What Do You Do For Fun In Retirement?

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.

Senior Playing at Water's Edge

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.

LoveBeingRetired.com

Managing Your Retirement To Do List

One of the great pleasures of embarking on retirement is having the time and freedom to attack your to-do list. Who among us has not compiled a wish list of the many things we want to do once we finally retire? All those adventures and activities and interests we have been too busy to pursue while working and raising a family can now ascend to top priority. Starting right now we get to do what we want. What better than working our way through one after another of those long delayed but highly anticipated pending projects and special plans?

Having a retirement to-do list can also help smooth out the transition into full-time retired living. Those first months and sometimes years when we find ourselves solely responsible for filling the hours with meaningful activities can be daunting. Having a compilation of things to do not only helps keep us busy but can make retirement a positive experience from day one.

What’s on your retirement to-do list?

Travel

For many the first order of the day once retirement rolls in is getting on the travel train – or plane or boat or whatever your preferred method of transport. Now that you have time and while you are still in good physical condition the world beckons. Some have a specific destination in mind, a place they have read about and researched and pictured themselves visiting for as long as they can remember. Others take advantage of the expertise offered by services that specialize in recommending the perfect travel itinerary based on your personal interests, style and desired activities.

And some prefer the flaneur approach, heading out the door with no destination in mind happily wandering toward new and unexpected discoveries. Whatever your particular inclination, travel is an exciting and fulfilling piece of your second act.

Get Fit

It might be easy finding an excuse not to exercise when you have no available time with all your energies going into doing the job and fulfilling family duties. No more. Now you are retired and have time to take care of yourself. And if you hope to make the most of your second act you need to do so. Adding fitness goals to your retirement to do list is a winner for all concerned. Not only will you look and feel better physically but your whole mental outlook improves. With more energy you can do more of those things you love. You can spend quality time with those who matter most. Your to do list has a good chance of getting to done. Getting fit is not just for you but also everyone in your life.

Fix-it/make it better

How about all of those need-to-fix situations around the home and garden? I am talking about the gate that never quite closes right or the neglected drip sprinkler system, the cabinets that look dated and worn or the fading wall paint, those things that you are aware of but just have not found the time or motivation to address. Retirement is the perfect time to break out those dusty tools and forgotten talents and make things better. Even if you have never done it before the self-help available on YouTube and Google can make you a tool man/woman before you know it.

Beyond the basic fix-it aspect is the creative part of doing things yourself. You may find you have a talent for interior decorating or garden design. What about writing a book or trying your hand at painting? Set the creative you free and see what happens.

Scratching these fix-it items from your retirement to-do list, one at a time, can be satisfying on its own. And remember there are no deadlines – take your time, do it right and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Try something new

The nice thing about a to-do list is it is a living document. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself adding two new items for each one you remove! And that’s okay. Remember you have time, lots of it. You may discover things you never thought you would be interested in until now – make room for them on the list. Your neighbor might share an experience that you find intriguing – feel free to give it a try on your own. Our new motto should be “don’t be shy, give it a try”.

Tastes may change as you continue along your retirement journey. You may discover new passions you did not have a decade ago. My wife is becoming quite the quilter, something she was never interested in until retired. I am becoming somewhat of a history buff something I never would have been interested in years ago. Retirement is a great time to feed your curiosity.

Since I am a few years into retirement my original to do list is pretty much done. But the additions I have made to this living document should keep me busy into the foreseeable future. There is nothing better than scratching off a completed item unless it might be adding something new and exciting to work toward. You never know what might find its way onto your retirement to do list and that is half the fun!

LoveBeingRetired.com

What to Expect in Retirement

The only way to really understand what it is like to live the retirement life is to do it. You might read books and blogs to get a high level overview of what to expect. Friends and family may have helpful input based upon personal experiences. And there are more courses and classes than you can shake a stick at. All of this information can provide some guidance as you begin to navigate your retirement journey. But no one who has gone before you will have lived retirement in exactly the same way you will.

Our freedom to pursue what we love while building the custom retirement closest to our individual definition of perfection is a gift. Imagine creating a “job” description for yourself that includes only those things you love. As a retiree you can set your own hours, spend your time doing what you want, avoid unnecessary stress, answer to no one and look forward to tomorrow. How does that sound?

Although your journey will not exactly mirror my own I want to share a few noteworthy discoveries made over the last four years spent in the trenches (aka retirement).

Taking responsibility for your own inspiration

It is a sad fact that some retirees all too soon find themselves disappointed. When high expectations are not met boredom and frustration can follow. And yet there are others who revel in their days. They are busy and engaged and often cannot find enough time in the day to get everything done they want. One difference is they do not wait for the world to inspire them. Instead they seek out excitement and new experiences forever on the lookout for new avenues to explore. It is not always easy to find inspiration to live life to the fullest. But waiting for something to come along is not a good course of action. I do my best to use my imagination, explore my dreams, try to stretch beyond any self-imposed limitations and go for it. So far so good.

Feeling more at peace with life

Many retirees find retirement to be a safe port after the storm. There is a lot to be said about finally arriving at the doorstep of our second act. Most of those stresses that consumed us in earlier years are behind us. We need no longer struggle with the pressures of the work scene. The family is for the most part (hopefully) raised and independent. We no longer feel the need to prove our self to anyone other than our self. And we have blessed free time to spend as we choose. Where in earlier days it was easy to let all the little things get to you, retirement seems to thicken the skin a bit – we learn not to sweat the small stuff especially when beyond our control.

For many, retirement can be the happiest time of their lives. Leaving stress behind and enjoying the moment can be just what the doctor ordered. I am learning to go with the flow and try to focus on the positive.

Watching expenses more closely

A reality of retirement is you must live within your means. According to  a recent study by BMO Wealth Management 35 percent of Americans over 55 consider debt reduction their biggest financial concern. If you were budget conscious before you retired the transition should be relatively painless. Just keep doing what worked for you on your way here. If balancing the books was challenging in the past there is some good news. You will no longer have to deal with certain expenses like education, mortgage payments (roughly one third of Americans 55 and older have paid off their homes), commuting costs, business clothes and 401k deductions. The bad news is healthcare costs have the potential to more than make up for many of those discontinued fees. I am learning in retirement the importance of balancing and prioritizing, of spending on what is most important to health and happiness while cutting back on extravagant or unnecessary things. So far it is not that difficult – just takes a little extra effort.

Humoring those friends not yet retired

Although I am retired not all of my friends are so fortunate. It should not be surprising that an occasional pang of jealousy might come into play. The good news is my friends are a great bunch of people. They look forward to their own exit from the working world, most the sooner the better. Still it does not hurt to be sensitive. Some jobs are just fine while others are nightmares. I try to encourage those struggling to hang in there and keep their eye on the prize. I tell them how I enjoy the retired life but don’t rub it in. Keep on track, stay focused and don’t give up. I can personally vouch for the fact it will be worth the wait.

No one knows how their retirement will play out until they begin living it. Expect the unexpected. Prepare as best you can for the financial as well as non-financial aspects of your journey. Do your best. Then hang on for the ride – it should be a doosie!

LoveBeingRetired.com