I wrote a post a while back that was nothing more than a response I made in a retirement forum to the question, “How do I keep from being bored?“ It is one of my most read posts, but I’m sure people are disappointed that the post is general in nature rather than full of specific advice. Boredom in retirement is a big issue and that’s partly what this blog is all about.
I understand the reason people get bored. They’ve worked for decades and have gotten used to being told what to do all day. They have neglected their personal lives in an effort to win the rat race, be the one who dies with the most toys or retire with more money than they really need. Then they retire and they face that void in their lives. They are so far removed from their passions and dreams, they don’t know where to even begin.
Boredom in retirement can be dangerous. Boredom leads to depression and that’s never good. Depression can lead to all kinds of mental and physical health problems too, even suicide in some people. Remember, you are now in control of your life and it doesn’t have to be this way. As boredom leads to depression, getting out and experiencing new things makes one happier. As you get happier, you have more energy and will likely want to do more things.
I’ve written a few posts on the subject, namely Mapping Your Way to Retirement. But still, that requires some thought on the new or soon to be retiree’s part and someone who has been a corporate drone or government bureaucrat may not be used to using their brain creatively. Not bashing those folks, but if your don’t use your imagination for a few decades, it takes a while to get it fired up again.
So, since I’m now into lists, here’s a list of ideas to get the bored retiree off the couch and enjoying their retirement. None of these require large amounts of money and they can be done even by those that are out of shape. If you are approaching retirement and stumble across this, use these ideas as a starting point, but also use the mind mapping exercise to get your creative juices flowing.
- Start a bucket list. Yep, write down those places you’ve always wanted to visit and the things you’ve always wanted to try. Travel to Europe or go skydiving, whatever you want. Then start planning to do those things. Make the bucket list is free, actually doing the stuff you put on it is another story.
- Find a hobby. There are thousands of hobbies out there to suit all types of folks. Visit a hobby shop or your library and see whats available. Becoming an expert in a new hobby can fill the void left by your old job when you retired. Start small and find a club or group that shares your interest.
- Get outside. Nothing is more boring than endless TV watching sitting on your couch. Take a walk, visit a park, go swimming at the lake or take a scenic drive. Just get out and have some new experiences. Being outdoors can lead to new hobbies such as photography or birdwatching.
- Exercise. Whether you join a gym, take up walking or running, or do Tae Bo in your living room, exercise is proven to not only get you in shape but to stave off boredom and depression. The mental and physical benefits cannot be overstated. Even if your not bored, exercise should be part of your routine.
- Find new friends. You may feel isolated in retirement. Your kids have moved out and your work friends are busy working. Finding new friends can lead you to all kinds of new experiences. If you have a hard time, join a club or just start frequenting places where people congregate (coffee shops, libraries, church, etc.)
- Take a class. Colleges and universities offer all kinds of credit and non-credit classes that may interest you. Often libraries, planetariums, museums and the like offer free classes. Not only will you be exposed to new things, but you might make a few friends with similar interests.
- Get a job. Yes, that’s right. A part-time or seasonal job, might help you transition from work to retirement. You will probably enjoy the less stressful environment of these types of jobs and the perks might be worth more than the pay. For instance, if you like golf get a job at a golf course, if you like knitting work at a yarn shop.
- Volunteer. If you can’t or don’t want to find a job, volunteer your time. Many organizations rely on volunteers, so you can likely chose something that fits your skills and interests. Again, you will likely make new friends and the experience may lead you down a path you hadn’t expected.
- Start a blog or two. They are free and give you something to do. Write about politics, your retirement, your family or all the stuff you’re going to start doing. Who cares if anyone reads it, that’s not the point. It’s like a journal or a diary and just the act of writing will get your imagination working again.
- Slow down. Boredom sometimes comes from the feeling that we “need” to be doing something. There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking life slow and easy. Smell the flowers, watch the grass grow and just learn to enjoy being. While it is important to have things that challenge our minds and bodies in retirement, you should never feel guilty about just hanging out and taking it all in.
Its all about finding something that clicks, something that really gets you excited. You may not find it the first time, but keep at it. Something that sounds fun, may seem tedious when you do it. something that you never thought in a million years would be interesting might become an all consuming passion. Who knows? But you will never find out if you don’t get out there and start doing stuff.
My last piece of advice? Don’t put it off, even for a day. Do something, anything, right now. Get off the couch or away from your computer and go. The longer you wait, the harder it will be. If you can’t think of anything, just start walking or driving and see where you end up. When you see something interesting, stop and check it out. A city park, an antique shop, a historical marker, whatever. Then on the way home, get some coffee or an ice cream and celebrate your new life. Good luck!