Retirement is supposed to be the best time of your life, right? No one retires and expects to be bored to death. That isn’t what you signed up for. The Ultimate Guide on things to do when retired and bored takes a unique approach to breaking the cycle of monotony.
First, understand that it's a state of mind where you experience disinterest and lack of motivation. Some of the factors that contribute to that feeling might include:
Interestingly, this state of mind only occurs while you are psychologically energetic without something meaningful to do. Ever notice that it is almost impossible to feel unmotivated while you are doing something fun or are completely relaxed? Thus, it is because you are doing something unimportant that you experience disinterest and lack of motivation.
Let’s face it, retirement is not an easy transition for everyone. We go from a busy lifestyle to suddenly having a great deal of time on our hands. At first, it seems wonderful with no one holding us accountable plus the ability to do whatever we want. As the novelty wears off, many retirees expand a low value activity to fill their hours. As an example, a friend decided on the drive home not to pick up a few things at the grocery store. The reason was so they would have something to do the following day! They had both been busy professionals and were now searching for something to do each day.
At the other extreme are people who are busier than ever. They immerse themselves into anything and everything to keep busy. Unfortunately, finding that these activities are not important or worthwhile to them causes feelings of indifference to soon rear its ugly head.
Some retirees get “stuck” in almost the same routine day after day. It becomes like Ground Hog Day. Somehow, you need to breakout of the same old patterns and find a way to revitalize your days. The first step to consider is “what is the underlying reason for this dissatisfaction?”
If you can identify the causes, then it makes it easier to change them. On a side note, many people suppress unresolved feelings of anger, loss, and/or sadness that hold them back. These aren’t easy to pin down and can be an underlying factor. Examples include marital difficulties, health related issues, or financial setbacks. In addition, if you are sleep deprived or overwhelmed with busyness you are more prone to feeling more discontentment.
Now what is the purpose of your life? It might be as simple as “I want to be happy and healthy”. You might choose to expand it with “spend more time with family and friends”, “traveling and seeing the world” or “making a difference for others”. How do you want to be remembered? Hopefully, not that he/she was a miserable old curmudgeon! For myself, my desire is that my research and words help others with their transition into a great retirement.
Too often we get caught up in life and it feels like we are autopilot. Take the time to think about what is really important to you and use it as your guiding light. This will make it easier to focus on the things that will interest you and make a difference.
Isn’t it sad that after a lifetime of working, most of us are at a loss to identify anything that really excites us? Without a doubt, it is easy to dismiss everything we’re not interested in. The greater challenge is to discover (or re-discover) those dormant interests that add zest to your life.
Let’s say you are one of the fortunate few that only desires a little “spice” in your life. You just haven’t found anything that is really captivating so, occasionally, you feel a little disinterested. Think back to your childhood and what used to excite you. If you took an aptitude test, there were likely strengths that you never pursued. If you can find something that at least intrigues you, then give it a shot and “just do it”. If that doesn’t work out, you can always try something else.
For the rest of us, we need to think in a more comprehensive way. Instead of looking for the one thing, it really should be more about balance in life. There are four aspects to consider:
Thinking of it this way makes it easier to find activities that align with what is important to you. For instance, knowing you need physical activity you could join a local walking group. They get you up and moving each day and friendships develop. Before long you’re actually looking forward to your morning walk.
You’ll probably find that lots of activities will overlap into other categories. For instance, you might decide you’d like to take up the guitar. This will certainly stimulate your mind as you learn the chords and new songs. To make it more fun, let’s say you to take some lessons and play with others. As you gain some proficiency, you might wow your grandchildren with your rendition of Happy Birthday or have a sing along. This might even lead to you teaching then to play the guitar.
One of the things you can do when you're retired and bored is to get into better shape. Especially as we age, it becomes vital to remain physically active and have a healthy diet. Think of it as an investment for your future to live a healthier, happy life. It is suggested that you should have a minimum of 30 minutes a day of brisk activity. Some of the benefits of daily physical activity include:
In addition, improved mental health and social engagement are associated with a more active lifestyle. Let’s be blunt, most people dread the idea of going to a gym to workout. The last thing you want is to do is something boring, so how about something fun? Some of the best activities include swimming, aqua size, walking, and cycling. All are low impact and are often done with others in a supportive environment. Perhaps, there’s a recreational league nearby and playing a sport is more appealing.
Daily walk, cycling, jogging
Swimming, aqua size
Aerobics, yoga, tai chi, Pilates
Self defense course or take karate, judo, taekwondo, jiu jitsu, kung fu, etc.
Recreational sports such as basketball, volleyball, racket ball, softball, tennis, badminton, pickle ball, bowling, etc.
Golf (especially without a golf cart)
Research indicates that happiness and well being are directly correlated with the quality of social interaction you maintain with others. Our article The Most Important Ingredient for Happiness in Retirement goes into greater depth on this topic.
If you’re in a relationship there is no better time to discuss, with your significant other, improving the time you share together. Likely, you have some shared interests that you will enjoy together. Respect that your partner has separate interests and friendships. They are not responsible for entertaining you.
Also, this can extend to other family members where you want to be more involved in their lives. This is especially true of grandchildren who grow up all too quickly.
Spouse – quality time together; plan a vacation; shared activities such as walking, cooking, or a dance class
Extended family – visiting and spending more time with family members
Grandchildren – get more involved in their lives and holidays, special and daily events
Friends - getting together more frequently for coffee, lunch, etc.
Joining a social/interest group such as a book club, bridge group, golf league, travel, etc.
Community groups – getting involved in local activities
Taking a fun course – painting, pottery, sculpturing, handicrafts, cooking, scrap booking, wine making, etc.
Plan an evening to play cards or board games with friends.
Invite friends or family for a BBQ or supper.
First and foremost, one of the biggest factors in cognitive decline is lack of mental stimulation. Sitting in front of the TV can be entertaining and help pass time, however, it seldom stimulates your thought process. Rather than passively absorbing what is happening around you, consider reawakening your creative side and you can learn new things when retired and bored.
Take a course (online or classroom) on creative writing, home repair, automotive repair, starting a business, photography, or whatever interests you.
Learn a new language.
Join an interest group – politics, book club, bridge group, chess, etc.
Start a business - consulting, online, service based (house sitting, lawn maintenance, dog walking, etc.)
Genealogy – research your family tree including traveling and pulling it together in a book.
The old adage “it’s better to give than receive” is true. With all your skills, experience, and free time there are many ways to help others. Volunteering for a worthy cause is just one way to get involved. You might choose to join a community group or contribute to a church initiative helping at the local level. Sharing your experience by teaching or mentoring others is another option.
Volunteer opportunities may include:
Boy Scouts/Girl Guides
Big Brothers/Big Sisters
Habitat for Humanity
Sports teams - little league baseball, soccer, basketball, volleyball
Schools and colleges teaching and/or mentoring others
The Ultimate Guide on Things to do When Retired and Bored takes a unique approach. What to do in retirement is, often, one of the greatest challenges people face. Understanding your feelings of monotony, dissatisfaction and lack of interest puts you in the driver’s seat of your destiny. This knowledge gives you more guidance and awareness over where to start, what to do and how you can change it for the better. At the end of the day, it’s up to you to make your retirement, future and life “the best that it can be”.