Keeping Busy in Retirement Life

One fear that many retirees must face early in their retirement career is what to do each day to keep busy and avoid becoming bored. Having left the working world behind where daily activities were dictated by our job responsibilities, senior citizens are on their own when it comes to entertaining themselves and staying active. Once the initial retirement honeymoon period is over – usually after the first six to twelve months – there is a lot of vacant time in the day and a lot of days in the year. Retirees must stay active, engaged, and challenged to enjoy a healthy and satisfying retired life. Is there somewhere a recipe for keeping busy?

A Couple of Case Studies

My parents have been retired for twelve years now. Both are in good health and they have saved enough money to live comfortably and do the things they want to in retirement. And there is surely no moss gathering under their feet! They maintain a schedule that would quickly tire someone half their age. Looking at their calendar, I am amazed at how busy they are, month in and month out. What exactly is on the schedule for this 78 year old retired couple? I took a look and selected a month at random. Here is what their month of May looked like:

Bridge – ten times for the month, on more than one occasion twice in a day – Mom and Dad both play bridge and are a dynamic duo when playing as a team, but it is typically Mom whose schedule is packed with bridge games galore.

Golf – eight times – Dad is the golfer in the family and likes to make time to hit the greens. And it is not about the score (although obviously less is better) but rather about the beautiful surroundings and the people he is playing with. Just last week he shot 44 on the front nine and others in his party were rubbing him for luck. The back nine – I forget what the final total was…

Family visiting them – two times for the month.

Travel to visit family – three times in May.

Tennis – four times for the month.

Theater and symphony – three times including “Barefoot in the Park” at the local civic theater.

Band practice – three times which is actually one less than normal – Dad plays the trumpet and a typical month includes rehearsals every Monday evening. Practice makes perfect as he is a fixture in the Christmas, Fourth of July, Veterans Day, and other concerts each year.

Lunch and dinner dates – eight events including a museum reception, a senior luncheon, and a dinner dance.

Miscellaneous appointments for the month (termite inspection, some I could not decipher, etc.)  – eleven for the month of May.

WHEW! And you can bet that June and July and each subsequent month is just as packed. With this kind of a schedule plus the time they take to walk the neighborhood, read their favorite tomes, enjoy a Netflix moment viewing favorite old movies,  and debate their political point of view with all comers, they do not have to be concerned about what to do to stay sharp, active, and with it. They are already doing it big time!

A second retired member of the family who refuses to sit still for very long is my Aunt. She has always been adventurous with regular house swaps that allowed her to travel the world and experience numerous cultures and exotic locations that the rest of us only read about in National Geographic. For example, her honeymoon was spent in Egypt where her husband x-rayed the pyramids in search of hidden chambers – not likely to be offered anytime soon as one of Rick Steve’s package deals. Retired now for a handful of years and living in an upscale retirement community, she is still that favorite Aunt that you have to schedule time with FAR in advance since available days are at a premium. But she is well worth the effort.

Here is a partial list of some of her retirement activities:

–      Publicizing concerts by professionally trained musicians who actually chose medicine, computer science, teaching, etc. to earn a living but still like to perform for the public.

–      Member of numerous clubs in the community including Computer Club, the Nature Club, and the Wine Tasting Club.

–      Regular workout and exercise at the local facilities.

–      Avid Folk Dancer who travels widely to participate in events.

–      Traveler of the globe whose wanderings this year included New England and Maine for the colors, plus Atlanta to visit and walk among the plantations. Plans for 2011 so far include a 10-day-driving journey through Montreal and Quebec, a return visit to Maine, and a walking tour of Eastern Europe!

It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about? ~ Henry David Thoreau

What can you do to avoid boredom in retirement? Get out there and experience the world. Don’t wait for a knock on the door or a bolt of sudden inspiration – just do it. Find those with common interests and share those interests. Step outside of your comfort zone and you will be surprised just what you are capable of doing. And plan on enjoying yourself along the way. There is so much out there waiting for us. But our waiting will not get it done and patience in this case is no virtue. Fill your calendar, fill your spare time, fill your experiences, and live that full life that retired people not only deserve, but finally have the time to live.

5 thoughts on “Keeping Busy in Retirement Life

  1. Thanks for this peek into your parent’s calendar. Absolutely fascinating. I find reading lists of activities like this totally inspiring. It makes me feel I have to get busy and get more active.

  2. Yes, you’re quite right. We retired folk need to push ourselves a bit to get out there and find meaning in our lives. And this can take some time. For that reason, a newly retired person should expect a bit of “floundering around,” and not become frustrated by it. Happy Thanksgiving, Bill

  3. Pingback: Active Retirement – Healthy Aging Requires It « Retirement – only the beginning

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