What to do when you are retired

Some folks have retirement figured out: play golf, travel, read, watch movies or…well, you fill in the blanks. But for most of us, the transition from a lifetime of work and routine can actually be challenging.

For decades, you were a breadwinner and a vital team member at work. Your contributions and experience were respected.

Then overnight, everything changes. You’re living on a fixed income, with lots more time on your hands and much less to do. So it’s normal to undergo a period of adjustment.

But here’s where attitude comes in. Active and successful retirees view the post-work phase as the most rewarding time in their lives. They focus on healthy living and view retirement as an opportunity to reinvent themselves and build a life that’s rich in experience.

So how to stay active and healthy in retirement?

  1. Get social: Relationships are the number one factor to a healthy retirement. Now that you have the opportunity, spend more time with family and friends. Launch a book club, organize regular gals’ or guys’ nights out. If you’re married or have a partner, focus on and refresh that all-important relationship.
  2. Start a hobby: Or get more serious about an existing one. You’re a fantastic baker, woodworker or potter? Set up at local fairs to sell your wares. If you’re a subject expert or collector, lecture and exhibit at your local library or community centre.
  3. Stay mentally active: Play bridge, solve puzzles, play an instrument, learn a new language… Like muscles, our brains need regular workouts.
  4. Tackle home projects: Fix up, repair and refurbish. With the luxury of more time, you can do things right and realize big savings.
  5. Travel: Expand your mental, physical and social horizons. Doesn’t have to be expensive, either. Camp, travel off-season, take road trips…
  6. Get fit: Walk, bike, dance, take yoga classes, pick up a sport or set a crazy goal — first marathon! Exercise helps fight disease, improves mental health and maintains quality of life longer.
  7. Eat healthy: With more time, you can shop, cook and eat healthier. You’ll feel better and be more resistant to disease. Tastes better too! Check out Canada’s Food Guide for more info.
  8. Start a new career or get a part-time job: You always wanted to be a chef or get into real estate? What’s holding you back? Start courses now! Keeps you active and mentally sharp, plus it tops up your retirement funds.
  9. Develop your creative side: Paint, sculpt, write a novel or compose music.
  10. Give back: Mentor youths or young professionals, serve on a board or serve meals and provide companionship. Get a teaching job and share a lifetime of experience, or coach a kids’ team. Giving draws you out of yourself.
  11. Write your memoirs: Every life is interesting — including yours.
  12. Learn a new skill: Cooking, carpentry, auto mechanics, fly fishing and more. Look for lessons locally, or check out YouTube.
  13. Start a blog: Share your unique experience and perspective.
  14. Meditate: Reduces stress and promotes inner peace.
  15. Stay positive! The best way to approach retirement and life in general!

Of course, the freedom to make choices like these has a lot to do with the choices you made before retirement. Choices such as savings and investments, estate planning and transitioning from accumulation to enjoying your hard-earned money. More to come on these topics soon.