Most people work 40 or more years before they are able to retire. While you’ve no doubt earned the right to sit on the couch, or at the beach, and do nothing, is that what you really want to do with this hard-earned time?
Some relaxation is definitely in order, but be sure to prioritize having a little excitement too, especially in the early years, when you are more likely to have the health, stamina and finances to get out there!
Here are five ideas for ways to enjoy your retirement and do some of the things you put off while you were working, raising kids, caring for your own parents and more.
1) Hit the Road
Sure, you may have traveled for work during your career, but we bet you didn’t take time to really enjoy the sights at your destination!
Set a goal for your travels. Follow your favorite baseball team around the country (find schedules here), visit every president’s grave site (spoiler alert: they are mostly in the eastern half of the U.S.) or stop at every national park. Here’s a link to a guy who figured out the optimal way to visit major landmarks in every state, if you need more ideas.
2) Move to the City
Retirement is often depicted as people lounging someplace away from the hectic pace of the city. While lots of people move out of the city during the years they have kids, in search of a big backyard, a good school district and a traffic-free cul-de-sac, many miss the conveniences that city living has to offer.
Imagine life in an urban apartment – no yardwork, no shoveling snow, no wheeling the trash cans out to the curb. No fixing a broken toilet. When something breaks, you call the maintenance team. Also no need to fret about how you’ll manage when it’s time to stop driving. In a city with good public transit, as well as taxis and Ubers, accessing good medical care, excellent arts and entertainment and fabulous cuisine is a breeze. Pick a cool enough locale, and the kids and grandkids will be sure to visit often.
Sure you’ll likely have less space than in your house in the suburbs but that just means less stuff to dust!
3) Get a (part-time) Job
We know you retired because you didn’t want to work all the time, but maybe you should consider taking a part-time or seasonal job. It will keep you active, help you meet new people and reduce the rate at which you are spending your retirement savings!
The real key is to think of something fun that you’ve always wanted to do! Work in a bookstore? Help at the zoo? Give tours of your hometown? Or think of ways to turn a hobby into a paying gig: become a church organist, teach cooking lessons or start a handyman business.
With money not the sole object, you are free to take on just about anything.
Just make sure you understand how it may affect your other benefits, such as Social Security or Medicare.
While a paying job is right for some people, the best part of about doing volunteer work is that you can always say no to a task or a schedule that just doesn’t suit your plans.
There are an endless number of organizations in your community that could use the skills, expertise and life experiences you have to offer, in whatever time you have available!
For example, hospital volunteers don’t just fill water pitchers today. They can work with therapy dogs, organize a holiday sing-along, knit hats for cancer patients or just give a tired mom a break from rocking her sick baby.
Local literacy groups always need tutors, international aid groups need help settling new arrivals to the community, food banks need help sorting food and much more. For a more professional experience, consider joining the board of directors of a non-profit. Your career-long expertise in marketing, accounting, human resources, operations management or fundraising could be just the thing a local group needs desperately.
5) Go Back to School
Is there a degree that you didn’t finish because life just got in the way? Or maybe you have always wanted to learn to speak Spanish, plot a prolific garden or create an Excel spreadsheet.
Now’s the time to hit the books! Take a class for credit, or just “audit” one. And don’t limit your thinking to colleges that are near you. With the Internet today, you can learn from anywhere in the world.
There are plenty of ways to have an active and fulfilling retirement.