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Many of us dream of the day when we can leave behind the daily grind and work at taking it easy. It’s enticing to think about not having to set the alarm clock each night and to finally have a chance to get around to all of those things we intend to do “one of these days.”

Yet, oddly enough, a lot of people have difficulty adjusting to retirement. At first, they’re just happy to have extra time on their hands to relax and putter around the house. It’s like being on an extended vacation, only they don’t go anywhere out of the ordinary. They take each day as it comes, not making plans to do anything special. Weeks pass, and then months. Eventually, that becomes their “new” way of life.

While there’s nothing wrong with living that way, it doesn’t seem like a terribly exciting — or rewarding — way to enjoy retirement, does it? For most of us, time seems to pass ever more quickly as we get older, and that’s just one reason to make the utmost of every single day.

That doesn’t mean you have to exhaust yourself with a long to-do list. That’s not the point. The idea is to use your time to discover new purposes and new interests. You might even explore new ways to contribute to the lives of others and to causes that are important to you.

Your New Job

Go ahead and have fun. You’re the boss. You don’t have to worry about showing up on time or attending meetings or missing deadlines — unless that’s all part of something you choose to do. The goal is to enjoy your life!

So Many Possibilities

Over the years, you’ve probably thought about many things you’d like to do if only you had the time. And now, you do have the time. Here are a few ideas to jog your memory or sow a few seeds in your mind for the future.

  • Reconnect with old friends or previous passions. Keeping up with a home, a career and a family can leave little time for anything else. Friendships can fall to the wayside. Favorite pastimes like painting or playing the piano get set aside. Is there someone or something in your past that brought you joy? Why not see if you can rekindle or resume?

  • Develop new friendships and new passions. There’s a big, beautiful world out there with lots of people and plenty to do. Be a participant instead of a spectator. There’s no telling who you’ll meet, or what else you’ll be good at. You could discover aptitudes and attitudes you never knew you had!

  • Volunteer. Help the environment or stray animals or a political candidate or your church or a local shelter for the homeless or a nearby school or any other organization or cause you hold dear. Many philanthropic organizations have opportunities to volunteer.

  • Teach, tutor or mentor. By now, you’ve accumulated decades of knowledge and experience. You can share that wealth with someone younger (or several someones). It could be a highly productive way to “pay it forward.”

  • Go back to school. If teaching isn’t for you, maybe you’d rather be the student. You don’t have to go for a degree or a certificate — although that’s certainly a possibility. You could sign up for classes at a community college or elsewhere in your local area and learn about whatever interests you.

  • Learn a new language. Research shows that learning to speak a new language is excellent exercise for your brain. Attending classes would give you the added benefit of more social interaction.

  • Travel. As noted earlier, there’s a big, beautiful world out there. Exploring new cultures and vistas can add a whole new perspective to your life. And if you’re learning a new language, traveling can give you practical opportunities to practice.

  • Try your hand at public service. Could politics be in your future? You could run for a spot on the local school board or city council. Or, you could advocate for a social welfare organization. Who knows? You might be inspired to create your own role!

  • Take dancing lessons. You’ve heard the expression “dancing with joy.” Stop and think about it. You can’t dance without feeling good — at least not for long. Maybe you used to love dancing. You still can. If the very thought of dancing makes you feel awkward, start with a video in the privacy of your home. Or sign up for beginner’s classes, where you’ll be with others who probably feel exactly as you do. You may not become a twinkle toes, but you’re virtually guaranteed to have a good time.

  • Get a part-time job, or start a new business. Yes, retirement is “supposed” to be about not working. At least that used to be true. These days, though, it’s not at all unusual for people who are retired to go back into the workforce. If you truly enjoy working, then why not?

  • Lend a helping hand. Even if you don’t want to volunteer with an organization or group on a regular basis, you can still find ample opportunities to pitch in and do someone a solid (favor). Take a look around. Let others know that you’re available. It’s not hard to find someone who could use a bit of help. They’ll appreciate it, and you’ll feel good, too.

  • Remodel or redecorate your home. Whether you do it yourself or hire a professional, revamping your surroundings can refresh your outlook on life as well. Plus, you’ll increase your property value.

  • Adopt a pet. If your living arrangement permits, consider welcoming a new dog, cat, bunny, bird or gerbil into your life. Becoming a pet parent not only opens the door to new emotional bonds but also makes you feel good knowing that you may have saved your new best friend’s life.

  • Start a garden. If you have a yard or access to even a small patch of land, put your green thumb to the test. A flower garden could brighten up your day and the neighborhood. Or maybe a vegetable garden is more to your liking. You could share the fruits of your labor with others.

  • Learn to play an instrument. Similar to learning a new language, learning to play a musical instrument involves areas of the brain that we don’t typically use as we go about our normal routines. It’s also a golden opportunity to develop more patience!

Time is the most valuable asset we have. The proverb “time is money” isn’t necessarily intended to be taken literally, although it’s often true in that regard, too. The point is that time is precious, so we owe it to ourselves to make the most of it.




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