One of the great rewards of retirement is when you get there you can do what you want. Whatever you love, whatever you are most passionate about, whatever you have always wanted to try but never had the time, all await your undivided attention when you cross the retirement threshold.
I don’t think one really appreciates the nature of free time until you retire. While on the job any free time you may squeeze out of the day offers a brief taste, a momentary respite in an otherwise turbo world. In a flash you find yourself back on the treadmill quickly bidding adieu to that relaxed pressure free escape that too soon becomes but a memory.
As a retiree you are in the driver seat. As a retiree you set the pace that suits you best. As a retiree you have time for fun – finally. And now that you have all the time in the world, what do you do?
It is not always easy to effortlessly transition to a life where no one tells you what to do. Freedom might even feel a bit scary if you find you are at a loss over how to fill the hours.
Fear not – many have gone down the same road you now navigate. A little practice, a pinch of creativity, a willingness to step outside your comfort zone and you should soon find your second act all you hoped it to be – maybe even more.
What do people do for fun once they retire?
One regular LBR reader typically ends her correspondence with “keep on dancing.” Two years into retired life she explores opportunities to volunteer and engage with her community. Each day is a chance to try something new and her perpetual optimism fuels her journey.
A friend has become very involved with the quilting community in our area. She attends regular get-togethers, man’s booths at local events, and enjoys conversing with others similarly inclined. Plus she creates some truly beautiful quilts whether to decorate her own home or donate to worthy causes.
My wife has a dedicated table (on wheels) set aside to build challenging jigsaw puzzles. She works on nothing less than 2000 pieces and has completed some majestic works. And once again proof it’s about the journey rather than the destination – once completed she calmly takes them apart and puts back in their box (after taking a picture of course).
One neighbor teaches a yoga class weekly out of her house. A handful of dedicated locals show up regularly to bend, stretch and meditate their way toward better lives.
Gardening is a wonderful way to feed your creativity while at the same time enjoying the outdoors. There is always something to do if you hope to keep things ship shape. And in the end efforts spent weeding, pruning, fertilizing and defending the crop from varmint’s results in beautiful flowers, tasty veggies and juicy fruit.
Along the lines of enjoying the outdoors taking a walk or hike through the neighborhood and surrounding parks is good exercise, puts you in contact with people around you and gives you a chance to ruminate as you take in nature. No planning is required – just head out the front door and start walking. You never know where you might end up.
My wife discovered the wonders of Pinterest on her iPhone. Each day she scans the site for new creative and tasty recipes to try out. Talk about a win-win situation! My favorite to date is the Pear Tart with powdered almond crust.
Another friend has become quite the bicycle rider. He is often seen wandering the back roads or slipping and sliding down mountain paths in local parks. Great exercise and he sure covers some ground.
My brother has set a goal to visit all the California Missions. His family joins him as they track down new locations near wherever they happen to be traveling. History, beautiful scenery and quality family time are rolled into one memorable outing.
The same brother feeds his passion for music by joining with a handful of similarly minded young-at-heart to play songs for friends and family. He still composes original works and I find there is nothing better than sitting in on a jam session to share his joy of music.
My dad has always loved going for an afternoon drive. The nearby Sierra Foothills offer unlimited views of gnarly old oak trees sprinkled across expansive rolling hills. And when the wild flowers are blooming there is no prettier spot on earth.
My Aunt Lydia took up oil painting later in life. With no formal training just because she enjoyed doing it she began putting on canvas colorful still life portraits as well as a multitude of scenic views. All family members have a picture or two from her gallery.
Have you ever felt the urge to write a story? Or perhaps document your family history for future generations? Retirement can offer the perfect opportunity to release the writer within you.
Our neighbors are avid bird watchers. They love spotting a new winged visitor in the trees and figuring out what the heck it is. They turned me onto a great app that helps identify unknown fliers by their size, colors, and even the song they sing. Check out Merlin from Cornell Lab.
My wife and I have incorporated a few games into our end-of-the-day agenda. Come 5:00 you can expect to see us sitting down on the patio engaged in a spirited battle of Gin Rummy, Backgammon or Dominoes. We find a little friendly competition helps get the juices flowing before dinner.
A few other options you might consider: learn a new language, learn to play a musical instrument, volunteer, become your own handyman, figure out your family tree, add a pet, travel, join a choir, try your hand at the art medium of your choice, learn to cook, start a business, buy/rent an RV and hit the road, babysit, be a mentor, and the list goes on.
Having fun in retirement is not so difficult. Of course you have to give yourself permission to do so. Occasionally you may feel slightly guilty having free time to do what you want while so many others struggle in the same old day to day grind. But remember you paid your dues. You survived the grind and this is your chance to make up for lost time. Now is your time to have fun.