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What to do in retirement has become an almost universal question. Are you having “fun” after retiring? After all those years of hard work, these should be the best and happiest years of your life. 

Unfortunately, retirement can create its own challenges. Ever since you were a child, structure has been overlaid in your life. 

Defined school hours, rules, and exams provided the framework during those formative years. More expectations were imposed when you entered the work world with the added bonus of a paycheck. 

Suddenly, after retiring, all the structure and stresses from external sources have been removed. Stay up until the early hours and sleep in until noon. 

You are completely free to do as you please, each and every day. This creates a void for many, resulting in filling the hours with mindless activities. 

At worst, it can lead to boredom, restlessness, and loss of purpose. Let’s discuss some things to do to have more fun and be fulfilled.

My wife and I decided to splurge on a cruise to celebrate her 55th birthday. An easy decision considering the screaming hot deal we got and escaping the snowy cold weather in December was an added bonus.

Most travelers are friendly and we, normally, meet at least several interesting people. Nothing could have prepared us for what happened on that particular cruise. We scrambled up to the pool deck and managed to grab a couple of chairs in time for the “sail away party”. Before it was over, three tables had been pulled together and over a dozen strangers were rapidly becoming best friends.

Our “cruise family” hailed from Florida, Michigan, New York, Canada, and Australia. The pool deck became headquarters for 14 days as we discussed dining options and excursions. Moreover, our group became inseparable almost like a family. A touching moment occurred when they presented my wife with a spa day pass on her birthday. She was overwhelmed. That being said, the amazing people that we came to know and love really made this cruise the most memorable.

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1. Your Interests

What are you passionate about? What are you dreams? Any interests or a creative side that you just never had enough time to pursue? 

If none comes to mind, think back to anything that intrigued you or created satisfaction and enjoyment. Each and everyone of us is unique with aptitudes and abilities that, often, were never fully explored.

This really becomes a personal expression of the importance to you as opposed to just picking a hobby.

Your interests may become part of other aspects of your life such as travel, health & fitness, learning new things, and even a source of additional income. Consider the following examples:

  • Home renovations - You may be that handy person that takes pride in completing renovations or contracting some work out to professionals. This, both, increases house value while making it more comfortable. It could include interior design to beautify and personalize your home.
  • Woodworking - For those with the skill and patience, woodworking provides a creative outlet. Many courses are available and completed projects make excellent gifts.
  • Travel - The preparation and research for your next trip can be as exciting as the actual travel. Learning a new language may also be desirable and helpful.
  • Fishing - This might be your passion whether on local streams/lakes or the deep sea.
  • Gourmet Cooking – Rather than spending hard earned money dining out, creating your own gourmet meals can be fun. Invite your friends over and make an evening of it.
  • Family – Spending time with family and deepening relationships can be very rewarding. Doing some research could help you document the history of the family.
  • Local Politics - Your cause may be to improve the community and either run for office or support your favorite candidate.
  • Gardening - Perhaps you have a green thumb and could have a blooming rose garden.
  • Photography - Capturing the moment is easier than ever with modern digital cameras.
  • Musical Instrument – Many choose to learn to play the guitar or piano. Many courses are available either locally or online.
  • Fitness – Keeping active is good for you and a great way to meet new people. Numerous activities range from walking, yoga, swimming, and organized sports.

2. Travel

If you enjoy travel, now is the time to start planning and exploring. Personally, I find this option of what to do in retirement the funnest (is that a word? LOL) one. 

Perhaps you have a “bucket list” of places you want to visit and, up-to-now, have been limited by vacation time. Now is the time to start planning and exploring. 

If you can afford it, travel while you still have the health and the energy to fully savor these new adventures. 

Like a vacation, many retirees finally travel to Alaska or a magnificent national park such as Yellowstone. Others might choose to visit exotic destinations in distant countries. 

Examples could include immersing themselves in the Parisian culture or studying the ancient ruins of Greece.

There are many stories of retirees selling everything off and becoming RV nomads traveling across the country. 

Others become expats and decide to live in other countries. In this day and age, there has never been quite so many options.

3. Family & Friends

Sometimes it seems we need an excuse to get together with others and as we age, all too often the event is a funeral. While it is a reality, it is not the most fun thing to do with your spare time, is it?

Social interaction is the most important ingredient in retirement happiness. Why not coordinate something more fun like a family function celebrating an important birthday, anniversary, reunion, or even an old-fashioned picnic? 

Include extended family members you may not see often such as aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews.

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Good relationships keep us healthier and happier." 

Robert Waldinger

After retiring, friendships can slip away unless we make an effort to keep in touch especially with friends from work. 

That being said, a group of us developed our own informal lunch gang. Every month, we check out a new luncheon venue and catch up on each other's news. 

Not surprisingly, most of our discussions are about our retired lives.

4. Health & Fitness

Most of us take our health for granted, at least until it becomes a concern. Retirement provides the opportunity to embrace a healthier lifestyle. 

A healthy you will enjoy a higher quality of life and not be as susceptible to illness. Even with all our various aches and pains, daily physical activity is critical. 

Your body requires exercise to maintain muscle tone and good circulation. Walking and swimming are generally touted as good all-around exercise. 

Even better is to include a sport / activity that you enjoy which might include golf, pickle ball, etc. It is as important, if not more so, than any other suggestion listed.

You need your health to enjoy your retired life to its fullest. We also need a more balanced diet as we age. 

Our bodies still require the same (or better) nutrition; however, we don’t burn the calories as easily.

5. Learn New Things

Another option about what to do in retirement is to keep your mind active by learning new things. It not only wards off boredom, but has also been proven to minimize mental decline. 

There are formal classes available on most topics and online information for almost anything else. Perhaps you have always wanted to learn the guitar, speak a new language, or paint that masterpiece.

6. Part-time or Volunteer Work

You may be contemplating earning supplemental income while doing something you enjoy. An estimated 65% of retirees re-enter the work force either on a part-time or volunteer basis (for more details, see Baby Boomer Facts). 

For many, their desire is to get out of the house and interact with others. When they decide to volunteer, it is for a worthy cause and makes them feel good.

7. Become an Entrepreneur

You may absolutely love your job! Or for whatever reason, full-time employment may not be in the cards. Your unique skills and experience could position you to work as a consultant or for contract work. 

Besides creating additional income, becoming your own boss and helping others can be highly fulfilling. 

Alternatively, a hobby or interest you are passionate about (and good at) may easily evolve into a viable business. Examples include photography, web design, and fitness.

Other business options might consist of service based opportunities such as shuttle driving or delivery services. 

Even helping out a friend or neighbor might uncover opportunities for house sitting, dog walking, or handyman services.

Closing Thoughts on What to Do in Retirement

The choices are almost limitless. They range from hobbies to travel to starting your own business. Time is your friend and you have complete control of how you choose to spend your time.

It might as well be doing something you enjoy, is fun and productive. You only go around once so you might as well enjoy life!

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