When we think of retirement planning, we tend to focus on our financial future. We want to make sure we have saved enough money throughout our working years so we can maintain essentially the same lifestyle when we are no longer earning a regular paycheck. However, it’s important not to forget about the non-financial aspect of retirement. Remember that your time belongs to you now. What are you going to do with that time?
If you’ve been looking forward to the day when you could kick back and do nothing, then have at it. You’ve earned this. However, if you’re accustomed to always having something to do, or somewhere to be, staying idle may not satisfy you for very long. Busy retirees tend to be happy retirees, so it’s important to stay socially connected by maintaining relationships with other people, pursuing hobbies you enjoy, and remaining active and healthy. Here are 8 things you can do to help make your retirement a success.
- Travel. Since you don’t have to hurry back to work in a week or two, you’re free to explore. Perhaps you have a list of major league baseball stadiums on your bucket list, or maybe you’ve been wanting to visit some of the 1000+ UNESCO World Heritage sites. If you invest in a motor home, or maybe just rent one at first, you can take “home” on the road with you and travel throughout North America.
- Relocate. City dwellers may want to escape the noise and congestion, trying the country life instead, since they don’t have to worry about commuting to a job any longer. On the flip side, maybe you’ve had enough of suburbia and want the excitement and amenities of city living. Take advantage of public transit, or choose to walk, and you may be able to shed the expense of having a vehicle.
- Get Involved in Public Service. Consider devoting time to your community. You can start small by helping out at the polls on Election Day, or think about running for town council or the school board.
- Volunteer or Mentor. Whether it’s with an organization, or just one young person, you can make a difference by donating your time. Surely, you’ve perfected some skills and talents over the course of your career, so why not use those skills to benefit others? You may change someone else’s life, and your own as well. AARP’s Volunteer Opportunity Board allows you to search for ways to share your experience with the community.
- Go Back to School. If you did not obtain the degree you wanted, you can now go back to school and complete your education. You can even take it a step further and pursue a graduate degree. There are actually financial aid resources available for students over the age of 50. If that’s too much pressure, consider taking classes just for fun in a subject area you’re interested in.
- Learn a New Language. Learning new things, especially languages, keeps your mind active and sharp. If traveling abroad is on your to-do list, it will be helpful to brush up on the language before you go. There are several free apps available to help you learn a variety of languages, for whatever your desired level of fluency happens to be.
- Learn to Play a Musical Instrument. Stop playing air guitar and learn to play the real thing. You can spend some of your “free time” learning how to read music and taking lessons on your favorite instrument. Your new talent will really knock their socks off at the next family gathering.
- Try a New Sport. Or get back into an old one that you haven’t had time for in a while. The important thing is to keep moving. If motivation is an issue, team up with like-minded friends and you can keep each other accountable for your fitness goals.
This “to-do” list is certainly not exhaustive. There are many more ways to keep yourself busy and entertained once you retire from working. However, if you still view retirement as an opportunity to not be busy, then you should enjoy that, too. Consider “Nothing” to be number 9 on this list. This is your time, so feel free to do what you enjoy, whether that is climbing mountains, meeting your friends for a round of golf, or relaxing with a good book. You deserve a rewarding retirement, and you’re entitled to pursue happiness however you like.