18 October 2016

A day in the Life

Must-do activities to make your retirement fun and interesting

Retirement means something different for everyone. It can be a very active time of life or one filled with relaxing activities that fell along the wayside during a hectic career. Once freed from the time constraints imposed by a full-time job, it’s up to you to define what you want to get out of the rest of your life.

Here are some must-do activities that will make your retirement life fun and exciting.

Staying Active

Let’s face it, after working a full day the last thing you want to do is hit the gym. In retirement, you can enjoy physical activity and have plenty of time to focus on the training regimen that fits you best. And that might not even include the gym.

Go for a long hike on a warm Tuesday morning when no one else is on the trail. Hit the community pool and swim laps until you’re exhausted.

Chop wood in your backyard until your arms won’t move any more. Train for a triathlon. Once you retire, there are no more excuses to prevent you from getting and staying in shape.

Getting Paid to Pursue a Hobby

Did you ever want to get really involved in a hobby but only dabbled with it while working? A part-time, low-stress hobby might provide exactly the kind of outlet you need in retirement. It can also give you plenty of social interaction if you find that lacking after you leave your old career.

Around the corner from my house is a woodworking store selling a variety of hand tools, power tools and supplies for woodworking hobbyists and professionals. The clerks in the store appear to be older (possibly retired) guys who really enjoy talking about working with wood and have a lifetime of advice to give away for free. In other words, they spend most of the day talking with other woodworking enthusiasts, some of whom are regulars while others are just starting out.

If you are a sports fan, youth and amateur sports leagues always need referees and scorekeepers. Sometimes these are paid positions. It’s a great way to stay active in your sport of choice and give back to the community.

Consider the dream jobs that don’t pay a lot but sound like awesome opportunities. Become a fishing guide for those who fish. Canoeing or kayaking instructor for those who love being on the water. Mystery shopper for those who love to shop but don’t want to pay for it.

Indulging Laziness

Now let’s go in the exact opposite direction. Retirement should also be about you. You get to decide exactly what you want to do and when you want to do it.

Did you ever get two or three episodes into a riveting television series and then realize its 1:00 in the morning and you have to go to work in seven hours? Guess what? In retirement, you can binge watch that TV series as long as you can stay awake. Then wake up the next morning with a cup of coffee and finish the rest of it. There’s no one judging you!

If books are your thing, indulge your literary side. Stop by the library for a stack of books or load up your Kindle. Find a quiet corner of your house (or your favourite café) and devour a whole book in one sitting. Revisit the classics you read in high school, find a new contemporary author who hasn’t been discovered yet, or join a book club then read what they recommend.

Or maybe you love video games or computer games. Go for it. You earned it, and you get to spend your retirement in a judgment-free zone and do whatever you want. It’s okay to be a big kid.

Learning… for Fun!

Lots of retirees go back to college to explore new fields or deepen their learning. Some universities offer free or heavily discounted courses to senior citizens. They may even make an exception if your age doesn’t quite qualify you (as is the case for me since I retired early). Community colleges offer very affordable courses in practical areas like auto repair, cooking and personal finance.

The wide variety of free online learning opportunities like Coursera (for just about any subject) and Duolingo (for foreign languages) presents a lot of options without the need to leave your couch or pay a dime. You also get to study at your own pace.

In my 18 months of early retirement, I have taken courses on financial markets, Thomas Jefferson, French, computer security, and the origins of life. Just for fun because I was curious. If the class gets boring, you can drop it without needing to beg and plead with the college registrar.

Seeing the World

A favourite pastime of retirees is travelling the world. For some, like my grandparents, that meant buying a small recreational vehicle and crisscrossing the United States from North Carolina to Alaska and back.

In our retirement, we hope to explore Mexico, Thailand and Europe. Without the need to return to a full-time job after a week or two of vacation, we will be able to really enjoy and get to know the places we visit. Combine travelling with learning the local language and you’ll get an even more authentic cultural experience.

Unlimited Options

There really aren’t any rules in retirement. What you can do and achieve is limited only by your creativity, financial resources and health.

Hopefully these ideas will serve as a jumping off point to get you thinking about what you might do in your own retirement!

What are you planning to do during retirement?

This article was written by Justin McCurry for