In the beginning entering retirement is a glorious adventure. How incredibly liberating it is to finally have time to do all you have wanted to. It feels wonderful to live at a pace you are comfortable with rather than one dictated by others. Days can be filled with activities you enjoy, hobbies you choose to revisit, and an endless variety of new things to explore. What could be better?
And yet some find sustaining a fulfilling fun retirement is not so easy. After a year or so spent catching up on travel dreams and reconnecting with friends and family and whittling down that to-do-list and taking a second look at hobbies of yore, that initial excitement can begin to wear off. What next? What do I do to find meaning in my days?
Keeping your retirement fresh and interesting is a full time job. You cannot laze your way through if you want to make the most of your second act.
Get a Job (you like)
I am not suggesting you jump back into the mad working fray you so recently escaped. Rather, imagine a role you would enjoy at a company you respect doing something that brings a smile to your face. Such a place does exist – you just have to find it.
Create the blueprint of your perfect job. Figure out how many hours you would like to work. Factor in your commute or if possible avoid that time sink completely. Make a list of those things you do not want to do and avoid those situations. Reach out to your professional as well as personal network to share what you are looking for. As you know many jobs are never listed but rather filled by someone who knows someone.
Don’t settle for less than what you deserve. You have paid your dues. Those days of stress and struggle are behind. Take your time, consider your options, and do your diligence before you make your move. And remember if it does not work out you do not have to stick with it.
This time around don’t settle until you find a job you like/enjoy/look forward to.
Set Free the Creative You
Each of us is creative in his/her own way. It’s just some of us push that creativity down inside us rather than unleash it. Whether we resist expressing our talents because we are shy or afraid or lack confidence or are simply hiding, if we dig down it is there. Not all of us can be a Da Vinci or Hemingway but so what. You do not have to impress anyone.
The thing about creativity is it seeks an outlet. You can only deny your inner self so long. Write a book or a play or a short story or a poem. Compose a song. Paint a landscape. Start a garden. Remodel a room. Rehabilitate an old car. Try something new not because you have to but because you choose to.
Expand your Mind
Would you be interested in learning more about a topic that excites you? Going “back to school” when you retire is a whole new ballgame. Firstly with all the online offerings you don’t necessarily have to go to a classroom. This time around there will be no exams, no competition to be the best, no deadlines to deliver. You can work at a pace you choose. You “study” when you want to. And if you lose interest along the way you are free to move onto something new.
Retirees find themselves removed from the demanding world they knew, a positive in many ways. But without that routine requiring us to think and engage it is easy to lose your edge and find your senses dulled. Exercise that brain to stay on top of your game.
Be Wild and Crazy
Retirement offers a chance to step outside the box you have lived within all these years. No one is watching – do what you want. And even in someone is watching, so what! Dance in the street if the mood strikes you. Color your hair or your nails or your lips anyway you want. Sing, laugh, dance, enjoy – if not now, when? As a sage Forrest Gump might venture, “crazy is as crazy does.”
Record your story
Many are interested in understanding the people and places that constitute their personal history. Ancestry.com and other sites help dig up facts and faces to better understand where we came from. But the best source of accurate information for future generations is stored in our individual memories. No one knows better the minute details that make up the life we have lived. Who can more vividly paint a picture of the environment and times, the hopes and challenges, the happiness and tears than someone who has experienced them first hand. Imagine a descendant reading your story a hundred years from now, reliving those times that tie you together forever.
Our second act can be the best time of our lives. Revive your retirement by trying new things. None of us wants to miss out on a once in a lifetime opportunity when it comes our way.