I often read that insufficient money is not the only reason many people do not retire from their jobs. As I understand it, a great many people stay on their jobs because they do not know what they would do in life after retirement. Apparently, to these folks becoming free of their jobs means becoming bored. It means turning into a 24/7 couch potato or web surfing addict. And so these people choose to continue punching a time clock rather than face that expected boredom.
They opt to go on doing daily commutes in good weather and bad. To go on putting up with overbearing supervisors or unpleasant coworkers. To go on enduring job/time clock/deadline stress, anxiety and frustration. They elect to keep all of that as an obligatory daily part of their lives just so that they can “stay busy” — just so they can have something to do rather than be bored in life after retirement.
But there is another obvious way to go that I and untold thousands have chosen. We have chosen not to be bored with our freedom. And we’ve found at least 7 ways to keep adding interest to life after retirement.
I have been financially free for many years without being bored. My wife just early-retired 6 months ago and she certainly does not seem bored. In fact, we do not have time to be bored. And it is not because we have discovered some new secret, or because we are particularly special, or because of anything else like that. We have simply found interesting things to do with our time.
That solution to “the boredom problem” is so old and obvious that it does not seem to even be worth writing about. But so many people do not seem to get it! So here are our 2 real-life “anti-boredom case studies” to show how 2 persons have greatly improved their lives by letting go of their jobs.
Days start better. Right off the bat. Because each day starts when WE want it to, not when it has to. No ringing alarm clock. No time pressure to get out of bed. No wake up stress. We both rise when we choose to. Sleeping in if we want. Jumping out of bed to some anticipated activity or adventure if that is what we want. And isn’t that one of the hallmarks of being rich and well-to-do? Well, whatever else is or is not part of our life after retirement, a better start to each day is ours every day.
Personally, I rise naturally with the sun to start my day with good coffee and an hour or so of blog article writing. Which means that I start my day, right from the git-go, doing something I enjoy. And I can do that because retirement has given me control of my time and my life.
And that is just the beginning.
Each day has fun time built in. Being too tired from a job, mentally or physically, to want to do anything is never an issue for either of us. Not having enough time left over to do anything after the job and its commute has eaten up the day is never a problem. There is always energy for fun. There is always time for fun. Just like (okay, almost like) carefree children that always have time and energy for fun.
Yes, there are chores and obligations. Life after retirement is not a vacation. But we can always, every day, make time for fun. Personally, I have at least 8 hours of fun time every single day. I think my wife may have even more. And we have each found our own fun activities to fill that time.
There is time to bring back to life past passions. My wife has always enjoyed singing. But she found that the time demands of her job made it very difficult for her to participate in choirs, so she gave that up. Well, now choirs are back on her menu — thanks to retirement.
In my case, mental job stress just bummed me out enough to keep me from scheduling “photography dates” with myself. So my cameras just remained on a shelf, gathering dust. Not any more! With my job stress a thing of the past, my mind is clear and my photography hikes are back. Again, thanks to life after retirement.
Certainly, over a work career spanning anywhere from 10 to 30 years, everyone must have gone through a similar experience. An interest or passion given up because it proved incompatible with the demands and obligations of a job. An interest or passion shoved way back in the mind where it actually seemed not to be relevant any more. An interest or passion just waiting to be resurrected so it can add fun and joy to life.
There is time to make “waiting passions” real. For years, my wife talked about starting a backyard farm. Vegetable garden, chickens, rabbits, the whole magilla. It was a dream of hers that in absolutely no way could be made real while she was holding down a job. Well, she is free now to make her dream real. So guess what is now in our backyard. That’s right: a big chicken coop, 3 rabbit hutches, a goose shed, a greenhouse and more. And, boy, is she ever having a great time with them.
In my case, the waiting passion was personal writing. Again, my obstacle was not really lack of any time to write; it was too much job-related mental stress and clutter to be able to focus on personal writing. Half my job was writing grant proposals, policy papers and newsletters. I could not get those writing projects out of my mind to be able to focus on what I wanted to write about. So guess what I do now first thing every morning instead of rushing around getting ready to go to a job. That’s correct: I write blog articles like this one. And it is a terrific start to my day — made possible because I chose life after retirement.
And, yes, there is still more.
There is time to discover new passions. My wife has started learning to play the mandolin. And she has become active in 2 community groups putting to new use her professional knowledge. I have become a big-time hiker and amateur civil war historian. And I may soon try my hand at astronomy. New pastimes. New ventures. New passions. All facilitated thanks to life after retirement.
There is a whole world of stuff to do out there. And it starts right where you are. Sit at a table with a pad and pencil. Think back. Think forward. Write down what comes into your mind. Look on your shelves, in your closets, in your basement. Jot down what you see waiting to be put back into enjoyable use. Walk around your house, your yard. Write down what you imagine doing or changing. Go take a drive. Write down the activity places (parks, gyms, etc) that catch your eye as you pass by.
Your list of fun things to try or do not long enough yet? Then do a Google search on any keyword that strikes your fancy. And prepare to be overwhelmed with options.
Inertia can be an issue but it can be overcome. All of the above may be just fine, but none of it necessarily will help anyone turn off the TV and get off the couch. Inertia is a hell of a thing. (A body at rest tends to remain at rest.) But, luckily, so is momentum. (A body in motion tends to remain in motion.) So, even from a dead-stop the trick is to simply get started and the ball will literally roll downhill from there.
And I can think of at least 7 different strategies to get that ball rolling.
You get started simply by starting. And you keep going by (#1) establishing routines (which makes inertia your friend). My wife got restarted singing by (#2) scheduling going to a choir’s weekly meeting; then she (#3) joined the group and things took off from there. I kicked off my blogging by (#4) choosing to participate in one forum thread I found interesting, and things quickly built up from there. My wife (sort of) forced herself to get her gardening going by (#5) committing money to the purchase of plants that she could not then just let die and go to waste. I got into a monthly civil war trip routine by (#6) planning the first one — doing the same “chair potato web surfing” that otherwise would have led to nothing. And I am looking now into the possibility of (#7) enrolling in a web/blog design course.
Where there is a will there is a way. By routine. By schedule. By making a choice. By committing money. By planning. By participating. By joining. By enrolling. There are lots and lots of ways to overcome inertia and get started doing interesting things that make you want to get up in the morning. And there are lots and lots of such things to choose from. Past passions. Dormant passions. New passions. There is no need to be bored. Get going, and you will not have time to be bored.
The takeaway: There is absolutely no reason to be bored in life after retirement. Whether you find fun, engaging things to do is strictly up to your will and your imagination. So get out there and enjoy yourself. That is what your hard earned financial freedom is for!
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image courtesy of Simon Howden at FreeDigitalPhotos.net