So after scrimping and doing without for so long, with years of putting others needs first as you provided for your family and countless re-evaluations of when and if you can retire, you have finally crossed the threshold. You are retired – let the golden years begin! It has been a hard road and you can consider yourself lucky as I am reading yet another headline saying 27% of those over 55 are postponing retirement. In fact some wonder if they will ever be able to retire.
We all want to retire at some point – what that retirement will look like exactly is subject to interpretation as many will continue to work in some capacity whether they need to or because they want to. But deep down I think we all believe that retirement is an American way of life just like owning a home or getting an education. Hmm – those are not such a given anymore either – these times they are a changing. At least it USED TO BE assumed that retirement awaited us all when age 65 rolled around so for the sake of this post let’s assume that things are as they used to be and you are among the retired masses.
Your calendar is open, you list is made, the day awaits – where to start? At your “ripe old age”, do you even remember how to have fun? And as we have been warned, the first six months of retirement are easy – the honeymoon period when we can finally do what we want to do when we want to do it. The new freedom is intoxicating but be aware the hangover. One morning you may awake and find yourself wondering what you will do with the rest of your retirement years and there are a lot of them!
Excitement in Retired Life
I believe we do in fact know how to have fun but we have insulated ourselves to survive an often unfriendly world. In retirement, this insulation can get in the way of us stepping out and really enjoying ourselves. Better safe than sorry is no way to enter a retirement that may be 20 or 30 or more years. What can we do to regain that free feeling we experienced during the honeymoon period? Where can senior citizens find excitement in retirement?
Watch hockey! Growing up I had never seen or had any interest in seeing a hockey game. Then a friend took me to a live Sharks game back in 1993. Although I did not understand the nuances, the incredible energy of the screaming fans quickly raised my excitement level and I was hollering along with the rest of the faithful. When I came home that night, I lay awake for hours until I finally calmed down enough to sleep. I have been a fan ever since and the fact that my son and daughter are equally fanatical just adds to the experience for us all. I am sure other sports have similar impact on people but for me it is hockey. And with the San Jose SHARKS just one round away from the Stanly Cup Finals, now is the time to witness playoff hockey which is as good as is gets!
Take that trip and take a chance – my wife has traveled extensively over the years and is comfortable in pretty much any situation. Her past adventures include hiking alone through Guatemala for three months. So when we travel these days, I follow her lead. While in Paris she wanted to visit Montmartre, renowned for its Sacre Cour church and as a hangout for local artists. However to get there we had to wend our way through a less-than-desirable neighborhood asking directions if we dared from the always helpful French locals (!) Following her lead and holding her hand firmly we made the journey and arrived safely, and it was the highpoint of a very exciting vacation trip. You never know what some out-of-the-way neighborhood may have to offer until you walk its streets. Moral of the story – take a chance, step outside of your comfort zone a bit and experience the real world outside of movies and TV specials.
Buy and manage a hotel on a Caribbean island – the sun, the sand, freedom from crowds and incessant advertising, a steel-drum playing in the background with a fruity rum drink in your hand, a tropical island may be just the ticket. Put your entrepreneurial skills to work and watch the rest of the world go by. Actually before you attempt such an endeavor I recommend you read Herman Wouk’s Don’t stop the Carnival. Even if you decide against the tropical move, the book is a wonderful read!
Become a blogger – there is an amazing array of personalities in the blogosphere with interests spanning everything from retirement to reptiles. As you write and read other blogs, you will meet folks with similar interests and passions. You can share your thoughts in your posts as well as interact with others via their blog and websites. It is easy and rewarding and who knows where it may lead.
Retirement is only the beginning. Don’t be afraid to live. Don’t be crazy dangerous but also don’t be overly cautious. Live the life you have dreamed and if you are so inclined, share your adventures with the rest of us. We just might find the inspiration we need to step outside of our own safety zone and live an exciting retirement life.