While it may sound silly, the one thing many people fail to consider when retiring is what they’ll do once they’re done working and actually have ample free time. Most of us have spent the time building up to retirement concerned with whether or not we’ll have enough money to retire comfortably, while avoiding the details of what we’re actually going to do with our days. Well, now that your golden years are fast approaching why not consider some of the following activities to help fill your days and give you rewarding pastime?
1. Coach a youth sports team. What better way to give back to the community than to help local youth gain confidence and have a fun summer? Many local organizations and teams are drastically underfunded, and require volunteers to keep running; this is where you come in. While you might not have been an All-American back in school or even know who played in the World Cup last year, I’m sure you understand the fundamentals of at least one team sport and can instill those values in local kids. Coaching will not only allow you to give back to the community, but it will keep you active as well. Your afternoons will be spent in the fresh air, you’ll get to meet tons of your neighbors, and you always have a game to look forward to on the weekends.
2. Volunteer at a park. What many people may not realize is that lots of state and national parks are struggling to make ends meet, and need all the help they can get. Volunteer positions at local parks give retirees the freedom to work around their own schedule and take pride in preserving America’s natural wonders for future generations. Whether you spent your career analyzing business reports or teaching kindergarten, there are roles for every age and ability. From trail restoration, to group presentations to visitors, to gift shop attendance, more often than not volunteers make up a significant part of any park’s staff. Furthermore, you’ll be immersed in the majesty of your natural surroundings, a far cry from the office-scape many of us have grown used to. You’ll be stay active and healthy, while preserving your surroundings (and you’ll probably get a great tan too).
3. Take classes at a local university or online. Just because you’ve grown up doesn’t mean you have to have to stop learning. Now that you have the time and the interest to tackle subjects that really interest you, why not take things to the next logical step? Colleges and universities have become increasingly welcoming places to seniors, and the Internet makes accessing information easier than ever before. In fact, as reported in the New York Times, some seniors, like Jerry Reid at the University of Virginia, have even gone so far as to join Greek societies, and recommend that other seniors “take advantage of [going back to school].” And if there isn’t a college or university nearby you can always take to the Internet; now more than ever is information available to those willing to learn, so why not get that intimate understanding of French literature you’ve always wanted?
4. Pick a hobby or two. Ever been curious about taking and developing your own photographs, but have never had the time to set up that dark room? Well now you do! Take stock of things you find interesting, or would like to learn to do, and explore those options. Even if you have never thought about some of these activities before retirement, fear not, there are now more ways than ever to get involved. You can now find adult-centered programs and camps available for everything from food and wine tasting to white-water rafting. Not only will your new hobbies hold your attention, but you’ll also find yourself making new friends and connections as you get more involved.
5. Get a job. Now, I know what you’re saying to yourself, “I just retired, why would I want to keep working?” While that’s a fair question to ask, it’s important to remember all the fringe benefits that come from working. Not only will you stay active, learning your co-workers’ and the new organization’s quirks, but you can also use your wealth of acquired knowledge in helping the next generation build their future. This doesn’t mean that you have to put your nose back to the grindstone, by all means scale back your involvement or your hours from what you would have been willing to do in the past. Remember, this is your time, and it’s important that you only do something you love. And if any new job you start proves itself stressful or anything less than enjoyable, just move on.
The best part of retirement is that you’re no longer tied down to a company or career, and that you finally have the time to do whatever it is that makes you happy. One of the single biggest concerns seniors have surrounding retirement is what to do with the free time, but if you stay active and involved your golden years will be the most rewarding of your entire life. For some that may mean volunteering in their community, or learning to sail, or even helping someone else build their own future, but it’s important that you take some time to sit down and take the time to decide how you want to spend your retirement.