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 

Enjoy the Freedom of Retirement

A typical life story for most of us might go something like this: Our first 25 years are spent growing up, experiencing an introduction to the realities of what it means to become an adult and getting educated as we prepare as best we can to enter the “real world.” The next 30-40 years are spent working for a living, paying the bills and raising a family.  And hopefully the final years – our second act – will be spent retired from the stresses and challenges that we have somehow managed to survive to this point.

Not an easy road by any means yet something we all must travel. Looking back on the years gone by I am sometimes amazed at the resilience and persistence exhibited by we mere mortals. In efforts to make ends meet and prepare for our future we are often forced to endure thankless and sometimes abusive work environments for years on end. Stress becomes our new best friend as we attempt to pay never ending day-to-day bills while somehow also providing for big ticket expenses like education, braces, cars, and the occasional wedding. We are forced to delay the pursuit of our own interests and passions because there is just not enough time in the day. It just plain ain’t easy!

But should we be so fortunate as to safely and sanely arrive at the doorstep of retirement, perhaps this is our time to live a little. Maybe with a large chunk of our responsibilities taken care of there will be a little time left in the day to enjoy the freedom we so rightly deserve.

If I close my eyes and think about what the retired me will be able to do (or not do as the case may be), the future looks bright. I am optimistic and excited and more than ready to jump into that second act and live it for all it is worth.

Here is a short list of some ways I plan to enjoy the freedom of my retirement:

(1) Knock out my to-do list – I have been adding to this list for many years in the hopes I may someday have the free time to attack it. Based on where the list is today, I figure to be busy for about a year assuming I do not add to it along the way. I can’t wait!

(2) Set my own pace - since there is nothing that I must do or any hard and fast timelines, I plan to proceed at a pace that suites me. I figure some days I may be less energetic than others. If that is the case, I can and will take it slower. I am the decider.

(3) Try new things – I am anxious to dig into my various hobbies and interests but now that I have time I hope to experiment with new things as well. I want to take a journey outside of my comfort zone while I am still young enough to do so. A little excitement and a little variety are in the cards for me.

(4) Spend more time with friends and family – the most important people in my life have sometimes been pushed to the bottom of my priority list due the nature of life. I plan to renew and rebuild those relationships I value most.

(5) Writing – I love to express myself in blogs and books. I can see each day starting with some time in front of the computer where I put thoughts to paper (or actually MS Word). And of course if I lack inspiration on a particular day no problem – I will try again tomorrow. No pressure…

(6) Try my hand at cooking – I love good food and am always looking for the next killer recipe. Now I have time to experiment and discover even more.

(7) Do nothing and feel guilt free – I know that the habits built over a 30 year career will take some time to break. One I plan on addressing short order is riding myself of that nagging feeling of guilt should I not put every minute to productive use. If I decide to sit in the yard with coffee in hand for the better part of the morning, so be it. Reading, napping, and daydreaming will have all the time they need in my retired life.

Obviously this is just a subset of what can be a truly impressive list. And your list may vary. Whatever your interests or passions retirement can provide the freedom to pursue each as you see fit. It has been a long road and you have earned the right to do what you want. Enjoy.

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.