Retired? Now What?

Tips from Happy Retirees

You’ve been looking forward to retirement over all the decades you’ve dedicated to working for a living. Now it’s here… retirement. Your time will now be your own. Your days will be filled however you decide to fill them. The question is… what do you want to do with your hard earned free time? The answer isn’t always as simple as you might think.

Retirement isn’t a one-size-fits-all endeavor. For a happy, satisfying retirement, it helps to know yourself well and to understand your own personal makeup… your likes and dislikes… your dreams and desires… our talents and abilities… as well as your moods, behaviors, general outlook, and spirit.

If you’re the type of person who enjoys spending time alone, you will probably want to fill your days very differently than someone who prefers being surrounded by people. If you have some physical limitations, you may not be able to tackle the activities that might be included in a more active individual’s typical retirement day. So the goal is to put together the right unique ingredients to create a happy, healthy retirement that’s right for you.

Here are some ideas from a few people who are currently enjoying their own uniquely crafted retirements.

A few helpful suggestions…

  • Complete tasks you’ve put off. Put together a list of all the things that need doing or you’ve wanted to do, but have never had the time to complete. Then set out to tackle them. It might be a few odd jobs around the house. It may be finally finishing the complicated blanket you started crocheting way back when. Or what about that broken piece of pottery you’ve been meaning to glue back together?

  • Learn something new. Now is the time to expand your interests, knowledge, and talents. Start a new hobby. Master a new language. Get in touch with your inner artist and start painting, crafting, or woodworking. Ignite your inner thespian by taking an acting or singing class, and then go try out for a local theater production or participate in an “open mike” night.

  • Spend time with family and friends. Fill your calendar with opportunities to hang out with people you really care about and enjoy. Cultivate the relationships that matter most to you. Reconnect with those you haven’t seen in recent years. Perhaps you would enjoy getting together for a movie, a walk, a drive, a game night, a favorite television show, a shopping spree, a round of golf, a card game, or simply a chat over a cup of coffee.

  • Meet new people. Get to know some of the other retirees living in your area. There are lots of ways to find people with interests similar to your own. Head down to the local senior center. Join some golfers on a favorite course. Find a nearby book club. Get a membership at a gym with programs for people in your age group. Join a walking club, gardening club, or any other club you might enjoy.

  • Go to school. There’s always more to learn scholastically. Why not take a college course or even set your sights on completing a degree? It’s never too late. Many colleges offer programs that allow retirees to attend classes at no cost. And being a student is NOT the only way to get back in the classroom. Plenty of public schools need volunteers, substitute teachers, or paid teacher’s aides. Contact your local school system to find out what is available.

  • Mentor others. If you enjoy sharing your knowledge and skills, becoming a mentor might be something you would find rewarding. There are many mentoring programs that match young people just starting their careers with older people with the experience and expertise to help them learn, grow, and advance in their professions. Ask your local librarian about mentoring programs in your area.

  • Write. Collecting and writing your thoughts can be entertaining and fulfilling. Once you start writing, you may find it difficult to stop. Journal writing is very popular with people of all ages. When it comes to a private journal, you get to decide who reads what you have written. If you want to share your writing with other people, you may want to start a blog. Blogs is sort of like writing an online journal that other people read. A blog can be about just about anything, because there will always an audience for just about anything. Who knows… if you really get into the writing experience, you even contemplate the idea of writing a book, perhaps a novel with characters and places you make up, a non-fiction book on a subject that interests you, or a how-to-book that shares tips on a hobby or skill you’ve mastered.

  • Learn to cook… or become a better cook. Even if you’ve been cooking all your life, there are always new styles of cuisine to learn how to prepare and new recipes to try out. If you have never been a whiz in the kitchen, now may be a great time to step up your game. Look for a local adult education cooking class that is perfect for whatever goal you might have when it comes to cooking.

  • Find yourself the perfect part-time job. Some retirees like the idea of still having a foothold in the workplace. Some folks like to have some place where they have to be and that keeps them busy. A part-time job also provides an opportunity to socialize with others. Of course, a little extra money coming in on a regular basis can be very helpful when on a fixed income. There are some great part-time jobs out there tailor-made for retirees. A position as an usher at a local theater or concert hall offers some great perks, like free admission. A museum or zoo can be another fun place to work.

  • Adopt a pet. If you are an animal lover, there are countless ownerless, homeless pets just waiting for someone to give them a loving home. The unconditional love of a pet can add a spark that may be missing from your retirement experience. Caring for a pet provides companionship. It gives you a routine to follow. It fills up your time and your heart. To find a pet that’s the right match for you, contact your local animal shelter or veterinarian. You can also do some research online. Make sure the pet is friendly and gentle.

  • Hit the road. See some new scenery and experience new environments by heading out for drives on the open road. You may want to begin with local routes and landmarks closer to home and then branch out and visit destinations beyond your own neighborhood. Maybe you’ll want to rent or buy an RV or trailer so you can stay overnight and take a piece of home with you.

  • See the world or at least some of it. Now that you’re retired, you don’t have to worry about time limitations when it comes to taking a vacation. Visit a distant place you’ve always wondered about or hoped to see and experience. Of course, travel can be expensive, but there are plenty of deals available for seniors. If you have physical limitations, always make sure your vacation destinations are well suited to your abilities. And, remember, a long weekend getaway offers a great change of pace too.

  • Do nothing… that’s right… do nothing. You have worked long and hard to earn the right to spend some time doing absolutely nothing. You might not want to make a habit of it, but putting your feet up and relaxing is perfectly okay. In fact, it should be mandatory. Kick back and enjoy a few minutes of not having to accomplish anything. Because, the truth is, you will actually be accomplishing something… you will be rejuvenating your body, mind, and spirit.

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