What Will You Do During Retirement?
by Bonnie Bell, MA, MDiv., Principal, Director of Career/Life Coaching
So much attention is paid to how much money you will need during retirement that often the whole question of what you will do with yourself during retirement is ignored. Too many people simply assume that having free time will be so wonderful that worrying about what to do with it is a waste of time. The fact is that research of retirees reveals that after about two years, they tend to feel disengaged from the marketplace and a considerable amount of discontent.
I’m not suggesting “worrying” about what to do, but I am strongly suggesting that you spend a significant amount of time “wondering” about the kinds of things that would add interest, purpose, focus, and fun to the free time you have ahead of you so you don’t end up feeling as if you have just frittered away the time you finally have at your disposal. Think of all the times you said, “I just don’t have time to do that!” or “Where does the time go?” If you are anything like me, you definitely don’t want to end up feeling the dreaded, “Is that all there is?” when all is said and done.
Here are some general principles to keep in mind:
- If you are thinking about moving somewhere, you want to think about moving toward more love and support, not farther away from it. It’s just as hard to replace old friends who have known you for years, as it is to replace intimate family relationships.
- Don’t ignore the importance of the community in which you live. It might be tempting to move to a less expensive area to save money during retirement, but who might your neighbors be once you get there?
- Are you thinking about volunteering? Volunteering can run the gamut from helping out at your grandchild’s school, to being a Guardian ad Litem for a foster child, to literally holding babies at Children’s Hospital — you name it, and you can probably do it. One of my clients renewed her life-long desire to become an actress and playwright at The Marsh Theater in San Francisco and Berkeley, and Stagebridge in Alameda; another became the foster parent of a baby whose mother was in jail; another went back to college to complete the degree in anthropology he never finished; another volunteered as an usher for both the San Francisco and Oakland Symphonies, Berkeley Rep, and Aurora Theater to assuage her ravenous appetite for live performance; another spends many happy hours a month granting wishes for kids who are recipients of the Make a Wish Foundation.
- If you find you miss working, need more income during retirement, or miss the meaningful relationships that tend to emerge from work situations, Google “jobs for retirees,” where you will find lots of inspiration.
Making a good life happen and making a good retirement happen go hand-in-hand. Be proactive. You can’t just cross your fingers and hope that a good retirement will happen. Do what you can to make it happen, and if you hit some barriers, get help! You will continue to evolve.