You have waited for and anticipated your retirement for most of your working life. Now you’ve arrived, with all the time in the world to do all those things you promised yourself you would accomplish during this newly found life of leisure. Fast forward six months. You’ve reorganized your closet, thereby enriching the Good Will store with volumes of outdated outfits. You’ve cleaned the garage, finding so many treasures you had once considered lost. You have indexed all your music CD’s and DVD’s into a sophisticated database, so that you can access them by title, performer, genre, and mood. You have digitized all your favorite family and friend photos, categorizing them by time and event. Now what?
You may not realize it, but at last you have freed yourself to begin your venture into a truly meaningful final opus, spending quality time to think about how you will spend the next 20-30 years of your life. Will you work, play, travel, study, create, release your inner entrepreneur, volunteer, or customize your retirement life to include some combination of these possibilities?
Travel sounds like fun. And this is something you always promised yourself after you retired. In fact, one of your dreams was to commit to visiting all 50 states and taking a selfie in front of at least one signature landmark in each. Or you hoped to visit at least one European country per year for the first 10 years, then shift to destinations that were farther afield, like Asia and Australia. Or maybe you envisioned a captivating sequence of trips that focused around a theme-music, art, battlefields, architecture, food, wine. Oh, the places you can and should and will go — by camper, by airBNB, by home exchange, by 5-star hotel, by cruise ship, by train, by motorcycle!
What about your creative side, possibly still waiting to be expressed? Perhaps over the years, one of your relaxation strategies has been cartoon drawing. In fact, family and friends have often commented on the fact that you are an exceptionally talented artist – opinions you have modestly shrugged off. But coincidentally, you recently noticed that your local community college is offering a non-credit course in cartoon illustration and digital animation, and suddenly you actually begin to imagine your drawing horizons broadening into all types of opportunities. Voila! your entire angst about retirement boredom disappears.
A year ago, that foul four-letter word, “work,” would have been the last option you would have put on your “ways not to be bored in retirement” list. Now, you’re not so sure. What if for your retirement “work” you could choose to do something totally different from your previous career – something you truly enjoy, according to a flexible schedule of your own making?
Perhaps your local newspaper or community newsletter would be eager to accept a weekly cartoon. You might even do some research on markets where animation is used in TV commercials. Imagine being able to supplement your income by having fun using your innate artistic talents!
Furthermore, everywhere you go, wherever you look, there seem to be countless opportunities to give back to your community by volunteering. Imagine how much enjoyment you could provide to nursing homes, children’s parties, hospitals, and summer street fairs by sharing your drawing/animation talents with young and old alike.
The key to avoiding boredom in retirement is to find “work” that is absolutely and engagingly right for you. And that means knowing yourself very, very well. During your lifetime career, your work defined you. Now it is time for your SELF to define your work.
What does this mean exactly? Start with a pause to regroup. Then give yourself the time and attention, as well as access to the necessary tools, to allow you to meet yourself anew.
What is your type and temperament (Myers Briggs)? These dictate what you must have in order to be contented and fulfilled. What are your key interests? These define what will engage you.
Your values are also essential factors in selecting your retirement “work”-what do you find to be meaningful? Your signature strengths clarify what you uniquely have to offer.
Then there are your skills and personal traits. These are also elements that are critical to finding the fit that best suits you. But be aware that whatever your skills are now, you most certainly can add to them. And the very process of advancing your skills- learning whatever you need to successfully pursue an entirely new direction-is its own form of “hard fun.”
Retirement opens the gate between your work and your “work.” This is your time. Do it your way. Who has time to be bored?