Retirement marks one of the great transitions in your life. For most people, until your late-teens or early-twenties you define your time by going to school. After that your schedule is shaped around the need to work and earn a living. Retirement is the third stage. Nobody has assigned you to a classroom and no outside forces (whether boss, customers or growing seasons) have fixed you with a schedule. You get to decide what to do with your time.
You can do great things in your retirement, but first you’ll need to figure out what you want to get out of this phase of your life. To help you figure that out, here are a few places to start. For help getting ready for retirement or managing your money as you get older, consider working with a financial advisor.
Writing, Photography and Art
A lot of people have an inner artist that they’ve never set loose. Whether you want to write a memoir, a history or a novel, you’re not alone. The same is true for if you have paintings inside of you, or sculptures. Or if you’ve always wanted to pick up a camera and figure out exactly how to make the most of ISO and aperture.
All of this takes time, and perhaps you’ve never had it before. Now, you do.
For retirees, now is the time to get serious about that inner artist. Maybe you want to actually pitch your manuscripts. Maybe you want to start a website or an Instagram to publish your visual works and photography. Maybe you don’t want any of that and are seeking the simple pleasure of creating something that makes you happy — not everything has to be for material gain, after all.
No matter what you’re looking for, you have the time and opportunity to turn this from an idle idea into something real. However you define that.
For many retirees, going back to school is a very popular option. You can pick up subjects that you never learned before, things that were always fascinating but you never had the time. Making this even better, most universities have no- or low-cost options such as auditing for students who just want the education and aren’t seeking a degree.
And if you like the social and campus environment of a school, but aren’t interested in taking any more exams, perhaps now’s a good time to consider giving the tests instead. You have an entire career’s worth of expertise under your belt. Look into teaching a few courses at your local community college, or mentoring students who need extra help in your field.
It can be the perfect combination of purpose and time commitment.
Perhaps the single most popular answer for “what to do in retirement” is travel. That doesn’t make it wrong, though, or any less exciting.
If your retirement savings went well, this is when you can have the best intersection of time and money. In your youth, you had plenty of time but no money to afford those big adventures. In your working years, you may have had the money but much less time. Now, for many people, you have both. Compounding all of that is the reality of health in retirement. Today’s retirees are healthier and stronger than ever.
So make the most of it. Take trips both big and small. In particular, embrace the advantages of your situation. You have complete control of your own schedule, so plan spontaneous trips as the mood strikes you. Jump in the car on a random morning and take a road trip to see new cities. Call a couple of hotels on the way. Save some money by heading out on a Tuesday, when rates are low.
Or go the opposite direction. Plan a three month trip to parts of the world you ordinarily couldn’t see. Traveling around Indonesia can take days at a time just to get from one island to the next, for example. That’s a hassle for someone burning their way through vacation time, but much less so for a retiree with a wide open schedule and no rush to get home.
Traveling in retirement is indeed a popular hobby, but don’t just travel. Take advantage of your schedule to do things you otherwise couldn’t.
It goes without saying by now that pickleball has taken off for many people, especially retirees. Maybe you love the idea of trying out this hot kinda-new game. Maybe you don’t.
But let’s take it back to first principles.
Picking up a sport in retirement is a fantastic idea. Sports are fun, social events. They get you out and exercising, and a lot of people love the competition. This is a good idea all around. The key is to pick a sport that works for you. After all, arguably the single most defining part of retirement is that you are getting older, which makes physical activity that much harder.
So look at what makes pickleball such a good fit. It is:
Sports are a great option for a hobby in retirement. If you aren’t sure what to pick up, this is a great profile to start with. Pick a sport that doesn’t need a lot of training, equipment or experience to enjoy. Be mindful of any sports that will stress trouble spots like your joints or back; the sweet spot is something that has you breaking a sweat without causing pain. And make it something social, so that you can have a good time playing.
Generation X will hit their 60s soon enough, and they like their tech.
Your retirement is a great time to pick up new things and new ideas, and in the 21st Century one of the best ways to express a new idea is through code. Whether you want to build an app, a website or a full program, this can be the perfect hobby for a retiree who wants to transition into something new.
Have you ever wanted to create a video game? Now you can. Was there something in your work life that always seemed like it could be done better? Get around to fixing that problem. Do you just want to pull up Atom and see what happens? Go for it.
Coding offers the combination of education and expression, letting you learn something new while creating at the same time. As far as hobbies go, you can’t get much better than that.
The Bottom Line
How you finance your retirement is an essential question for your working life. How you use that retirement is arguably the defining question of your retired life. Here are five ideas to get you started.
Retirement Planning Tips
- Nothing here jumping out at you? Don’t worry, there are more options.
- A financial advisor can help you get set up for a fun retirement. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Drazen Zigic, ©iStock.com/BraunS, ©iStock.com/RichLegg