ask the readers: what do I do once I retire?

A reader writes:

My concern skews to an older audience than most of your readers but it’s one that I probably should have given more thought to years ago.

How do I prepare to retire and what do I do once I retire? I’m not talking about the money piece of retirement, but rather, what do I do with my time? Some people continue to work in another capacity. But (I am a professor) if I wanted to keep writing or teaching, I wouldn’t retire yet.

I don’t have a side gig or much in the way of hobbies and many of my friends are younger and people I know from work, and I suspect some of those connections will weaken when we no longer have work to talk about. I plan to spend more time getting in shape. I’d like to travel as much as I can afford to for as long as I can (although I will miss having work pay for it). But I don’t really have an image of what my life would look like and whether I should just retire in a couple of years and figure it out then or keep working.

I’ve tried to look through the archives but most of the questions about retirement involve getting people to retire (and we’ve got a few of those) who really should but I’m trying to think about how to get myself to retire. My husband has his own business and can gradually retire, or even change his mind, but I (like most people) don’t have that option. I feel like I’m about to jump off a cliff.

I’m going to throw this out to readers to weigh in on, but first I posed this question to my mother, who’s 75, comes across as barely older than me (and it’s not because I seem super old), has a social schedule that exhausts me simply to hear about, and complains to me not infrequently about some of her retired peers getting old and boring. (To be fair, she’s not fully retired. She claimed to retire eight years ago, but then started running her own business.) Here’s what she said:

Definitely do not jump off a cliff. Yours is not an unusual question, and the federal government even sponsors classes for its employees close to retirement that deal with this. As a semi-retired person myself, I can tell you that if you live in a metropolitan area, you’ll find that there are more options than you could ever possibly find the time to do.

If your community’s recreation department or local hospital or library offers 55+ activities, start looking into them now. If you don’t already belong to a gym, start visiting some to ask what they offer for older adults. Some gyms cater to younger people and have little of interest to someone of retirement age, but you should be able to find the ones that attract older adults. Some retired people attend at least one workout class every day, and you’ll have time to do that if getting in shape interests you. If you’re a reader and have never had time to read all the books that interest you, start now to get a reserve list going at the local library. Take up yoga or golf or whatever else interests you that you haven’t had time to do before. (Note from Alison: She wants everyone to take up yoga.)

One thing that I’ve noted among my retired friends, however, is that the most interesting people are those who stay involved in something outside of themselves. Reading and working out or playing golf, etc. are great benefits of retirement but I encourage you to give some thought to what you feel passionate about. Volunteer opportunities are endless, and many retirees have built something that was previously just an interest or hobby into a part-time business that gives them interesting things to talk about when everyone else is discussing their latest health problems.

A good example is a 90-something woman I knew who continued to tutor elementary age children until weeks before she died. She was the most technology savvy older woman I ever knew because the students she worked with taught her about cell phones, computers and streaming videos. She never had problems with conversations with younger people because she was able to speak the language of today’s world. And my dad, who retired at 55, worked in a succession of short-term paid jobs that were things he’d always been interested in learning about (bagel baking, gym front desk, etc.) and just did each for a short time before moving on.

And just Google “things to do in retirement” and see all the things that come up. You will not be bored.

Readers, what else do you suggest? What do you think you’ll want to do in your own retirement?

Read an update to this letter.

{ 501 comments… read them below }

  1. Glomarization, Esq.*

    Think about the times you’ve been invited to go out and do something (whether for an evening, or a week, or a longer term), and you would have enjoyed doing that thing — but you had to decline because of work.

    Make a list of those things and hop to it.

    1. Nicki Name*

      Or think of those things that sounded like a fun weekend but you’d have had no time to recharge. That seems to be mostly what my retired parents are doing now that they can rest up on weekdays.

    2. TardyTardis*

      I have been–
      a) watching over a husband with um, *interesting* health concerns.
      b) gradually getting the house in shape to where I can invite people over without cringing or two days worth of renting a backhoe.
      3) worked two tax seasons just to keep my brain going.
      4) bought an all you can eat pass for StackSkills.
      5) got involved in local politics and am admired for Mad Excel Skillz.
      6) writing more novels (just finished a first draft which I will split into two).
      7) keeping my home email more or less caught up.

  2. OlympiasEpiriot*

    I am hoping to get taken on by Medicins Sans Frontieres for their Logistics division as soon as I can “retire”.

    1. Electric Mayhem*

      I’m an MSF-er, and you should! The Logs (logisticians) are amazing, and non-medical personnel make up almost half of the volunteers worldwide. I’m not retired but lots of people I know in MSF are retirees and their workforce experience is incredibly valuable.
      It’s definitelg an experience that will change your life – but be careful because you may get addicted.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Oooh, thank you both for mentioning that, it hadn’t occurred to me! I’ll have to consider this, especially since we will probably retire early, and I have a clinical and public health background, although I am fairly far removed from them now.

  3. Slythenclaw*

    My parents and my uncle just retired, and all three said the same thing: they’re still really busy and now they wonder how they ever got everything done when they were working.

    1. fposte*

      There are definitely people for whom it’s an easy transition, but for some people it really is tough and it requires some thought and planning. There’s a reason academics tend to retire very late–they’re often not very good at it.

      1. Triumphant Fox*

        But also the inherent flexibility of their roles mean that scaling back with their level of seniority is a lot easier than in other jobs. Often senior scholars are teaching (maybe) one course a semester, can travel less or more depending on their health, are getting large grants that can give them even more flexibility and are doing 1-year stints at other institutions where they can basically hang out with new colleagues and write/research on their own time. Academia is a job that takes some passion to pursue well, especially because compensation is not great and the feasibility of actually obtaining a job is not always there. I know a lot of professors who semi-retire and start taking advantage of their institution’s free course offerings to faculty and alumni or who pursue more passion projects. They don’t really stop working, they just work differently because they can stop doing everything they disliked or that was stressful about their jobs (pulling out of committees, getting more TA assistance, teaching fewer courses and having little pressure to publish at breakneck speed).

        1. Rebecca in Dallas*

          Yes, my dad has been at his company for almost 30 years and gets SO much vacation time because of his seniority. So even though he’s not retired we joke that he basically never works anymore.

        2. German Girl*

          Yes, my granddad is in academia and has been semi-retired for the last 30 years or so. He’s in his 90s now and still researches, publishes and occasionally speaks at conferences – but he does it at his own pace of a few hours a week and only for his favorite topic.

          And he has lots of other hobbies now, most of which he picked up because my grandma dragged him into them and he’s kept them up even though she passed away 15 years ago, because he likes being among the people there.

    2. Coffee Nut*

      This is something I’ve heard from a lot of retired people.

      My in-laws retired almost 2 years ago and they have spent time visiting family in other states and developing hobbies (my FIL quilts now!). They have also joined local committees to volunteers time with events/organizations they are passionate about. They are still very full of life and on the go!

      Best of luck and I hope you are truly able to relax and enjoy this time!

    3. Jake*

      All I hear from retirees is how they are too busy to do anything.

      That being said, their definition of busy ranges from drinking a 30 case a day of Miller high life to playing Skyrim 8 hours a day to doing laundry all day.

      I think people who were busy when they were working are always going to find an excuse to seem busy in retirement.

      Another group is like the OP and genuinely needs help figuring out what to do with their time.

        1. BBA*

          Todd just may make that happen for you. Skyrim: The Superultimate Platinum Legendary Edition, 2047!

          1. Urdnot Bakara*

            I’ll be an 80-year-old grandma with level 100 lockpicking streaming my Skyrim: 50th Anniversary Edition playthrough.

        2. Lavender Menace*

          Good, because they’ll keep releasing it on every game system until the end of time!

    4. Little Beans*

      This. My husband is a teacher, so he is off in the summers. Somehow he is still never home! He likes to go to the gym almost every day, which takes up a couple of hours, and then there’s almost always some kind of errand that needs to be run (this week alone, he’s taken the car to get smogged, had to meet the plumber to fix a clogged drain, and helped a friend move a large piece of furniture). Then you add in all the everyday household tasks of grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. and your day goes pretty fast. We also do the vast majority of our traveling in the summer so he wants to relax at home more because it always feels like we just got back from somewhere.

    5. entrylevelsomething*

      Yes! My stepmother just retired and seems as busy as ever– she’s maintaining her garden, remodeling some of the house in anticipation of a move within ~5 years, volunteering, helping plan baby showers, just so much stuff. It seems like whatever time you have, sometimes life will just fill it.

  4. fposte*

    I’m preparing for this myself, and my advice is to spend time reading or hanging out with people who have made the transition.

    One post that especially resonated with me (since I’m a listmaking kind of person) was somebody who had categories that made him feel he had a good day, so, for instance, it could be some physical activity, some creative activity, an area of study, and a way to contribute to the community. I might spread that out to a good week rather than a good day, but I really like the idea of creating a multifactorial vision of what retirement is and not just what it isn’t.

    1. Christina*

      I love this as a way to think about the week, even though I’m not even close to retirement!

    2. Project Problem Solver*

      I really like that idea for *now*, and I’m still about 20 years from retiring. Might have to be “in a fortnight” or “in a month” while I’m working, but still and excellent idea.

    3. ursula*

      That’s so great! What a good approach.

      My grandparents had the retirement I want: they immediately made a bunch of standing weekly appointments with friends who were also retired (ie. “Wednesday nights we play bridge with Jackie and Simon”), invested in their community (my grandma started a club through her church that would call on older folks once a day who were living alone and/or in poor health to help keep them social and make sure they were okay), supported each other in staying physically active (golf at first, and then taking daily walks at the mall when weather was bad), both kept reading and frequently read the same books so they could talk about it, and generously offered to spend more time babysitting grandchildren and great-grandchildren, to everyone’s benefit. Aging can be hard, but their late lives were full of purpose, connection, and joy.

      1. Chinookwind*

        My dad is like that too – he has a set of standing appointments and routines he does every weekday morning (usually walk the dog (by biking for an hour), clean floors/clear snow at my mom’s store, go have coffee with the other “old guys”) to ensure that he feels like he has a reason to get up in the morning.

        It has the added bonus of feeling like he is playing hookey when he decides to go skiing on a weekday or going on a real vacation if he goes camping. He was the first among some of his friends to fully retire and became know as a “bad influence” on the semi-retirees because he would call them up and see who would join him on the hill that day.

        He has also become the backup babysitter for my sister if one of the kids is sick.

        1. Chinookwind*

          Kowalski! Options! reminded me of what my father has also turned into – a proud house husband. The only thing my stay-at-home until youngest was 16 mother has kept control of is the laundry (because my father still doesn’t understand the importance of sorting).

          Do not underestimate the pride you can take, as well as the money you can save, in being able to spend time doing the stereotypical “housewife” duties if you are of that mindset. You can even set up a weekly schedule and investigate doing things by hand and or scratch that you never had time for before.

        2. TardyTardis*

          Going to the movies midweek, especially once school starts up again, often means a private showing for us.

    4. Parenthetically*

      “categories that made him feel he had a good day”

      I love this. I’m (currently and for at least the next few years) a stay-at-home parent and there are definitely things that make me feel like it was a satisfying day.

      1. BeachMum*

        I, too, am mostly a stay-at-home mum, but I’m responsible for a whole lot of things (like everything to do with our finances) that aren’t typically SAHM stuff. I have a schedule so that everything gets done and I’m a huge list maker. I help my husband with a few work things (we joke that I’m the Vice President of stuff no one at work wants to do) and volunteer.

        I figure it’s similar to being retired, but my day sometimes still revolves around kids’ schedules. I’m already starting to plan for the next phase, when my kids are gone and I’ll probably either get a paying job or volunteer a whole lot more.

  5. Elemeno P.*

    Slightly different situation, but a friend of mine was able to retire early (36) and has been talking about this on his blog a lot. As someone who worked a TON at a job he loved, he was initially worried about how to fill his time without fixating on the work he used to do. So far, he’s been working on increasing his outdoor activity/fitness, hanging out with friends more often, and just in general trying to reframe his perception of enjoyment of life without work.

    It’s not a situation I’ll likely be in myself, but I like reading about what he does.

  6. Kowalski! Options!*

    Not being close to retirement age myself, I can’t offer any help from first-hand experience, but I can echo Alison’s mother’s experience about not jumping off the cliff. My own father, who began working at 13, did, and it was…fraught. He was offered a golden handshake out of the blue just short of turning 55, and jumped at it (as did 18 of the 23 people he was working with…but that’s another story). TL;DR – he drove everyone bananas because the only plans that he (vaguely) had was to start his own business, which didn’t last long once he realized how much he disliked finding new clients, and how much he preferred to be a house husband. Six months after his retirement, his former boss got in touch about a freelance opportunity, doing the job that he’d had before. He went back as a contractor, and kept on working for another twenty years.
    I know that so much like my father that I personally don’t have any plans to retire until I’m at least 70 (barring any major health crises that could knock me out of the work force). The main reasons are partially economic (more time to save for retirement) but also because I’m not good if I have too much time on my hands and don’t have a routine to go to every morning.

    1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      I’m a lot like you. I don’t see myself every retiring in the traditional sense. I’m not a homebody and like/need scheduled commitments. My vision of retirement is being a consultant who gets to pick and choose what to work on and when to work. My vision is being able to take on really interesting projects that wouldn’t pay enough for a working person to do.

      1. Sara*

        We have had a retired guy working for us for over 20 years in our shop, rebuilding contractor pumps, painting pipe, sandblasting parts, sweeping the floor. He keeps his hours to a minimum so he doesn’t mess up his social security benefits, takes vacation when he wants to, and doesn’t mind being laid off if we are slow so that younger guys can get hours in. He has been an invaluable member of our company. I know it won’t last forever but we will miss him when he actually retires for good.

    2. The Original K.*

      My friend’s father is a retired law partner and he stayed out of the game about two weeks when he retired. His life had been so structured before that he was going stir-crazy with nothing to do. He now does a lot of pro bono work, but works way fewer hours than he did when he was working full-time. He also spends a lot of time with his four grandkids, who all live within two hours of him (two of them live in the same city).

      My father retired and started a new business. My grandparents retired and didn’t work anymore in the traditional sense, but they had very full social lives, mostly through church activities. They also came from big families, so they had siblings around who were retired (my grandfather and his favorite brother used to take a walk together every morning, which I thought was so nice).

    3. Mademoiselle Sugarlump*

      You sound like me. I need a routine, so I hope to work till I’m 75. I’m 64 and still like my job.

    4. Fish Microwaver*

      OP did not say she was going to jump off a cliff, she likened the feeling of apprehension at retiring to that before jumping off a cliff.

  7. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    My father retired three times; the first two times they pulled him back within a year. And no, he doesn’t work for the Mafia or the CIA.

    So you may find that you won’t stay retired. Or not fully retired. Fortunately, academia is usually pretty well set-up for things like professor emeritus, retire-in-place, service on various boards & committees, etc.

    1. Mary Connell*

      I know an excellent appliance repairwoman who has tried hard to retire, but skilled repairpeople are in short supply and another year will pass and she’ll still be going out on service calls. (I very much hope they’re paying her what she’s worth, but of course it’s not polite to ask!)

    2. Parenthetically*

      This is absolutely true. My mother is a veteran teacher who is technically retired and still worked about 80% of the school year last year as a sub — she was able to set her own schedule and she enjoys being busy but not having the stress of grading papers or going to meetings or working on EAPs and things.

    3. Jessica B*

      Agreed. My dad first retired around age 62, and missed feeling productive a bit but not super motivated to go back to work full time. When his company asked to hire him back as a consultant, he threw out a rate 3x his previous salary at only 30 hrs/week, not expecting them to agree but they totally did! Now he’s 75, finally retired, and he’s training for a swim race, goes to the library every Monday, attends Physics lectures at a local university, and volunteers at his church. He also naps every afternoon.

    4. The New Wanderer*

      My former advisor retired from his university but went into consulting and is still consulting part time while a visiting professor at the local large university. I think he publishes now more than when he was a full professor!

    5. Jemima Bond*

      Not the mafia or CIA? A quid says your dad headed up a secret commando squad with government deniability, but he was a maverick who didn’t play by the rules…then The Organisation pulled him back for one last mission *pyrotechnic display behind shot of ABET’s dad wiping sweat from his brow and declaring he picked the wrong day to quit the pina coladas*

  8. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    I vote for volunteering and traveling (the former can be nearly anything!). Maintaining social relationships play a significant role in personal health, and this is a great opportunity to invest in those relationships with your friends who are younger, OP.

    If what the retirees in my life say is true, it will feel a little weird, at first, to lose your routine and the urgency of completing your list of things to do. But take things slow, and add activities back in if they bring you happiness and make you feel useful. Congratulations!

    1. NothingIsLittle*

      That’s what my grandparents are doing! They’re both very Catholic, so they became very active in their church upon retirement. They’re on all the committees and have a large group of church friends that they like to go out with. They also travel all the time, as often as they can afford, and either take cruises or visit far-flung relations.

      I definitely think volunteering is smart for retirees to help them stay active if they don’t have a large and/or active friend group. My paternal grandmother kept busy with social engagements for most of her retirement, but since she was the last of her friends to die, she was incredibly lonely when her children couldn’t visit (at least one of them visited every day, but they all had jobs/kids/etc that meant she was alone more often than not before she moved into hospice).

      It doesn’t have to be a religious organization, but volunteering regularly for a cause that you believe in and with people who make you feel valued is excellent (for people of all ages, if they have time for it).

    2. EH*

      Volunteering is great – I (not retired) volunteered as a dogwalker at a local rescue for a while. If I didn’t need my dayjob, I’d go back to it in a heartbeat. Also, if you’re into cats, no matter where you live they probably need people to foster kittens. I follow a bunch of kitten-fosterers on Instagram and if I had the time I would do that too. There are always kittens who need a safe place to get old enough to find to their forever homes.

      1. LawBee*

        May I recommend formerlyconrand for all your kitten fostering instagram needs – he’s been the best random instagram follow of my year. 80% of his feed is him in tank tops, flexing some impressive biceps, big grin, holding kittens. It is adorable.

        1. Boop*

          I recommend Kitten Lady. The piglet was an aberration, it’s really mostly tiny kittens.

          1. EddieSherbert*

            I’ve gotten to meet KittenLady and (her partner) Iamthecatphotographer a few times and they are just as great in person :)

            Some of my other favorites on Instagram (who are also great resources) include: myfosterkittens, catmanchrispoole, flatbushcats, thetnrlady, thecatlvt (medical cases), catmanofwestoakland (TNR) , and julespitties (foster and bottle baby dogs)!

      2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        My retired neighbor feeds bottle baby kittens for the human society. I’d be all over that and then probably have to move Mr. Gumption to a new house so that I could fit in all the kittens I would bring home

      3. EddieSherbert*

        Every rescue or shelter I’ve worked at has a few retired ladies (occasionally men, but usually ladies) who rule the cat and kitten rooms. Quite literally couldn’t function without them! :)

        One amazing retired “power couple” at a previous shelter of mine fostered bottle baby kittens, and the wife took very nice semi-professional photos of all adoptable animals and ran the shelter’s Petfinder and their Facebook page, while her husband was a lead volunteer for fundraising (he was allergic to cats so couldn’t really work directly with the animals despite very passionately supporting the shelter).

    3. Public Health Nerd*

      Yeah, I met a fellow volunteer who is retired, and I’m totally working toward his style of retirement. He and his wife volunteer on a fairly regular schedule each week, and then go on international trips. Low cost when you’re in town, volunteering doing things you like anyway, and then taking longer trips.

    4. Doktor Musik*

      Chiming in here to support volunteering. I work at a large arts non-profit, and many departments (including mine) rely heavily on volunteers. Some volunteers put in more hours than some of our part-time employees.

  9. Amber Rose*

    If yoga isn’t your thing, there’s plenty of older folk in my martial arts school. Some of them are terrifying. I aspire to be like them, retirement age and capable of striking terror into the hearts of everyone younger and fitter than me.

    Alternatively, there’s always school. Our university offers continuing education courses, which aren’t too expensive, don’t require a degree program to take and are fun and casual ways of picking up new things and meeting people. You might have something like that near you.

    1. The Original K.*

      I’m into fitness so I work out a lot, and there’s a woman at my gym with whom I am friendly who is around 70. She has six-pack abs. I got to know her from my spinning classes, and my spinning classes are HARD. She can hang with those of us half her age and younger. She would shrug me off if I told her this (she’s kind of shy), but she’s an inspiration to me – I hope to still be spinning and lifting when I’m her age!

      1. Rebecca in Dallas*

        I run with a guy who is 78 and consistently wins his age group in marathons. (He jokes that the secret is to outlive the others in his age group, but the truth is that he’s faster than many of us who are 40 years younger!) I always tell him that I want to be like him when I grow up!

    2. Chinookwind*

      My husband’s retirement goal is to become “old guy strong.” I can’t describe what that looks like, but I know exactly what he is talking about. One day he will be hunched over in a wheelchair from back pain while taking out pains in the butt with his cane.

      He is starting in his 30’s to work up the base muscles and reflexes but, since he should be able to retire by 53 (he started with military at 18), and then will work on attaining as many black belts in different genres as he ages.

      His other goal is to have the time to be first in line for something like a new iPhone or video game, walk into the store to cheers and come out with something small like batteries or a charge cord.

  10. Pam*

    A friend of mine, who is also retired faculty, travels everywhere! If you wanted to keep teaching part time you could look at adjunct positions.

    1. Psyche*

      One of my professors retired while I was in graduate school and became a professor emeritus. She was able to keep her office and go to whatever seminars interested her while stepping back from writing, teaching (in a formal capacity) and other university commitments. She continues to be a great mentor to me to this day. If the OPs university has something like that it might be a great way to ease the transition.

      1. Doktor Musik*

        I recently experienced the opposite end of this. I was giving a guest lecture at a university, and I was told that Very Important Professor Emeritus had kept his office. Apparently he came in all day, every day, but nobody was quite sure what he was doing in there. The suspicion among the graduate students was that he literally had no idea what else to do with himself apart from sit in his office. He also attended my talk and asked a series of very rude and also very dated questions, questions that seemed to suggest that even if he was still coming to the office every day, he wasn’t necessarily keeping up with developments in the field. Point being that different people may handle emeritus status differently.

    2. J.*

      This! I know several full time faculty who retired but take on one adjunct course a semester or just one in the fall to stay connected and because they enjoy it.

    3. Kimmybear*

      My father (recently retired faculty) loves that he now has time for the research and articles he couldn’t do before. (His faculty position was heavily teaching focused.) He also supervises independent studies for students. He gets to do the stuff he wants on his own schedule.

  11. T. Boone Pickens*

    I can only share what my father did as my mother just retired a week ago so the jury is still out there…

    My dad took about a month off to just kind of veg out before he wanted to start to get on a bit more of a schedule so he didn’t spend all day binge watching stuff on Netflix (although the sheer amount of stuff he got through was incredible I was wondering if he slept!)

    My dad is an avid tennis player so he ended up getting a job with his city’s local parks and rec department working part-time at a couple of the tennis centers. It’s a win-win for him as he gets out of the house a few days a week, does something he seems to enjoy and gives him a sense of purpose plus he’s an ideal employee as he’s extremely reliable and the money he earns is just fun money for he and my mother. Plus my mom loves it as he gets out of her hair as well.

    Allison’s mother gave a terrific answer so I’m not sure how else to build on it.

    1. Jerk Store*

      This was close to what I was going to suggest based on the experience of relatives and family friends.

      My late grandpa took care of janitorial work and the grounds at his Church. He genuinely enjoyed that kind of work, he cared about his Church and wanted to contribute, and, since he grew up on a farm and literally worked from the time he could walk, he felt good about getting out of the house and contributing something even though he didn’t “need” the $.

      My dad needs some supplemental retirement income and he works part-time delivering flowers and sometimes groceries for a chain. He loves it because he has flexibility, it’s not high-stress, and he says people are always happy to see him. A friend of his who loves sports is a ticket taker at our local sports/concert venue, and he loves how often he runs into people he knows.

      1. Egs*

        I second the part time job! Several of my aunt/uncles/family friends have gotten part time jobs at coffee shops, pet stores, golf stores, etc. The trick is to pick something you enjoy and look for a job that relates. Picking up one or two shifts a week is great, an employee discount is great and most of the retail managers I know love having retired people on staff because they generally can cover a last minute shift if needed because they dont have kids/school.

        1. MysteryFan*

          Yes to the PT job that fits into your hobby/interest! I did that.. work about 18 hrs/week, and still have time to read and keep the backyard up!

    2. Alison's mom*

      I also took a month off right after retiring, just to veg, and it was amazing. I took a lot of naps and caught up on all the rest I hadn’t been able to get while working. After a month, I was ready to go!

      1. fposte*

        Hi, Alison’s mom! I feel like an off-screen character has finally appeared in the show.

      2. Cat Meowmy Admin*

        Hi there, Alison’s Mom! I loved your take on this matter. And I wanna be you when I grow up! (I’m age 64!)

  12. New Job So Much Better*

    I want to get back to fiction writing once I can retire, though that’s far, far away. My day job (which I love) leaves my creativity exhausted, so that’s something to look forward to. Also golf–my hubs is an avid golfer and it’s a time-consuming sport, so perfect for retirees. Great topic!

    1. TardyTardis*

      Start keeping a notebook with all your fiction ideas now, so you’ll know what to work on when you can.

  13. Celeste*

    Set some goals for yourself. Example: define what it means to be in better shape. Do you want to be able to run a 5k and possibly to fundraise for a cause? Do you want to compete in the Senior Olympics? Do you want to teach yoga? These are paths that one goal might lead you down.

    I have a friend who made a New Year’s resolution to learn something new every month. She tried a cooking class and it led to her taking more of them, and really upping her skills so that cooking for the household is just more fun.

    Another friend started selling Pampered Chef cooking tools for something to do, and it led her to start giving cooking lessons to kids, teens, and now a Date Night class for couples.

    Maybe you have an interest in politics and would like to get involved now that time permits. There is work on issues, voter registration, fundraising, canvassing for candidates, election support, and so on.

    So my advice is to look for the new, and see where it might lead you.

  14. MtnLaurel*

    My husband is facing this transition soon too…so any ideas about the financial end are welcome as well!

    1. Clorinda*

      Long term care insurance.
      We are moving my husband’s parents to a nursing home and the cost is $12K PER MONTH for the two of them. They don’t have insurance, so every penny is out of pocket, which means we are in the situation of hoping the people we love don’t live long enough to go broke. This is spiritually unsound. Get the insurance and keep it.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        I’ve haven’t looked into the details on long term care insurance in a while (maybe a decade?) but I recommend doing some research into how likely it is that the policy you buy will actually do what you need it to do later in terms of both coverage and policy cost. I know there at least used to be issues with major premium hikes rendering policies unaffordable for people who’d paid into them for years prior to when they actually needed care. I have not followed this area closely so I don’t know if there are more consumer protections in place now.

        Everything about long term care is financially awful. It’s a problem I don’t know how to solve and I wish I did. (I’ve been posting about my own family’s issues with an elderly relative needing care in the weekend open thread.)

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Echoing, we had a chance to pick up LTC insurance through my husband’s work place for his mother.
          It was $900 per month (15+ years ago) and it ended at age 92. We did not delve deeper to see what other limits it had.
          Buyer beware.

      2. TardyTardis*

        For that kind of money you could hire someone to come in and pay the crew $5k a month and still save a ton of money…

  15. OtterB*

    Agree that looking for something outside yourself, something to give back. I have a work collaborator who retired as a professor several years ago and is the busiest retired person I know. He serves on several committees and accreditation boards for his field. I am starting to think about retirement myself though it won’t happen for several years (I’m not quite 62) and as a lifelong book lover I’d like to do something about literacy tutoring or reading to school kids or some such.

    I have also read advice to have an indoor hobby and an outdoor hobby.

  16. Ruth (UK)*

    I think it’s definitely a good idea to take up social hobbies – my hobbies include folk music and dancing and some very good friends I have made through that are older / retired people – I’m only almost 30 myself so it goes to show age difference doesn’t necessarily matter in friendships. One such friend who retired a couple years ago seems almost constantly busy. If he’s not playing in a session or concert, he’s calling or attending a ceilidh, or running a workshop or a tour, or performing in or attending a festival, and so on. He didn’t even have his retirement party until almost a year after he retired due to struggling to find the time for it!

    My dad didn’t want to retire in one go but his specific job didn’t allow him to gradually phase out. He was a teacher – but he quit and then took up tutoring part time for a number of years after. There might be an opportunity for you to do something like that if that would suit you.

  17. The Wedding Planner*

    My 76-year old “retired” grandmother sounds like your mom, Alison! She has retired from teaching, but continues to stay active, travels frequently (she was just in Peru last month and she’s now on remote island in Canada), and speaks at conferences several times a year. On top of that, she keeps a packed social calendar when she is in her home state. I can’t keep up with her and I don’t know where in the world she is most of the time, but I do know she’s living her best life!

    1. Oh So Very Anon*

      My friend’s 90-year-old mom travels extensively as well — India, Egypt, family all over Europe. When I ask my friend about her, he tells me (with great pride in his voice), “She just won’t act her age!” After a hard earlier life, she embraced retirement full on, and is now doing stuff she never thought she would.

  18. Valancy Snaith*

    My dad retired about five years ago, and some of his church friends roped him into volunteering for the local senior centre. (He is, of course, a senior himself, but does not appreciate that comparison.) He started off by doing just one day a week, and now he’s very busy in between driving Meals on Wheels three mornings a week, going to the gym regularly, and caretaking for my mom, who is homebound with advanced cancer. Life finds a way to fill your time.

    1. LeighTX*

      Yes! Meals on Wheels is a great organization and they can always, always use more drivers. And you don’t have to commit to every day or even every week.

      1. Bree*

        And retirees make up a huge part of the MoW volunteer base. Often, their volunteers keep going until they transition into being clients themselves.

  19. kittymommy*

    Alison, I like your mom’s advice, especially with regards to the volunteering. As a professor and depending on his area of expertise, the LW may be able to volunteer with organizations helping in a local Boys & Girls Club (or something like that) helping kids struggling in that particular subject matter. You may also want to do a day of volunteer work in different areas (for example, Habitat for Humanity, animal shelters, at-risk youth organization, homeless agencies) to see if an interest does spark. You never know.

    I think it’s great that you are thinking about things like this already. I believe I’ve seen that keeping active in retirement has been show to keep both the body and mind healthy and alert.

  20. Bree*

    My mom is retired, and recently mentioned that she’s busier than when she was working. She sits on the board of a local arts organization and is very involved with them – as a professor, the LW might be a great fit for a board. She’s a competitive pool player, in several leagues, and often travels for competitions. She travels a lot – she just came back from a safari! She’s mentioned she’s happy to have a lot of time for friends and family – the pregnant daughter of one of her good friends recently came to stay with her to be closer to the hospital, and her water broke in my mom’s guest room. She also adopted a rescue chihuahua named Memo, and they are basically soulmates.

  21. Volunteers Rock*

    Volunteer! It’s a great way to continue to contribute, and to meet like-minded people (of all ages). Shop around until you find the right volunteer opportunity- not all volunteer programs are created equal, and you’ll probably need to try a few before you find one that’s the right fit. There are lots of websites out there that help match you with volunteer opportunities in your area, or if there’s a non-profit that you’ve always admired/valued you can reach out to them directly. And the great thing about volunteering is it’s up to you whether you want to continue to contribute in your area of expertise, or learn something new! I know a ex c-suite executive who now volunteers teaching local elementary school kids about nature. Full confession: I am a Volunteer Manager (managing volunteers, not volunteering in a manager role) so I’m a little biased, but I’ve also seen first-head the benefits of volunteering.

    1. Jerk Store*

      Your comment reminded me of my former coworker’s father. He was a vet who who would dress up in uniform to be at the airport when a fallen soldier came home. Since he didn’t have to get up for a day job, he could be there for a flight that landed at 2:00 AM.

    2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Volunteering would be my suggestion too! You’d be surprised at all of the weird little specialty non-profits there are out there. I’m heavily involved with the local literary SF convention, for example. It’s a registered non-profit and entirely volunteer run (except for the lawyer who receives a small yearly retainer). We get lots of retirees in various roles, ranging from “basically running a department year-round” to “keeping an eye on a door for a few hours one weekend a year”. (I am definitely not retired and probably put in about 10 hours a month on this as a volunteer, although it doesn’t average out smoothly over the year, of course.)

      My dad instead got very involved in golf leagues and bowling leagues once he retired. He has something scheduled probably 5 out of 7 days a week between the two.

      My uncle bought a boat, but then started hanging out at the boat supply store a lot and eventually took a job there. It’s an excellent fit for him, because he can explain with great detail and sincerity the various features of everything in the store and why he, personally, went with the most expensive possible one because he really liked (set of of fancy features). They get a knowledgeable employee who is genuinely interested in their products, and he gets a part-time job to keep himself busy (and I assume an employee discount).

      My grandpa started taking local music gigs, both paid and unpaid. He’d always been musical, but when he was retired he could prioritize those gigs over work that paid more. If you want to play folk music with people for free, opportunities abound.

      My female relatives all seemed to get immediately sucked into caregiving. This is…non-optimal.

  22. JustThreeMoreYears!*

    I plan to retire from my university administration job in a little over three years. I established a business related to my hobby about four years ago in order to build up a bit of a clientele ahead of retirement. I chose the business because I really enjoy it, but also because it’ll force me to keep up with technology (it’s heavy on computer software and, while that’s not really in my wheelhouse, it’ll keep my brain engaged), and it’ll also require me to continue working with and meeting new people. I also plan to step up my volunteer activities. I look forward to being able to spend a summer as a volunteer at Yellowstone, for example. I love my job but I still can’t wait to retire!

  23. TurquoiseCow*

    Alison, your mom sounds like my in-laws. They “retired” a few years ago and then promptly got “part-time” jobs and private clients that keep them almost as busy as they were when they were working!

    OP, find something that interests you outside of what you do for work, and then do that. I’ve known so many people who kept working through illness or way into retirement age because they didn’t have any hobbies. One coworker kept coming to work while she was going through chemotherapy, saying that if she stayed home she’d just watch trashy tv and feel useless. She’d worked all her life and never had time to develop interests outside of that.

    Try taking classes – knitting, quilting, painting, yoga, zumba, swimming. You can find these in community centers at a lot of towns. Sometimes the library will have information on these things. You don’t have to stick with it if you hate it, but go once or twice and see what you think.

    Check out also – a friend of mine joined a group that regularly goes on trips, sometimes to see plays, sometimes to museums, sometimes concerts. She’s met a lot of interesting people that way, and in fact I met her through a book club that formed on that website.

    Try volunteering at something occasionally if you feel you need some structure to your life and want to give back. My mom goes to the food bank once a month for three hours with a group of friends and one of her sisters and they do something different every time, but feel like they’re giving back to the community and being useful. If you’re into a religion, churches and synagogues often have plenty of opportunities for volunteers to help out with prayer groups, day care, committees and that sort of thing.

  24. Anonymous Poster*

    My grandmother’s social calendar still exhausts me to think about. Almost every day she’d meet her friends in the morning for coffee to catch up, she had a regular schedule of volunteering at Salvation Army or her church, and was a part of a bowling league for years and years. She also, of course, regularly cooked and baked and all that, while hosting grandchildren for a week or two at a time whenever the opportunity came up. She would go for long walks everyday, and picked up whatever technology interested her and would attend classes aimed at senior citizens to learn all about whatever the latest thing was.

    She was really passionate about her volunteer work and generally did long stints there.

    Throughout all of this there were various social circles she moved throughout, from the coffee ladies and Salvation Army, to the Bowling League and Senior Citizen Classes. I think that’s what she really thrived on – social interaction, and with all kinds of different people since there was little overlap between all of these groups.

    Oh and I forgot that she’d generally take month-long trips around the nation and visit her relatives that scattered to the four winds whenever she could.

    Honestly, do what you’re passionate about. I think lots of people really enjoy social interaction, and if there’s a common hobby or passion out there you can get involved in, you can get that and the social interaction most people really want. It really seems like a win/win. Get involved with groups. Some people still work a side job or something because they’re after the social interaction, and not just the paycheck. Find what moves you and now, go spend your time doing it.

    I hope you have a great time in retirement!

  25. Arya Snark*

    My in-laws live in a community geared toward older adults though they moved in well before retirement and had to go through a special approval process to do it. Anyway, they absolutely LOVE their community center – the gym, the pool, the speakers that come in from time to time, the tennis courts, the classes (MIL even taught one for a while), the bus trips to see plays, etc. FIL also took up woodworking for a bit and MIL does various crafts. They are social animals and exhaust me as well!
    A friend also retired early and he and his partner travel a lot, he took up yoga (not something I ever thought I would see him do), he gives tennis lessons and tutors kids. They are also social animals as well.

    1. TurquoiseCow*

      My in-laws have a place in Florida they don’t live at full time, but is a 55 and older community. They have several pools and a community center with a library and a fitness center. They also have a book club, cooking classes, financial advice classes, and a number of other events – you don’t even have to leave the campus!

    2. The New Wanderer*

      My parents’ retirement plan involved moving directly to one of those communities in an area full of those communities. They love it. It’s a little Stepford-esque (oh the HOA rules are strictly enforced!), but it kind of sounds amazing for them. My dad, whose career was how he defined himself, says if he knew then what retirement would be like, he would have retired several years earlier.

      The community has dozens of clubs for every interest, hobby, and sport, and they are usually very well organized because people put the energy that previously went to a job into their pasttimes. My parents are more active than they’d been in years, both with exercise and with general activities.

  26. Ann Perkins*

    I haven’t seen this mentioned yet, but at retirement I hope to foster dogs. I figure I’d be too old to keep up with foster children but being able to take care of senior pets would be a great way to spend time. I love what fposte said too about balancing between the physical/community/creative.

    1. CupcakeCounter*

      Oh what a great idea! Fostering older dogs so they have a comfy, loving home sounds like a wonderful plan!!!!!!

    2. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I was going to recommend something like this. We have a woman who comes to my library who started fostering dogs and ended up getting some of them trained as therapy dogs. Now she takes them to schools, libraries, hospitals, all kinds of places. When they come to us, kids get to snuggle up and read a story to a calm, sweet tempered dog who will look adoringly at them even if they get the words wrong. It’s fantastic for the kids, and she’s made a lot of friends through the animal shelter and the therapy dog program.

    3. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Senior dogs can be such wonderful cuddly couch potatoes. The last 6 months to a year for each of them tends to be pretty exhausting, though. (We’ve adopted senior dogs several times, and it’s definitely worth it overall.)

    4. LoopyATX*

      This is my plan also! I only have the time for one dog now but when I retire I definitely want to foster/rescue dogs. If I get rich (fingers crossed) I want to buy a big piece of land and set up my own animal rescue.

      I also love bats so I want to volunteer for my local bat sanctuary. We have a huge population of Mexican Free-tailed Bats here and I would love to help rescue and care for them.

  27. Alice's Tree*

    As a nonprofit executive, I can tell you that I would love to have a former professor as a volunteer, or even a member of our board, if their experience applied to our area of work.

  28. DrinkingStraw*

    I can tell you what my parent have done.

    My mom has returned to quilting and has at least a dozen projects going on at once. She sometimes takes quilting classes too. She also reads a ton.

    My dad finds projects around the house that he can putter with and that don’t have urgent deadlines. He also goes to the coffee shop down the street every morning and there’s a group of regulars he hangs out with. He joined a local meet up group for photographers and is doing a lot with that (photography is also something he did a lot of pre-children, like my mom and quilting). He also volunteers at a local thrift shop and does intake and pricing for their camera/video equipment.

    1. TurquoiseCow*

      One of my uncles has a weekly (or maybe more often) trip to McDonalds where he hangs out with a bunch of other retired guys to chat about whatever.

    2. Robbenmel*

      My dad also had a group of guys that met at a local cafe a few times a week. They were a sort of Liars Club, swapping tales and trying to one-up each other. He loved it.

  29. cheeky*

    I’m three decades away from retirement (2 if I can swing it!), and I’m already fantasizing about what I’d do. I think this is a good reminder to younger people develop some hobbies and find non-work activities you like before you get to retirement and can’t imagine how you will fill the void that your work life left. Of course, if you love to work, maybe you just keep working. Volunteering is an excellent way to fill time- do you have causes you support? Can you mentor? Maybe take some community college classes for fun.

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      This. All I want is to spend more time on my existing hobbies, but I’m several decades off from retirement so sadly that will have to wait!

    2. Dog Person*

      Yes, this article is a good reminder for me as well. I am probably 26 or so years away from retirement. I thought about the financial aspect of retirement but I never thought about how I will fill my day. I can only travel so much.

  30. Old retired me*

    Ah, something I know about! I have several hobbies, which OP doesn’t seem to have, so those keep me busy. My partner struggled more with the transition. For a couple of years he volunteered at the local literacy association. His expertise is in computers so he not only helped out in the computer labs but helped the nonprofit maintain the equipment.

    Just this year I trained for and competed in a mini-sprint triathlon. Had such fun I’m doing two more this season.
    I guess the answer to OP is find something that gives you joy and run with it. Good luck!

  31. Oryx*

    I’m in my late thirties but my psychiatrist has already told me that I need to start considering this question now so I’m not caught off guard in 20+ years. I’m interested in seeing what everyone else says.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      No offense to you, but this seems like a very odd statement from your psychiatrist just because presumably you’re seeing him for more pressing problem than filling your retirement in 20+ years.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Psychiatrists treat more than one issue. A good psychiatrist treats the whole person. Also, a psychiatrist isn’t necessarily a “him.”

        This comment just bugged me. Anyway, Oryx, MY plan is to go back to university and possibly get a PhD, or just do the coursework for one. So there’s that. I’ve got about 25 years, if I’m lucky.

        1. OhNo*

          Oooh, you just opened my eyes to a whole other realm of possibility. I know some universities are adding reduced-fee options for seniors, but for some reason it never occurred to me to go back to school. What a great idea!

      2. MonteCristo*

        Interesting, I read this more as her psychiatrist telling her not to focus on work to the exclusion of everything else, which is very much indeed a “now” problem.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        As someone who has always worried about the future I see this as good advice to go up against that worry.

        Twenty years is not too early to bounce around the many, many ideas of what can be done. If the idea is complex then OP has time to build up what is necessary to carry out that idea. For example, if OP wants a small greenhouse to grow/sell annuals, now is the time to start to get ideas of how they would actually do that.
        Stuff can be gathered from lawn sales etc. My friend was GIVING away a very large greenhouse that probably would not fit in the one area I could put it. But stuff like this comes up and it’s good to grab these opportunities as much as possible.

  32. Dust Bunny*

    What do you like to do now? When you’re not at work, I mean. Do that. What do you wish you had time to do now? Do that, too. Try things you hadn’t considered before.

    Personally, I have so many hobbies that I joke that having to work and hold a functional schedule is what keeps me from running myself into the ground. Maybe don’t take it that far, though.

  33. skadhu*

    My father retired and then drove my mother crazy because he had nothing to do and kept following her around everywhere and didn’t seem to be able to think of anything else to take up. So yes, having a plan is a great idea.
    On the other hand, my women friends and I are all approaching/at/past retirement age. A younger friend in her 30s commented that she was looking forward to retiring and having more time. She was met with gales of hysterical laughter, because honestly, between volunteering and doing physical activities/gym and taking courses or workshops and travelling, in some ways everyone I know is busier than they were when they were working. (Certainly it’s harder to coordinate people for a dinner party given all the complicated schedules.) I think that the key is to think of one or two things that involve learning or doing things with other people regularly; after that my experience is that those activites will lead to other things and/or expand to fit the available time.

    1. texan in exile*

      Exactly! My mom is retired and it’s hard to get on her schedule. She has been doing family history research (and writing books about it) for years. She is the family archivist, keeping track of and maintaining all kinds of family photos. She volunteers at her church and she has appointed herself the gardener for her condo association, which she has said is not doing it right. In her defense, they’re not – they don’t have anyone maintaining the common areas so she has become a guerrilla gardener, weeding the common areas and planting flowers in them.

    2. Urdnot Bakara*

      Re: your first sentence, the same thing happened with my parents! They would call me all the time to complain about each other. When you suddenly start spending twice as many waking hours with someone as you previously did, it can be exhausting! If you have a live-in partner, especially if they are also retired, have a plan for things you can do separately to give each other some alone time.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Many people I know are more busy in retirement than they ever were previously. If you have older family members that can chew up huge amounts of time right there. Plus our own health care stuff is more time.
      And people do pick up on the fact that you are retired. “OH, now that you have the time….” If this is the 10th person to say it this week, then you no longer have the time.

    4. CMart*

      I love being busy, and I’m really looking forward to being retirement-busy. The kind of busy where my days are full of things I enjoy, and if they become unenjoyable I can just… stop.

      Here in my 30’s being busy means sleepless nights with children and all the various activities that come with having kids and working at a perfectly decent but not inspiring job. I can’t really stop doing those when they’re frustrating!

  34. Natatat*

    My parents and my friends parents are all now starting the retirement phase of their lives. On the socializing side of things, my parents have a consistent once/month get together with their friends. Because it’s always expected to be once/month by the group, that helps them consistently see/socialize with their friends. Also, as you’re a professor, perhaps you might enjoy taking courses for enjoyment at your college/university? In my province at least, over 65’s can attend mostly for free if they meet certain conditions. And personally, when I retire, I plan to volunteer – it’s fulfilling work and will give me something consistent in my schedule each week (I want to volunteer with the SPCA – which I can’t do currently).

  35. Crackles*

    I am about three years out from retirement and have started to think about this too. Upon retirement I will be moving to a new state where my siblings and I have purchased property. My brother has already built his home. The first year will be filled with the excitement of building my home and learning all about a new community. I have already joined FB groups in the community so I can begin to get connected. My plans beyond that include finding a progressive church to attend (I am a recovering fundamentalist who hasn’t attended church for quite a long time), learning to enjoy cooking instead of seeing it as just another chore, joining a book club, starting a “Buy Nothing” group and finding places where I would enjoy volunteering. I have already found a horse rescue near my future home and hope to find a place with them there. :-)

    1. NoLongerYoung*

      I’d like to see a Saturday thread about moving to a new location in retirement and how others are planning for it. I have family, but not of the same generation. So I’m interested in the decisions. Post more then? Or I can ask.

  36. Detective Amy Santiago*

    Some things my various relatives have done:
    – took a course to become a master gardener
    – play more golf
    – babysit grandkids
    – spend time in a cabin/camp outside the city
    – volunteer to cuddle babies in the NICU

    Side note: Alison, if your mom has any good yoga resources, please ask her to share! I’ve recently started practicing.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      OH, and here’s a sort of odd thing that I just learned was a thing the other day that might be interesting.

      There’s a website called findagrave where people request photos of headstones and other people will go out to local cemeteries and take photos.

  37. ElleKat*

    This is going to sound dismissive, but I mean to reassure you: if you are financially comfortable and in good health, I will GUARANTEE you will find a way to fill your time. A close relative of mine, a bit of a workaholic senior executive, had a full-on crisis on reaching retirement. She was going to be comfortable (ex-Fed with more than 30 years of service) but she too could not imagine life without work: “I’ll never leave the house again! I’ll go nuts from the isolation!” etc. She then immediately signed onto a part-time contract consulting position without really investigating, mainly because she feared she would have no other way to fill her time. Well, within six months she found that job inconvenient to the burgeoning schedule of gym visits, horse-riding lessons, day trips, errands, volunteering, and family visits she’d gradually built for herself. She also came to realize (or remember?) that she hated having a boss and structuring her life around a job. She has now elected to spend what years of good health she has left essentially doing whatever she wants. I’m extremely jealous.

    Again, all this applies if you have a good retirement account and you’re in good health. Obviously, things can change. But, my only suggestion is you will find your groove, and congrats!

    1. Lily Rowan*

      On the flip side, my mother, who also loved her work, has found the transition pretty difficult. I think she’s got a good roster of things now, but she’s not entirely satisfied a couple of years in. She’s got some regular coffee and lunch dates, serves on a couple of boards, takes a writing class, etc., but she’s a real extrovert and still wishes she had more time with people and watched less tv. I keep telling her that it is fine to watch a couple of hours of afternoon tv in retirement, but she’s not convinced.

    2. Majnoona*

      OP here.This is comforting. I am in good health right now and my financial adviser says I have money. I have some friends and I have seen people retiring drift away from friends at work (maybe because they lose the shared connection of the job). My problem is I don’t really have a friend group, religious group (atheist), hobbies or passions which is what many of the comments suggest I build on. I also live in a small (college) town. The university does offer many cultural activities but it’s not a city. I have gotten more involved in politics (I’m a blue dot in a red state).

      1. Not So NewReader*

        You don’t have to be passionate about something to volunteer for it. For example, we need libraries and that is just a fact. Libraries need volunteers. You don’t have to love-love-love libraries to go down and help out. All you need to is to see that this is something that serves the community and you would like to help the library do that.

        I’d like to encourage you that what ever you pick does not have to be the end point. It can be the starting point in searching for what you will do. Using the library example, you could do that for a bit then change to working on trail maintenance for hikers at a near by reserve.
        Unlike a formal work, you don’t have to have some continuity in experience nor do you have to even have experience for some things.

        Once you have more time on your hands, your friend group will probably grow. Try not to gauge tomorrow using today’s data because things shift.

  38. MaureenSmith*

    – Take a course, get involved in some topic you found interesting when you were working but didn’t have time to pursue.
    – If you enjoy the teaching aspect of being a professor, provide mentorship, study help, tutoring etc to other students in your field.
    – Volunteer, either with a particular cause you already feel strongly for or shop around for the best fit for your skills. (my mom loves being around horses and began volunteering at a therapeutic riding stable after retirement from health care: outdoors + activity + a smell she loves)
    – Travel while you can. Do this now, your body will betray you someday and you don’t want to be full of regrets when it does.
    – Look around for an active retirement group, we have PROBUS up here. Tons of activities, opportunities to meet people, make new friends. Support and a variety of activities help a lot as your physical abilities change.

    Around me, retired people who are active and involved in SOMETHING are much happier and have a better quality of life. It’s scary initially to let go of the regular routine, but once you do, you won’t regret it. Remember that physical, mental and social health are all important and find a variety of things that will make you happy.

  39. Kristen*

    Think outside the box when it comes to volunteering. There’s more ways to help people than you can imagine- just think of all the things you love to do that you’d never in a million years get paid for! My mom retired a few years ago and found her passion volunteering and helping people with her dog. They went through the training courses and got her (the dog, not my mom) certified as a therapy dog. For about a year, they regularly spent time with people- children and adults- in the waiting room of a drug court. She always remarked how the tension in the room would evaporate just by the presence of a fluffy pupper. (Funny bit- the pup did not like the judge!) Lately, they’ve been going to the airport to help people with anxiety about flying, and about half the people they meet ask if she can go on the plane with them! She gets to spend time with the pup she loves, doing things that help other people know they’re loved and cared for, and hopefully make their lives better.

    1. Happy Lurker*

      I so love what your mom is doing with her dog. Great idea and all on her own schedule.

    2. Adlib*

      So cool! I recently met a therapy dog like this at the Houston Hobby airport. So great even if you aren’t anxious about flying.

    3. TurquoiseCow*

      That’s awesome. I hadn’t heard about therapy dogs going places other than hospitals but that’s a great idea to hang out at airports or courtrooms.

    4. Fiddlesticks*

      That is so cool! Thank you for sharing. I’ve known that people have therapy dogs for their own benefit, of course, but for some reason I never thought about volunteers with therapy dogs at the airport, etc. :)

    5. Moonlight Elantra*

      Cute! Our state’s attorney’s office runs a courthouse therapy dogs program called the League of Extraordinary Canines. :-D

    6. MtnLaurel*

      I’ve seen therapy dogs at the airport in Charlotte. Even if I don’t stop, they still make me smile.

    1. texan in exile*

      Yes! In my group, we had three retirees – one had run refugee hospitals, one was a wood expert (and had just retired from the wood research center at UW-Madison), and one had been an active member of her school board for years. They all made great contributions and the Chileans liked and respected them.

  40. Contracts Killer*

    Protect your brain! Ensure your brain health by staying physically, mentally, and socially active. Alzheimer’s cannot be prevented or cured (yet!), but you can slow and delay the onset. It may seem far away, but my dad was diagnosed in his early 70s. Check out Help & Support –> Brain Health for ideas.

    1. Adlib*

      +1000 Alzheimer’s took my grandma and all of her siblings. I am worried about my dad in the future but hoping the disease left with grandma.

      1. Contracts Killer*

        Surprisingly, it not just the physical and mental activity, but the social interaction. When work is over and kids move out, some people’s social network dries up. If your dad can continue to do things with his friends, or make new friends, that can help a lot. Good luck and sorry about your grandma.

  41. A Person*

    I work full time and just thinking about the schedules my older retired friends and acquaintances maintain can be exhausting! They all are heavily involved in volunteer work for several organizations, and take several vacations each year. Several play bridge and are in book clubs. Classes through the local lifelong learning center are really popular with the retirees I know also.

    1. Majnoona*

      But most of those people have probably been playing bridge or going to book clubs for years. The challenge of starting this from scratch in your 60s is no trivial.

      1. LawBee*

        It’s not but it’s also not insurmountable. :) I move a lot, so I’m always starting over in cities, and I’m always older than the last time. So I am constantly breaking into (and breaking in) new social groups.
        You know this is coming, so now is a good time to see what you’re interested in! If 100% of your interest is in the subject you teach, there is surely something related to it out in the world that you can do. Check out the various Meetups in your area; they can be a little intimidating when you’re the new person, but they also tend to be welcoming and happy for some new blood.
        Audition some hobbies! Maybe it turns out you are REALLY into boardgames, and you never knew it. Or photography is your thing, or birdwatching. Or maybe you are a secret website genius and you never knew it.

  42. EPLawyer*

    Whatever you do, do not overcommit yourself. I have a friend who just retired from teaching. She is very judicious about what volunteer opportunities she says yes to. Because once retired, these things will come out of the wood work worse than termites. “OH you have so much free time now, you can do X and you can do Y, etc.” So don’t say yes just to stay busy. Or you will be even busier than when you were working. Which is not why you retired.

  43. Person from the Resume*

    Long story short: Do the things you don’t have time for now. Or find a new hobby that engages you.

    Ten to fifteen years ago my mom took on the first athletic activity she ever engaged in – rowing. She is absolutely hooked and loves it. We live in the south. Now that she just retired a few months ago, she can easily go rowing in the mornings before it gets hot. She finally retired from teaching at 70 so that she and my already retired dad could travel any time of year and not just around her school’s schedule, but she was also starting to have more physical problems – a bad knee – which was also a factor. My dad retired about 8 years before my Mom.

    Once my dad retired my mom started him rowing in addition to helping her with all of the manual labor around the boatyard. They taught children’s rowing. Every year they lead a clean up of the bayou near their boatyard. They are engaged in a Friends of the Bayou organization and each one keeps leading to more water related groups and activities to assist with. So my mom’s hobby led to many of their retirement activities. But dad also got more involved in a couple of men’s organizations he was very peripherally involved in before.

    And they travel 4 – 6 times a year. When they joined that vacation points timeshare club, I thought it was a scam, but they’re getting a ton of travel out of it and have been since my dad retired.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      The LW doesn’t sound ready to retire, but she needs to keep in mind that travel requires both money and good health. If there are things she want do in retirement that require good health, the younger the better for that.

  44. Temperance*

    LW, I don’t know your location, but might you have an interest in teaching on a volunteer basis once you retire? I know a few retirees who teach ESL classes through a local refugee resettlement agency.

    1. Majnoona*

      That hadn’t occurred to me. I’ve spent my career working on (and in) developing countries. Working with refugees is something I can look into

  45. Grits McGee*

    If you are interested in having your travel pay for itself and you live in the US, volunteering for the National Parks is a possible option. They do require a significant number of work hours, but many park volunteer will provide housing. I knew a couple who had spent 15+ years living in an RV and seasonally moving from park to park to volunteer. I know the park covered the cost of their RV parking, and they might have gotten a cost of living stipend as well. I’ll include a link in the responses to the database of NPS volunteer opportunites.

    1. Snark*

      Yeah, I always kind of envy the campground hosts at NP and other campgrounds. That’d be a fun way to spend summers.

    2. Parenthetically*

      Oh my goodness, campground hosts are the LOVELIEST demographic in the country, I’m convinced. We have met cheery, helpful, relaxed, bright, knowledgeable retirees at literally every staffed campground we’ve stayed at across the central and western US, at both state and national parks.

      1. PoppingINForThis*

        How coincidental – I am reading a book called Nomadland about the subset of people who do this kind of campground work, in addition to working at Amazon warehouses, selling snacks at minor league stadiums, picking fruit, and otherwise providing our economy with cheap, seasonal, underpaid labor that requires no benefits or commitment from employers. Not saying at all that a particular person is being exploited, but it’s a VERY interesting read. The recruitment materials from Amazon and the major campgrounds are brutal to see — a real hard sell for real hard, underpaid work (campground hosts are required to be available 24/7, usually paid for 8 hours, and are responsible for latrines and campfires as well).

        A couple from our church is all agog with telling people what they do for 6 months/year before they come back and park in their kids’ driveway in their camper, and it struck me as fishy (you have to know them). They were like, “We get paid to vacation!!” Then I happened upon this book, and now I just feel sorry for them/

  46. Venus*

    This is a bit tangential, but I think quite relevant:
    I have had quite a few retired coworkers tell me that it’s best to retire in spring or early summer. There are a lot more activities to do in summer, and those who retire in winter find the transition much harsher.

    For similar mental-health reasons, I wouldn’t travel out-of-town all summer and then return home in the fall / winter. People (at least those living here) tend to hibernate more in winter, so returning home after a long trip to fewer social gatherings would be hard. I’m saying this as an introvert, so it’s not that I’m social all the time but in summer my neighbours are out with their dogs and gardens, and I meet up with friends every few weeks for a coffee outdoors, and there is the weekly veggie market… all of which disappear in winter and that would be the best time for me to leave for an extended trip.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Great point.
      I have read somewhere that it is good to set a schedule that you will follow also. Get up around the same time, eat your meals around the same time each day and so on. Don’t sleep random hours and don’t skip meals. (Sometimes people mix “freedom from work” with “freedom from eating regular meals and sleep regularly”.
      You still need to follow a self-care routine and a house-care routine (or apartment-care routine).

      Some people swear by the fact that our routines carry us. In times of upset routines can be comforting. In times of illness routines can keep us moving about.

  47. AnonEMoose*

    Joining the chorus saying that volunteering can be a great thing – and you can find all kinds of volunteer opportunities that aren’t obvious at first glance. Maybe start looking into local events that might interest you; arts festivals, or heritage groups (around here, for example, there’s an Irish Fair, a Scottish Fair, a Greek festival, and those are just the ones I’m aware of!), or just about anything else. A number of these tend to be volunteer-run and can always use more willing hands.

    The local historical society or library? See if there’s an assisted living near you – bring in some board games and play with whoever is interested. See if there are local gaming groups, if that’s something that interests you.

    Explore your inner geek in general – fandom is not all teens and young adults! Do the stuff you might have thought sounded interesting, but never had the time to do.

  48. Naomi*

    What do you currently like to do in your free time, on weekends and during vacations? What do you feel like you never have time for? If you don’t have hobbies already, then this is a great time to acquire some! Is there anything you’ve always wanted to try or learn how to do? Maybe look for classes in your area–that could give your newly-wide-open schedule some structure as well as being a chance to try something new and meet some new people. Use Facebook or Google to look up events happening near you and see if any of them sound like fun.

    1. Majnoona*

      That’s the problem. I fill up my free time with … work, mostly because I can’t think of things to do or don’t have people to do them with. I’m a little socially awkward (something the academy tolerates quite well). I do alot of international travel for my work and I love it, but it gets expensive when I retire. But I was in San Antonio (for work) recently and loved it. There might be places in the US (suggestions?) I could travel to that are more interesting than I would have thought. Montreal comes to mind (yes, not the US, I know). Also, there’s less happening in a small town than in cities, but my husband’s business is here and it’s a nice small town, as college towns often are, so I don’t want to move.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        If you do give volunteering a whirl you might make out well with working with one other person such as tutoring. OTH, some volunteer jobs only require one person, you can look for that if it appeals to you.

      2. Flavia de Luce*

        My dad is retired in a small-ish town (population about 11,000 at last census count) so hopefully I can offer you some hope:

        The library is a great resource. Not only does he now read about 2 books every week but lots of community events happen there. My dad likes gardening so he’s gone to orchid shows and talks on how to grow native plants.

        Also, if you’re interested, getting involved in local government is a great way to spend time that isn’t puttering around the house. One of the benefits of smaller towns is that the bar for entry on things is lower. He’s on my town’s design commission which is a volunteer role with real power. There’s a new shopping center going in and my dad fought to make sure public green space was included in the plans. He’s now thinking about trying to get appointed to the county Land Use Commission. So if government interests you, it may be worth it to check your county/town government to see if there’s volunteer boards/commissions you can join.

        Also see if you can find volunteer opportunities related to what you do now since you loved it enough to make a career out of it. My dad’s a lawyer so he volunteers at the courthouse once a week to help people navigate the court system. I think this is doubly helpful because it keeps him in contact with people he previously worked with (and against!). Aside from socializing, the benefit is that these people respect him because of the work he’s done in the past. I think it helps remind him that he hasn’t become irrelevant just because he’s not working for money anymore. So perhaps you could find a volunteer opportunity that showcases the skills you have. Also, at least in my town, qualified people are a real hot commodity because there’s simply fewer of them.

        And he adopted a dog! Ymmv but it’s been great as she’s always an excuse to get out of the house. He has a standing date at the dog park every week with one of his friends and they go out for lunch after. Of course cuddling with a dog is always great too.

        Finally (sorry this is so long!) I think the key to him having a successful retirement has been getting involved in our community in a way that takes advantage of his skills and knowledge. You probably know a lot about the town because you live there and because it’s small. The odds of there being someone else in town with your precise combination of skills and knowledge is low. The advantage of a small town is that it’s easier for one person to effect change. My dad’s been a lawyer in my town for 43 years so he knows a lot of things other people don’t and he’s been able to use his retirement to pass that knowledge on to other people. I’m sure there are a lot of things you are an expert in that people in your town would love to learn.

  49. starsaphire*

    Well, retirement’s not in the cards for me, but here’s my advice:

    Write a book. They say everybody has one book in them.

    Write about things from your childhood that don’t exist any more. Write about that thing that happened that one summer, with your friends, that brought you closer together/drove you all apart. Write a murder mystery set in the past that explains why the strange old guy up the road was always so cranky.

    But then, I think everyone should write a book.

    1. londonedit*

      Even if you don’t want to/can’t get something published, it’s a really nice idea to write your own/your family’s history up into a proper document. My grandparents never really spoke about the war, for example, so in my family we only have the snippets of stories that my dad remembers people talking about. It would have been so amazing if they’d written all the family history down before they died. I should badger my dad into doing it now!

      1. skadhu*

        What might you write about if it wasn’t the subject you write about for a living? Is there something completely and mind-blowingly different?

  50. Fiddlesticks*

    Community service charities and nonprofits are constantly in need of volunteers, and in many locations retirees are their largest sources of help – sometimes the mainstay that actually keeps them going. Where my mother-in-law lives, all the Meals on Wheels volunteers like her are retirees (she’s 80!), and they feel so blessed to have the health and mobility to be able to help other seniors like themselves. Look around and you will find many ways to assist your neighbors and community, while being able to stay busy, learn new skills, make new friends, keep mentally active and engaged, and feel good about how you spend your time.

  51. Brett*

    Something I have seen several of my relatives do is take up an interest in a sports team. As you get to retirement, you have the flexibility to actual attend day games as well as more games and team activities in general. Being a basketball, baseball, or hockey superfan can be a lot of fun, but takes a lot of time. This doesn’t mean you have to be a fan already, but that you could take the time to learn a sport and team and see if you find it interesting now! (Also, doesn’t have to be a pro/major league team. My dad travels around southern california to different minor league baseball games.)

    My favorite example of this, the parents of one of my college friends starting buying season tickets for the golden state warriors in their late 40s (when the warriors were…. not good). By retirement, they had worked their way up to floor tickets (with huge discounts). His mom ended up being one of the presenters for the championship ring ceremony for one of the warriors recent championships!

    1. Brett*

      To add to this, baseball, in particular, has a lot of retirees as ushers. Attend every home game and get paid for it. Many teams have community outreach teams with lots of opportunities for retiree fans to go to events with players.

      1. Tigger*

        Yep! 2 of my dear friends are retired professors and they are ushers in the suites. They love it. That is my plan when I retire in like 1000 years

  52. Tigger*

    My uncle is in the same situation as you and for the first year of retirement, he challenged himself to do something new every day. He took woodworking classes, learned how to cook a real gourmet meal, took a coding class so he can create his own blog website, went sky diving stuff like that. He told me it was like going to college, the more effort and work you put into retirement the more joy you get from it!

  53. Elbe*

    If the LW doesn’t have much in the way of hobbies, retirement is an excellent opportunity to develop some. There are tons of classes (even online) that could get the LW started on a new craft or area of interest. Maybe after being a teacher, it would feel nice to go back to being a student for a little. Learning makes the world seem like a much bigger place.

    I also second seeking out volunteering opportunities. Not only is it a rewarding way to give back to social causes and the community, it’s also where people go when they’re trying to make more social connections. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are other people there in the LW’s shoes.

    If the LW starts dropping hints that they’re trying to find new interests, their current friend group may throw some invites their way. Getting more involved with these people outside of work would be a great way to strengthen bonds so that the friendships survive post-retirement. The LW is also more likely to get good hobby suggestions from people who are similar to the LW in other ways.

    If possible, the LW can focus on things that have a regular schedule or that meet frequently. These types of things require the least amount of effort to plan, which is good if you’re trying to fill a significant portion of time. They also tend to attract regular attendance, so it helps on the social front as well.

  54. Construction Safety*

    Well, the arrival of the first & likely only grand young’un 18 months ago has demoted all the items on my list by at least one spot, but I have a lot I’d like to do. In no particular order:

    I’ll likely work about 6-8 weeks in the spring & fall to supplement my retirement bennies
    Walk dogs at the humane society
    Garden a little more
    Workout / ride the bike more
    Rock babies in the NICU
    Travel some
    Swing a hammer @ Habitat for Humanity

  55. AnotherProf*

    Some universities have an ’emertius club’ for retired faculty to keep in touch with the university and also mentor younger faculty (if they wish). If there isn’t one, you could start one.

    1. Majnoona*

      Good idea to think about starting one. We don’t really have that and I’ve seen faculty (usually single men) stay on way too long (both in terms of the quality of their work and their obvious unhappiness with their job) just because that’s all they have. I’m afraid of retiring but I also don’t want to get to the point where I’m snapping at the undergrads.

  56. I'm A Little Teapot*

    The underlying concept I think of is that if your identity NOW is wrapped up in work, once that’s gone, you’re gone. So you need to develop a life outside of work. There are many examples of people, especially men, who retire from work, sit in the chair, and die (though it might take a while). If you don’t have a life independent of work, then you have essentially two options: get one, or don’t retire until you’re prepared to die. Which is depressing, but it’s fixable.

    1. fposte*

      Yes, this is what I’m mentally negotiating, and since the OP is also an academic with little outside focus, I suspect it’s true for her too. And you know, it wouldn’t hurt to throw counseling into the mix.

    2. Colette*

      One of my friends did a retirement prep course, and that was his take away. If you want to spend retirement on a hobby or volunteering (or whatever), start now. Take a class, look into the requirements for volunteers, go to a meeting of your community association – whatever it is, start building the framework.

  57. De Minimis*

    My parents have fully retired within the last few years [they were doing part time work for a couple of years prior to that.] They fill their days with volunteer work and have also gotten into judging BBQ contests. Most of their volunteer work is with the library and also the county historical society. They live in a small town but are always busy. If someone is in a larger town or a city they can probably find even more to do in retirement.

    I am hoping to retire in no more than 20 years, hopefully closer to 15, but I know I will have to make a major relocation in order to be able to do that—someplace where my wife and I can afford to own a home [not all that feasible right now] but at the same time have sufficient employment opportunity for us to finish up working–and also be a good place to retire [lots of rural/small towns are not good due to poor healthcare access, etc.] It’s a tough balancing act.

  58. Laura*

    You could teach free of charge a few hours a day to people who cannot afford Your scholarship system ( Italian citizen here suggesting ).

    1. Majnoona*

      You know, I might be interested in working on scholarships, especially for international study. I’ve taught in Italy for a month the last three summers, loved it, but we were mostly getting wealthy students.

  59. Adlib*

    Both my parents retired last year at age 65 and are VERY active for their age. It helps that they have a small farm with miniature donkeys and are also beekeepers. However, mom still volunteers at the elementary school she retired from, and my dad uses his handyman skills to help out people in his church group and other friends. He even helps us out with odd jobs as my husband and I are good with tech but not terribly handy. They are frugal people who don’t travel a lot, but my mom loves housesitting for us (and her grand-cats) while we’re gone.

    I agree with others above though. Find something new or stay involved in other social circles outside of your job where I’m sure all kinds of activities will show up with your new free time. I am a social person so I’ll probably get a part-time job doing something I love just to make sure I’m around people. Good luck! I look forward to that day, many years from now!

  60. Jax7786*

    I’m an elementary school teacher, and I can tell you that we are hard pressed for regular volunteers! I would definitely consider volunteering at your local school- you can read to kids, help them practice flash cards, help file library books, lots of things. Substitute teaching might also be an option to consider too, especially since you’re an academic already and would be somewhat comfortable in a classroom setting.

  61. Important Moi*

    Since you’re a professor, I would suggest contacting your local high school. They could use you to be
    – a permanent substitute teacher
    – subject matter expert to come in a give presentations
    – a permanent field trip chaperone
    – an advisor to a club dedicated to your field of study.

  62. PretzelGirl*

    Do you have children or grandchildren? When my mom retired she volunteered to watch my kids 2 half days for us. Which helps us out immensely. She loves being able to spend with them.

    Also our local theatre (which is quite large, it gets several major productions a year), uses a lot of retirees as ushers. They get see free plays and its super easy work. You could also do this at sporting arenas too.

    I also recommend tutoring if that is something that interests you. I was tutored in math by a retired teacher. I loved her and she became a treasured friend. She worked pretty much until she passed. She was beloved in our community!

    Have a passion for a sport? A lot of stadiums (especially baseball) offer tours during non-game times. My friend’s mom is a tour guide and does this a few days a week. She absolutely loves it. Its easy and you learn a lot about the sport and team.

    1. Brett*

      Those stadium tours are amazing! They have been different every time I have taken one (even at the same stadium), so there is definitely variety to the job.

  63. Amy Farrah Fowler*

    I do hiring for a tutoring company and we have a number of tutors on staff who are “retired” but want to work with kids a few hours a week. Since you said you’re a professor, that’s a way to stay involved in education without the pressure of working full time. Different companies operate differently, but with us, you work with a given student for a few months, then when they finish up, work with another. If you want to work with 3 students a week, great! If you want to work with 5, we’ll try to get them for you, but if you’re happy with 2-3 that’s fine with us too :-)

    1. Majnoona*

      I like that idea. No one needs tutoring in my rather esoteric subject area but I have broader skills. It’s worth looking into

  64. nnn*

    Does your career permit you to take a long period of time off? (For example, some professors have access to sabbaticals, some professors can occasionally arrange things so they have a semester or a summer of no professional obligations.)

    It could be useful to give yourself a long period of unstructured time with permission to do absolutely nothing, and then…see what happens and how you feel about it. Are you bored out of your mind? Do you end up filling the time? Do the days fly by? Do you finish that around the house to-do list that has been festering in the back of your mind for decades?

    1. Majnoona*

      I had some free time this summer after finishing some writing that needed to be done, but after a week or two of puttering around the house, reading askamanager, and driving my husband and (far-away) adult kids nuts I started driving myself nuts. So … I started working on my fall courses. I’m really bad at this. But maybe I can spend some time this academic year thinking about things to do next summer.

  65. Ahoy Hoy*

    I am reporting on my mother, who retired from full-time sales work about eight years ago. When I look at everything she does, one common theme is that just about everything is something she was already doing, only now she does more of it.
    – she always volunteered, and now she has been able to take on more comprehensive volunteer roles at the same organizations she’s worked with previously. Example: when she was working, she would volunteer one or two days a month at a (small, local) history museum, since retirement she has taken on a position on their community board and manages volunteer scheduling.
    – she dabbled in genealogy, and now has the time to do more involved research
    – for many years, she was a recreational runner, but an injury around the same time as retirement meant she had to stop running. She took advantage of having more available time post-retirement to learn how to swim and now does that as her main exercise.

    She seems to be just as active as she was when she was working, based on my extremely unscientific method of considering how often she is out and about at the museum, at the pool, at the library, or somewhere other than home when I call her.

    Based on this, my suggestion is not to wait until you retire to find new activities, but to the extent possible try to incorporate some things into your life now that could continue on in your retirement. Don’t wait until you’re retired to discover that you hate bicycling, or gardening, or whatever. If someone is newly retired and feeling some anxiety around it, it seems like it could be even more demoralizing to join a club or get involved with a volunteer agency only to discover you don’t enjoy the activity or don’t click with the other people . If you can test the waters now, when you’re still working, it’s quick and easy to move on if something isn’t a good match, and if it turns out you love it, then you’re have something concrete to look forward to after retirement.

  66. Erin*

    I think my mother had that jump off a cliff feeling. She was a college professor for over 30 years and as she put it, “I went from seeing hundreds of young people every day to your father.”

    She ended up taking acting lessons and getting involved with community theater. My dad has a writing background and ended up writing plays. She has now performed in many local plays and has been in one commercial and an independent film. My dad has had several plays performed. The community theater world has opened them up to many new friends and experiences.

    My dad also volunteers with the local rotary, and they’re otherwise…very busy. Seeing plays, volunteering at events, hosting wine tastings or bridge games, etc. Travel here and there. They’re in their early 70s.

    1. fposte*

      Yes, it’s going from having your social connections served up to you on a platter to having to go out and arrange them all yourself. And while extroverts may suffer more from losing them, I suspect it’s a bigger chore for introverts to go out and make them on their own.

      But I think for most of us it’s important to do. We don’t have to see somebody 24/7, but having a social matrix highly correlates with health. And it makes it a lot easier on householdmates who really don’t want to become somebody’s whole social world.

  67. literal desk fan*

    Some of my older relatives spend time providing childcare to their grandchildren. One of my aunts does various artistic things, including quilting and other fiber arts, and takes classes in various other creative things as well. I believe my uncle is a consultant now that he’s officially retired, and he’s still doing work related to what he did when he was an employee. My grandmother volunteers part time at a boutique shop in her local hospital. She turns 90 in January! My late grandparents traveled a lot and then my grandmother would paint watercolor versions of some of the photos they took. She also took some art classes, and my grandfather golfed often and I think he was also a consultant after he retired.

  68. Natatat*

    OP, you mention that you don’t have hobbies currently. To address this, could you start trying out different activities and workshops now, to see if anything intrigues you?

    1. Majnoona*

      I’d love to but I clearly need to think outside the box. I don’t play bridge, don’t want to quilt, and don’t much like sports (and the other things people here most mention). I am interested in other countries and people from other countries but I don’t know how to turn that into a hobby, except for travelling to new places and learning some of the language but that’s not something I’ll be able to afford to do all the time

      1. skadhu*

        Maybe you could figure out what it is you particularly like about travelling and encountering new people and places: New food? Culture? The experience of learning itself? Meeting people who are different? Which parts are most enjoyable? Then look to finding or creating a group that does something related to those parts of it, which might be easier. If it’s experiencing new food, are there cooking classes, or could you put together a group of people who want to challenge themselves with themed potlucks? If it’s seeing the art, would it be fun to take an art class and learn how the artists did it? If it’s learning about a different culture, could you sign up for classes relating to cultural things or places you’d want to visit (and if you do, it’s good preparation)? If it’s meeting people from a different culture, are there local organizations for immigrants that need volunteers, or if not maybe an online community for helping immigrants practice English? All of those are just off the top of my head and may or may not be right for you; my point is that if you can identify components of something you find enjoyable, you might be able to find things that are accessible that are related to those components. And my experience has always been that if I can find something that I like to do, without the goal of making friends, there will probably nbe a community of like-minded people who are happy to have me join them and I will end up with a bunch of friends because of the shared interests. And if there’s not such a community, I’ve still had fun doing whatever it is.

        Also, I think inner censors often say, “you wouldn’t REALLY enjoy that” or “you’re not good enough to do that and you never will be,” and sometimes it’s best to just cut them loose and go skydiving anyway.

      2. LCL*

        I frequently make the following suggestion. Get on the subreddit for the countries and areas that interest you. To find those subreddits, don’t use their search feature as it is lousy. Do a google search of ‘topic + reddit’. You can click on your results and check out the subs that you like. Many people stay away from reddit because it can be a cesspool. But you don’t have to go to the cesspool places. As you find subs that you like you can subscribe, and your front page will eventually be tailored to your interests. The good subs have rules about staying on topic and other things. Give it a try. But not at work, never reddit on a company network.

      3. Amy*

        Your university may have an international office. Ours has volunteering options, like being a friend to an international student (inviting them over for dinner a few times a semester). They may also have events you could participate in

      4. Batgirl*

        What about teaching EaL? You can do this for a language group based in your country, online or there are companies who will pay for you to travel abroad on a salary. Lots of people who teach EaL are interested in learning their students’ language.

  69. All Hail Queen Sally*

    I was forced to retire early after I lost my job a couple of years ago and couldn’t find any jobs available ( job hunting at 60 is HARD). Fortunately, I had a military pension to help me survive. I did feel quite lost at first, but now I have settled into a comfortable routine. I volunteer at a museum I always liked for one afternoon a week. I did one shift a week working at a charity thrift store for a charity I loved for a year, but found myself spending too much money, so had to quit. I have a part time job (one shift a week) at a yarn store that has cats (yay!), I teach hobby classes at my local university’s continuing education department, and am always looking for new things to teach, I lunch with a friend every week (not always the same friend), I explore sites around my city, I work out several times a week and bought a membership at the botanical garden. I take at least one (inexpensive) vacation every year. And most importantly, I read–at least a couple hours a day. I am very happy with how it all turned out.

      1. All Hail Queen Sally*

        I didn’t realize how many I had until I started digging around in the attic and garage. I have at least tens of thousands. I will be reading for the rest of my life.

  70. Ella Vader*

    If/when I am able to retire from my job/career, I want to keep doing lots of the arts-community volunteering that gets me free tickets to things and people to talk to. I also hope to do more creative work and share it, as well as accepting the most rewarding invitations to serve on boards etc. I’d like to volunteer with LGBTQ+ youth, maybe. I’d like to be able to travel in off-peak times, and to stay with family members for long enough that their kids get comfortable around me but not so long that we all annoy each other.

    I’d like to study things, preferably with other people and in person. It could be credit courses if they weren’t too expensive – it would be cool to work towards a BA or an arts-admin certificate. I’d love to learn another language or get better at the ones I have a cupla focal (a few words) in. I’d love to learn how to weave. I’d also like the chance to teach or tutor again.

    I expect to continue being an active part of on-line communities, having daily conversations with multiple people, some of whom are family or longtime friends and some of whom are new acquaintances. I might have to work a little harder at in-person friendships, as I get farther away from the typical demographic, and I would probably need to get over some of my shyness and introversion in order to share more practical support with peers (I mean, I needed rides to the hospital several years ago, and I felt funny asking – but maybe when I’m old I’ll need more of that but can also give more of it.)

    I might want to live in a smaller cheaper apartment where I could easily take buses to groceries, the doctor, and the fun stuff I like to do. But what I don’t want to do is to move somewhere that I don’t have any friends or family. I think it might be quite hard to start building a social network without having work as a head-start.

  71. Jules the 3rd*

    My mom expanded her political activism, the garden, and her grandchild time.

    My dad bought an earth mover and has been rearranging large chunks of their six acres into various water features.

    They also travel extensively, including a rafting trip down the Grand Canyon when they were about 70.

    So, find a hobby that you like – an extension of your job, etc, something that brings you satisfaction. Try 20 hobbies! Things you’ve never tried before! There’s tons of low-cost or free classes / orgs at community colleges / libraries. I know my local library has 6 different book clubs, including a sci-fi one and a mystery one. If yours doesn’t have one, and there’s a book genre you like, ask if you can start one – they’ll probably say yes. It’s a great way to meet people with mutual interests.

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      As an example of extending the job, dad was a biology / genetics professor before retirement. He still argues with creationists on the internet in his spare time, and still has his snake collection, and added 5 species / 9 varieties of domesticated birds. Mom says he just bought a commercial incubator and 30 pheasant eggs… The water features are intended to host a significant variety of native species, and he’s been having a lot of fun planning his paw paw / hickory / morel plantation. I have now just outed myself to anyone who knows me irl.

      If tutoring palls, economic or math profs might have fun volunteering with shoestring non-profits on analyzing the effectiveness of their programs, phys ed profs might join a little league org. Chemistry profs – cooking classes?

      1. NoLongerYoung*

        +100 on the cool parents. I’d love to get an earthmover. I love power tools…things with cords and things with engines.

  72. Choux*

    My parents both retired fairly young (I think my dad was 59, my mom was 60). They fill their days now with volunteering for the Red Cross (my dad got sent to NC to help with hurricane repairs), mowing their lawn, going to church, visiting family members and occasionally visiting me in the Big City.

  73. Just a Thought*

    I am only 41 years away from retirement age (not that I have a countdown or anything). One thing that I have found very rewarding in my free time is volunteering with my local Boys and Girls Club. They have a program called the AVID/TOPS program which is sort of like Big Brothers, Big Sisters but for high school students. So with my “mentee” I help her with understanding what college is like, pushing her to do well in school, and just being an additional support in her life. The ultimate goal of the program is to help first generation, people of color, low-income students get into college. I am not sure if that is something that would interest you, but I have found it to be infinitely rewarding.

  74. Midge*

    I have lists and lists of things I’d love to do.

    Read more, participate in local volunteer opportunities I usually don’t have time for now, be more regularly active and ready to take advantage of nice weather outside every day and not just on weekends, some travel (big things, but also smaller things like visiting larger cities close to me or going to visit old friends in different cities/states more regularly), pick up music again, and work on my hobbies in a way that I just can’t while working full time and parenting young kids. That includes classes and traveling to workshops, not just more time spent on them.

    I am that person who would have absolutely no problem filling her days if she didn’t work. I know it’s not the same for everybody. Even if you don’t have hobbies now, there is no reason why you can’t pick them up any time. For some people learning a new skill or art form can be equivalent to a full time job. I Can’t Wait!

  75. Lemonadefish*

    My parents have both “retired” in the last few years. Both now work two part-time jobs, more out of boredom than necessity. My mom works at her old employer (and gets to do whatever she feels like needs doing, instead of her old role) and as office staff at my step-dad’s business (in a place where it’s difficult to find good staff). My dad works as a handyman and as a bartender for a friend’s brew pub. They both use this extra income mostly for travel, both to visit grandkids and take vacations.

  76. Monokeros de Astris*

    I will probably be retiring early, likely within the next 18 months or so. I’m in my mid-30s, making a huge tech salary while keeping my living expenses fairly low, and I’m planning to move back to my childhood city to live near family. I also am a transgender woman, recently transitioned, and there are, uh, some difficulties at work that I want to escape from. Protecting myself from employment discrimination is a very large part of my motivation to become financially independent.

    Nevertheless, I do suspect that I might go back to work. I’ll start with a six month or year sabbatical to see how I feel, and whether my personal projects and social circles can keep me occupied. One option that I’m beginning to consider, because my skill set is in demand, is finding another job and then donating the majority of my salary to charities. I suspect that large and sustained donations of money could make more of a difference than other kinds of volunteering I might do, at least for some of the charities I support.

    1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I knew someone in a somewhat similar situation once (made a lot of money early-career and “retired”). He ended up getting his teaching license and teaching middle school math part time in his “retirement”. Teaching does not pay well, but you can see the difference you’re making every day, and if you can afford to do it part time that’s even better in terms of exhaustion and stress level. (He taught 3 out of 6 periods a day.)

      I have no idea if that appeals to you (“spend decades hanging out in a middle school” certainly isn’t on everyone’s bucket list), but it’s a possible path to semi-retirement. At least in my state, it also gives you a way to get fairly good health insurance with a part time job, which can be a big deal when you retire too young for Medicare.

      As for protecting yourself from possible employment discrimination, I suspect that would vary widely by state and community in teaching (I want very much for that not to be the case, but…). In the larger districts in my state, it would absolutely be something where the union would have your back.

      1. Monokeros de Astris*

        My parents and brother are all public school teachers, so it’s definitely not out of the question!

    2. JSPA*

      The stumbling block, as one ages, is health care / health insurance. There’s nearly no amount of money that can’t disappear at the prices charged for health care to those who don’t have insurance. (Half a million bucks here, half a million bucks there can really add up over time–and I wish this were more of a joke, rather than a sick reality.)

      Paying for insurance can also suck a gob-smacking amount of cash if you’re statistically high risk (or perceived as high risk, if you’re not in a large enough class to have useful statistics on). As you age, the high-ish levels of hormones used for people who transition–> F, plus the diuretics used as testosterone blockers, could leave you categorized as higher risk (along the lines of women who smoke and take oral contraceptives–and that cuts in before the age of 40).

      Some of this will depend on whether you’re in a state with a public option / other solid health care options, of course. But holding a job for the insurance rather than the paycheck (at least for enough time at a stretch to use COBRA to hold the cost of insurance to a range that you can handle) is probably a safer thing to count on doing.

  77. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

    My mother and grandmother were complete opposites when it came to how they felt about retirement. My grandmother was so happy when she retired. She enjoyed not having to get up early and going to work. She basically lived a life of leisure (and enjoyed it). My mother, on the other hand, was the most unhappy retired person I’d ever seen. She did not enjoy being home at all. She also enjoyed her job (but because of some minor health issues, she retired sooner than she wanted to). So she managed to get a volunteer gig at her former place of work. She goes in twice a week (sometimes three times a week) and she loves it. So if you are not looking forward to being home, definitely look around for Volunteer opportunities. or you could go back to school (or just take some classes) maybe do temp work (but find out how / if getting a paycheck will impact your retirement pay and Social Security)

  78. Granger Chase*

    If you have time in your schedule right now, you could always start setting up relationships with organizations on campus by becoming a faculty advisor or mentor to a group, whether it’s one related to the classes you teach or one that is more of a general professional/volunteer based group or fraternal organization. Many groups like this will keep on either past members or retired faculty advisors as general advisors, which could give you an outlet after retirement to still be mentoring young people and being involved with the college if you think those are things you will miss from your current job now. It’s also a great way to get you set up with volunteer opportunities and a way to still feel productive.

    Also, if you’re someone who has a strong love for knowledge & learning, you could see if your college offers subsidized costs on courses for retired faculty. If it would be weird to be a student for former colleagues you could always take classes online or even at a local community college. It’s a great time to pursue any educational interests you felt you didn’t have time for/didn’t have to pursue while you were working.

  79. WantonSeedStitch*

    I think that even if I weren’t someone with significant hobbies, I’d be able to fill a lot of time if I were retired! I look around my house, and I see cleaning I want to do, small repair/improvement projects I’d like to take on, yard and garden improvements I could make, and I wish I had the time to do it all. My mom is retired, and like you, OP, she doesn’t have a lot of hobbies. She does love her home, though, and puts a lot of time and energy into making it the best it can be. She also has taken to walking a lot for her health, and she enjoys that. (I know I would love to have more time to devote to fitness, too.)

    It seems to me that while you might not have many hobbies now, retirement is a great time to pick some up! Take classes in anything that catches your fancy. Some might end up as “I tried it, it wasn’t for me,” but some might really be fun, and might be things you want to continue. Dance! Knit! Cook! Lift weights! Do sports! Learn a language! Build furniture! As a professor, you must have some love of learning. Now is the time to indulge it in any frivolous thing you darn well please!

  80. Asenath*

    I’ll be retired by Christmas, and don’t know what I’ll do! On the one hand, I know many people like the ones mentioned here, who were busier after retirement than before. On the other hand, I’ve known some people for whom the transition was very difficult. I think I made the right decision – for various reasons, this is the right time for me to move on, even though it’s from a job I quite enjoy. But at times my most positive thought is that I won’t need to go out in bad weather any more – I can see myself living as an urban recluse from November to April, never setting foot outside and ordering in anything I need. I have enjoyed travelling in the past, and have a few other interests I can continue. I could certainly return to some of the volunteer work I used to do. I think I’ll just do nothing for a month or so, decompress, and give some thought to my next steps. It’s shocking sometimes to think how long I’ve been in the workforce! No wonder the habit of working is so engrained.

  81. annakarina1*

    This is really great to read, because in my thirties, I feel like I’ve already accomplished a lot in my career and life, and felt bored and didn’t know what else to do. I have my job, and I enjoy taking martial arts, yoga, reading, being in a book club, playing bar trivia, watching movies, seeing friends, and occasionally going to dance performances. I’ve been trying to figure out what to do for a new hobby or anything I’d like to volunteer for just to do something new and interesting, and all of this is very helpful!

      1. annakarina1*

        Aww thanks! I used to do more volunteer work at non-profits during my periods of unemployment, but fell out of it when I got busy with a full-time job. I usually do martial arts or bar trivia after work (though I haven’t done trivia in a few months lately), or attending some niche event, attend the book club once a month if I’m free, use weekends usually for errands, yoga, seeing friends, reading or watching TV/movies. Lately I’ve been feeling like I want to learn new things, since I’m stuck in my routines, so these suggestions really help a lot.

  82. Mary Connell*

    Some states in the United States allow senior citizens to audit undergraduate courses at public universities for free or extremely low cost. You can google your state and a search string like “senior citizens audit university” for details.

    A friend’s father is in his 90s and still taking one class each semester. It helps keep him sharp and active.

    1. Robbenmel*

      My state does, and you better believe I will be taking advantage of this! Not just auditing, either. You can take any class that has room, provided you meet the other regular requirements for admission, and for degree credit. Maybe I’ll get a shiny new degree or two, or maybe I’ll just take a bunch of random classes. I don’t know yet, but I can’t wait to get there (come on, 62! Just two more years!)

  83. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    My 71 year old dad plays golf, bowls in a league, runs a bridge club, and keeps talking about joining the church softball team. (But he doesn’t want to do anything that involves an hourly schedule or a paycheck, because he says the point of retirement is that he doesn’t have to do anything he doesn’t want to.) He also drags my mom to Disneyworld five or six times a year.

    My mom stays at home with her two craft rooms and quietly blesses the rest of them for taking care of my wildly extroverted father so she can stay home by herself and get some peace and quiet. (Unless, of course, the bridge club is running one seat short. Then she gets pestered. :P )

  84. Gidget*

    Both of my parents are technically retired. They take exercise classes at the Y and with our community rec center. They have made friends with people in the classes and do dinner and such. They see their friends for lunch a lot. They also enjoy traveling (visiting family and road trips, as well as international travel). My dad, though retired, does a lot of consulting work as he has a particular knowledge set that he can leverage. I am sure as a professor, in whatever field, you can find places to consult or volunteer that would love your expertise.

    Other than that, they do a lot of house repairs and other things they’ve been putting off.

    Good luck on your future retirement, I am sure you will find more to fill your time than you even realize!

    1. Gidget*

      Also to add. I have a friend whose Mom was a college professor. Upon retirement she took up backpacking (which she had never done before the age of 60-something), started volunteering very extensively with Red Cross, and took up painting. Another friend’s Mom started volunteering at our local library and a local museum and has turned at least one (maybe both) into a part-time job that keeps her involved in the community. She seems pretty happy.

  85. Snark*

    I don’t plan or aspire to “retire,” in the sense and manner that Boomers and Silents generally aspire to retire – empty days. lots of golf, maybe an RV, very self-indulgent and idle. I will work productively until I’m not physically or mentally capable. Whether that’s writing a book or photography or volunteering or teaching or running a foundation or something, I plan to have work and do work as long as I can. But at some point, that’s going to look a lot different than drawing a salary and going to work every day.

    1. Snark*

      One thing I will say, following on to that – whatever we all do when we retire from traditional careers, I think it still needs to be active and involved in the world and its problems. I’m an ecologist, and looking around at the world, I can’t imagine a time when the world doesn’t need people thinking about how to solve environmental problems and educate people. But whatever it is you did or know, I think it’s the highest and best use of your time to serve a higher and more durable cause than 15-25 years of recreation.

    2. fposte*

      I think that’s a mistaken perception of people’s retirement, though (and also of what constitutes productivity, for that matter), and certainly of generational aspiration. It’s a sitcom trope more than a real life thing.

      1. Snark*

        I mean, it’s a generalization, of course, but it’s also what a lot of people envision retirement being like, and what a lot of people want out of retirement, and what people in this thread are reporting various friends and loved ones do with their retirement.

        Not sure what you mean by “what consititutes productivity.”

        1. doreen*

          I don’t think anyone wants their retirement to be full of empty, idle days. Some people end up with that, but IME, those were people who didn’t really have any life outside of work. * I think a lot of people don’t want a lot of ongoing, scheduled commitments – but that’s not the same thing. When I retire, it’s not going to be because I don’t like my work- I like the actual work just fine. What I don’t like is the of having to be somewhere at a certain time on a regular basis and having to schedule other things around it. So while I expect I will do something productive after I retire and might even do some volunteering, it will involve activities don’t require committing to a specific time – knitting blankets for the NICU rather than taking a shift in the animal shelter , that sort of thing.

          * I know someone who was disappointed that he didn’t have an option to get his pension check mailed to him – because he needed the social interaction of depositing the check at the teller window.

      2. Arachnia*

        My Grandpa retired in the 80s and died in 2017 (Greatest/Silent Generation)- and honestly I don’t think he and Grandma did much of anything in between- not even RVing or golf- so I get where Snark is coming from here, even if I don’t know how common it is.

        1. Philosophia*

          My father, a World War II veteran, was busier than ever upon retirement. For as long as he was physically able, he read to young schoolchildren and tutored older ones, entertained at nursing homes and senior centers, coached boys and girls preparing for their b’nai mitzvot, delivered library books to the homebound, served as a deputy voter registrar, and regularly pestered the city council and school board to come around to his way of thinking on any number of issues.

    3. AY*

      Your response reads as a bit unnecessarily harsh and judgmental of Boomers/Silents to me, particularly given all the people in this thread who describe vibrant lives of activity, outreach, and activism in retirement.

      1. paperpusher*

        Yeah, I think there are some people who choose to live quiet lives (how many questions here do we have about “How do I describe my hobbies in interviews when I just watch Netflix and play with my cat?” – some people might feel that an “empty” life is what they’ve been waiting for their entire life).

        And a lot probably set out with dreams of doing all kinds of things in retirement and then find that aging, health problems, a changing job market, and most of all financial limitations keep them from being endlessly productive.

  86. SheLooksFamiliar*

    OP, I’m not ready to retire, but I’m old enough to think long and carefully about what it will mean to me. In many ways, things won’t change drastically. I’m single with no children, live in a large metro area, and the people I love the most (certain family members, several dear friends) don’t live nearby anymore. We see each other during vacations and holidays, but not enough to be a regular part of my social life. So I’ve built a life outside of work, and it doesn’t always include the people I love most. Working out, Meet Ups, my hobbies, volunteer work for meaningful causes – you get the idea. As long as I stay healthy and active, I don’t see a need – and certainly a desire – to stop what I’m already doing!

    But there’s also this: I really like what I do for a living, which is corporate staffing. I like taking vacations, and need mental health days ,just like everyone else. But I don’t really want to completely stop doing what I do. Even if I’m in my 70s, I can see myself working on staffing projects. I’m old enough that ageism as a bigger issue than I expected, but I also see people in their 70s still working in my field. Maybe my youthful idealism isn’t misplaced.

    I’m following this thread with interest, there are some great suggestions here.

  87. SometimesALurker*

    If volunteering sounds like something you want to do, the national RSVP program may be able to help you figure out what you want to do and a lot of the logistics behind it — it’s kind of AmeriCorps for seniors, but with a lot more flexibility; they’ll work with you whether you want to find a once-a-month thing or a full-time thing. There’s also if you’re fine with figuring out the logistics yourself once you find an opportunity, or of course contacting places directly. Professional organizations in your field might help you find something that’s related but not too related to what you do now.
    If you want to volunteer somewhere famous, I’d recommend looking into it now, before you’re ready to start — I live in a medium-big city and some of the big museums have a year or longer waitlist for volunteers (while small museums can’t get enough people!), for example. I think the same goes for baby-cuddling volunteering at hospitals, unless you’re willing and able to take the shifts with weird hours.

  88. FutureRetiredPerson*

    I am also a professor, and I used to think I would never retire. But now I’m 15 years from retirement, and I have a long list of things I want to do! The number one thing is that I want to teach adults to swim. I love swimming, and I love teaching. And I know there is a real need for swimming instructors who focus on the needs of adults. That’s my retirement plan!

    Think about where your skills and interests intersect with the needs of your community, and pursue options there.

    1. NoLongerYoung*

      Wish you were in my area. This is such a cool thing! I have a need to learn to swim “better” (backstroke and dog paddling are not really adequate exercise). It’s hard to find classes that fit the right criteria and time-frames. For seniors they have an ultra gentle “water aerobics.” I want to get to the cardio stage. LOL.

  89. Justme, The OG*

    My aunt retired a number of years ago and she volunteers A LOT because she would be bored without doing some kind of work.

  90. WomanOfMystery*

    I’m purely fantasizing here, because I have my own list of what I want to do in retirement (3+ decades away!), but it’s a bunch of things that I just don’t have the bandwidth for right now: Make zines! If you drink, find a local brewery (most likely, they’ll have a game or trivia night as well)! Books! Fiddly home improvement! Start collecting something (I skew minimalist, but I collect vintage trays, which are useful and easy to store)! Go to local art shows! If you’re in a university town, there’s probably art nights! As a younger person, I can vouch that there’s so much more than work that I want to talk about! Cook through an entire cookbook!

  91. Angwyshaunce*

    Become a researcher in the entertainment industry?

    More seriously, are there any skills or crafts you’ve always wanted to learn? I’d retire at 37 if I could, since there are so many creative outlets I’m eager to pursue and can’t do so with the little time I have available.

  92. Mid*

    As I just finished university, I’m probably not helpful on the retirement front. However, the YMCA is particularly older-person friendly, as is LifeTime fitness. I know both of those chains have classes specifically for people 55+, and both are less intense/trendy than say, a CrossFit gym (which I’ve found to be very unwelcoming even as a part of their “target demographic”.)

    My university has many professors who are retired but come back to teach one or two courses per year, usually fun, special topics classes. There are also professional mentoring programs that would love to have more academics involved.

    Other than that, everyone I know who is retired and loving it seems to be very involved in their community, through their church/synagogue/mosque/temple, through volunteering at their local elementary school, partnering with a charitable organization they are passionate about, volunteering at a hospital, etc.

    I know two ladies who made a side business turning old sweaters and fleece scraps into mittens, and every pair they sell, they donate dog/cat booties to a local shelter, and are branching out into child booties and hats and animal beds and vests as well. They love sewing and thrift shopping, and they make a pretty solid income from this business.

    I also know a couple who teach swing dancing in the neighborhood at a cafe. They liked dancing before, got really into it during retirement, and now compete around the region!

    So, I guess it’s mostly do whatever you’ve wanted to do but haven’t had the time for.

    1. Majnoona*

      That’s the problem. I don’t have a list of things I always wanted to do. Kids (travel teams) and their activities took up alot of my non-work time for year so mostly when I had time I wanted to chill. But that’s not a full-time aspiration.

  93. infopubs*

    No matter what your current job, there’s a need for your skillset at the Red Cross. When they respond to major disasters, they set up a headquarters overnight. Hundred and often thousands of volunteers are needed to run the operation for 2-3 weeks. The services offered to clients are quite visible: beds and showers in temporary shelters; meals and snacks delivered to disaster areas. But in the background are many invisible jobs necessary to make that happen: logistics departments moving trucks, IT keeping communication lines open, finance people accepting and allocating donations, HR bringing in trained volunteers from around the country, and management overseeing the whole thing. The vast majority of these jobs are done by volunteers, and it is incredibly rewarding.

    If you have any interest in humanitarian aid work, contact your local Red Cross.

    1. infopubs*

      More departments I forgot: public relations, health professionals (to keep both clients and volunteers healthy), and mental health professionals (to help everyone cope with the trauma of the disaster.) The training for all jobs is excellent and thorough. Try an area that interests you but you’ve never done before. We had physicians driving forklifts in the warehouse, and accountants serving chili.

  94. anon24*

    I’m in my mid 20s so obviously nowhere near retirement and haven’t read any of the comments so I don’t know if this has been said but I’m going to throw in my 2 cents.

    When I was a teenager I worked at a carwash as my part time job. My co-workers were a combination of other teenagers, college students, and retired people. The retired people I worked with were such a blessing to us young workers! They were wonderful people and I learned so much wisdom from them. My life was so blessed by knowing them, not just in a work sense but in hearing their stories and learning maturity from them.

    Most of them just had the job for something to do. The one guy had more of a social life than I did, he was in his 80s and worked 3 part time jobs, each only 1 or 2 days a week for a few hours, golfed, was in a bowling league, active with his grandchildren, traveled frequently, and I was honestly just exhausted hearing about everything he did.

    If that is something you’d be interested in get a part time job with young people. We can be annoying and immature but we learn from having older people in our life to set examples for us! I still fondly think of all my older co-workers and genuinely miss working with them. They were all wonderful people. And another interesting thing is that having worked with them I don’t to this day understand age discrimination because they all worked so hard! If I was a hiring manager I would not care about hiring someone older because I saw how hard my co-workers worked and what a great addition they were to our team and I’ll always take that with me.

    1. KR*

      Seconding this. I was a supervisor for a couple years at a grocery store and worked with an 80yr old man who was a retired pilot. He worked a couple mornings a week for the extra cash and social interaction and was a favorite with our regular customers for his kind service and funny jokes.

  95. I hate the offseason.*

    My father retired at 62. He’s now 89. He spent the first 10 years taking care of my mother, who was not well. After she passed, he had a hard time (for many reasons) but found companionship with a new woman within the year. They take care of each other, something that I am extremely grateful for. Neither does much other than watch tv, putter around the house, visit doctors, go to church, and visit w/ friends. He runs errands with the best of them. The thing is, the don’t seem bored or even worried about not being overly active. Neither of them are in great shape financially, which may limit them some, and some medical issues make it difficult to travel even if they had the funds, but they seem quite content.

    We have several friends who have retired recently (I’m 3 years away from being eligible) and they love it. I can’t imagine that I would keep working when I don’t have to, but I don’t love my job. The travel, visit friends, golf, boat, you name it – and sometimes they just do nothing. One just took up bridge to meet people – they relocated out of DC to a lake community.

    I’m not overly concerned about not having a plan. I’m married and my husband is very active. I’m sure he’ll keep me busy enough!

    1. I hate the offseason.*

      I want to add that the last time we were at a National Park, we met a retired couple that worked there. The park needs seasonal help, and they pick a different park each summer. They live in their RV and probably make just enough to cover their living expenses during the summer, but they seemed to love it!

  96. Susana*

    This is a really basic answer, but it’s helped me when I need to make big decisions. Ask yourself what you will miss about retiring. Is it income? Travel? being around people all day, and talking with them about interesting things? Is it having an impact on the development of young people?

    Once you figure that out – and it’s OK if some of the things you’ll miss are things like, an excuse to wear fancy shoes you wouldn’t wear around the house, or the coffeecake at the student union – you can find replacements for those in retirement. It’s too easy to say, “take on some projects” (though that’s a good idea in general. It’s figuring out what, besides income, your job brought you and then making sure you get a *version* of that in retirement.

    The next thing is to figure out what you were prevented from doing because you were working. And yoga’s great (though you may also like, for example, being able to go to an 11:30 am yoga class because you don’t have to be on campus at a certain time). It can be doing activities you somehow couldn’t justify as worth your time before, like taking a language (and if you could take one on your old campus, that could also be great if you miss your friends there). Don’t judge yourself in your choices. This is your retirement, you’ve earned it, and is part of what you want is to spend Tuesdays watching old movies on Netflix, then do it.

    1. fposte*

      Oh, this is a really interesting approach, Susana–it’s very helpful to me, and I hope to the OP too.

      1. Majnoona*

        Actually, this is a very helpful way of framing it. It gives me a useful way to think of it and the specifics are even good. What will I miss “income? (although I may be alright there) Travel? Yes! especially international travel! being around people all day, and talking with them about interesting things? Yes! because I like doing that but don’t really have a structured friend circle outside my job and I’m not really good at creating one. Is it having an impact on the development of young people? Yes. But those can be unpacked and maybe recreated in pieces. Thanks.

  97. Silence Will Fall*

    Don’t ignore the possibility of a retirement side hustle in a completely different field.

    My dad retired early after 40 years at a blue collar service job and realized he missed the daily interaction with people. He saw an ad that a local care facility was looking for a part time chaplain and decided that looked interesting. The next thing I knew, he had signed up for training classes. Now he works at the care facility a couple of days a week. He leads a weekly non-denominational Sunday service, visits residents, meets with families at their request, etc.

    He’s been at it for about a decade now and has started to talk about pulling back to just two days a week when he turns 70 later this year. It doesn’t pay much, but he negotiated health insurance. It gives him something to do that he enjoys and some structure to his week. The facility is super flexible about his weekly schedule. If you had asked him 15 years ago if he’d ever thought about being a chaplain, he probably would have laughed. Now he can’t imagine his life without it.

  98. Not Australian*

    Adding to the ‘activity’ options, see if you have a ‘Silver Swans’ ballet class in your area. It’s gentler exercise than going to the gym, and IMHO more age-friendly (certainly it’s the better option where I live). With any luck you’ll get a choice of different skill levels from ‘Beginner’ to ‘Advanced’, and apart from paying for the sessions themselves the only essential outlay is a pair of ballet pumps which can be quite inexpensive.

  99. CupcakeCounter*

    So my mom retired Feb 28. On March 1 she was on a plane to Kenya to teach at a hospital down there. Dad tagged along to help the civil engineer working in the village creating a sustainable infrastructure. They were there for 3 weeks and are going back next year for 3 months. Mom is also looking at “winter tenure” hospitals who provide housing and a small salary in exchange for qualified personnel. Shockingly Hawaii has a TON of openings so they might winter on the island.
    They also purchased an RV last summer and have done a 3+ week East Coast trip as well as some shorter national park trips with my son (their only grand kid). Have plans for another couple week trip to the Northeast and Nova Scotia area in September.
    They also got a new puppy and he is keeping them on their toes.

  100. Nethwen*

    I didn’t have time to read all the comments, so apologies if this is a duplicate.

    Consider joining the local search and rescue group. You don’t have to be super fit – there are needs for logistics people, so in some cases, you don’t have to be very physically mobile. On the other side, it can be a motivator to become more fit, there are lots of training events in skills like tracking and first aid, and you get the excitement of potentially saving someone’s life when even EMS wasn’t equipped to help. Search and Rescue covers urban and rural areas, so even if you are a confirmed city person and hide at the smell of the country, you might still be able to help.

  101. cleo*

    When my dad retired, he made the comment that there are only a few times in your life when everyone in your cohort is in the same situation and everyone is looking for new friends and new things to do – when you start kindergarten, when (if) you start college and when (if) you retire. I think he used his local senior center to help him find things to do and people to do them with.

    He also took several of his life long interests that he hadn’t had time to develop and investigated local groups to get involved with. He didn’t care for any of the local photography groups but found kindred spirits in a woodworking group. He also joined a sailing co-op and the local Audubon chapter. He’s 80 and just stopped teaching sailing classes. He exhibited one of his woodworking pieces at a group art exhibit last summer.

  102. Buttons*

    I am sure that sort of permanent change is really scary. So much of our lives revolve around work and so much of our identity is tied in “what do you do for a living?” This isn’t the same, but might it offer some things to think about. When I was living outside the US, I worked as a consultant and after each big consulting job I would take 3-6 months off before starting my next. It was amazing, and I never really wanted to go back to work. During those times off I upped my volunteering hours at the various organizations I adored and felt passionate about (that provided me more fulfillment and joy than any job has ever provided), I made myself more available to friends so if they needed a last-minute babysitter or dog sitter they knew they could count on me, I upped my exercise routine from 1 hour a day to 2. I made it a rule that I had to check out one new activity a month- that included everything from becoming a member of the modern art museum and going to lectures and opening to learning to cross-country ski to participating in trivia nights at a local pub. A few of the new things I tried ended up becoming passions and hobbies that had never occurred to me to try before.
    I also spent a significant amount of time doing whatever the heck I wanted. I often would grab a coffee and sit in a comfy chair at my fav coffee shop and read for most of the day. I would occasionally take a trip, but I found that during those off times I wanted to stay at home and in my city.
    Whenever I would tell people that I took a large chunk of time off they almost always responded with “I would be so bored!” But honestly, I was never bored. In fact, I was less stressed, more fulfilled, contributed more to my community, society, and my circle, and I wish I was in the position to do that sort of thing now.
    I am also incredibly comfortable being alone, I don’t need anyone with me to try something new or to attend an event where I don’t know anyone- I think that is often the deciding factor on if people are happy in retirement or not.
    My best advice is to think about what you want retirement to look like, and think about what your needs are– do you need to have someone to do something with? Do you require a certain amount of interactions or depression sets in? Do you have anything you have a passion for? Do you have a skill/talent that you want to continue to use that someone could benefit from?
    I wish you all the best, and hope you will update us when you do retire!

  103. pope suburban*

    Retirement is a great time to take advantage of your local parks & rec services. I work for a small agency, and we provide a lot of class programming that is popular with retirees. It’s not all bingo either; our yoga, tai chi, and aerobics classes are big with retired or semiretired people. We also have a robust volunteer program at our adult center that keeps people out in the community, doing whatever it is they love doing. Our older-adult population is surprisingly busy, because there’s a lot on offer and a lot of community support for keeping people healthy and engaged. The local adult school is also flourishing, in no small part because they market to people who maybe always wanted to learn a skill, but didn’t have the time when they were working/raising a family. There’s a lot to do out there, it might just take some googling or a few drives to rec/community centers.

  104. NoLongerYoung*

    Following. I have to work another (less than 10) years, due to unforeseen circumstances.

    My own father did the early retirement at about 63. It was off the cliff, and he died less than a decade later with limited inactivity.

    Mom did the reverse – she had gone back to work at 50, and stayed into her early 70s because she loved it. She was actively engaged in outside volunteer, advocacy and social activities (both within and outside her community of faith).

    It’s hard to sort it out, but like your health, you are the one that cares the most about the outcome… so I figure I “have” to make conscious choices and consider the long term ramifications. Things happen, though. I just wish I’d not thought that “later” was soon enough to REALLY be diligent about my retirement savings, or trusted that inheritance/other items would cover it.

  105. SeluciaMD*

    Something specific about travel that I wanted to share from my parents who have both retired in the last five years. Don’t just go to a city or singular destination – find ways to explore.

    For example, my whole family just went to Colorado (we’re east coasters) for my cousin’s wedding. After the wedding festivities were over, my mom and step-dad rented a car and drove all around the south east. Their destination was the home of friends who live in Arizona, but they meandered there and back and spent about 10 days exploring the area around Arizona & New Mexico. Stopping whenever something caught their eye, spending time enjoying beautiful scenery, visiting off-the-beaten-trail restaurants and spots. They had an absolute ball doing it, it was a much more relaxed experience and they saw things they might not have otherwise seen. They did a similar trip last fall when they went to visit friends in Florida. Instead of flying down they drove and made stops in the Carolinas and Georgia, and after staying with their friends on the east cost of Florida, they drove down through the Keys and came back up on the west coast of Florida to visit other friends. They didn’t really set themselves a timeline or schedule and did whatever they wanted to.

    If you are looking for ideas of places to visit in different parts of the country and world, check out as a fun place to start.

    And I agree with the other recommendations to read extensively, explore hobbies you’ve never had time to devote to in the past, and find a place to volunteer your time and/or expertise. All great suggestions that my parents have incorporated successfully.

    Finally, let me just say that you also shouldn’t underestimate the value of just being able to exist for a little while after the (often) breakneck pace of being a full-time working adult for decades. My mom was the Executive Director for a local non-profit and she worked A LOT. They did a lot of direct service and she was very hands on and it ate into her evenings, weekends and holidays most of her professional life. She loved the work she did – LOVED IT – and was worried retirement was going to be terrifyingly hard and boring. But for the first couple of months she didn’t really tie herself down to a schedule. She woke up when she wanted, sat out on her porch, drank tea, read books and just ….. existed. She said she realized that when she retired was the first time she’d really let herself enjoy the house she and my step-dad bought together 7 years ago. So also don’t feel like you have to trade one schedule for another. Consider giving yourself a few weeks and pretend you are on vacation before you figure out how you want to start planning and organizing your time. Hang out in every room of your house. Take long baths. Walk your neighborhood or your city. Breathe.

    I hope you enjoy every minute of retirement!

  106. smoke tree*

    I’m nowhere near retirement age myself, but I’ve gotten to know a lot of retired people and most of them have been involved in tons of activities. Some of the ones I’ve done: joining a choir, dragonboating, volunteering for a writer’s festival, ecological restoration, joining a folk music society, joining a pottery studio, joining a pipe band, being a vendor at craft fairs. Once you start getting involved with this kind of thing, you find that more and more opportunities come your way, if you have time for them. I like being part of groups like these that attract a variety of people of all ages, which is another benefit. Not everyone is in the same place in life, so you can connect over your shared interests. I’ve found the pottery community particularly welcoming and encouraging.

  107. Cowgirlinhiding*

    My parents have stayed busy doing service in their area. Gets them out of the house and helps them keep relationships in the community. Also lots of retired friends volunteer at our local elementary helping kids with reading, math etc.

  108. Casual Librarian*

    My two favorite retirement passtimes—create a trivia team and join the local Pickle Ball league!

  109. Harper the Other One*

    OP, does your workplace offer any sort of sabbatical program? One of the best suggestions I’ve heard is to take a sabbatical that’s for “learning how to be retired.” Explore different activities/volunteer opportunities. See what it feels like when you can set your own schedule – figure out when you like to wake/sleep and when you’re most productive.

    Also, make sure whatever you pick provides some social opportunities. You’re right that work connections fade really fast when you leave work. You’ll want something to replace that. Just remind yourself that it doesn’t have to be governed by age – cross-generational friendship is awesome too.

  110. Emma*

    All I have to say is…this post makes me wish I could retire to do all those things! I have retirement envy! :) I’ve got at least another 30 years though before I can do that.

    1. Rana*


      I actually don’t expect that I will get to retire — I’m self-emploed with a late-in-life kid — so if I want to explore fun stuff, I’m going to have to find a way to incorporate it into my life *now.* Maybe something to think about?

  111. Shark Whisperer*

    Definitely look into non-profits that might be able to use your expertise. I used to work at a nature center that had a small planetarium. We had a retired astrophysics professor that would volunteer with us. He was awesome! Instead of putting him into one of our established volunteer roles, we let him make his own planetarium shows. Most of the educators at the nature center were naturalists, not astronomers, so our astronomy knowledge was limited. So, we would also have regular meetings with him that were just for the educators to ask him astronomy questions.

  112. Runaway Shinobi*

    An investment advisor I spoke with suggested you look at your retirement in three phases:
    1. The bucket list years – all the travel and activities you’ve ever wanted to do.
    2. The box-set years – you’re in your own home and leading a more sedentary life.
    3. The care home years – well, you can probably guess!
    She was looking at it from the perspective of financing those different retirement stages, but it’s one way of thinking about it. Top lesson? Don’t put off doing the stuff in phase 1.

  113. Finkfink*

    My retirement plans are to retire early and focus on my side business and writing.

    My mother retired early 20 years ago and ended up:
    –volunteering at the local library
    –being on the Friends of the Library board
    –volunteering with Habitat for Humanity
    –doing things with her local fiber arts group
    –working with and eventually chairing a local arts organization that does fundraising for art/music-related things in her county
    –being on the board of a local university’s arts organization
    –working with a local organization that raises funds for prenatal care for low-income women in the county
    –taking cruises with her friends when she needs a rest from all this “retirement’ activity

    She did spend the first few years relaxing, reading, and working with the fiber arts group, but eventually got bored with that and slowly started volunteering at all these places.

  114. yasmara*

    My parents retired pretty young (regular person young, not dot com billionaire young) and my mom promptly spent a lot of her time taking care of my kids when they were babies – thank you Grammy Nanny, we love you!

    They have kept their big house with a big yard and vegetable garden, so they have all the regular household management things to do and they raise a lot of vegetables. Mowing the lawn seems to be a daily thing with my mom. I do wish they would hire a mowing service, especially with my dad having a bad knee and my mom not tolerating heat well. My dad does a lot of snow blowing and shoveling in the winter and is the primary gardener, but my mom does all the plant watering. They have window boxes and planters that she creates every spring/summer.

    They are very active in their church, with my mom chairing both the Welcome Committee (for new members) and the Funeral Committee, as well as belonging to 2 book clubs (one through church) and a Bible Study group. My dad is in a men’s group.

    My dad (retired military) volunteers at the airport USO, often taking weird overnight shifts until 3am.

    They have an active dog who needs 2 walks per day (even though he’s small!).

    They travel as much as they can afford. My dad’s knee needs replacing, so their overseas trip to France earlier this year might be their last big trip until he finally makes up his mind to get the knee replacement done.

    They go to concerts, museums, community events, the farmer’s market, antique car shows, and a ton of other things in both their local community and the larger metropolitan area.

    My 40 year old brother moved back in with them. (OO <–these are my wide eyes at how much my mom takes care of him…I'm keeping my mouth shut about it around the family, except for my husband…). He's a normal dude, no special needs, just broke up with the GF who was paying the bills…

    On the other hand, my mom is also taking care of me by flying out and staying with us for 4+ weeks when I have major surgery requiring a lot of time in bed, crutches, and no driving for six weeks (and my husband is leaving the country for work for a week during this time). I have 2 kids who are in activities & basically need an after-school driver every dang day plus things like meals. Thanks goodness for online grocery ordering.

    My dad bought a convertible. They spend a lot of time with my mom's sister and her husband, who now live a 5 minute drive away from them.

    All in all, they are super busy retired people. I think there was a point in time when they were less busy and honestly they hated it. My husband and I are in our mid-40's and have started discussing what our empty nest scenario will look like (6 years away!) and then what our later retirement will look like ideally. For us, my husband plans to start a consulting business (common in his industry) and I will be the administrator for everything except the accounting, which we would hire out (or he would do). If he travels anywhere interesting, I would go along too. We would like to take a lot of road trips and have talked about buying a SMALL used camper van someday (or that new electric VW Bus, heart eyes).

    1. Chinookwind*

      Thank you for mentioning a funeral committee. It is one of those things that may sound depressing but it usually isn’t. I know for my church, we do things like set up the luncheon and help out in ways the family needs. There is also a funeral choir available if requested as well an honour guard for members of various groups.

      Thing is, this is usually done by a very small group because you have to be available on shortish notice during business hours. The ladies who do this in my women’s group actually have a blast (away from the mourners) making sandwiches and prepping the hall. It is greatly appreciated by the families because it is one less thing to worry about and, because it is staffed by volunteers, cheaper than hiring a caterer on short notice (the funds go back to the volunteer group).

      I have so many relieved faces when they hear that “just tell us how many to expect and the ladies will take care of it.” And, as someone who has used these services, it was so much less stressful to know that we just had to show up and support each other and that someone else will take care of the hosting and the clean up after.

      Even if it just offering to be on the phone list to drop off baking, I recommend checking out if there are opportunities to do this.

      1. Chinookwind*

        I want to add that this happens in many faiths, not just Christian. There was news here yesterday that a local Muslim woman became a funeral director so she could better walk through the families and volunteers in prepping the bodies for quick burial.

  115. Flower*

    I’m decades away from retiring myself (I’m at the start of my career!), but got what seemed to me to be good advice on this from a coworker’s wife. She volunteers one to two days a week each at several different places: the children’s science museum (she worked as a scientist, too), the aquarium, and the theater as an usher, which lets her watch the Off-Broadway shows for free. (I don’t recall if she listed anything else) Obviously that alone may not feel like enough, but it’s a good start!

  116. bunniferous*

    In my field (Real Estate) many people continue to work at least in some capacity as long as they are physically able. My landlord is pushing 80 and still works, and is not an anomaly. So in my case (and I am approaching normal retiring age) I probably won’t have to. On the other hand I observed my parents retiring. Dad had activities and side jobs and stayed busy in his little garage workshop-doing woodworking projects or building model airplanes for other people or whatever struck his fancy. He also took computer classes and stayed up on tech as much as he was able to. Basically kept his mind and body active (he is 80 and still does his own yardwork in a VERY large yard. ) Mom on the other hand retired, watched a lot of tv, helped dad in the yard but otherwise pretty much did nothing (to be fair, she kept the checkbook up, was the family bill payer, etc but she really did not have hobbies or interests beyond calling me every day or so.) Both my parents are in good/decent physical health at their age but mom is declining with memory so my recommendation is to be very proactive with things that will keep your mind active. I am already doing things of that nature so if and when I do retire I will be more like my father . It makes a difference.

  117. Anonymeece*

    As a professor, you probably have a lot of experience to share! Tutoring is a great way to stay involved (minus grading, planning for classes, etc). I run a tutoring center at a college and many of our folks are retired professors or industry people who like to keep their math/writing skills sharp.

    You should also check out your local community college/centers for Continuing Education programs, many of which are aimed at retirement-aged folks. There are classes on painting, programming, exercise classes, anything. You can always try a variety, get a chance to make new friends, and learn new skills. You might find something that really interests you and you want to keep taking it!

    Visit local museums/etc. Many even offer free days during the week and you can find some cool things you never had time for before.

    Congratulations on retirement! It must seem like there’s nothing to do now, but think of it instead as a chance to do new things you never had time for before.

  118. KR*

    If you’ve ever wanted a puppy and thought, well that’s just too much work, this is the time to get one as you’ll be available to train and watch it. Just make sure you are physically able to give it the exercise it needs and you have a plan in place in case health complications come up.

    1. KR*

      Follow up that your local shelters are almost certainly looking for volunteers to sit with animals, walk them, clean cages, ect. If you don’t want to adopt you can foster which means the rescue or shelter covers all costs associated with the animal and you just have to provide a safe home and love until the animal is adopted. Warning – this can end with “foster fails” where you fall in love with the animal and want to adopt it yourself lol. There are also options where transport is needed for rescues and shelters and they always appreciate an extra hand – usually as simple as driving a dog from one area to another or picking one up that needs help and bringing it to a shelter or vet. Finally, Rover offers a platform to petsit either in people’s homes or your home, or just offer walks and is a nice way to interact with puppos and kitties and get paid for it.

  119. MC*

    I’m 30 years away from retirement, but one thing I’m pretty sure I want to do once I retire is be a tour guide in my own city. I love history (nothing to do with my career as an engineer) and architecture, and I’m good at public speaking. Plus I’d get to meet people from around to world. The money would be a secondary perk…
    P.S. Love Alison’s mom comment: “that gives them interesting things to talk about when everyone else is discussing their latest health problems”. Lol.

  120. irene adler*

    Is there a professional organization that would benefit from your knowledge and experience? Can you join and volunteer time in a leadership role?
    The professional organization I belong to acquired a retired fellow as part of the leadership committee. He brings a lot of unique experiences to the table. His ‘outside of the box’ thinking has saved us on more than one occasion.

  121. Beancounter Eric*

    I’m about 15 years from retirement, but my goals are:

    1. Move someplace quiet where neighbors are miles away.
    2. Read the couple of thousand (and growing) books I have in backlog.
    3. Continue to tinker with tech – computers and amateur radio.

    Some people like to volunteer – been there, done that. Not a terribly social person, so not going there, also.

    Your mileage may vary, though.

    1. Chinookwind*

      My uncle has been volunteering since 80’s for “tools for schools” that refurbishes donated business computers to be used by schools. something like that would be perfect for a retired techie.

  122. GlassShark*

    *Note: I am not a retiree but my mother-in-law recently retired and has found it difficult to fill her days. Some of these suggestions have worked for her!
    – Becoming a board member of a local charity or organization that you enjoy or would like to be a part of
    – Getting a pet that you can spend time training (plus, great for company!)
    – Becoming a mentor for someone who is new to the field
    – Going to regularly scheduled gym-classes (this will not only put something on your schedule, but you will likely make lots of new friends!)

  123. Stavia*

    I think it all comes down to “know yourself”. My parents, post-retirement, are super busy–my dad is everyone’s handyman, and my mom is very involved in volunteering for the church. They also travel a ton.

    Me? My plans (in 20-ish years) are to buy a small, private house in a rural area of my home state and write, read, do photography, and garden. Maybe keep goats or alpacas. I hate traveling so I won’t want to do much if any of that, and I’m really looking forward to letting my sleep-wake cycle settle back into where it naturally wants to be. I won’t be able to retire in the metropolitan area where my family and friends are–it’s just too expensive–but I’ve lived in that rural area before and long to go back.

  124. Just call me happy*

    I retired from a job as an NPO CEO, and adjunct instructor seven years ago.

    In the interim I have served on several local government commissions, helped raise money for women’s programs, helped start an annual event now in its 6th year, and helped promote the local symphony. I’m still on one committee, and still helping with the symphony.

    Meanwhile I garden, cook, travel and paint.

    I’m not sure how I ever had time to work.

  125. Pandora's Son*

    This is something that I am thinking seriously about, but wonder how it might work in my situation. My biggest concern is health insurance, since I am only 58. I could swing the other finances, but getting healthcare on the open market gives me pause. It’s seven years before I will become eligible for Medicare, and in meantime I need options. Has anyone else gone through this and figured out a plan for health insurance that worked? How did it work, and how expensive was it in the end?

    1. fposte*

      Most people pay for insurance on the exchange for the interim. I’m lucky in that the pension means I still get insurance through my employer until retirement.

  126. Amethystmoon*

    There is always picking up a new hobby. Perhaps try something you haven’t already done, of course, keeping expenses in mind. Also, you’d have more time to take long walks, cook from scratch, and do home maintenance things that you didn’t have time before, which is what my parents do. Volunteering in the community is also a good way to meet people. I also know a lot of retired people who still do Toastmasters as a social outlet. It isn’t only for working people.

  127. Chocoholic*

    I am looking forward to retirement so that I can volunteer for different causes that I never seem to have time for right now. I have felt called to be a CASA for many years, but there is an extensive training process and I just felt that with kids at home, that is where my effort and attention needs to be. My kids are teenagers now and will be out of the house in the next few years (for periods of time before its permanent) and I’ll be in a new season of life where I can commit more of my time to that kind of cause.

    Maybe think about whether there are some causes that you have always wanted to support but never seemed to have the time – now you will have the time! Good luck and congratulations! I’m getting closer but still a ways away.

  128. Jaybeetee*

    My ex’s dad retired wealthy in his 40s, and was in his late 50s/turned 60 when I knew him. His wife, sadly, had an aneurism and also wound up “retiring”. Now mind you, retiring fantabulously wealthy is a bit of a different story.
    He had three properties – his “regular” house, a cabin on an island, and a ski chalet. They tended to split their time between those places (obviously seasonal), and actually tended to not be “home” that often. At the cabin, he seemed to always have some work he was doing on the house or the property or the boat. In the winter at the chalet, he, well, skied (spelling?) and socialized a lot. They also took several trips a year, particularly to the Caribbean. They seemed to have a fairly active social life, and also often visited with his wife’s relatives, who lived some distance away. But they seemed to always have things going on – in the years I knew them, they certainly weren’t homebodies.

    Alternatively, when I was working at a non-profit museum in my early 20s, there was a small army of volunteer staff – largely retired men. While a couple of them were older, quite a few of them had been fortunate enough to retire in their early 50s. One guy talked about “spending a year doing nothing”, then getting active again with various volunteer and social obligations. It certainly didn’t come near a full-time job, but he was probably doing something most weekdays.

    My friend’s parents have retired, and while they were always health nuts, they’ve really thrown themselves into fitness stuff, particularly cycling. They’re always going to competitions and travelling to other countries to tour around by bike. They’re in their 60s/70s and in far better shape than I am.

    My mother is making plans to retire in the next couple of years, and intends to continue doing freelance/contract work in her field – though likely not full-time. Partially this will be financial necessity, but also because she’s not quite ready for the “do nothing” stage of life yet. What I seem to keep hearing from those who retire, whether younger or older, is that those who just retire into their easy chairs and sit in front of the TV all day tend to not only become isolated and out of touch very quickly, but seem to actually start having health issues/declining earlier. Most retirees I’ve met seem to find it essential to have *some* structure to their days, and some reasons to get out of the house.

  129. Wondering One*

    AARP. If you don’t have a memebership, get one. I’m not retired yet, but am a member and AARP has sooooo many ideas for what to do when you retire. It helps you plan. Offers many discounts. Features stories about what others are doing once they reached 50 and about. Some people work or volunteer. Many travel. Some start their own businesses.

    I have a couple retired friends and they seem to be having one adventure after another. There are programs geared completely to active seniors like National Parks Service Jobs for Seniors.

  130. giraffe*

    My mom was forced to retire at 65 (government job) and she was, frankly, furious about it. The transition took a while for her to get used to. Now she has a pretty busy schedule; she joined the library board, helps out one day a week in an elementary classroom, is active in a couple of other nonprofits. She also really wants to volunteer for the grand jury.

    My dad took the complete opposite tack and does nothing but watch tv and read thrillers. It’s kind of a bummer. Some relaxation time is good but try to find some stuff to occupy your brain! Good luck.

  131. Laura H.*

    For the preparation angle, take a look at your retirement accounts and meet with a person whose wheelhouse that is. I’m rather young in my working life but once I got my first regular job, (granted it was about 7 months after that I did this), I opened an IRA. So I don’t have specifics on how much, but hopefully other commenters could help?

  132. SigneL*

    My husband and I want to make a difference, so we volunteer in the local elementary school and in the animal shelter.

  133. tink*

    When my mom first retired she kept a part-time job and took classes to see if she’d enjoy doing tax preparation (she didn’t). Shortly after my dad retired she quit working entirely and they did some travel and house renovations. Now she’s taking some gentle stretching classes to help keep in shape and lamenting the southern summer heat and the city’s ability to mow the lawns out where she lives because she’d like to go for afternoon walks.

  134. EMP*

    My mom retired (mostly) from being a professor over the last few years and had a very similar fear as you express here before she did. You’ll find specific things to do, but one thing that may calm the fears is it doesn’t have to be a sharp transition. She scaled back on teaching over several years (and actually still mentors one group) and picked up projects and volunteering in bits and pieces over the same time scale. It wasn’t sudden and she didn’t throw herself into 40 hours a week of outside commitments either.

  135. Nanc*
    My mom has been doing this for years and I’ve tagged along on several trips (Hello Chicago Cubs spring training 2016!, Portland’s Culture and Northwest Cuisine and Kentucky’s Berea College experience). They have everything from a few days to several weeks, all over the world. You can search by location, cost, length of trip, size of group, level of activity, etc.
    It’s a great way to learn and travel.

    1. Indisch blau*

      My uncle, a biology professor, led courses with Road Scholar. (I think he did it before retirement though.) He enlisted his mom as the social coordinator for the groups. She was definitely retired. So something to participate in or a chance to keep teaching.

  136. Pebbles*

    My mother struggled with this a bit as she was forced into early retirement and hadn’t given it much thought beyond “travel with (my dad)”. However, because of the timing he hasn’t retired yet. It’s still a work in progress, but she is slowly finding things to occupy her time. Her sister retired shortly after so they get together occasionally and go to a casino. My mother bought a subscription to some cooking magazine and is finding new things to try in the kitchen. She joined a book club so she’s met some new people that way and each new book gives her something to do with a deadline to get it done by. I’m trying to get her to think about volunteering opportunities and the “55+” community classes someone above mentioned. My husband and I pick out community classes to do as date nights. We’ve learned to make sushi and how to make glass pendants. Find some little things here and there that sound intriguing that you can try once and see if it sparks any greater interest.

  137. Perpal*

    OP, I know you said you don’t want to keep working, but I’ll just run this option past you in case there are ELEMENTS you enjoy, just not the whole thing: A lot of academics and professionals I know retire but keep working. The difference is that they just work on the parts they like, usually on a reduced schedule. I think in academics it’s something called Emeritus status? That may be just a title but I think sometimes it allows for certain continuing functions in the university.
    I know my mom retired and kept working, just she reduced the hours and only did one or two clinics she enjoyed. She would grouse at me sometimes that the place was trying to get her to do all these things she didn’t want to do (take call, etc) and I said “mom, you’re retired, time for being a team player is done! Just say no to things you don’t want to do!” She… kinda sorta died at work after a few years (stroke, complications, etc; extremely fast) which kind of sucks for family but she seemed really happy for those few years? IDK; I guess the question is, what do you do now that you enjoy, if you take a week off what do you do, what stuff have you been wanting to do but not done because of work/time/etc? I would think those are the things to do after you retire.

    1. Perpal*

      (I should say, I like work and plan to work until I am unable to work any more, but retiring at some point and working on a reduced schedule to allow for more travels and hobbies sounds REALLY GOOD to me)
      (also, if you have grandkids, their parents would probably love anything you want to do with them, especially if it was on a regular basis)

  138. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    I’m about 20 years away from retirement, but I wanted to offer my perspective based on my dad. My mom decided she would retire at 62, so my dad moved his retirement up so it matched with my mom. He sold his business and they planned to travel. They did the snow bird thing that winter, and then unfortunately my mom passed away that following June. My dad does nothing. His house is not far from hoarder status (he’s always been a pack rat, but my mom kept the house from getting out of control..unfortunately his GF is a bigger pack rat). I’ve tried talking to him about it, but it falls on deaf ears. He does nothing but sit on the couch and watch tv. Part of this may be because of my mom’s death, but the lack of activity has aged him significantly. My parents were always young at heart but I feel like over the last 10 years, he’s aged triple that amount.

    You say you don’t really have any hobbies, but you may surprise yourself. Try out different things and see what sticks. Keep yourself active and a part of your community. I’m sure you’ll find something you enjoy.

    1. Argh!*

      My mom was a hoarder. She had some hobbies, went out and did stuff… but wouldn’t let anyone in. Then she contracted pneumonia & we had to go in to get clothes & what-not for her. Her furnace hadn’t worked for a couple of years due to the hoard blocking the fresh air intake. Her shower was piled head-high with stuff. She couldn’t use her kitchen sink or stove. There were mice in the house, and the air was just bad, bad, bad. We arranged for her to move to a senior housing situation while she was recovering from the pneumonia, kicking ourselves the whole time for not realizing what was going on. Years later she was dying of cancer and we discovered she’d hoarded up the senior apartment & was on the verge of eviction. We moved her into a nursing home, where they monitored her clutter. (Newspapers were a particular problem) She died about 8 months later.

      So…. from sad experience, I beg you to contact Adult Protective Services about your dad. You can make an anonymous report, so they can be the bad guys when it comes to demanding clean-up and you can keep your relationship intact. It’s a mental illness, so family really can’t successfully intervene. Hoarders need expert intervention to save their lives.

  139. ThatGirl*

    My mom has been mostly-retired for a few years; she left her last full-time job after a cancer diagnosis and after chemo, surgery, etc and going into remission she was a substitute paraprofessional in her local school district. (That involves being a support person for a special-needs kid, primarily those with autism diagnoses.) She stepped that back to be support as my grandma was dying, and now she’s not really working at all, but she still finds plenty of ways to keep busy:
    – She’s taken classes – learned to play the ukelele through the park district, done senior-oriented fitness classes, all that sort of thing
    – She volunteers – at a hospice center, at the cancer center where she was treated
    – She travels – both with her husband and with friends
    – She helps others in less formal ways – driving friends to doctor appointments, being an honorary grandma for a neighbor, traveling to help a friend after dual knee replacement

  140. SaffyTaffy*

    My mom never particularly cared about bowling, but after she retired she tried it and enjoyed a Seniors League for about three years. Then that got boring, but she fell into doll-making. She’s an artist who NEVER cared for dolls. And then suddenly she did, and through making them she got involved with the local art scene. Her cousin randomly became a clown for several years after retirement, and then when that got boring he learned about genomics (he was a chemistry professor with no particular interest in bio until, suddenly, there was an interest).
    I mean, hey, I was unemployed for a year and learned a bunch of French. You really can do anything. If you don’t have the interest yet, just do stuff that doesn’t interest you. Why not?

  141. Falling Diphthong*

    Based on my parents:

    If you like being around small kids, volunteer at the local elementary school. For a decade my mom has been going in twice a week to help kindergarteners who need some extra reading help.

    If you are largely housebound due to health or other issues (so not OP, but I figure it applies to someone) my dad volunteered with Project Gutenberg, checking over the e-text produced from scanning old books. You start and stop on your own schedule. Great for someone who likes to read.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Oooh, I like the Project Gutenberg option! I suspect that I won’t be able to retire until I am no longer able to work for health reasons (definitely not at 65 or 67 or what have you). So travel and bucket-list items are not on my list. I was thinking fostering dogs or cats, but this is a great option too.

  142. Noname*

    All the retired professors I know seem to enjoy traveling.

    A lot also come back and teach part-time because they genuinely enjoyed teaching but were tired of putting up with the bureaucracy. They don’t have to serve on committees, or publish, or jump through any of those hoops any more. Just show up, teach the class, submit grades, get a paycheck.

    Also, volunteering:

  143. Me Too*

    I’ve been retired for about 5 years. (I wish I’d discovered this blog when I was still working.) It’s definitely an adjustment, and I’m not one of those super-busy retirees, but I still prefer it to working. :-) It’s nice to have time for whatever you want to do. You say you don’t have a lot of hobbies, but you might discover new ones in retirement. I’ve wound up being an officer of my quilt guild. You can take classes in whatever interests you, be it line dancing or world history. You can Konmari your house. I’m trying to get myself to set up an Etsy shop to sell off some unnecessary stuff. You might enjoy a part-time job or volunteer work that uses your skills, but pay attention to the Social Security rules on how much you can earn, especially in the first year.

  144. Juniper*

    I own a small business, which I’m keeping up at a minimal level specifically to keep my hand in it for retirement. I could work in it part time, as I do now, or switch over to consulting. I’ve also contemplated going back to a non-profit I worked for briefly, providing technical assistance in that industry to underserved communities; their TA providers rely heavily on retired work force in the industry.

    My husband and I do plan to move to a different state and travel frequently engaging in our hobby (trapshooting), so I may not even have time for the above, but that’s ok! I don’t anticipate being bored, that’s for sure. The only thing I’m waiting for is being able to afford health insurance, so I’m anywhere from ten to fifteen years away from retirement.

  145. Snack Management*

    I’m no where close to retirement age but working in non-profits and want to echo everyone who spoke up on volunteering, part-time work, consulting or board work for a non-profit (of whatever stripe you’re interested in!). I’ve also worked with individuals who were transitioning into retirement through a program with Social Ventures Partners which hooked up folks about to retire to nonprofits needing their skills (the work was paid and part time). One of them ended up being a much needed mentor for me in a lonely department of one at the time.

  146. not that kind of Doctor*

    Retired people are the busiest people I know. My parents are never home. They travel frequently; they have a lot of retired friends in their neighborhood so they’re always going to parties/hiking/wine tasting; my dad volunteers and my stepmother gardens like crazy.
    One retired friend & his wife became primary caregivers to their grandkids after school and during the summer. Another bumped his sports hobby up to a competitive level. My local gym has a whole series of “Silver & Fit” classes, and at least one of their personal trainers is over 60. (She’s badass. I could not keep up in her spin class.)
    I’m still 20+ years from retirement but I think I would travel more, volunteer more, go to the gym more, and go to more movies.

  147. Yikes*

    My personal plan is to win the lottery, and then spend all my time on Viking Ocean Cruise “Grand Voyages.” Sounds more fun than assisted living, and honestly around the same cost.

  148. DominoMama*

    My father retired a few years ago, and has been taking classes at a local university each semester. They have a program that allows older adults to take classes without getting credit. He’s taken classes in a number of different subjects, like Spanish and an English class.

    A number of the volunteers with the dog rescue I volunteer with are also retired so able to dedicate more time to it during the work week. There are always worthy organizations in need of some help!

  149. MistOrMister*

    Short term or part time jobs in fields you’re interested in (if you can find them) are an option. My dad is interested in tax law and took a course with H&R Block and worked there one tax season righ after retiring. I think he would have continued doing that, since it’s only a few months a year, if other things hadn’t come up. Or even a permanent part time job if you’re just looking for something to help fill hours. Which would also give you more spending money for trips.

    Volunteering is also a great way to spend time and there are so many options out there, I can’t imagine a person coulsn’t fill their entire week if they so chose.

    While you say you don’t have many hobbies now, if there are things you’ve been interested in but haven’t had time to look into, you could cultivate new hobbies. Meetups are great for finding things you might never have heard about, or considered trying and decide to give a whirl. I did one for a kayaking lesson once…found out I don’t care for kayaking at all, but I really enjoyed the process. And it’s possible you will find something that it turns out you really enjoy!

    1. Majnoona*

      One of the things I’m liking about these comments is the number of people who tried something – and found they didn’t like it! and then did something else.

  150. Ariana Grande's Ponytail*

    I am only 25, but I volunteer at a dog shelter and I just wanted to add this as a thought–they have shifts from 8am-8pm every day. I can only work the evening shifts because I have my full time job, but I am pretty sure the other shifts (8am-~6pm) are pretty much only filled by people who are stay at home parents, retired, or have extremely flexible work schedules. At least in my experience, those are vital times during which it would be impossible to run the shelter without all the daytime volunteers! Plus, if you found an org with similar hours/volunteer situation, then you would be likely to meet other people who have similar lifestyles AND similar interests. Best of luck!

  151. OperaArt*

    I’m 61. Now that your question is making me think about it, I realize my retirement preparation started over 10 years ago. My sense of identity is less and less tied to my job.
    I am a software engineer and have been for over 35 years. But now I also get professional acting jobs, volunteer with a city agency, participate in ballroom dance events, sing in a choir…
    I like my job, but now choose to work part-time. I intend to continue to work for the foreseeable future. It’s still a part of me, but no longer defines me.

    Who do you want to be? What do you want to see? What do you want to experience? What have you always wanted to try, but feared not being good enough?

    1. Majnoona*

      I need to find groups of people who are terrible at whatever it is they’re doing. So, taking yoga classes in a college town for the first time is really depressing if everyone else is 20 and you’re hiding in the back of the room.

      1. Live & Learn*

        This is brilliant. I want to find a group of low level terrible dancers and learn to dance! I love hoop dance and belly dance but I am not very good, I lack coordination and age is unlikely to improve that.

      2. Manuscript Helena*

        I may be too late for you to see this, and I’m nowhere near retirement age… but a few years ago, I started practicing a martial art even though I am an absolute couch potato. Or *because* I’m an absolute couch potato: I deliberately picked something way out of my comfort zone and told myself that there was no way I’d be good at it, so I was “allowed” to just go, utterly suck, not even try to be good, and just have fun. And it worked for a while, until my health got in the way.

  152. Weegie*

    I cannot WAIT to retire! (10 years and 1 month until the govt gives me my pension . . . not that I’m counting or anything.)

    I have so many hobbies that I want to spend time on or re-engage with: gardening, sewing, crocheting, family history research (a brilliant retirement project – so much online chatting to do, and you can help others with their research as well), writing novels that no one will publish, hanging out with friends and meeting new people, more time for volunteering with local history societies. As long as I don’t physically fall apart, lots of trips on my bicycle. And there’s more, but too much to list!

    Suggestions for the OP: I’m in the UK, so you will have to think of your equivalents (I’m assuming you’re in the US?), but there seems be a national law here that all newly retired people MUST join the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds), upon which they are immediately given responsibility for a local sparrow survey or some such. Seriously, invest in your binoculars right now.

    Another brilliant activity, especially for a retired prof, is the University of the Third Age, in which members organise their own learning, deliver lectures and tutorials, etc (I’m pretty sure there’s something like this in the US and Canada, but its name escapes me).

    Retired friends of mine have taken up archery, ballroom dancing, and volunteered for local educational charities and/or heritage organisations.

    So much to do, and now you will have all the time in the world to do it – have a great retirement!

  153. Sabina*

    Lots of good suggestions re. volunteering, hobbies, etc. One mistake my husband and I made (we’ve both been retired for about 3 years) was downsizing to a smaller house. What we found was that not having another “place”, ie. an office, meant more need for space at home (where we spend much more time than we used to, even with volunteering, travel etc). My husband also picked up some hobbies like painting requiring room to be messy, work uninterrupted, etc. So….we move into our new, larger house next Tuesday.

    1. Argh!*

      My aunt & uncle converted two bedrooms to “offices” for each of them. They needed to stay out of each other’s way.

    2. Wicked Witch of the West*

      People always assume you’ll downsize when you retire. My answer is that if we ever move the house will be the same size or larger. Only reason for us to ever move is stairs. Our floor plan is really weird, there is no ground floor. Everything is either up or down. When we bought in our 20s we didn’t think we’d still be here 44 years later.

  154. Sara without an H*

    Hello, OP — I suspect you and I are pretty close in age and I, too, work in higher education. While I think you’re wise to start planning how you’d use your time in retirement, don’t overthink it or put a lot of emotional pressure on yourself. Some of the retirees I know had grand plans, but decided to essentially take the first year off and relax, which is a perfectly valid option.

    You should talk with your HR department first about what benefits are available to retirees. Discounted gym memberships? Library privileges? Tuition discounts? My university lets retired faculty and staff take one course a semester for close to nothing. I plan to sign up for all the drawing classes I can take.

    Since you have a few years to plan, you may want to start checking out possible volunteer opportunities in advance. Is there a group or organization in your area whose work you admire? Try to get acquainted now with the people who run it, maybe chip in a few hours a month doing low level work (everybody needs envelopes stuffed now and then), and find out if you’d really like to participate more actively. If you have the interest and can demonstrate reliability, they’ll be glad to find other things for you to do once you retire.

    There is real danger, I think, in taking your identity from your job or profession. I’m working on breaking this habit myself. Instead of “I am a librarian,” I’m trying to teach myself to think: “I am a bird watcher,” “I am a landscape painter,” or “I am that ornery old woman who goes out for ice cream every Wednesday afternoon.”

    1. Majnoona*

      Am planning on scheduling an HR appointment in the fall, but you do point out that I could make this a larger question than what are my pension options. I know we get a free gym membership but you’ve made me think of other questions to ask. Also overthinking things is what I do for a living so it’s hard to stop.

  155. Catherder*

    I’m a professor too. At the start of my career, I vowed that I would never retire, but my thinking has changed a lot lately. Some suggestions for you, based on what my colleagues have done:
    – contact your faculty association and see if they have any seminars for retirement planning. The best ones focus on the issues that you have mentioned (not just the financial aspects, although these are important too).
    – what do you like BEST about being a prof? Depending on what appeals to you, see if there is a way to keep that up as an emeritus. For example, you might be able to chair thesis defenses, sit in on grievance panels, mentor new faculty, sponsor a student club in your specialty… there are a lot of tasks where a senior colleague’s perspective would be very much appreciated.
    – what exercise did you like the best as a teenager or kid? Find a way to do that now. You will “age in place” a lot easier if your fitness levels are as good as they can be.
    Congratulations!!! This is a significant milestone – as major as getting tenure or your PhD. Enjoy :-)

    1. Majnoona*

      Thanks. I thought that too. But then one student asked “will that be on the final” and I snappped. No seriously, I’m getting tired to teaching. While I love travelling I no longer want to spend as much time doing research abroad (in difficult places) as I once did. I had assumed seminars for retirement planning were about money – I’ll look into that,I could be wrong.

  156. just trying to help*

    I have been contemplating the same thing. I figured out I needed to test drive some ideas during a career downturn a while back. Charity work I truly enjoyed was the answer. I also learned that I want to retire “to” something, not “away” from something. Meaning, you aren’t just leaving your current job or position or career with nothing in mind, but letting it go in favor of more rewarding activities in the future. These new activities, whatever trips your trigger, will supplant the current time and energy you spend at your job.

  157. Greengirl*

    Not a retiree but have parents who do retirement very well! I also work with a lot of retiree volunteers.

    My dad when he retired took a year off before committing to anything. He had trips he’d always wanted to take planned out. My parents bought an RV and will do things like drive it to Alaska. They’ll do trips like walking El Camino in Spain or across England. Before you retire is a great time to start thinking about what kind of travel you’ve always wanted to do and planning it out.

    When they are at home, they spend a lot of their time volunteering. My mother organizes adoration at our church (ie scheduling people so someone is always praying in the chapel), is a spiritual director, and runs religious services in prisons. My dad is very involved in organizing and teaching ESL classes to immigrants and unaccompanied refugee children. These activities are regular and use their skills well but also are part-time enough for them to spend time with each other and also for my dad to provide elder care to my grandmother when she was still alive.

    I also work for an arts nonprofit. Most of our board members and volunteers are retirees. Many take classes at our local university through a program set up for senior citizens. They volunteer at performances as ushers and as greeters for our donor area. Some of them plan events for us. There are a lot of great secular opportunities to volunteer. I know a friend’s mom who built a database for a local food pantry. I know another friend’s mom who started her own nonprofit that feeds the homeless in a church parking lot every Sunday. I’m also involved in the League of Women Voters and a many of our voter registration drive volunteers are retirees.

    I will also say that I love recently retired people as board members. They have a lot of energy and skills to give and are frequently some of our best board members because they come in with fresh ideas and lots of skills from their time in the workplace. In addition to researching what kind of travel you want to do, it’s good to think about what type of volunteering or activities you’d like to explore. Like the arts? Consider becoming a museum docent. Love gardening? Look for a community garden. It’s a great time to explore activities.

  158. AnotherSarah*

    From the retired profs I’ve seen, it seems that retirement is a great time to go down rabbitholes that you might not have while you were working f/t. Woodworking? Learning an instrument? In one sense, this is the same as “think about what you want to do,” but I think especially for people who are truly deep experts in a subject, it can be really interesting/frustrating/fruitful to go headlong into something totally different.

  159. Deirdre*

    I am retired and not yet 60. My partner and I have been planning to retire early so we can travel and enjoy what we have. Here is how I prepared:

    – A few years ago, I started doing informational interviews with people who had retired. Who did it well, what surprised them, things they would do differently, and advice as we approached the transition. I have a document where I catalog the data and add to it as I continue to talk to people.
    – Make sure to have a diverse network of friends, not just friends tied to work. Look for ways to plug into those networks.
    – When my job ended, the best bit of advice was to take some time off (which is what I am doing now). Relax, catch up on sleep, friends, books, etc.
    – Additional advice was to notice (and note) what I miss and what I don’t. There are parts of my work I do miss and there are parts (and people) that I don’t miss at all. This will help guide what I decide to do next.
    – Also retirement, time and what’s fulfilling will be very different for each person. What worked for someone else may not work for me.

    While I had a pretty serious job and worked quite a while, I was surprised at just how easy it was to walk away. A former colleague said, “well, you will be bored quickly.” My response was and is that I want the opportunity to feel boredom after 30+ years of working. When I do, I will know it’s time to do something.

    My advice? Don’t rush. You have time and you have the time to determine how and why you fill it.

  160. MadLori*

    I am 46 and not retired, but I volunteer as a docent at my local zoo (a major, world-class zoo, so we have lots of volunteers). A great many of my fellow docents are retired. It’s a fantastic way to use your time, meet new people, do something rewarding. If zoos aren’t for you, volunteering as a docent at a museum or historical site is also fun. Most of the time these positions involve training and not a little bit of savvy with dealing with the public and such, but quieter, less interactive volunteering is great, too!

  161. km*

    Alison – your mom is a smart person. But you knew that already.

    I’m always amazed by people who say they are bored in retirement, but I personally don’t allow my job to define who I am, so I see no problem walking away from it. Travel, volunteering, maybe work a summer in a national park, more time for hiking and biking…

  162. Cass M*

    Just past my 1 year retirement anniversary (at 58) and I’m amazed at how busy I keep without really doing anything new. The only advice I give is don’t commit your time to new things in anticipation of being at loose ends; give yourself a few months to get caught up on the immediate things you can think of and get a rhythm. After 2 decades of being at work for 7 am and getting up at 5:30 I found out that if I can just sleep until I wake up that means getting out for 9:00! I re-arranged my evening activities to daytime and met a bunch of new people and take my time more with activities I am doing. For instance walking to events if it takes less than 40 minutes. It helps to live in a smaller center.

    Don’t panic. This is your time to really do only what you want to do.

  163. Pensive*

    My Dad was a college professor and loved teaching. Now he teaches a 3 night course several times a year for the community adult education. And he gets to pick whatever he wants to talk about! Cyber security and privacy, Europe in between WWI and WWII, the Environmental movement in the US – whatever. The best of both teaching worlds. Freedom to pick your topics, limited number of classes, and you do it as often as you want.

  164. Earthwalker*

    The best advice I had was from a friend who said “I promised myself I wouldn’t do anything for a year.” Having read dozens of “plan a good retirement” books and websites, I had made a long list of things I’d always wanted to do and volunteer opportunities and learning opportunities and places to explore, and that was indeed useful. But nothing could have prepared me for what I learned in my first year of retirement. I felt like a toddler let out of the playpen who looks at the whole wide world of opportunity and reaches to grab the playpen’s safe net. I had not wakened to a day in which I could do whatever I wanted since my last high school summer. Life had not had space to be whatever I wanted to be since I was five. My position as a fairly high level professional had given me freedom at work, I had thought, but the responsible attitudes of an engaged employee had thrown up more mental boundaries than I knew. Losing those boundaries was both exciting and surprisingly alarming. I foolishly tried to replace my job’s structure with a strict retirement “to do” list out of fear of collapsing into a rocking chair by default. Neither was what I really needed. Taking a year gave me the latitude to reconsider life for awhile plus the goal of beginning anew afterward.

  165. Shad*

    This might be fairly subject-area dependent, but maybe there’s a way you could continue using the applied side of whatever you teach? For example, my grandpa was an agricultural science professor, and his retirement has largely involved increasing the work he does on his family farm.

  166. Formerly Ed*

    VOLUNTEER. I cannot emphasize that enough. I have been retired for 5 years, and it is my volunteer work that has kept me active, engaged, mentally sharp, feeling useful and productive, and far more youthful than colleagues my age who do not volunteer. I chose two agencies/programs that I care about and which utilize my favorite skills and experience. Because I am a volunteer, I get to dictate (within broad limits) what tasks I will do, when I will do them, and how much time I will spend doing them. It’s a win-win for me and them.

    FURTHER YOUR EDUCATION. I am taking an online class in nutrition that has helped me immensely in improving my health and mobility. But continuing education also stimulates the mind, keeps me engaged in the world around me, and inspires passion about topics I am interested in. And for the first time in my life, my education is not limited to “How will this help me get a better job?” or “Don’t waste your time on that—you can’t make a career out of it.”

    BECOME MORE INVOLVED IN YOUR FAMILY AND COMMUNITY. Now I have time to go to grandkids’ games, help them with homework, “friend” them on Facebook, play silly games….the opportunities to become a greater part of my children’s and grandchildren’s lives is so precious. And I can occasionally relieve my son and daughters of tasks such as chauffering kids to games, lessons, routine doctor appointments, etc., and be there when the kids call from school with “I forgot my softball mitt and we have practice after school!”

    One of my favorite leisure activities is researching my family history, and sharing the knowledge gained with my own kids/grandkids and my siblings’ kids/grandkids. I have begun writing down my own life story for posterity—wish my ancestors had done that!

    In my community, I help organize block parties and spend more time visiting with my neighbors (NOT in a retirement community, but in a neighborhood with singles and families in all stages of life).

    The worst thing you can do in retirement is to sit around doing nothing. I can almost guarantee you that you will be dead in six months—I have seen it many times. The best thing you can do to get ready for retirement is to plan how you will productively and satisfyingly use the time you will have, once you no longer need to work 40+ hours/week to earn a living.

  167. Close Bracket*

    I semi retired in my 40s, and it was the forking best. I can’t wait to do it again. I landscaped my yard, made bread, did citizen science, volunteered at events around town, learned Python online, did the Goodreads challenge for 50+ books/year, saw a lot of movies, and generally had a blast. I can’t wait to do it again.

  168. Booksalot*

    I’m going to offer a warning based on my own parents: watch out for being taken advantage of. My dad is a retired electrician/carpenter/handyman type. All his neighbors and acquaintances, who didn’t give him the time of day before, now suddenly need tons of help with huge household projects. He likes to be needed, and is constantly overwhelmed with demands for his expertise. I keep encouraging him to set up an LLC and charge a small fee, but he brushes me off. The liability issues concern me, and I get so angry that these people use him and offer nothing in return. (For example, the guy across the street had him rewire an entire basement, then said he was too busy to get my parents’ mail when they went on a two-day trip. He was too busy to walk twenty feet and pick up some envelopes once.)

    So, if you have in-demand skills, make sure that your time in retirement is spent using them in ways that YOU enjoy.

    1. Argh!*

      Have you heard of Timebank? You don’t take money for doing something for a member. You bank hours of time given to you (which you don’t have to use). If he gives 8 hours to Mr. Ungrateful, someone else who wants to earn hours could get his mail for him.

  169. Modernhypatia*

    My most recent ex-boss did something I thought was really smart. She took an extra long vacation (I think three weeks) and spent it living her life like she would want to if she retired, to see how it felt. (A lot more time with the dogs, a lot of time drinking coffee on her back porch, not so much with the long commute.) At the end of the time, she was sure she was ready to retire rather than putting it off for a year, and came in and worked on setting up a transition over a few months.)

    Once she retired, she picked up a bunch of volunteer work – nothing full time, but enough to keep her busy. She’s also been doing a lot of art and reading. We have several volunteers where I work who’ve done the same thing. (And a lot of education non-profits would have lots of stuff that might be of interest to someone with an academic background, or there’s the teaching one course a semester type stuff.)

    Do any of the schools near you have a learning in retirement program? Some of them are quite in depth, and my mother’s had a lot of good time both taking classes, and helping with running them in various ways. They can be a great way to connect to other people with similar interests, find out about other interesting things to do, or find people to go to museums/performances/walks/whatever with.

  170. Elizabeth West*

    What do you think you’ll want to do in your own retirement?

    I will never retire.
    Not because I don’t want to, but because I will have to work for the rest of my life. If I find a way to write full-time and actually make a living at it, then I’ll probably want to work as long as I can. But financially, unless I hit some kind of major luck, retirement is not a realistic future for me. At all.

  171. Why Why Why*

    Why do you need to retire if you are concerned you won’t like it? Does your employer have some kind of mandatory retirement age?

    1. Indigo a la mode*

      I think it’s common to be apprehensive about a new life stage even when you’re looking forward to it. College, marriage, etc.

    2. Majnoona*

      No, but the teaching is becoming less fun. The kind of research I do is physically harder and requires me being away for longer periods than I want to be. And I find the old guys in my department who don’t do research, or do it very badly, or teach the same way they have for years depressing.

  172. jb*

    What did you want to be when you grew up? Did you at one point have to let a potential future go in order order to make your chosen career path happen? Now is an excellent time to go back & explore that potential! My dad went into law, but was always interested in medicine throughout his life. Once he retired, he enrolled in the local community college EMT class, got a part time job in the emergency room, & ultimately went to paramedic school. It’s never too late to try something new!

  173. LDN Layabout*

    This might be a limitation of STEM academia, but I’m constantly teasing my dad that he won’t retire, he’ll just start consulting on select projects.

    He disagrees, but the rest of the family are on my side!

  174. Richard Hershberger*

    The general answer is make sure you have a reason to put on pants in the morning. What that reason is doesn’t matter nearly so much as simply having one. You don’t have hobbies? That can change. Or volunteer. Or get a part time job. I work in a law office. We sometimes use a courier service (never a good sign: it means we screwed up and have to fix it fast!). The couriers often are older guys who, I suspect, do this as their reason to put on pants. My hobby is researching and writing about early baseball history. This isn’t my retirement hobby, since I am not retired, but rather my “work is not my life” hobby. I am a member of an organization devoted to baseball research. I am one of the younger people in it. I assume that for many members, this is their retirement hobby.

  175. Tom Bateman*

    I too am a professor, and retired recently. Unless– and maybe even if– you feel burned out on teaching and writing, consider giving occasional local talks and writing blogs and short articles. Maybe take a break for a while, and maybe you’ll start missing them. I am doing both, mostly for free, and enjoying both.
    Perhaps more important and less obvious, I am finding ways to apply what I knew academically to a new domain: sustainability and climate action. I am not a climate scientist, but it’s very possible to find ways to contribute to those important purposes

    1. Majnoona*

      Good idea. There is a popular interest in my field and at the local talks I’ve done I’ve gotten occasional wacky questions, which oddly I enjoy as much as the informed ones. I will try to think about how I can usefully apply why I do.

  176. Argh!*

    I’ve been pondering this myself. My career has been my passion, I have no kids or spouse, and my tiny family is out of state. The youngsters have no interest in an aunt or cousin they barely know, and the old timers are slowly dwindling in number. All of my vacations have been to visit family & my other trips have been work-related. I used to live in big cities, but now I live in a small city in the Rustbelt. So my current “plan” is to work until I drop dead or have to go to a nursing home. But just in case, I’ve been watching how others have been handling the transition.

    One friend has been traveling a lot, and I super envy her. She had a high-level federal job, and she has inheritance from her late husband on top of her CSR funds, so she can afford to live a rather adventurous life. I don’t anticipate having extra $$$ for travel, but that’s my ideal. I love art and art museums. You can rent wheelchairs in most of them, so after I lose my mobility I would continue to visit them if I can afford it. I would just need someone to push me around.

    I have a friend who retired from one job, set up a shop to pursue her hobby as a part-time job, and now has a new hobby – astronomy. She found a club that meets at a planetarium and she has gone on some star-gazing trips. (She’s on one now)

    My aunt stayed in touch with her old friends and my mom, and for many years played bridge or had lunch (or both) with somebody or other daily. I wish I lived nearby, because we love the same things & I’d take her some of the places her friends don’t. (I took her to the zoo on a recent trip)

    My grandmother, who never worked but loved children, became a kindergarten Sunday school teacher & baby sitter after her husband died. (and of course was also a super grandmother to me, my siblings & our cousins)

    So… my role models have prepped for a satisfying retirement by developing friendships & interests well before retiring. I have started exploring volunteer opportunities near me, and reaching out beyond my usual circles to meet people. Clinging to people you already know seems too limiting, and I might outlive them and then be stuck at home. In my 30s and 40s, my old friends were married & interested in their families, and I just stopped hanging out with them because I had zero interest in stories about childbirth, kindergarten, driving lessons, etc. I hope that they or their equivalents in my generation will revert to single-female-friendships-are-great thinking. Even if they have grandkids, they won’t be as absorbing as their kids or spouses.

  177. somebody blonde*

    I am nowhere near retirement age, but I’m sorely jealous of all my aunts and uncles who are doing it, because these are the things they get to do now:

    -Go to things on weekdays when no one else is there. Think national/state parks, museums, shopping, movies, even regular errands like going to the grocery store or to get a haircut… way easier during the workday.
    -Volunteer. Most of them have several different organizations that they had a little time for before they retired, but have so much more time for now. You can certainly volunteer with a literacy program at the library or the food bank or any other cause that is close to your heart.
    -Sleep. They get enough sleep! This is what one of my aunts keeps bragging about.
    -Maintain their houses to the standard they actually want- if you want things to be clean but have never had the time, you can do that now.
    -Exercise classes that are actually fun. Most of us who work have to try to work out before or after work, so either way too early in the morning or when we’re already tired from 8+ hours of working and commuting. You can take a 10am class at the gym and have no problem making it.
    -Reading classic literature. I’m sure you’ve read a lot of field-specific works, but probably not all the books you’ve ever intended on reading.
    -Activity groups! One of my grandmothers had bridge parties with her friends, the other coached a master’s swimming team, but whatever group leisure activity you enjoy, you can find people for it. I have an aunt who plays bocce and softball, my mom has a trying restaurants group, a movie club, and 2 book clubs.

    Whatever you do, do NOT become that person who watches cable news all day. TV watching generally is probably fine, but cable news is a great way to rot your mind, figuratively and possibly literally (pretty much every old person I know who developed dementia seems to have had the habit of watching cable news all the time and not getting out much).

  178. Librarian of SHIELD*

    One of my favorite coworkers is a retired teacher who uses her part time library job as her vacation fund. She works about 15 hours a week helping people at the customer service desk, and a few times a year she goes someplace fantastic and brings us amazing pictures.

    If you think you might want to keep working at least a little, but that’s not something that’s on the table in your field, start looking at related areas like libraries, tutoring centers, or test prep companies.

  179. StaceyIzMe*

    Alison- your mother’s advice is absolutely spot on, in my view! Brilliant, actionable, flexible and relevant! If she ever decides to coach seniors in transition or write a book on “doing life well” after the career years are behind you, she’ll make a great impact (and hopefully have an excellent financial return!).
    One small add-on: many people find that they can translate the skills they acquired in their careers to something else that’s of interest. Don’t want to write or teach/ Do want to travel could possibly equal travel blogger/ vlogger/ influencer. Even at the local level, there are lots of people who have gigs where they offer a service leading folks through local sites of interest such as museums, pub crawls, historic communities and all kinds of other activities. Just a thought.

  180. Working Mom Having It All*

    Nthing doing something you are passionate about that helps the world (or, at the very least, that you see as helpful to the world). My MIL is retired from her main career and now works for a nearby national forest doing, among other things, wildlife rescue. She not only has a community of friends and colleagues she sees every day, she also gets to be in nature, which is important to her, and also gets to work with wild, often endangered, animals.

  181. sweqehas*

    Thank you so much for submitting this question OP! I have a question I’d like to add: my husband will retire at least five years before I’m ready to. How does this transitional period work out? Anything we should be aware of?

    1. DataGirl*

      My dad took an early retirement/buyout around age 50- my mom had to work until she was 65. She still works very part-time on occasion. I think it caused a lot of resentment on her part that she had to keep working while he could do whatever he wanted. So maybe watch for that?

    2. JanetM*

      My husband took a medical retirement about four years ago, after 35 years in the same company. His retirement consists primarily of reading and writing fanfic, reading manga and watching anime, gaming, building computers (for himself and me, not commercially), and starting projects around the house; he’s a hermit by nature and all those years of working customer service left him pretty peopled out. He’s beginning to make vague noises about getting together with other people on occasion, as he says he’s starting to feel stale, but has so far declined all the times I’ve asked him to join me in getting together with my friends (because he doesn’t know them).

      This has not been stressful for me; as long as he’s content, so I am. What was stressful was the Year of Four Surgeries and Only One Income but Thank the Ghods Both Insurances just before he retired.

      I’m starting to look forward to my own retirement, in five years if all goes well. That’ll be 30 years at my employer. At this point, I think my retirement will start with a period of not doing much, and will then progress into reading a lot, working on projects around the house, and having dinner with friends a couple of times a week. I’ve done a lot of volunteering in the past 20 years or so, and I’m pretty burned out on that, but I might change my mind when I don’t have to budget a day job as well as a commitment to the union or professional association.

      For what it’s worth, the other two people I know best who are retired both say they’re busier now than they ever were when they were working full-time, and they don’t know how they managed before.

    3. Chinookwind*

      I would recommend renegotiating household duties. My dad retired just as my mom’s store started taking off. Dad was willing to become a full-time househusband but it took a while for Mom to accept that he will do things differently because it was more efficiently for him who was doing the cooking and cleaning. Mom also insisted on continuing to cook the big family meals when we would visit and then grumble about how nothing was where she expected or how long it took.

      Once she accepted that she was no longer the master of the inner home (like she had been for decades) and accepted that my dad could do a good job even if he did it differently, both their stress levels went down.

  182. The Grammarian*

    I agree with Snark. I would volunteer and also do personal enrichment activities like taking classes, creating things with my hands, and exercising–all things I do now outside of work as time allows.

  183. LCL*

    6 more weeks for me, than retirement. I am having more anxiety than I expected. My anxiety isn’t about being retired, it’s more to do with my cynical nature. I am so worried about having some accident between now and then, yet if I think too much about that I fear it will become a self-fulfilled prophecy. Moving on…

    I am not a visualization type of person. I don’t look into the future and think, in two years I will be doing this thing. I am thinking about all the different things I like to do. By nature, I like to dive intensely into something for a couple months, then something else will catch my attention. I have to tell myself I can’t do everything at the same time. So my retirement will probably look like this-more gym and bike time, more yard work, fixing up the house to get it ready for sale, more cooking, some formal study in cooking and brewing, helping my aging mom with her stuff, getting her house ready to sell, research and travel to decide where we will live after my partner retires as he is amazingly bad at any kind of geography, skiing, and getting another dog. On the maybe list is getting another degree, with my eyesight I can’t really do concentrated reading for more than an hour. The two things I am really unsure about is what my work and volunteer occupations will be. I love the restaurant game, and since I won’t need to support myself I may go back to it, with a side of sub rosa labor organizing. My profession doesn’t lend itself to volunteer work, but I think maybe the office skills I have picked up over the years might. I want to do something to help foster kids get started on their adult life as they age out of the system. And I love animals, but I fear I would become a collector if I volunteered at the shelter. Of course I can’t do all of these things at once.

    TLDR: make a list of what you like, and realize you can’t do it all at once, and it’s OK to drop what you are doing and work on something else for awhile.

  184. Parfait*

    My husband and I are getting close to wanting to pull the trigger. We are about 50 years old, both mildly dislike our jobs, and have enough money to retire if we are somewhat more frugal than we currently are. We’re on that edge of “but will we REALLY have enough?? Should we work a couple more years just in case?? What about health insurance?”

    Currently I think I’d solve the health care problem by working half-time at Starbucks, Whole Foods, Costco, or REI — all companies that provide health insurance for part-timers. I want to step up my volunteering as well. I currently volunteer about 5-10 hours a month with a cat rescue, socializing the baby kittens and helping with adoptions. I’d love to do more. Between that and doing the things I want to do but don’t always have time for like cooking from scratch, working out, etc, sounds like a full life to me.

  185. DataGirl*

    If I could retire today I would, there are so many things I want to do but can’t due to lack of time. A few things:
    -join the choir and/or other groups at my synagogue
    -learn Hebrew and maybe other languages
    -volunteer as a Girl Scout or Camp Fire leader, or run an after school club like Girls Who Code
    -participate in mentorship or other programs with local schools
    -maybe be a foster parent, depending on my health and stability
    -spend way more time crafting, baking, and homemaking
    -finally plant a garden
    -take courses that interest me, either online or locally
    -get an RV and travel around the US. Maybe be a host and stay long term at camp sites
    -international travel

  186. Colorado*

    I love your mother Alison! She reminds me so much of mine. Her schedule and energy exhausts me at 47 and she’s 69. She’s getting married in 3 weeks (she’s a widow) and completely ecstatic! She retired after a long and rewarding career when my step-dad passed away and was bored and depressed. She started doing the things she loves again, riding horses, traveling, and met her soon to be husband. But something was still missing. That something turned out to being on a schedule, and feeling accountable, like she’s still contributing to society. She took a part time position as a shuttle driver for Mercedes Benz and she’s never been happier!

  187. inoffensive nickname*

    Whatever you do, don’t take on being idle as a hobby. It’s not sustainable and leads to Depression. If you like babies, volunteer to cuddle NICU babies. If your local community college or community center has classes for “seniors” (usually the 55+ crowd), learn a new hobby or skill. Take up knitting, sewing, gardening, or woodworking. I know of a woman who took up welding after retirement and started expressing herself artistically through welding beautiful sculptures. Grow your own food. Take on a part-time job doing something completely different from your career. We have a neighbor who’s a retired machinist who drives cars from one dealership to another and he loves it. He works once a week driving up to five hours. Do all the things and go all the places you wanted to do but didn’t have the time (if you can afford to). Discover local attractions. Run to be on the Board of Trustees at the school you’re retiring from. Learn to tango. Volunteer at the local animal shelter if you like animals. Try out for community theater. Learn to play the banjo (ok, that’s one of my retirement goals), or piano if you’re more traditional. Tutor kids in whatever subject area you were teaching, or something closely related, such as an Engineering or Accounting professor tutoring math. (My sister department works exclusively with retirees from age 50 up, and those retirees are a lively group of people who stay very active.) I am within a few years of retiring, myself, so a lot of this is my own personal list of stuff I want to do when I retire.

  188. Aphrodite*

    There is no finer example of what has become a passion, and I hope a full-time “job” once I retire: feral cats and kittens. Shelly Roche of TinyKittens has been my hero for a long time now, and I can’t think of anything I’d rather do even though it means repeated heartbreak.

  189. People like shiny things*

    My mom is very social, and she volunteers for a day at a time at a local theater as an usher, music festivals, or quilt shows, spelling bee, the church, really all sorts of short term events, and then gets free admission. That way she’s not paying to get in, meets all sorts of interesting people, and isn’t committed to something long term if it’s not for her.

  190. Cascadian*

    My dad, a machinist/engineer, took a part time job close enough to home he could commute by bike, and got to teach a new crop of tinkerers how to make amazing things from chunks of metal.
    My mom, a family support specialist, is on a substitute list for her same job so she can keep her toes in the water and stay in contact with friend-workers and families she has gotten to know over the years.

  191. Indigo a la mode*

    My 75-year-old grandpa (well, 34. she turns 34 every year) is one of the most badass people I know. During her retirement, she has:
    – taken taekwondo with my young cousin
    – backpacked across New Zealand
    – gotten her French degree
    – spent years tutoring French students at the local college
    – set up a “foreign exchange” with a French-speaking friend in Toronto, where they each spend a couple weeks a year at each other’s house and speak in French
    – taken up weekend ballroom dance classes
    – carried on my late grandpa’s passion for rose gardening (which is like a full-time job in itself sometimes)
    – road-tripped across the Southwest twice with a friend
    – been a godsend for my relatives who live near her and have small children
    – been a church elder/deacon for ages
    – sewn cushions and tapestries for church and knitted baby booties for Babies in Need

    And next year, she and I are going to France!

    She spent her working life working multiple jobs to take care of four kids in a time when she wasn’t respected for her skills, and as an older adult took care of the grandkids as much as needed, and later also had to care for a husband with dementia for five years before he died. I’m so happy she’s doing all these things for herself now. My dad keeps telling her that she better not leave an inheritance to any of her kids – she raised them right, they’re all doing fine, and they want her to spend every penny she has on herself, doing what she wants, before she dies. I like this approach very much and hope you make your retirement as full or as relaxing as you like!

    (Speaking of my dad, it’s hard to imagine him retiring, but when I do, I picture him doing something like substitute-teaching high school math part-time, in between adventuring with my mom. There are so.many.options!)

    1. Indigo a la mode*

      Of course I typo’d the first mention of my grandMa. Sorry for any confusion.

  192. Jana*

    OP, this will be a great time to pick up new hobbies/activities in addition to devoting more time to new ones. Depending on where you live, there are likely to be lots of groups seeking regular volunteers: youth and adult literacy programs, creative writing programs for underserved kids, wildlife rehabilitation centers, animal shelters, etc. It might be great to dedicate time to an outdoor activity (if that’s your thing) like running or hiking. I know some animal shelters actually recruit volunteers to take adoptable dogs on hikes.

  193. Cat mom*

    As a soon-retiring archivist who loves primary source research, I recommend identifying some of the avenues not taken that intrigued you. I had to wrench myself away from many enticing research and writing projects over the years that didn’t fit the work I was paid to do (which I also loved.) I’m excited about helping some small historical societies and libraries write grants to digitize parts of their collections, to help another group get funding to GPS-map their rural gravestones, and another to do some layered mapping that will relate a small town’s past to its present for online viewers.

    Museums as well as state and national historic sites would love your skills in this era of reduced budgets if you come from the humanities, arts, or social sciences. Through these venues, you have a chance to meet other people with similar intellectual skills and interests while you focus on creating and producing what intrigues you the most – not tenure or funding.

    I love transcribing and annotating historic documents that are hard for others to read and making them available, something not everyone has the skills to do. I will love having daytime availability to go to places that aren’t usually open after hours. I’m also eager to play more music with people, make more quilts, and perhaps learn to weave. I will try to be even more active, not having a full-time job as an excuse any more!

    So I hope you will look back over your life at the intriguing by-ways not taken and see what you could explore as you create value for your community. As you explore those and meet kindred spirits, new projects and opportunities will arise without the pressure of full-time work. Best to you.

  194. Hillary*

    If you have hobbies you’ve ever wanted to try, retirement can be a great opportunity for them. Most members of my quilt group either are retired or will be retired soon (I’m the outlier, youngest in the group by 10 years right now).

    Most of my retired friends and relatives have found live expands to fill the day. Hobbies, exercise routines, and volunteer/board commitments all add up quickly. My dad went from owning a small business to being a very active member of two boards, and he volunteers at the library a lot. He’s also catching up on 30+ years of reading.

  195. CM*

    Along with all the other great ideas here, you could consider joining the board of a local nonprofit. They are in need of people with time, energy, and practical experience — and the smaller the group, the more likely that you can have a hands-on leadership role. I’ve been involved with several local nonprofits and retirees are like gold. Since these are volunteer positions, it’s very common for board members to have lots of ideas but nobody has the capacity to implement them. This is also a great opportunity to make connections within a specific local community — so if you’d like to meet local politicians, or artists, or activists, or families with young children, you can choose an organization that serves and/or is run by those people.

    And you could consider freelance writing, if you still enjoy writing and research but don’t want to be on a schedule or confined to your current field.

  196. LunaLena*

    A lot of suggestions so far seem to fall in the realm of social and community activities. I’d like to suggest an alternative – do research and maybe consider writing a book on a subject that has always interested you but is outside of your field of expertise. My dad was an engineer and retired a few years ago from being on the faculty of a research university, and his passion is now super obscure mythology and history and language. He often combines travel and research, which has taken him to some out-of-the-way places and led him to meet people outside of his normal social sphere. He has also written a couple of books that were published in small runs and runs a blog. To be honest, a lot of his theories are kind of bonkers, but he’s not hurting anyone or causing any trouble and he enjoys it. There are worse things he could be doing with his time. :)

    1. Majnoona*

      That’s a good idea. I have to think about that. I have had some things I’ve wanted to research and write about that have nothing to do with my expertise, but set them aside. I have to remember what they were!

  197. Loren*

    My dad retired very early and my mom rather late, and although they’ve had very different trajectories (and are now snowbirds so have two different sets of lives), they’re both pretty great. My dad took a bunch of classes in early retirement (painting, writing) till he hit on something that worked for him. He’s now written two novels (not very good, but they make him happy), one of which he self-published, and has a writing group. He also volunteered in the local public schools and as a caregiver to a friend who became paralyzed. Then he got super-involved in the senior softball league–and ended up running it for a number of years; he used to play basketball in the winter too but now that they’re in warmer climes he plays softball all year. Both of them also volunteer with senior services in their communities (they both still drive), particularly with a program that matches leftover produce from local farmers’ markets with homebound seniors. He also reads a lot of books and just putters around with the dog a lot.

    My mom, who is a person that does not tolerate inactivity, has packed her schedule–she has found a niche teaching basic cooking skills to widowed people (mostly men) whose partners did all the cooking, and also with adolescents, especially teen parents; she volunteers as an ESL conversation partner and tutor; and she’s taken a bunch of art classes and has gotten so involved in one form of art (and making beautiful things) that she’s currently building a studio.

  198. LawBee*

    My parents are killing their retirement. About a year after she retired, they sold their house, bought an RV, and traveled the country for over three years.

    Now that they’re settled down again, they are getting very involved in their communities. They both volunteer for a nonprofit that provides some kind of water purifying equipment to areas in need – Mom runs the front desk and Dad gets to use his engineering background by helping build the equipment. In addition, she has two or three different social groups she’s involved in, some church-related, some related to her interest in fiber arts. He is very into ham radio and garden railroads, and spends hours in the garage tinkering. They celebrated their 50th anniversary this year with a two-week trip to Ireland.

    I was laid up for a week with a back injury earlier this year, and spent it at their house watching all of this. Let me tell you – I want the retirement they have. I want it TOMORROW.

  199. Emily S.*

    I have a very close friend who is in his mid-70s, and retired more than a decade ago. He keeps very busy: exercise classes about 5 days a week (a mix of Pilates and “Silver Sneakers” aerobics-type classes for older folks, at the YMCA), plus we cycle together nearly every Sunday morning in warmer months (on pathways in a park, which is lovely). He also does some volunteer work with community groups.

    In addition to those activities, he takes classes at a local university that offers a special program for seniors. For a flat rate each semester, one can enroll in as many courses as he/she wants to. My friend has taken classes in photography, meditation, and music appreciation (plus many others), and enjoys them a lot — he keeps returning every term. I realize this sort of program probably doesn’t exist elsewhere, BUT there are community education courses available at most state universities that would be worth looking into. It would be a way to learn about subjects that interest you, in a low-pressure environment. It would also give you some social time, around new people.

    Ok, I just did a quick search for the senior education program, and it looks like there are quite a few universities around the country participating. It’s called the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, OLLI. Here is a link to the organization’s website:

    And here is a link to a list of participating colleges:

    From there, it looks like you’d need to search online for the nearest school to you, and check/confirm whether they offer classes under the OLLI scheme. I would think that most course catalogs would be online, but it probably depends on the school.

    Best wishes!

    1. Oh So Very Anon*

      I was so excited about the OLLI program, and learned recently that it has been discontinued in my area. So disappointing!

      1. Majnoona*

        Restart it! Or get some retired professor to. :) We have OLLI. I think it’s mostly retired professors teaching other retired professors.

  200. PromotionalKittenBasket*

    My parents both retired in the last three years and are handling it pretty differently: Mom is the kind of person who can always find a way to be happy and busy, and she retired partially to leave a rapidly toxifying job and partially to provide childcare for my sister. She fills her day with caring for the grandkids and all the involved art and baking projects she never had time for before, plus she volunteers at least once a week an education program through her church. Dad, on the other hand, never found a blessing he couldn’t see the downside of, and is much less social. He spends his time on home improvement projects and day or weekend trips in their state to places with natural beauty, plus finding new foods to be sensitive to.

    Just like moving somewhere new, who you are is a good predictor of who you’ll be: if you are currently pretty happy and busy, you’ll probably be similarly happy and busy without paid work.

  201. Quickbeam*

    I am nearing retirement after 50+ years in the work world. I’ve picked the date to maximize my benefits. I’ve kept a notebook of “when I have time projects”. I’ve also started NOW on things like decluttering and downsizing stuff so that when I retire it won’t be such a huge job. I happen to be a lifelong knitter so I have organized my yarn for specific projects. I’ve begun to change my garden to plants that will require less work. For me retirement is a continuum and I am starting now to make the reality more fun later.

    1. fposte*

      I think that last is a really good way of phrasing it. Some of us need to put the foundations in early.

    2. Argh!*

      My mom’s best friend used her leftover skeins of yarn to make knee warmers for people in nursing homes. They could probably use fingerless gloves, too. People also make items for preemies, who can’t thermoregulate.

  202. Ms. Mad Scientist*

    My parents retired last year. So far they have:

    Taken a lot of road trips-weekend trips and visiting the grandkids.

    Going to museums.

    Organizing/cleaning out the house. They’ve accumulated a LOT of stuff.

  203. TPS Cover Sheet*

    I lived in a country with ”unionized employment” and more or less ”obligatory retirement” (they have it in Europe like in the Netherlands still)… and you could retire early, military was 45, so you went into management or started your own business. When I first vistited USA in my teens I went to a McD and was shocked to see my grandmothers age people working and I could not have them clean the table for me… so I understand why you would need to work as well. My pension age is now 67, but if I want to get ”full state pension” I need to be employed until 76… fat chance.

    But back in the day the guys been working in the same company since apprentices at 16 and gotten the gold watch after 25 or 30 years service… those guys went silly. They would come hang around and just be miserable. You need something.. a hobby but something…

    You are a professor, so you still will have access to all the facilities ??? (In Europe they do) so you can write monographs and do all yhe research someone told you when you were young it wasn’t feasible… show them basterds! You seen Rick & Morty? Become Rick!

    1. Majnoona*

      I won’t have an office (there’s just no space) but I usually write at home anyway and come in on the days I teach. I will have access to the library resources which is critical if I want to write anything that involves research.

  204. Quinalla*

    I’m still a ways away from this, but I’ve thought about it and I definitely plan to ramp up my volunteering. I’ll probably tutor at the library again (just don’t have the time right now), I’m an engineer and they are always desperate for math tutors for the kids. I’d also love to get involved in a political campaign, get more involved with our local food bank, etc. I think through volunteering I could basically make a nice part-time job for myself. I also want to read, read, read and I’d probably join or start a more focused board/card game group and heck yeah do some weekly fitness classes. And right now we are saving enough so we can do at least one big trip a year and some small trips, so we’ll definitely do some traveling. And I have children, so I’ll definitely be doing stuff with them too if they’ll have me.

    My Mom just retired last year and she is super busy. She travels a lot, organizes lots of family events, visits all her grandchildren, goes to tons of her alma mater’s sports games, tends her gardens, etc. My Dad who used to own his own business is doing the slow fade retire which works well for him. He’s sold the business to his former partner and is working a full time schedule still, but no longer has boss responsibility and to him that already feels like retirement, haha. I’m sure he will continue to fade out more and go down to a more part-time schedule eventually, not sure he will retire for real until he is much older, he loves interacting with patients and his coworkers (he’s a dentist).

  205. GreenDoor*

    Going my my family history….
    If you’re a woman, you FINALLY, FINALLY do all the things you’ve been planning to do someday once you’re done with work and raising kids. Take that cruise! Join that book club! Start lunching with the ladies. Have crazy parties staying up until 2 a.m. to watch the next British Royal wedding live.

    If you’re a man, pretty much the same….but, again, based on my family history, do not, I repeat, do not follow your wife around and criticize how she cooks and cleans even though she’s doing it the same way she’s done it for the past 40 years. Or you might find that she will also decide to retire and those things will then become your new job!

  206. LoriM*

    I’ve been working on my family tree, if you haven’t done this yet, talk and get info from older family members; it seems like I blinked and many of the older generation passed on. Play and or vacation with the grandkids! All those little jobs around the house you havent had time for. Explore your hometown like a tourist. Learn a language, then travel to that country. Learn something new, there are community classes about everything underthe sun Volunteer at a a senior home, invaluable info for later in life decisions. Volunteer at a local school, hold premies at the hospital. You are only bored if you want to be

  207. J.*

    My mom retired a few years ago and sometimes seems busier now than she was when she was working. She volunteers for a local community thing she found out about through the town police department, she got really active in the retiree chapter of her union, she decided she wanted to do quilting so she started taking classes at a local craft store, and she volunteers once a week during the day for a local nonprofit she cares about that needs daytime support working folks can’t provide.

    My in-laws retired and travel several times a year, but that’s not in everyone’s budget. All of these things my mom found out about through Facebook, flyers, the newspaper, friends. This may be harder for you if you’re not a joiner! She could tell you the whole life story of the stranger behind her in the grocery line by the time they’re done checking out. But there are plenty of things if you keep your eyes open when you’re out in your community. I know I often hear about stuff that I’d love to do but don’t have the time for, this is the opportunity to try those things.

  208. Memyselfandi*

    All my former thesis advisers became emeritus professors and continued do their research or some teaching/supervising of students. They are winding down rather than stopping.

    1. Majnoona*

      But if I wanted to do that, I’d just keep working and get paid a whole lot better!

  209. LastDaughterStanding*

    I retired about to years ago. My husband and I started an eBay business shortly thereafter. It takes up about 10 hours of his time and about 15 of mine each week (he handles incoming inventory and outgoing shipping and I handle photography and listings). It’s enough that we keep busy a few hours a day but not so much that we can’t do other things. We see our grandchildren frequently. He volunteers as a shop mentor to mechanics in training and I hold babies at the local hospital two afternoons per week. We are enjoying a new peace — and a new pace.

    My only advice to the OP is to find something where you can make a difference in someone’s life.

    Also, side note to Alison — it’s clear that your mother has influenced your clear and straightforward writing style.

  210. Morning reader*

    This is timely as I’ve just retired, again, myself. I plan to read this thread thoroughly to get ideas. I also want more advice from Alison’s mom, even better than her nieces!

    What works for me is taking a Travis McGee approach to retirement, psychologically if not quite as thoroughly financially. (McGee was a fictional character written by John D. macDonald. He was a detective and “salvage hunter” who took jobs when he needed to, and relaxed on his boat, hanging with his friends, in between. He never officially died as written but it was clear he wasn’t living in a way likely to end in a long old age and traditional retirement.)

    So, intermittent retirement. You don’t have to think of quitting your job as forever, if you don’t want to. You could take a few months and do absolutely nothing, then once you are so moved, take a job or volunteer position doing something you enjoy.

    The reality of retirement for many of us is we get involved in numerous things and then are so busy we wonder how we ever found the time to work. This will likely happen with you too. You could also work part time instead of full and that might be a satisfying option to dial it back while still keeping a toe in the academic pond…. I am not quite sure there is a significant difference for tenured professors as some of them seem to work as much or as little as they like… I’m probably wrong in my perception there, but if not, why retire at all? Can you slow roll to emeritus?

    TL DR think of steps or terraces, not cliffs, and the leap is not as intimidating.

  211. Little Tin Goddess*

    My mother has been retired for about 15 years and my dad is semi-retire. He still works about 20 hours a week at a very non-stressful job amd enjoys it. My mom keeps very busy by visiting with friends amd spending time with 2 different nieces. They also travel locally in the off-season. They live in New England so they go to Cape Cod in the early Fall. The last 6 or so years, they have been going on different day trips with local serior organizations. They may go to Boston or New Hampshire or different areas of RI where they live. Sometimes rhose trips are educational and sometimes they are strictly tourist. They are having fun and enjoying themselves. That’s all that matters.

  212. Robbenmel*

    I like to think of my not-too-distant retired life in terms of that old list titled “Everything I need to know about life I learned in kindergarten.” In part: Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some. And take a nap every afternoon.

  213. LSP*

    My father started off his retirement volunteering at the local library, which he had never done before. Then he was asked to join the board of trustees. Now he chairs that board, and now that my mother is also retired, she volunteers at the library as well, and helps organize monthly talks there on racism and the role it plays in our community, such as in affordable housing issues, etc. It’s work but it’s not really work, and they have more flexibility because they are volunteers, than if it were a paid position.

  214. LibbyG*

    I’m also an academic, and I was struck by the OP’s comment, “If I wanted to keep writing or teaching, I wouldn’t retire yet.”

    I love writing and teaching, but I too envision moving into new kinds of spaces and activities when I retire (20+ years from now). I’ve seen some of my colleagues give away their books and then move to living on a sailboat full time, getting REALLY into pickleball, get elected mayor of our small town, or reinvigorate the family farm. I don’t know what I’ll do (Peace Corps intrigues me), but I’m definitely looking towards a third act.

    I’ve found this an inspiring thread for right-now me. How we spend our days is how we spend our lives, as the saying goes. As my kids grow, I’m enjoying thinking about all the possibilities.

  215. PlainJane*

    OP, since you’re a professor, would there be any opportunity to lead summer tours for students or alumni? It’s teaching of a sort, but it’s a way to get your university to pay for your travel, and you wouldn’t have the grading or publication requirements.

  216. Doodlebug*

    I’m retired and I do all sorts of things.

    First though, know that there is an adjustment period to retirement for about 1 year. The reason is because your identity might be your job. Also, all or most of your friends are still working. When you go to parties everyone will ask you what you do and when you say you’re retired, a lot of them have no idea what to say after that. I found that only retired people had hobbies. No one else has time.

    I have volunteered but being a type A personality and being involved with no power to change anything, improve inefficiencies, etc., was hard. I do not volunteer anymore.

    Some things I do: sleep in, do nothing but watch the day go by, take walks, long lunches, grow roses, do things on week days when no one else is there, museums, hikes, touristy things, joined I also do meditation, read all the time, take classes, join clubs – like rock hounding, gold prospecting, knitting, beading, photography, astronomy… was one of my best finds ever. Check it out!

    1. Majnoona*

      Hmm. Years ago I meditated daily. But getting tenure, and full, and raising kids. The time shrank.That should probably go back into the mix

    2. LCL*

      Yes on meetup! I joined last winter to find ski companions. I never went because of health issues with my dog, but I will this year. So many opportunities.

  217. It's fun to stay at the...*

    I worked for the YMCA for many years, and the aspect of YMCA programming that I consider to be their crown jewel is their programs for seniors. They tend to schedule senior-friendly group ex classes together, so it’s possible to take hatha yoga followed by water aerobics, or arthritis aqua fitness followed by chair yoga for people who need something more therapeutic in nature, or just work out on your own in the gym/pool/squash court, because there’s always other seniors around to be your partner if you need one. Seniors are a mainstay of the morning to early afternoon, and many of the seniors come at the same times, get to know each other, and support each other through injuries, health issues, and family crisis times.

    There’s also opportunities to volunteer or be hired as an employee, by helping out with youth programming, working at the desk, getting certified to teach swim lessons or fitness classes or first aid/CPR classes, or even lifeguard. Regular volunteers get free memberships, as do part-time employees.

    Ys can be disorganized which can be stressful, but if you’re interested in contributing to the community instead of building a career, it’s something you can work around.

    I’ve worked at a few locations and each branch has its own feel, so if you live in an urban area where there’s multiple branches, I’d recommend checking out a couple, so you can find the one that suits you best.

  218. Leslie Knope*

    Volunteering, classes, clubs, scheduled recurring social dates (aka coffee with Brad Tuesday mornings). I work at an active adult rec center, AMA. Key: have a plan.

  219. CurrentlyBill*

    If you are still passionate about your area of expertise, consider starting a podcast (or blog) about it. Retirement gives you the freedom to talk about it with a freedom you might not have as an employee, and you can still leverage your expertise and connection to the field while influencing a potentially large audience.

  220. Gumby*

    My mother retired from teaching high school math and was teaching at the local community college within 3 months (just one course at a time normally). No, she did not plan on that. She just… got bored. Which was 100% predictable to anyone who knows her. The local senior center has some good activities, my siblings have provided grandchildren to take up some of her time, she’s started doing things that she didn’t have time for before (so far mainly seeing plays/musicals), but I think she still wants to find a few more things to do. On the other hand, she has now perfected the art of sleeping in all the way until 7 a.m. some days!!! My dad took much more easily to retirement because he is, at heart, a putterer. In the putter around sense not the golf sense.

    But a word of warning: take care of any lingering health concerns now while you still have good insurance (I am assuming). Medicare doesn’t cover nearly as much as my mom’s old employer-provided insurance and all of the things she put off seeing a doctor about until she had time are adding to her expenses more than she expected.

  221. Koala dreams*

    I once met a retired Japanese man who went to China to study Chinese after he retired. He always wanted to learn Chinese but didn’t have the opportunity when he was young. There are many years left until I retire, but my dream is to learn another language. I already have a long list of languages I would like to learn. Other dreams is to get cats and to bicycle to all the small cafes and other interesting places nearby, that you never have time to visit when you work. Maybe with the cats in the bicycle basket. Do cats even like that?

    If you specifically want to have opportunities to hang out with young people, you can look for volunteer opportunities on that theme. There are organizations that provide mentor programmes or homework help and such to students in poor schools. You could be a mentor or give talks about how to apply to university or be a class “grandparent” that helps out on outings and special school days.

    1. RedinSC*

      Some cats really do like to travel like that! There’s a guy on YouTube who found a kitten while cycling around the world, the cat traveled with him. It’s pretty adorable.

      Taking your cat to cafes sounds like a wonderful retirement plan!

  222. TinLizzie*

    I work for a local history museum. We always need volunteers, to assist with field trip programs, prep craft supplies for programs and special events, other community outreach, including wearing cool historical outfits and riding in the parade. Museums are a great place to get involved.

  223. RedinSC*

    I’m certain this has been said, a lot already, but the retirees I know are busier now than when they worked! I work at a non profit and we have several long term volunteers who are retired and basically come in on their schedule to volunteer. One group of people have been volunteering here on Tues, Weds and Thursday mornings for close to 20 years! I “manage” a woman who is retired and she helps us with our data work. During our CRM transition he was here 40+ hours a week! One woman comes in every weds to volunteer for a few hours.

    My sister retired at 52 (grrrrr) and she is busier now working with a rabbit rescue organization!

    What interests you? Do you have a passion for social justice? Helping kids learn to read? Cooking? Dogs? There are so many volunteer opportunities out there. It can be very physical or mental? What was your field of research? is there a friends group that you want to keep in touch with? Does your university have a life long learning club that you can work with? Do you want to be a Child SUpport Advocate? Hold preemies at the hospital or walk puppies? Clean up the beaches/river? Save the otters, be a docent at a museum.

    I’d find something that you’re interested in, and then go for it. Almost all chambers of commerce offer a trip or 2 a year. Maybe be the person who signs up to manage that?

    Good luck! I think you’ll figure it out.

  224. I Like Math*

    Your mom says that because yoga is the best! Everyone SHOULD try yoga! I’m thankful every day that I started it 2 years ago. Any one can do it. Start with restorative, if you’d like. Check out different studios. My favorite class is by the river at a local park. The physical benefits are great, but for me, the mental benefits are even better. :)

  225. Another Old Bat*

    I worked until I was 67 and retired 2 years ago, the same day as my husband. Although we’re not rich, we’re fortunate that we don’t need to keep working, although my husband does a little consulting for friends now and again. We decided that we were going to spend our retirement learning things we’d never had time to learn before. I took up wood carving; he started stone carving. I’m raising orchids; he’s now a licensed drone pilot. He ripped out a bathroom and put in a spa. We both raised our gardens to a professional level. We decided to explore every conservation area and nature trail anywhere near us, a project with which our dogs heartily concur, and we do the same wherever we travel. We discovered the pleasure of sitting on a distillery patio on a sunny afternoon, sipping local spirits and keeping notes about our favourites. And of course, we’re a handy taxi service for Grandson and his friends. It’s a cliche that you’re busier after you retire than before, but truly, that’s what happens.

  226. Anona*

    When we didn’t think we could have kids, I made a bucket list. It involved an afternoon of brainstorming hobbies I’d like to explore, and places I’d like to travel.

    A few things I don’t do now, but would like to try:
    Horseback riding
    Rock climbing
    Counseling (possibly getting a certification)
    Organize a girls’ retreat for my friends
    Trying a new restaurant every 2 weeks

    You don’t have hobbies now, but why not brainstorm? I have a Google doc and Pinterest board, and I add to each periodically as I think of more.

  227. Theater Grandmama*

    I’m 72 and retired six years ago. My passion has always been theater, although I worked in the financial sector. So, these days I volunteer in community theaters doing props, costumes, and back stage work. The theater I spend the most time at is all amateur–no one gets paid, it’s all just people enjoying theater. Another one I volunteer at does pay the stage talent, but it is minimal.

    Stay active, stay happy, and go traveling!

  228. negotiating nancy*

    It looks like I’m echoing other comments on this, but to throw it out there: my mom retired last year from a job and organization she loved and had worked in for 30 years. She is single and pretty active, and was really worried she would be bored, but she tells me it has been one of the most enjoyable and busy years of her life.

    She joined the board of a local nonprofit she cared about and has been serving on additional committees with the organization which has taken up a good amount of time. She loves entertaining so she also decided to convert her home office to an AirBnB, and now spends some of her time cleaning, welcoming guests, etc. She has loved that experience and has met people from all over the world (she lives in a small town but in a tourist-heavy area). She has also been traveling more, particularly domestically, with friends and former colleagues who are also recently retired. They visit each other in their home cities/towns, take weekend trips to new cities, and spend a week at the beach. In addition to all of these activites, she has a standing weekly date with a friend at an independent movie theater, she goes to the gym a few times a week, and keeps up with the news and current events.

    All in all, it sounds incredibly fun and I’m jealous of her. I hope you enjoy!

  229. Forty Years in the Hole*

    Ex-military here, and about to retire from 40 year’s combined military and public service – so probably in the same age range as LW. Hubby just retired with 45 years of combined service. So that is a whole lot of structured, bureaucratic, hierarchical, comfort-zone, pre-planned, someone-else-in-charge-of-your-life to walk away from. With pensions and veterans’ benefits, and the big stuff paid off, money is not the issue. Even with pre-planning, retirement sessions and “gonna do this” dreams, it may not be so easy or automatic for everyone to just switch off. It really depends on you. Yes, we’re going to write/go to the pool/hike/travel/take up photography again/get to those projects…. You note I didn’t mention volunteer, or golf or whatever, as I believe in what some of the retirement seminars made plain: if you haven’t already incorporated “x” into your life before, it becomes more difficult to start something new and really keep at it. Some structure is good: early morning walk, aqua fitness a couple times a week (followed by a visit to our fave French bakery for fresh croissants). And not keeping up with it is okay, too. Water finds its own level.
    Not being a buzz-kill, but once the retirement “honeymoon” is over, reality kicks in. Hubby (Type A “doer”) is still not really focused yet, and the loss of structure can be a bit depressive. Manage your expectations. I didn’t read through all the comments – some are really excellent – so hadn’t noticed if anyone mentioned a couple of really good reads on retirement: “The Four Phases of Retirement” – Riley Moynes, and his companion book, “The Ten Lessons: How You Too Can Squeeze All the Juice Out of Retirement.” Short reads, but worthwhile as you contemplate this major milestone.
    I am phasing into it by working a shorter week, teleworking and making to-do lists (just to force myself into getting them done once I have the time, but not – hopefully – as busy-work to fill the days). I’ve never been a “joiner” so we are ok doing things together or apart. Re-connecting with friends, wine seminars, concerts, art galleries/museums, for-interest uni courses, and writing for fun and (not) profit are what we are looking at. Good luck!

  230. JSPA*

    If you don’t have an official sabbatical due, take an unofficial one–6 month leave-of-absence, keep the health care going, put salary and duties on hiatus–and do a few conferences combined with a lot of travel (instead of tacking a couple of days on a conference or a collaborator meeting, tack on a couple of months). Academic departments are very well set up to accommodate this sort of thing, compared to other workplaces–so make good use of that.

    Chances are you will either find yourself re-energized for some entirely new research direction, or you’ll find a thing, place or people you want to get into in greater depth, or both. At worst, you’ll be fitter, more relaxed, well rested, have a head full of new sights and sounds, and have a renewed sense of self (separate from your job description, specialty and title).

  231. Mademoiselle Sugarlump*

    I’m stumped too and have nothing helpful to add. I’m terrified of retiring, to be honest. I have hobbies and interests and yes it would be fun to spend all day on them, but I don’t have anything I’m passionate about or that I’ve always dreamed of doing. I’m not a traveler.

    I make a lot of money now but haven’t saved as much as I could have. So I’ll have a lot of time but not money to do things. My mom is in pretty good health at 93 and her mother lived into her 90s so I figure I have to make what I have last a long time.

    I imagine waking up each day to a quiet house (my husband is 8 years younger) and it just feels so sad and lonely.

    I’m 64 and for now I’m planning to keep working until I’m 75, if I can. I’m in good health now so who knows.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      The unknown is always a scary thought, so it makes sense to be apprehensive about the change! The good news is that you acclimate more than you give yourself credit for. So you’ll get used to and probably cherish your quiet time while your husband is still working. You’ll be able to plan things out and do things without him under foot ;)

      My dad is older and therefore retired first, my mom still works, she’s only 62. It took my mom more time to get used to him being home all the time than it did him being home all the time ;)

      It shook out nice though because now if you need to have repairs done, nobody has to take time off work. If you have grandkids, now you get to spend massive amounts of time with them. All my parents friends who are retired are now picking up their grandkids and shuttling them around. Or you can simply just visit friends and family more often because you only have to deal with their schedule, not coordinate with your work, their work and activities kind of stuff.

      1. Mademoiselle Sugarlump*

        Well, we don’t have grandchildren. To be honest, there aren’t a lot of things I’ve wanted to do if only I didn’t have to work. Since we don’t have kids, we can do as we please with our free time, and I feel like I have enough of it. Thanks anyway.

  232. Lierre*

    Just a few ideas:

    * Take a class in something completely outside your wheelhouse. The college I work at has a discount for retirees, and it’s so nice to hear how many of them are finally getting the chance to study something they’ve always been interested in.
    * Become a chaperone for an organization like Education First. A friend’s partner does this and not only gets to travel overseas as a chaperone for a few weeks a year, but also earns credit towards non-chaperone travel.
    * Likewise, check and see if your college/university offers travel abroad opportunities. Our college offers opportunities for full time and adjunct instructors to teach one term abroad (and get paid for it!).
    * Volunteer for a quirky local organization. I currently foster bunnies to socialize them before they train to become therapy rabbits. The diversity of the people I’ve met has been amazing.
    * The YWCA always needs volunteers for CASA, or the Safe Choice (domestic violence) or sexual assault advocates program.
    * If you want to volunteer for less commitment (or just want to try a few things before you decide), VolunteerMatch offers short term volunteer opportunities.

    Good luck this wonderful new stage of your life!

  233. JoAnna*

    Travel! My husband and I often talk about what we want to do when we retire, and topmost is buying an RV and visiting all the places in the United States and Canada that we’ve always wanted to see but have never been able to visit due to having to work and complicated finances/logistics (we have six kids).

  234. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    My dad and his siblings are at the retirement age. They are huge on gardening and socializing with each other. One of my uncles has joined the crafting circuit with his also retired wife. They travel up and down the coast to different events. They love it! They also camp out and enjoy their grandkids as much as possible.

    My dad mostly enjoys just slowly taking on tasks around the house. He’s also a crafter too, so that helps when the weather keeps him inside.

    There’s a lot of recreation leagues as well that you could look into joining if you don’t have many friends currently or want to expand on your circle.

    I have no hobbies myself and love working, so along with my mother, I plan on staying in the workforce longer than is actually necessary. My dad counted down to retirement and was forced into a little early so that put a slight damper on it but it’s been great for him, despite being pretty simple in his enjoyments.

    The good thing is that now you’ll have time to fill and you may want to try things you never thought you’d like before! Like maybe you really do love a small garden and having some fresh veggies. Maybe you’ll enjoy some kind of crafting now, even though it didn’t interest you much before.

  235. Delta Delta*

    My dad is a retired teacher and enjoys hunting and fishing. He teaches hunter safety courses from time to time. My mom is also a retired teacher and has done some tutoring. They have a dog who has a serious dog park social schedule.

  236. M&M*

    I am not retired or even close to retirement age. That said my grandfather did a couple of things after he retired because police officers are often offered retirement when they have 20 years of service or they were around when I was born. He comtinued to work as a manager at a gas station and he drove school buses. He was the bus driver I had during elementary school and he actually retiref for real when I was in my first year of college. He absolutely loved driving the bus with those kids, they did not leave him tech savy because they would just take care of his phone for him. I really agree with Allison on the note of volunteering or doing odd jobs. The bus driving was supposed to be something my grandpa would just do to try and he really loved it. Maybe volunteer at your local shelter for battered people, I did that for a summer and it was extremely rewarding or maybe an animal shelter because everyone loves furry little friends.

  237. Phlox*

    I was worried about my father when he early retired because he’s a social guy but didn’t have too many hobbies going during his working career. But he made a spreadsheet before he stopped working of house tasks and fun things. He’s found things and is doing great and I think it really helped to have a written list of ideas and projects.

  238. CJM*

    I retired at age 59 about two and a half years ago after years of anticipation. I didn’t have real plans and mostly followed a loving aunt’s advice to trust where I’d take myself. What I yearned for was freedom to frame my days as I please, even though I didn’t know ahead of time how that might look. It’s working out great! There were a few unexpected patches, like some subtle grief in the months immediately after I retired. I eventually understood that I missed feeling useful and connected at work, so I looked for those feelings elsewhere. I helped an elderly relative who had a few crises and then helped with my first grandchild, which occupied me regularly for two years and gave me those feelings I love. Now I’m in a chapter focused more on me, and I’m loving that too! I took golf lessons and am currently decluttering and improving my home as I plan a few trips. But that’s just this month’s chapter! Maybe next month I’ll volunteer or go dancing or fly to the moon. So I’d say trust yourself to figure it out and listen to the little clues that guide you. Connect with others if you feel lonely. Pursue an activity that sounds fun if you get bored. Retirement reminds me of summers off school as a kid, when I maximized freedom and minimized boredom. I’m very glad I retired as early as possible and highly recommend it!

  239. LNLN*

    I’ve been retired 1 year. Love it! I did prepare. About 8 years ago my husband and I read the book Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements by Tom Rath and Jim Harter and it helped us evaluate our lives. I realized I needed to strengthen my social supports so I joined some organizations that matched my interests (modern quilting, meditation and reading). I also found some volunteer activities through the Nextdoor website (like an electronic bulletin board for neighborhoods in the US). I spend way too much time watching Korean and Taiwanese shows on Netflix, but I am NEVER bored! I wish you well in developing a successful retirement!

  240. Sparkly Librarian*

    My parents are Boomers who retired in the last decade, and they’ve each taken to their retirement in different ways. They moved about an hour away to the same town as my aunt and uncle (and grandfather, before he passed, and my dad’s cousin) where the family gathers for celebrations. Sometimes I think they just hang out in their separate home offices and holler down the hall to each other (just as my grandparents did, and they were very happy).

    My mom needs people and personal interaction in her everyday life. She was an elementary school teacher for the last 30 years of her career, with the corresponding summer breaks but little PTO during the school year. Now she travels as much as she can — with long-term buddies, former colleagues, gym friends, and tour groups. Recently she celebrated the 70th birthday of my godmother, with whom she grew up going to Girl Scout camp, at a remote wilderness lodge. In a month she’s going to Disneyland Paris with my sister. When she’s home she takes Pilates classes and winery tours, walks miles with a good friend (gabbing all the way), makes birthday cakes for kids who might not otherwise have one, tutors struggling readers, runs the library book sale, chats with the neighbors, calls/Facetimes family members, keeps up with friends on Facebook, is a member of the Red Hat Society, holds memberships to museums and subscriptions to multiple theatres, etc. etc. etc. She also does the grocery shopping and the housework and drops in on ailing relatives and friends, including her sister who has been in assisted living most of her adult life. She’s always driving somewhere. It makes me tired just to think of her schedule!

    My dad, on the other hand, is a misanthrope like me. Let’s be kind and say we’re introverts. He did some consulting on and off after he retired. Then he focused on his hobbies of guns, germs, and dogs. He’s no longer an armchair warrior! He got EMT training. He learned ham radio. He volunteered as IT support with the local SWAT-type response team. He used his SCUBA experience to help divers recover lost property and so forth for the sheriff’s department. He goes on hunting trips sometimes, and he goes up and down the state to search for lost persons. He trains search dogs, and fostered a pup who was an assistance-dog hopeful (not the specialized training, but the socialization). His dog group has been searching the Paradise fire wreckage for previously-cremated human remains (like Aunt Martha who was in an urn on the mantel when the family had to evacuate). Aside from being on the ground as a dog handler, he’s been running their social media campaign to solicit corporate donations of goods to help wash down the dogs after they walk through all that chemical muck. He helps people, but he does it without having to talk with too many of them. I swear he’s not the basis for any Criminal Minds episode.

    Me, I’d be a lot closer to my dad’s track, but I can see some merits in both. Time to myself, to read from the neverending list, to putter in the garden, to walk during the times of day that don’t try to burn my face off. I’d learn something new and practical. I would sing more with other people and watch more live entertainment. I’d spend time with kids — ooh, volunteering in the NICU as a baby snuggler has always been high on my list! I might work part-time at the library, as many of my colleagues do in later life. I’d find ways to help out and be useful. I would live more slowly and not be so busy. I can plan, even though it’s 30 years down the road and who knows what our world will look like then?

    1. NoLongerYoung*

      Hug for your dad’s dog and the search and rescue folks/cadaver dogs. Cause near and dear to my heart. Closure matters.

  241. Ranon*

    I know more than one person who is “retired” but had thrown themselves full time into activism, so much so that they have business cards that say “climate activist.” So that’s an option. Gets you out and about with people, purpose, and there’s certainly plenty to do!

  242. MissDisplaced*

    DON’T be like my mom! She’s 79 and although her health is ok, doesn’t do much of anything social yet complains how bored and lonely she is. Sigh!
    She was kinda like this her whole life though, never interested in travel or hobbies.

  243. Janet*

    Like other people posting, I want to encourage volunteering. Examples of possible volunteer jobs in my area include teaching seniors how to use public transit, sorting surplus medical supplies which will be sent to developing countries, back-to-school clothes shopping with low-income kids (as a professor, you are probably more in touch with what young people wear), data entry, teaching people how to use computers/technology, managing other volunteers, sorting donated materials, collecting (heavy) donated furniture. The Cinderella Project collects donated prom dresses and accessories for low income young women.
    If you like driving and helping people with disabilities, apply to be a paratransit driver. (Very rewarding, does not pay much.)
    It’s a big change in your life and change is scary. But I hope you decide it’s a good change.

  244. Sacred Ground*

    Jeez, this whole topic is depressing AF to me. I’m 52. I’ve worked blue collar jobs for 35 years and have zip to show for it. No career advancement to speak of, no savings, no property, no family.

    I guess I’ll keep working until I’m physically unable then homelessness, panhandling, and death. Or maybe just skip to the end. I guess there’s some comfort in knowing my life created some small value for shareholders.

    1. LiptonTeaForMe*

      I get where you are coming from Sacred Ground. I had never had a job where I could have a 401k or IRA and now that I do, I cannot seem to find the funds to put in it. I live hand to mouth like many people as a federal employee even.

    2. boop the first*

      I feel you!
      Although I am MUCH luckier in that in the process of denying myself the nicer points of Life Experience, I’ve just been hoarding my dollars and so I actually do have a bit of hope for the long future…

      But I also feel embittered around local people who were able to retire by 50, people who make a living just posting videos on youtube (I’ve been marketing online for about a decade with nothing to show for it), people who get to raise their kids and keep house without juggling a crappy job (which ought to be accepted as a career in its own right), etc etc.

      I also fear that I will have sacrificed my entire youth on minimum wage torture (I have zero fond memories of the last 15 years), isolated myself, denied myself first world pleasures like traveling, technology or even pretty clothing, only to drop dead in my 40s as a miserable manual labourer because I anxiously avoid doctors and dentists and friends and family. Or worse, find myself working the cash register at the dollar store as a partially disabled 80 year old just to feed myself. The number of people who go through the checkout groaning and saying “whatever you do, never grow old!” terrifies me.

  245. LiptonTeaForMe*

    I am looking at medical retirement, so money will be an issue for me.
    But that said, I am seriously looking forward to it! I have been doing genealogy since I was in 10th grade, 45 years ago and I joined the Daughters of the America Revolution and am now the Vice Regent. Me?! I have never volunteered for a thing in my life and discovered introverted me liked it, go figure. I will finally have the time to take the genealogy classes, possibly become a certified genealogist. I’d love to go to DC and do some of the searches, will have to find a cheap place to lay my head though.
    I can finally take all the classes I wanted to when I was in school, I can do the Buddhist retreats again, learn to play the Native American flutes. I so would like to do these things before other body parts break off and die…

  246. scmill*

    I retired from an IT career a couple of years ago at 68 and LOVE it. Having my time unstructured is so wonderful after years of being tied to a desk. I WFH doing analysis and design for over 10 years, so I am used to being alone.

    I am a night owl, and if I want to read or watch movies all night, there’s nothing stopping me. I moderate a few tech forums to keep my hand in and do a little volunteering, but other than that, I resist getting tied down to anything.

    Retirement is wonderful!

  247. Caroline*

    U3A (university of the third age) has been great for my parents – this is in the UK, not sure if there is something similar in the US. Dad is now leading the local geology group and between them they participate in groups for walking, learning German and a book group – and I’m not sure if yoga and their choir is through U3A or separate.

    Since they’re both quite busy with different things (as well as the above they have church activities, gardening, swimming, bell ringing, learning Portuguese…), they have a weekly “expedition day” which they keep free to do something together – a walk, visit a historic property, go shopping in a nearby town, etc.

    My dad likes to have something to think about so he also always has at least one home intellectual project on the go – he taught himself about mobile phone operating systems and writing apps, he’s collaborated with an academic friend on papers, researching for his geology group, etc.

    Good luck on finding what works for you!

  248. Environmental Compliance*

    Hubs and I are planning to retire by 45. We’re on a good track to do it. Hubs is really excited about it….I’m not, only because I like the structure of Work Life right now, and I’m not excited to ‘lose’ it.

    So I don’t think I’ll ever personally fully retire, I’m probably going to end up semi-retired with a side consulting gig. But both Hubs and I have a long list of volunteer groups that we want to get involved in once we do have the time to do so. We felt it was important to get out of the house and still feel like something is being accomplished.

  249. EddieSherbert*

    My uncle retired a couple years ago and ended up getting a job as a “bus driver” for a doggy daycare (so he literally drives a big van and picks up dogs at their houses to bring to daycare for the day, haha). He had only planned to do the job for the first winter after retiring to keep himself busy… but he loved it so much, he’s stuck with it! He likes that it gives him a bit of a routine and some fun money, while only taking up a couple hours of his day on the days he works (He’s also a morning person, so he doesn’t mind being out the door at 6am to pick up some dogs).

  250. CanCan*

    As a professor, do you really have to retire? Is there an option for you to be something like an adjunct or professor emeritus, where you would either have a reduced load, or just take on those aspects of the job that you like? E.g. research but no graduate students, teaching, or just teaching one course instead of two.

    (Sorry if these sound naive – I’m not in academia.)

  251. KoKoPuff*

    My parents are incredibly active, and their social lives put mine to shame! My dad plays pool at the local senior center, goes for bike rides with his friends, and fixes up donated bikes to give to those in need. My mom started a non-profit gardening club that does service projects all over their community and state, and is on their local community gardening committee. She’s in a quilting club of some sort, and they make quilts to be donated to veterans. They also do weekly meals at a local homeless shelter. They travel quite frequently, too. And most of these activities they found after retirement! I think the key for them was finding a good community of similarly-minded folks. Good luck!

  252. Light37*

    Just a few of the retirees I know:
    –My 85 year old father was a professor. He now runs a charitable foundation he started ten years ago (it’s a small one, but still!), consults in his field, and plays Latin jazz. He also goes to the gym three days a week, walks the dog daily, and reads American history and music history books.
    –My mother was a retired teacher. She died a few years ago, and she did all sorts of dog sports, read mysteries and scifi, and worked out regularly.
    –A dear friend who was about my mother’s age published her first SF novel when she was in her late sixties and was at work on a trilogy when she died. She was also a lay expert in genetics and continued to work in her own scientific field. Like my mother, she trained dogs up until her health did not permit it anymore.
    –My widowed 70-something landlady is retired from her government job. She has a very active social life, a regular workout, and a gentleman friend her age who loves to hike and volunteer.
    –In contrast- my childhood best friend’s mother died not long ago. She was a very unhappy person who had never made any real plans for retirement, and had alienated pretty much everyone with her unpleasant behavior. It was a very sad thing to watch.

  253. His Grace*

    If the OP has not done so, may I recommend starting or finishing a college degree?

  254. Actually Retired*

    Super late to this party…I retired at the end of March. Everyone says volunteer or travel. Do that if you want, but if you are not into that know that is okay too. I’m just spending my time to become the strongest human I can become. That’s my passion. I am getting back into older hobbies that I didn’t have time for before, like sewing/slow fashion and dollhouse building. Everyone is different. Also check out Reddit/retire, we have a little community there.

  255. Weblady*

    My mom recently retired and she became a campground host in a national forest – right near Lake Tahoe, and she’s from the Midwest. So for 6 mo. she’s in CA and the other 6 in Midwest. My dads not retired yet so he goes up every month for about a week to visit as he can work remotely. She loves it!

  256. any mouse*

    According to my mother who has been retired for almost a decade “I have no idea how I had time for work I’m so busy”. This was right after she retired and she was helping with my nephew (the only grandbaby) but other than that she was volunteering up to 20 hours a week, going to exercise classes 2x a week, meeting friends for lunch and just doing things around the house, etc.

    My dad retired right after and he had more time for his hobbies. Before he retired he worked for a consulting firm , taught 2 classes at the university, did ballroom dance, was the faculty advisor for the ballroom dance club, and went fly fishing, regular fishing, hunting occasionally and also would sometimes teach fly tying. And had a small mail order business selling fly tying supplies. Once he retired he dropped the 2 jobs. Instead he did more yard work, dropped the mail order business because it was too much of a hassle and the faculty advising. He instead he increased the number of dance events he went to. Started DJing at one dance night a week, so planning that and setting up the play list took time. He also traveled a bit more. A few years ago he took up yoga (I think he said to help his breathing for dancing) and started dropping into African Dance classes to observe and hear different rhythms that might help him with samba and this led to him taking Afro Caribbean aerobics. He also has lunch with his friends almost every day. Goes to church and sings in the choir.

    My aunt recently retired and picked up a side gig doing accounting work and some editing work. She works in the yard, spends time with her new beau, travels, and spends time outside hiking and with her photography.

    Another aunt volunteered at several local historical societies/cultural groups and also did some freelance grant writing as well as taking Tai Chi and volunteering.

    I also worked with someone who retired and said it was his third retirement. He was in the military, then had worked for the county (I think) and retired and then for the city and retired . ANd he had a job he was starting the next day at a local store. So some people don’t retire at all

  257. nnn*

    Also, if you do retire and then find you miss working, would your field/institution allow for continuing to write or research or lecture?

    I’d imagine this would vary widely depending on field, but I do know of some retired professors who still publish, and some who do a few gigs a year as guest lecturers or trainers. Looking into this might let you make a plan for if you retire and then find you hate it.

  258. Me (I think)*

    We know a bunch of retired folks, and most of them fall into the “I don’t know how I got all these things done while I was working” camp. We’re 3-5 years from retirement, and we’re already thinking the same way. My work is really starting to get in the way of the things I want to do :)

    So, some random thoughts here. Do. Not. Wait. until retirement to start doing things. We’ve buried too many friends in the last ten years who died well before their time, and fully realize that waiting until retirement to have fun means that we might never get to have fun. (And then we forget, and have to re-learn that lesson over and over.)

    If you want to hike the Appalachian Trail but can’t get six months off work, hike the Long Trail which takes three weeks. Or one of the trails in Britain that takes 8-10 days. If you want to be in better shape but can’t spare two hours a day at the gym, set up a twenty minute morning fitness routine at home. (I’m going to start doing this any day now…..)

    Take up a musical instrument. Old Time banjo is fun, challenging, and comes with a community of people who want to play music with you. It also builds brain cells :)

    If you want to travel the USA and hit all the national parks, that’s great! You can start with the national and state parks within a 3-4 hour drive from home, and spend long weekends exploring them. Then when you do retire, you have a ton of experience with camping and hiking and all that.

    Same thing with taking up painting or photography, or volunteering with the SPCA or Meals on Wheels. Choose fun, choose to do things now. IMHO that’s the way to make sure that I am ready for retirement.

    Good luck!

    1. CM*

      I’m still coming back to read this thread because it has so many inspiring ideas, and I love this comment! I’m decades from retirement but this is a great philosophy.

  259. boop the first*

    Today is my first regular weekday of my temporary “retirement” (I quit without a new job). While I am chuffed about living the dream, I am really messed up with guilt about being home today. But also super chuffed. My dream is to be able to make a living off of my hobbies, and during this time, I’m going to visit with my SAHM friends (who I’ve privately sort-of-not-really-but-kinda envied) and pretend I am a professional artist. That’s how I imagine my retirement to be. Though I doubt that I will reach that age or have the capacity to retire.

    Anyway, I find it fascinating, this idea that someone could have no hobbies or outside interests at all. It makes me think of my mum, who only ever watched tv when she wasn’t constantly working. She owned only one book and never reread it. She never traveled. Her daily life made me dread becoming an adult. It’s so sad and empty. But she was skilled with doodling, she’s pretty creative, she likes gardens and sunbathing, even if it was a rare event to see her doing them. She never had hobbies, but she clearly has interests even if she couldn’t bother to quantify them.

  260. ronda*

    I was retired for a couple of years. I am not a volunteer (don’t like the disorganized nature of most I have had contact with and really don’t like committees) and am not really self motivated to do much of anything.
    I did set-up lunches every few months with the people I was closest to at work….. and I did job search for the times that I was on unemployment (I am a rule follower)
    I do have a high tolerance for ‘boredom’, so it was not a problem that I was not really doing much and I don’t need a ton of social interaction.
    I did make it to some excersise classes regularly (I can’t manage that when I have work sucking up so much time). I prefer yoga and water aerobics (I hate getting hot and sweatty)
    I did manage to get a job when I was on unemployment last time. It is not a hard job, but they really want to suck up all my time. I am looking forward to the possibility of layoff in our next merger and going back to doing nothing.

    My aunt does puppy raising for a seeing eye dog organization now that she is retired. If you do need something to do….. I do think finding a volunteer thing that you enjoy is probably the best option.

  261. Adalind*

    I can’t speak for myself, but what I observe of my parents, who stay pretty active. They take day trips, longer vacations, go to the movies and sporting events, engage in their hobbies (not together) – gardening, reading, theatre, gym, etc. My dad did work part time briefly and my mom currently has a side gig that doesn’t take up a lot of time, but they both volunteer a couple times a week to read to elementary school kids. They LOVE it. It makes them so happy. My mom joined a ladies social group and has met other retired women to hang out with at times (game nights, lunches, etc). Just a few things to think about! If you are motivated you’ll definitely find thinks to occupy and enrich your life.

  262. Texas Master Naturalist*

    I’m involved in environmental organizations in Texas, and lot of the groups I interact with are full of retirees living life to the fullest! I spend most of my volunteer time with Texas Master Naturalists, which is a fully volunteer-run group of organizations (lots of chapters throughout the state), and we do everything from teaching kids about plants and animals at festivals, to building trails and planting trees at the state parks. Other groups, like the Audubon Society and garden/butterfly clubs have regular chapter meetings and volunteer activities where they get together to listen to experts talk about something super interesting, and then go out and make the world a better place.

    If nature isn’t your thing, there are so many other social groups out there, it’s ridiculous. Check out Meetup for activities that might interest you, I’m sure there are plenty specifically for retirees, but don’t limit yourself! I’m in my mid-30’s, and most of my friends are retired seniors, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love them. :)

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