Things to do in retirement – 25 ideas to inspire you
People say life begins in retirement. This exciting new chapter opens up a new world of possibilities and gives you the time to do what you really want. You should aim to see retirement not as the end of something but as the start of something new. The question is, what? That’s what this article is here to help you find out.
Tip number one is to take a proactive approach to retirement. Act the age you feel, not the age the world might expect you to be. Make new experiences part of your retirement planning, and you’ll stay younger for longer.
Choosing the right goals and activities helps people of all ages to make more friends, provides structure and routine, and brings a sense of achievement. Here are 25 ideas to get you started as you begin the next fulfilling chapter of your life.
#1 Declutter your home and free your mind
Go through cupboards, wardrobes, drawers, and desks – and while you’re at it, get up in the attic and sort out all those things you’ve been meaning to for years. Keep anything special (and enjoy reminiscing) and sell or donate the rest. Then, you’ll have peace of mind that all your possessions are in order and that you’ve got all the things that are most important to you – and what you find can be rejuvenating by reminding you of your younger self and the things you’ll enjoy rediscovering.
#2 Explore your local area
Round-the-world trips or luxury cruises are the big retirement cliché, but there’s also a whole world to explore around where you live. If you’ve been working 9 to 5 or beyond, your universe has probably shrunk to your home, workplace, and commuting route. However, there is almost certainly somewhere that’ll wow you less than an hour’s drive from your front door – go and find it. Search out forgotten footpaths, hidden woodlands, secluded river walks, and cross-country trails. Whether you like to stroll sedately or hike at pace, there’s bound to be a walking group local to you.
#3 Become a tour guide
If you love interesting and beautiful places and are fascinated by the past, why not learn more about volunteering as a tour guide? There are historical and cultural gems all over the US, and organizations are always looking for enthusiastic room guides, conservation assistants, and storytellers.
#4 Make a bucket list
Maybe you want to travel the world or learn a new language. Retirement is a time when you can live out your dream goals and do the things you always wanted. Start by listing everything you want to do and achieve, including hobbies and travel destinations. This can give you something to look forward to and work towards. Also, take out your list next time you’re stuck for something to do and see what you can cross off.
#5 Research your family tree
Wondering if you’re descended from royalty (or rogues), where your ancestors lived, and what their occupations were? Now, thanks to a whole host of online resources such as Ancestry.com, researching your family tree is easier than ever. Check out census and military records and search for globetrotting relatives from passenger lists. Who knows what you’ll uncover? You could also involve your children and grandchildren in an ongoing family project. This is a great gift to offer to the family – and generations to come will thank you for it.
#6 Get a pet
If you have always loved animals or want some companionship in retirement, getting a pet is a great idea. First, head to your local animal shelter and see if you fall in love with a dog or cat that is up for adoption. Or, if you’re interested in animals but unsure if you can commit to a pet long-term, consider fostering a pet before it finds its forever home.
#7 Get musical
Whether you’ve always wanted to learn an instrument or used to but have neglected your talent for years, now’s your chance to find your inner maestro. Whether you’re called to the piano, bass guitar, clarinet, drums, theremin, or serpent (Google it), you now have the time and discipline you might have lacked in your younger years. Alternatively, why not join a choir if you can hold a tune? Choirs, singers, and choral clubs are thriving all over the US – your local library is a good place to find out about singing groups and choirs in your area.
#8 Learn to dance
Few things are more effective than dancing at keeping both body and brain healthy and delaying the effects of aging. It’s also great fun – yes, it is, even if you think you don’t dance. Whatever style suits you – line dancing, ballroom, salsa, tap, or ballet, regular dance classes will keep you on your toes. If you prefer to dance from home, many free online dance classes are designed to get seniors moving to music at home.
#9 Enjoy some me-time
If you like to while away some of the hours of the day quietly in your own company, pick an absorbing hobby that’s just for you. Buy an old classic car and fix it up. Learn woodworking to make your own furniture, ornaments, gifts for friends, or decorations to sell. Make customized greeting cards. Write a novel (or start one, then keep going). The list is endless. Indulge yourself – you’ve earned it.
#10 Get out and about
If you’d like to get out of the house and meet new people, pick a hobby that allows you to do just that. Ideas to mull over include birdwatching, trainspotting, fishing, fossil hunting, buying and selling antiques, beekeeping, amateur astronomy, searching for extraterrestrial intelligence (it’s a thing), or metal-detecting.
#11 Stay fit and flexible
The best way to keep going is to keep going – start a hobby that gets you gently moving, such as yoga, golf, darts, bowling, pool, walking, football, croquet, Tai Chi, archery, or Pilates – which aims to strengthen the body, in an even way, with particular emphasis on core strength to improve general fitness and wellbeing. It doesn’t have to be sedate either; plenty of senior karate students, judokas, and fencers exist.
#12 Help out
Charities can always use a helping hand – whether that’s delivering food to homeless people, walking dogs or caring for cats at your local animal sanctuary, or sorting donations at a charity shop. In addition, you’ll get to meet many new people and feel good about doing your bit.
#13 Become an expert at absolutely anything
Whether it’s learning conversational Chinese, how to bake a perfect souffle, performing mind-boggling magic tricks or amazing feats of juggling, identifying bird songs, or knowing all the Latin names of your garden plants, you’ve got time to practice till you’re perfect. According to Anders Ericsson, a Professor at the University of Colorado, practicing anything for 10,000 hours can make anyone an expert at it.
#14 Get out to your garden and grow your own
Growing your own food has to be one of the most rewarding experiences – and all that time spent digging and harvesting your crop in the open air will keep you hale and hearty. Gardeners’ World will be top of your viewing schedule as you hang on Monty Don’s every word about how to care for your seedling potatoes, runner beans, and carrots.
#15 Upcycle furniture
Upcycling is a great way to give your furniture (and home) a vibrant new look and avoid filling up landfill sites with unwanted items. If you get really into it, you could even turn it into a small business (see below).
#16 Start a small business
If you have a hobby or skill to earn money, why not turn it into a business? For example, if you’re skilled in arts and crafts, you could make items to sell at marketplaces or online. If you love animals, you could become a dog walker, groomer, or pet sitter. If you’re an ace at baking, you could start your own cupcake business.
#17 Find a part-time job
While some people are very self-motivated, others find it harder to stick to a routine when they just don’t have to anymore, which is why having a part-time job can be beneficial. It provides structure to your week as well as earning some extra income.
Suppose you’d like to work from home. In that case, there are some great part-time career roles for retired professionals who have spent many years building up extensive knowledge and experience in a corporate environment. As a part-time consultant, you exchange your knowledge for money. It’s a great option for businesses as you give them access to specialist knowledge and advice without taking on an expensive full-time employee. For freelance opportunities, check out sites such as Guru and Upwork to build up a client base.
#18 Get to grips with financial matters
If you’re unsure about how compound interest works, want to understand the workings of the stock market better or pinpoint your tangible assets, now’s an opportune time to brush up on your financial expertise. It can also help you feel more confident about ensuring all your financial affairs are in order when you speak to your financial advisor. And, once you’re happy that everything is sorted, you can carry on enjoying your retirement.
#19 Take up home brewing
If you love a beer or a glass of wine, why not try making it yourself? Of course, there are kits to get you started, but once you’ve got the taste for it, you can develop your skills to craft the likes of Galena IPA and Double Chocolate Oatmeal Stout or elderberry, damson, or blackberry wine from fruits you’ve foraged for.
#20 Become a pub regular
And not just for the pints! Local pubs often host pub event nights, including quiz teams and darts leagues – or you could set up your arrangements to meet up with friends for traditional pub games such as dominoes, backgammon, or draughts.
#21 Look at life through a lens
For people below a certain age, photography seems to be just about snapping stuff to put on social media. However, there’s a lot more to the true art of photography. Looking at life from behind a camera can help you see the world in a whole new light – and keeping an eye out for a great picture makes every trip out a bit of an adventure. Photography also gives you a way to use and develop the artistic side of your brain, which has to be a good thing.
#22 Get on your bike
Cycling is becoming increasingly popular as people look to use their cars less and increase their exercise levels. From beginner-friendly paths or next-level tracks, you can find a list of bike trails in the National Parks on Bicycling.com. However, if you’re not quite as fit as you once were, don’t assume this is inevitable – many people can find a greater level of fitness post-retirement than they enjoyed before. And if the joints get stiff, invest in an electric bike to help you up those hills, and you can still enjoy all the benefits of cycling.
#23 Become an online gamer
It’s well known that any puzzle activity is good for keeping your mind agile, but why not step it up? Online gaming is proving popular with people aged 50 and over. As well as playing a range of puzzles and games gives you a chance to connect with people from all over the world from the comfort of your armchair. Free websites to investigate include Chess.com, TheJigsawPuzzles.com, Lexulous.com (Scrabble), and Facebook.com/Games. But you don’t necessarily have to settle for the traditional ones. There’s no reason a retiree can’t kick ass in World of Warcraft or Fortnite and teach the young ’uns a few lessons.
#24 Grow your friendship group
You’ve now got time to get to know the people around you (that you like) a little better. Rather than just sticking to friends in your age group, making friends with people of all ages exposes you to new experiences and different points of view, which will help you stay young at heart. Younger friends will also benefit from your life experience.
#25 Stay social
Whether it’s catching up with your friends on Facebook, setting up a WhatsApp group for your friend group, Skyping your relatives in Australia, or Zooming with an old friend in New Zealand, keeping in touch has never been easier. Get up to speed with social media and all the latest online communication platforms, and you can chat with friends and family worldwide whenever you like.
With so many activities to choose from, you’ll wonder how you ever found time to work.
Regardless of your stage in your retirement planning or if you’ve already retired, a financial advisor can help. Unbiased can assist you with your financial ins and outs. Find the right advisor for your needs today.
Rana is the Chief People Officer at Unbiased.com.
Rana is the Chief People Officer at Unbiased.com. She has over 20 years of experience as a commercial HR leader supporting start-ups and scale-ups with their Talent & People Strategy to ensure growth, with experience across eCommerce, Hospitalitytech, and Fintech sectors.