How To Keep Retirement Fresh

Once you are fortunate enough to retire, you don’t want to squander your hard-earned free time. With 20 or 30 years to look forward to, you are free to fill your days with activities and experiences you genuinely want to pursue. But not everyone enjoys this newfound freedom. You could find yourself somewhat lost, unsure of how to spend your time and bored with the limited options you are able to come up with.

Now that you manage your own time, it is up to you to keep your retirement life interesting. Here are a few ideas to help keep retirement fresh:

Do something special for you. After decades of work and caring for a family, it is not surprising that we may have fallen into a less-than-exciting routine. Doing the same things every day is a rather lackluster way to go. As a retiree with time on your hands, why not shake things up a bit? Do something special or out of the ordinary. It could be as simple as celebrating your birthday in a new way by introducing a bit of adventure. Take the opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and try something you have always wanted to do.

While I am not a thrill-seeker, I’m still planning some first-time adventures for retirement. I look forward to perhaps steelhead fishing the Rogue River in Oregon, hot air ballooning over Sonoma Valley or camping at Big Sur under the pine trees. I’m hoping to have at least one annual adventure in the coming years.

Go ahead and spoil yourself. If you have never been pampered by a full-day spa treatment or sat by an outdoor fire on the beach while watching the sun set, this can be your chance. Splurge on a five-course meal with wine pairings or open up the pricy bottle you’ve been saving. Create a special event to look forward to.

Keep learning new things. I recently signed up for a series of online classes on understanding investments. I want to better understand the terminology and concepts of the investment world. With the flexibility of online sessions, I am able to watch as much as I want at one time, pause when needed and replay if I do not quite grasp the concept Musical Glassesthe first time around. There are also many other topics available, including everything from growing a killer garden in containers to medieval European history to understanding the brain. Best of all, there is no exam at the end of the process.

If you prefer the face-to-face interaction of a standard classroom setting, local colleges offer a diverse collection of topics for those with the time and interest. You can even learn with the great outdoors as your classroom. Consider taking a senior group hike through a national park, where trained guides describe the culture and history as you walk through some of the most beautiful spots on earth. Since you choose what and how you study, learning can be fun.

Expand your social circle. The more people you engage with, the more variety you expose yourself to. I am not talking about more Facebook friends, but more people you actually see and interact with in a non-virtual way. When my parents first moved to their current home, they did not know anyone. But they made the extra effort to meet the neighbors and spend time with co-workers. Before long they found themselves busily engaged in regular bridge clubs, tennis outings and dinner parties. They have come to know many wonderful people with diverse backgrounds while maintaining a perpetually busy calendar. Whether you prefer a club setting or more intimate gatherings, getting out and meeting others can open up new avenues to explore, keeping your retirement interesting.

Have some fun. With no stress from a job and more free time to pursue your interests, you might think retirees would be happier than most working people. But whether due to the effects of aging, money concerns or other factors that come into play, retirement living can be challenging. To make the most of your time, you need to add some fun to your day.

Pause to think about what brings a smile to your face. You and your partner could create separate lists of things you most enjoy doing. Put each on a slip of paper and throw them into a hat. When you need a little inspiration for something to do, draw one and go for it.

A few years ago my wife tried her hand at Sudoku. She has always been puzzle-inclined, and before long she found herself starting each morning with the daily Sudoku from the newspaper. I was reluctant to give it a try since I did not understand the attraction. However, I recently gave in, and now my wife makes a copy of the daily puzzle so both of us can enjoy the challenge. You never know where you might find yourself having fun until you try.

From my blog for US News & World 

How To Find Your Ideal Retirement Lifestyle

Many baby boomers are approaching the age when thoughts of retirement dance in their heads. The idea of leaving behind the stress and pressure of work can sound intriguing and even magical. From the moment of retirement onward you will be master of your future and keeper of your personal time card. How difficult can it be to live a life where you do what you want when you want to do it?

But the transition into retirement can be difficult. Some retirees stumble as they try to figure out how to make the most of a second act. The onslaught of free time can be overwhelming and sometimes downright scary. It’s a big responsibility to be solely responsible for your own time and quality of life. Here’s how to ease the transition into the retired life you want:

Move toward something positive versus merely escaping. One highly anticipated retirement perk is the freedom that comes from never having to work again. Even the best of jobs can grow tiresome after 30 years. And for those stuck in a bad work situation, every day can seem endlessly brutal. Retirement can be a welcome escape from a stressful career. But if your sole motivation is to escape the harsh realities of a job, you may not be setting yourself up for an ideal second act.

Imagine yourself retired one year from today, free from the worries of work and in control of your days. The job is behind you, but what is ahead? If you have no idea what will make up the next 20 to 30 years, you may find you have left behind one problem only to find yourself trapped in another.

A healthy retirement should be made up of experiences and activities you enjoy that also give you a sense of purpose. Your days should be populated with meaningful moments rather than merely stress free. The excitement and adventure that can be part of retirement should be your focus, not merely an escape from a bad situation.

Accept that there will be a transition period. Before you retire the majority of your time each week is dedicated to your job. The day after you retire, those 40 or 50 hours previously reserved for your employer become yours. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself not sure exactly what to do. Optimizing your time to make the most of your days will take some trial and error before you arrive at the right mixture of relaxing and meaningful activities. Try not to be in a rush. Remember, you are no longer on the clock. Take whatever time you need as you progress into full-time retirement. Whatever pace works for you is the right pace since you now control your time. Gradually, you should be able to find your place in your new role, but it can take time, so be patient.

Set some rules. Don’t let yourself get caught up in doing more than you want to, especially early in retirement. Take some time to feel your way along before making long-term commitments. Leave enough time in the day for yourself, whether for exercise, downtime or reflection. Don’t feel the need to populate every day on the calendar. Remember when your days at work passed in a blur? Now that you control your time, don’t allow yourself to be sucked into a similar exhausting regimen.

You may also need to set boundaries with your children and grandchildren. Just because you are retired does not instantly make you the de facto babysitting service. You want to enjoy the experience, not feel taken advantage of. Some ground rules early on can prevent hurt feelings down the road and make for a more enjoyable interaction for all involved. If you enjoy volunteering your time to care for others, good for you. But don’t make the mistake of overcommitting yourself before you have a chance to become familiar with your new lifestyle. You want to enjoy the experience of helping others, not feel stressed and pulled in multiple directions at the same time. It is up to you to manage your time while keeping your best interests in mind.

Remember retirement is only the beginning. Your retirement should not be viewed as the end of a career and life as you have known it. You are about to enter a new stage where you have control over how you spend your time. Finally you can pursue the things you find most interesting. Retirement is a beginning, not an end.

As I enter my retirement days, I am able to explore my love of writing. I have the ability to focus more on living a healthy lifestyle because I have time to exercise and create nutritious meals. I am able to continue learning, especially with the many online courses available. And since I study to expand my knowledge rather than pass a test or earn a degree, I choose what I like, proceed at a pace I am comfortable with and the whole experience is much more enjoyable. I have more time to spend with those most important to me. My wife and I have a chance to become reacquainted and revisit the people we were when we first met. With the right attitude and a little effort, retirement can be the beginning of wonderful things to be.

Reward yourself. It is not easy to make it all the way to retirement. The path along the way is filled with sacrifices and effort. When you finally cross over into your retired life, give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done. You have earned the right to spend your time as you see fit, so do it. Try not to feel guilty if others are not yet able to join the ranks of the retired. You have paid your dues, and now it is time to reward yourself.

From my blog on US News & World

Follow These 5 R’s for a Rewarding Retirement

When you retire, you want to do it right. After so much careful preparation and struggle, you have earned the right to join the ranks of the retired, and you want to make sure it’s worth the effort. Here’s how to make sure your retirement will be fulfilling:

Reward yourself. You have earned the right to spend your free time as you choose. Don’t put pressure on yourself to fill your days with meaningful accomplishments. You are no longer a worker bee, so you can choose to do what is right for you. There is no performance review, no measures of success and no pressure to rise in the ranks. Retirement is your time to pursue what matters to you. What better reward than the option to spend your moments however you choose. You have the option to do nothing at all or try something new.

Rejuvenate your life. It is likely that after 30 or more years working you may feel a bit tired. Your job may have required a steep price for success. Retirement can be your opportunity to relax and start over at a slower pace. It doesn’t matter what you did in the past. From this day forward you can look to the future. Who you were on the job does not have to be who you are in retirement. Behaviors that were essential to your business success may be out of place in retirement. So, get rid of them. Retirement can be the perfect time to make a fresh start.

Refocus your energies. With your job behind you, get ready to add at least 40 hours of free time to your week. Now that you have the ability to choose you can focus attention on the other areas in your life that may have been ignored. Your family is likely due some make up time. Relationships with friends that have fallen to the wayside can be rekindled if you desire. If you have not been attentive to your health, this is a good time to revisit your exercise routine, establish a healthy diet and start practicing good habits across the board. All the energy that went into keeping up with the industry and corporate politics can now be refocused on real passions and interests that you want to pursue.

Respect your limitations. What you were able to do 30 years ago will not necessarily be what you can do today. But aging does not necessarily preclude living a good life. By learning to accept your limitations you can be better prepared to make the most of each day. Try not to regret what you can no longer do, but instead rejoice at what you are still capable of. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Remember how many times others have turned to you for assistance over the years.

Renew your interests. Think about what you want to do with your time. The hobbies and interests that excited you in the past can be revisited and explored in depth. You could write a novel, learn a new instrument, become fluent in the language of your choice, try your hand at ballroom dancing or do whatever else interests you most. Retirement is your reward for all your efforts that went into getting you safely and hopefully sanely to retirement.

From my blog for US News & World. Dave Bernard is the author of “I Want To Retire! Essential Considerations for the Retiree to Be“. Although not yet retired, he focuses on identifying and understanding the essential components of a fulfilling and meaningful retirement. He shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement-Only The Beginning.