By Ernie J. Zelinski
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Retirement - Fun Things to Do

Just cause you're old doesn't mean you can't get up and do something different.
— Jodina (at 61 year old, a lead vocalist in the California punk band One Foot in the Grave)

Keep in mind that when you finally leave your job for good, you will have eight or more extra hours to do whatever you wish. According to a study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, American retirees generally spend their leisure time sleeping a little later, working around the house, and watching a lot more TV than their working counterparts.

Apparently, Ozzy Osbourne doesn't know how to enjoy retirement given that he recently uttered, "It [retirement] was absolutely boring. You can't go and say, 'I'm retired now. That's it!' It won't take long and you're really gone for good and someone throws the last shovel of dirt on a coffin with your name on it. That's the moment you're really retiring — when you die."

Yet millions of Americans, Canadians, and individuals in other parts of the Western world do know how to enjoy retirement.

If you look at the top retirement activities that most American retirees pursue, however, they are boring, boring, boring.

Most retirees must not have put a lot of thought or creativity into their retirement planning just as they have not put a lot of thought into whether they require a Medicare supplement.

To be sure, the leisure activities in my retirement plan for living happy will be different from that of the typical American's. I will have a much more active retirement.

There's seven things you can do with your time [in retirement]: You can work and you can play and you can sleep. You can improve your mind or you can improve your health. You can work in civic activities or educational activities, or you can work in some spiritual area for the church. As far as I know, there's nothing else you can do ... And my retirement has been great. It's better than anything I ever expected it to be."
— Hammond Stith, Retired at 61


Retirement Fun Things to Do - Be a Kid Again

Other ways to enjoy your retirement are to indulge in activities such as visiting interesting retirement websites or, better still, communal activities such as playing bridge or even volunteering and being active in your local community. The idea is to be active and social and not sit around the house in front of the TV and become a couch potato or pumpkin or any kind of vegetable.

According to a recent national survey of 800 American adults age 60 to 74 conducted for Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, taking care of the yard and spending time with grandchildren were statistically tied for top billing among married/partnered men while spending time with grandchildren was the clear favorite among married/partnered women.

Main Retirement Activities for American Male Retirees

  • Taking care of things around the house and yard (28 percent) 
  • Spending time with grandchildren or other family members (26 percent) 
  • Enjoying things like playing golf, shopping, going out with friends (18 percent) 
  • Pursuing hobbies (12 percent) 
  • Volunteering in the community (seven percent) 
  • Watching where your money goes, clipping grocery coupons, etc. (six percent) 

Main Retirement Activities for American Female Retirees

  • Spending time with grandchildren or other family members (36 percent) 
  • Taking care of things around the house and yard (25 percent) 
  • Enjoying things like playing golf, shopping, going out with friends (16 percent) 
  • Pursuing hobbies (eight percent) 
  • Watching where your money goes, clipping grocery coupons, etc. (seven percent) 
  • Volunteering in the community (three percent) 

If this is all that there is to retirement living, then let me go back to work in a retirement job until I die. But wait! This is why I wrote How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free: Retirement Wisdom That You Won't Get from Your Financial Advisor: 

Retirement Cafe Book 

I also wrote another retirement book called 1001 Ways to Enjoy Your Retirement, which was published in Spanish, French, and Korean but not in English. An article from the book follows.

15 Fun Things That Agatha Christie Enjoyed Which Make Great Retirement Activities

Retirees have two choices: choose the couch — or choose life.
— Jane McBride

A September 2010 study found that the soon-to-be retired forecast how they will spend their retirement years quite accurately — when compared to those individuals already retired:

• Sixty percent of the soon-to-be retired said they will spend their extra leisure time on hobbies whereas 66 percent of retired individuals actually do that.

• Thirty-one percent of those soon-to-be retired (and 33 percent of retirees) chose "visiting grandchildren."

• Investing as a retirement activity was selected by 10 percent of workers and 12 percent of retirees.

Travel in retirement was selected as an important retirement activity by 48 percent of the soon-to-be retired and 42 percent of retirees.

If you can't think of any retirement activities to have a more active retirement, you haven't spent enough time getting to know yourself. There are many fun activities for retirees to pursue.

It is never too late for you to develop a new interest, or learn a new sport or skill. What you should do first is create your own Get-a-Life Tree, which is discussed in great detail in How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free:

An elegant sufficiency, content,
Retirement, rural quiet, friendship, books,
Ease and alternate labor, useful life,
Progressive virtue, and approving Heaven!
— James Thomson

Preparation for old age should begin not later than one's teens. A life which is empty of purpose until 65 will not suddenly become filled on retirement.
— Arthur E. Morgan

If you still haven't constructed your Get-a-Life Tree, start by writing down the things that you would like to pursue in your life before you die. Like the list anyone generates with the Get-a-Life Tree, your list may be based on things you like doing now, things you loved doing in the past but have quit doing, and things you thought about doing but have never tried.

Incidentally, the powerful Get-a-Life Tree is a copyrighted retirement tool only available in The World's Best Retirement Activities Book and in The World's Second Best Retirement Activities Book.

All intellectual improvement arises from leisure.
— Samuel Johnson
The wisdom of a learned man cometh by opportunity of leisure: and he that hath little business shall become wise.
— Bible

Think of all the things in life that you love; then, in some way relate them to retirement activities that you can pursue for a more active retirement.

Following is a list of activities created by the British writer Agatha Christie (1890-1976) as included in the book Agatha Christie: An Autobiography (Dodd, Mead & Co., 1977).

  • Sunshine
  • Apples
  • Almost any kind of music
  • Railway trains
  • Numerical puzzles and anything to do with numbers
  • Going to the sea
  • Bathing and swimming
  • Silence
  • Sleeping
  • Dreaming
  • Eating
  • The smell of coffee
  • Lilies of the valley
  • Most dogs
  • Going to the theatre

This list of activities and things that Christie loved may trigger some of the stuff that turns you on and which you can use for an active retirement.

In fact, you may learn to enjoy all 15 things that Agatha Christie enjoyed if you implement them into your retirement activities. This will go a long ways towards conquering retirement boredom.

I used to have dreams that I died at my desk.
Now that I've retired, I don't have those dreams anymore.
— Haselback (commenting on an online article about retirement.)

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.
Oscar Wilde Quotes

I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see.
— John Burrough

Note: The retirement quotes and sayings on this webpage come from several sources including The Retirement Quotes Cafe and the international bestseller How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free.

Retirement Cafe Book 

E-mail from a Retiree Who Is Having Fun and Enjoying Retirement

Below is an e-mail that I received from Jim R. who had previously sent me an e-mail about having read one of my retirement books.

I am not sure whether it was The Joy of Not Working or How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free.

Retirement Activities Book

I like the part about Jim having fun in his retirement learning how to drive an 18 wheeler. Of course, he can always use this skill to get a fun retirement job driving a truck cross country.

Hi All;

Just a short note to say I am really enjoying retirement! 
I won't bore you with the items I've done on my retirement list (unless something dramatic happens) but would like to mention three. 
I completed my first, with a stop at Cayuga Playground in SF on my way home from a wonderful Christmas dinner with the Sebastianis. The playground was featured in a PBS program on "California's Gold" by Huell Howser. 
It is a small children's playground under the BART tracks in South SF. A self-appointed Japanese gardener takes downed trees and branches from the city and carves them into various statues and places them around the playground perimeter. It's quite a site, and I've enclosed two pictures. 
Secondly, I've continued playing bridge by joining the Retired Diablo Canyon Bridge Players who meet once a week a Margies Diner in San Luis Obispo to have dinner and play bridge for a few hours. 
Third — which may be a little surprising — I'm learning to drive an 18-wheeler! This is something I've wanted to try for some time. 
Fun Activities in Retirement - Driving Truck Image 
Class started this week (two Hispanics and two anglos) and, so far, we've driven a tractor-semi trailer around the yard, and with repeated practice, backed it up in a straight line for fifty yards (it's not as simple as backing your boat trailer). 
We've also uncoupled and recoupled the trailer. We take the DMV written test on Friday for our learners permit, then get to spend the next four weeks driving on the highway and learning additional driving, cargo weight balancing, and docking skills. Then we take the DMV driving test. I'm not sure what I'll do with this knowledge, but I'm having a ball! 


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