When you're younger, retirement often seems like a faraway dream. You may have imagined long, sunny days with loved ones and trips to faraway destinations. However, as retirement quickly approaches, you may now find yourself questioning what you will actually do with your time in your golden years.
So, are you looking for things to do in retirement? A fulfilling retirement isn't really about how much you do, but rather how much you enjoy doing it. Reconnect with your interests, passions and values, which could help you identify which retirement opportunities will help you make the most of this new (and exciting) life stage.
1. Start a New Routine
For some people, work is everything. Are you having a hard time remembering who you are without a job title or your relationship to your former employer? Give yourself time to reconnect with your own interests and desires — free of a schedule or preconceived mental list of things to do in retirement.
Try waking up and going to bed when your body signals the need to do either. Experiment with new routines and mealtimes based on your body's signals instead of the time on the clock. If you give yourself the freedom to connect with your natural energy cycles, you may become more inclined to explore how you want to structure your life and embrace everything retirement has to offer.
2. Take Note of Your Ideal Day
Once you're able to let go of your typical routine for a few days, try spending a few moments each night journaling about the events of the day to further guide your self-exploration. Take stock of which activities made you feel most energized — and which drained you. Which activities did you enjoy so much that you lost track of time? Which caused you stress? Did you end the day feeling happy or frustrated? What could you change to reduce some of that frustration moving forward?
Be open-minded about the story your journey reveals. Chances are you'll begin to see patterns and insights. For some, a desire to travel or pursue new experiences may emerge. For others, the need may be to simply slow down, relax and be more present in every moment. There is no wrong answer to how to spend your time in retirement as long as it makes it you feel happy and complete.
3. Put a Fresh Spin on Old Skills
Make a list of your skills and talents, related to your personal life, past career and any nonprofit or charitable causes you support. Given a fresh perspective, any of these could become a starting point for your reinvention in retirement. If your professional skills include financial analysis or project management, for example, consider how you could apply them to new purposes, perhaps with a local nonprofit or a grandchild's parent-teacher organization. Whether you choose to turn your talents into a hobby or form of income, be creative about the jobs in retirement that could exist when you're open to new opportunities.
4. Redefine Your Perception of Work
According to a 2017 study by the Freelancers Union and Upwork, freelancers are expected to make up more than half of the American workforce by 2027. The shift away from traditional employment in the collective workforce is a win-win for retirees. Not only are more employers open to hiring contract workers to fill a variety of needs, but the gig economy also presents an opportunity to earn income in retirement — when, where and how you choose.
While the transition into a new job takes time and patience at any stage of life, the breadth of online resources and social media networks that now connect those who work and those who hire can ease the transition into the second act of your career — if you want one. Consider establishing a profile on websites that cater to project-based work. If you'd like to maintain social connections and some aspects of your professional life, apply for part-time or temporary work with a local staffing agency. You can choose when and where you work and earn some supplementary retirement income in the process.
5. Spend Time With Loved Ones
Longitudinal research conducted by psychiatrists at Harvard Medical School reveals that having close, healthy relationships is more important to a person's quality of life than money or fame. Further, those relationships impact a person's mental, emotional and physical well-being — and could even delay the onset of mental and physical decline associated with aging.
Retirement may be the first opportunity you've had in several decades to choose how much time you spend with loved ones. If you have grandchildren, embrace the opportunity to help them try new experiences and explore passions and interests. You may find that you and your grandchildren share quite a bit in common at this phase in life. (You're both discovering and experimenting with new interests, after all.) If you don't have children or grandchildren, seek out ways to connect with others in your community through activities, hobbies or charitable groups.
While there are plenty of fun things to do in retirement, choosing the best way to spend your golden years is ultimately a personal choice. Commit to exploring how you want to use this new phase in your life to feel fulfilled — or creatively, intellectually and emotionally challenged — and explore the opportunities that will help you create the retirement of your dreams.