Thursday, March 3, 2011

Living Richly in Retirement-But What Do You Do All Day?

Recently I’ve been exploring the blogosphere a great deal. Among other topics, I’ve been reading some new retirement blogs as well as some blogs where twenty and thirty something’s are talking about retirement planning. Maybe it’s Karma, maybe my timing, maybe the universe is out of alignment, but I’ve see many blog posts in my readings that run along the same lines (admittedly some of them were written awhile back, as I read new blogs from the beginning). The recurring theme seems to be “I could never stop working and sit around the house, I would be bored”. The secondary theme seems to be “I’ll have a limited income; I won’t be able to do the things I want to do”.

My immediate answer to the question of what I do all day is this: I do what I want to do. That’s a simplistic answer though, so let’s look further. What do I do?

I pursue hobbies that I had before I left work. Between working (even part time) and raising kids, my time to pursue my passions was limited. I know have time to quilt, read, cook, explore genealogy,  travel, and do photography on a larger scale than I ever could before. If you’re still working and have no hobbies, I suggest you start developing one or two-at least one that you can pursue alone(total togetherness works poorly for most couples). Lest these hobbies sound too feminine or home-makerish, my late husband enjoyed sports officiating, amateur theater, skiing and traveling, and would have enjoyed those in retirement (he was also a workaholic high level manager, but managed to make time).

I’ve explored some of the things I wanted to try when I had less time, and I expect to do more. Some of the things I tried I was a success at, some were failures and some are ongoing (like managing to grow tomatoes on my patio in pots). In the same vein, some I liked and some paled once I actually tried them. The list of things to try remains long. Most everyone has a list of things in their head or written down on paper of things they would like to do or try "someday".  While some of the things on your list may be "see China", or "jump out of an airplane", I imagine there are many other things on the list as well.  Start jumping in.  And for heaven's sake, don't worry about whether it's a "senior hobby" or a "senior activity. I have a brother in law who has taken up  both marathon running and bike racing at age fifty something.

I increased my volunteering. While “volunteering” is not an automatic solution to boredom, it’s certainly a good way to meet like-minded people. And frankly, most agencies and charities need help, especially during the business hours when other people are working.

I spend time socializing and visiting with friends. With work and kids, my husband and I were lucky to be able to spend a relaxing evening just talking with friends. I occasionally take long lunches at Olive Garden with the girls, having soup, salad, bread sticks and conversation.

Sometimes, I do absolutely nothing, or at least very little. Today I’m feeling a bit under the weather, and I spent much of the day sitting on the patio, reading an absolutely corny romance on the Kindle (I admit it, I’ve gone over to the dark side). I’ve also been known to just go out on the patio, sit down and nod off for a while. While I never, ever watch TV during the day (something I cannot get past, no matter what), I have been known to take myself to the local movie at noon and for three dollars go see the early showing of a first run movie, just because I feel like it.

While I hesitate to add this, I have a small home business. Hesitation comes from the fact that I don’t want people to assume that a business or work is necessary for retirement. I work to supplement my fixed income, but the business hasn’t made money yet, and I am still managing. More importantly, the business is a supplement to my life, and enters my life when and where I choose. And yes, I still consider myself to be truly "retired".

I’ve managed to do most of these things on a fixed income, with creativity and originality. Somewhere there may be someone sitting around eating bon-bons and watching soap operas and daytime TV, but that’s not me. Though on second thought, that might not be so bad.  If you're sitting around on the couch with nothing to do-get up and move!


  1. I read your list and then re-read your list because I thought you may have broken into my day planner.

    Except for the home business( and some day my blog may qualify), I enjoy the same range of activities everyday. I generally wake up faced with 30 e-mails, 20 things on my "like-to-do-list" and all fired up to get started.

    Those who worry about being bored in retirement are probably bored after work and on weekends.

    It is all about seizing opportunities.


  2. I think Bob is correct if you are bored after work or on the weekends while working then you will probably be bored in Retirement. My husband is NEVER bored. He walks 170 miles a week, he has a computer side business but he pretty much works when he wants and has called it a hobby for the past three years. He plays guitar, works our garden which gets larger every year and he does all the yard work. He loves doing all this and much more.


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