When you start thinking about what do to in retirement, your first thought is probably “nothing.” That’s the dream, right? Being able to do nothing if you don’t want to sounds fantastic, but let’s be real. Doing nothing can be downright HARD.
There’s an art to living a happy retirement. You have to figure out what you’re going to do to occupy your time. For some people, having so much free time leads to some negative effects on mental health.
Fear not. We can work through this so you spend more time enjoying your golden years.
Getting Rid of the Anxiety
You’ve been working for a long time. Since you’ve had essentially the same routine for so long, there’s going to be an adjustment period you’ll go through.
At first, things might seem great. You’re living the dream. It’s a permanent vacation. But after a week or two the reality sets in. What do you do now? It might feel like you have no purpose or just be plain old bored.
You’re going to go through these different stages of emotion while you get things figured out. You have to come up with a whole new routine. Just make sure you’re not turning to an unhealthy habit like overeating or drinking too much alcohol just to pass the time.
Finding Your New Routine
After working for possibly decades and being able to do the same routine every morning, you now have to slow things down a little bit. Instead of quickly eating breakfast and trying to catch the weather and a traffic report so you can get to work on time, you’ll have the whole day with (usually) no real time crunch.
You can still make yourself a schedule, though. Lay out the things you would like to do for the day or the whole week. That could be anything you’d like. Maybe you want to work on your golf swing, start an exercise routine, or find out some ways to get active in your community. Whatever your ideas were for retirement, you can still do those things and make yourself a makeshift schedule so you don’t just feel lost in all of your newfound free time.
It’s all about setting goals for your golden years. Instead of a career that previously laid out many of your milestones or other goals, now it’s up to you to decide what’s important to do.
One suggestion for you: just make sure you’re not overscheduling. Leave some extra room in there to lounge around while you sip your coffee or just to sit back and smell the roses.
This Doesn’t Mean the End is Near
Many people will experience both excitement and anxiety when it comes to what to do in retirement. A lot of people are emotionally afraid to retire. It’s the end of your working days, but it can also feel like you’re nearing THE END.
That’s not really the case.
Think about it. You likely have or will retire at around the age of 65. According to the CDC, the average life expectancy in the U.S. in 2018 was listed as 78.7 years. You’re looking at about 15 years before you hit that, and many people live for 20 or 30 years after retiring.
You can do a lot of living in that amount of time. The world is your oyster.
Occupying Your Mind
So, the underlying issue still remains. Still looking for some ideas of what to do in retirement? We’ll get you started with a few. Most of these suggestions are going to be fairly social events, which can help keep you from dealing with depression.
Giving back to the community is a great way to find a sense of purpose and really make a difference in your area.
No matter where you live, there’s some type of non-profit organization with a cause you may be passionate about. There are food pantries, homeless shelters, environmental care agencies, and countless other causes. Spending some time with other like-minded people while accomplishing something you’re passionate about checks a lot of boxes.
Many people fall into a sedentary lifestyle as they age. It’s easy to do, especially if the job you’re retiring from was a desk job. Staying (or getting) active can help keep you healthy and prolong these golden years.
The healthier and more able you keep yourself, the more things you’ll be able to accomplish. You can’t travel the world as you planned to if you can’t stay on your feet and do some light weight lifting (those bags aren’t going to carry themselves).
Regular exercise can help your mental health, as well. Bonus points if you start working out with a group of friends.
Join a Club
Here’s another way to make some new friends in retirement. Find some local clubs to sign up for. That could be senior groups, a book club, a cooking club, or something dealing with any other interest you may have.
This is a fantastic time to pick up a new hobby you’ve been interested in. Find a club near you, and learn from people who already have a wealth of knowledge to share about the topic. You could also be the one passing down the information if you find a group that loves a hobby you’re already well-versed in.
Try an “Encore” Job
Some people just love to work, and that’s perfectly fine. You can consider what’s called an “encore” job. The idea here is to get you back into a workplace, but this time it could be something that your career wasn’t in.
You’ll want to find something that doesn’t take up all of your time, maybe just a part-time gig. This time around you can try something in a totally different field so you’re learning new things and not just picking back up on something you did for 30 or 40 years.
After you’ve worked this job for a while you may even decide to fully retire from the workforce. Sometimes you just need a bridge job so you don’t go from the full-time workload right to no job at all overnight. It’s a good way to ease the transition into a happy retirement.
Relax and Enjoy the Ride
Ultimately, what to do in retirement is entirely up to you. It’s going to look different for everyone. Explore your options. Try out a bunch of different things. Just don’t get down on yourself if you don’t figure it out right away.
Your golden years will live up to the hype if you just give it a shot. Take care of your physical and mental health, and then just roll with the tide. You never know what great new things you might get involved with if you keep an open mind.