to my life.

    1. Mrs. Wow, I remember my Uncle asking me if I loved my job. At the time, I did. His response was that I should be extremely grateful, as so few people really love the work they do. As my time in Corporate America lengthened, my love diminished. I hope you’re able to love your work for as long as you do it, you are indeed blessed to have a job you love!

  10. I would like to think my magnum opus is a legacy I leave with the kids I have coached. I’ve coached for years. And only a few times have I had some kids come back and say thanks. But I feel like that makes it worth while, and I’m sure for every one that says thanks there’s 5 that think it. And 10 that hate me. Ha.

  11. I hadn’t given this subject too much thought before reading this post. I think I steer my mindset so that what I’m working on at any given time could be my magnum opus down the line. When I approach a new project – either at work or at home – I dream big on it pretty fast. While most of these projects go uncompleted, some end up impacting tons of people, and could end up being my magnum opus when I look back. I always think that I’ll do/create something bigger, better and more impactful down the line though.

    If I had to put mine into words, it might be more along the lines of a focus than a specific thing. Something like:

    I help empower people to transform their ideas into reality by enlivening education.

    I wrote about my mission some, which focuses on teaching in interesting ways. It’s something I’m constantly challenging myself to try, but there are always new things to do. I like the connection between a “mission” (or calling, or focus) and magnum opus – the product of that mission.

  12. Magnum opus in modern use is a creation that has been given much critical praise, especially one that is considered the greatest work of a person’s career or to a work of outstanding creativity, skill, profundity, or workmanship.

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