Aren’t You Bored in Retirement? The Truth Comes Out!

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Aren’t You Bored in Retirement? The Truth Comes Out!

Bored in retirement. For some reason, that seems to be a concern many folks have with retirement, particularly early retirement.

The “easy” part’s done. You’ve saved up enough money that you’re able to leave work on your terms. You’ve hopefully used a free retirement planner like the one in Empower (formerly Personal Capital) to give you the confidence you need on that front.

With the money equation out of the way and retirement here, you’ve gained the freedom of choice. You can now choose how each day will go.

Sounds good, Jim, but it seems like you now have too much free time. Aren’t you bored in retirement?

Is it possible to be bored in retirement? Sure. If you don’t have a lot of interests, I’m sure time might start to pass by slowly for you sometimes.

If your work is all you know and love, then yes, you absolutely could be bored in retirement.

If you don’t have a family, especially with kids, it might be understandable to have a little extra time on your hands that could lead to some boredom.

But, after almost three years of early retirement, I can tell you that I haven’t had a single day where I felt bored. Not one. In fact, I continue to wish there was more time in each day!

What do retirees do all day?

Anything they want to.

That might sound like a schtick answer, but it’s true. Sure, there are limits, especially if you have financial constraints or other obligations to attend to like kids.

But the reality is, you can define your day however you see fit. If you wake up and want to just lay there for another half hour before getting out of bed, enjoy! If you don’t want to let even part of the day go by wasted, feel free to get up and get moving… go to the extreme and set an alarm clock if it makes you happy.

You can plan out every hour of your day in advance if that’s your thing with places to go, things to do, and people to see. Or you can play it by ear and just get up and think, “What do I want do today?”

Every person is different so it’s up to each of us to find the flow that works best in our lives.

The fact is, you can decide how loose or jam-packed each day is going to be. If you’re bored in retirement, that means you need to find some more things to do, whether that’s focusing on existing things you enjoy doing, trying something new, traveling, or God-forbid getting a part-time job doing something that interests you.

The world is vast and there are so many different things you can be doing and relishing in that there’s really no reason to be bored in retirement.

Why I’m not bored in retirement

Retiring early was a life-changing experience for all of us and we make sure not to let life pass us by.

The first thing we did after I retired was to move to Boquete, Panama. Why did we move here? Was it because it’s a cheaper cost of living?

Sure, that doesn’t hurt, but we could have survived just fine in the U.S. In fact, we’re moving back to the U.S. next spring.

But we moved here because we simply because we could. We wanted to do something new and different… an adventure, so to speak. Being able to live in a foreign country and not just visit an all-inclusive resort somewhere is something not enough folks have the opportunity to do.

We’ve learned so much, done so many fun things here, become friends with fantastic people, and have tried so many new restaurants and foods. This was a big change for all of us and inherently made it difficult to be bored.

If Panama’s on your radar as a possible place to retire to, check out Retire in Panama Tours. It’s a first-rate way to see different parts of the country, learn about the pros and the cons of living here, meet other ex-pats living here, and gain a lot of the right resources to make the transition easier (immigration attorneys, for example).

Oscar, Rod, and Megan are great people, too. They have the knowledge to guide you through Panama, answer your questions, and ensure that Panama’s the right place for you. Check out Retire in Panama Tours for more info!

But just because we’re in a “paradise” like Panama doesn’t mean that we’re always out galavanting around… it’s just not possible to be out and about all the time.

So is that where I become bored in retirement? Absolutely not.

I’ve been working out 5 days a week for a couple of years now. This wasn’t something I made time for during my years of working full-time, but it was important for me to do it once I did have the time for it.

I also obviously have this blog that I started in 2015 while still working. I enjoy writing and the intention was for it to be a bridge project from my working days to my retirement days… and that it has. I’ve always posted at least once a week (with a periodic exception here and there) and I love doing it. It keeps me busy but it’s enjoyable. Once I don’t appreciate it, I’ll consider moving on to something else.

Practicing Spanish through different apps and courses has been a focus for me over the past few years. Do I need to know Spanish while living here in Boquete? No. But it’s extremely helpful and something I wanted to learn so I made it a focus. Every single morning when I wake up, I spend about a half-hour on it.

I have more time to read now too and I can squeeze in more time reading than I’ve been able to do in a long time. I love my Kindle Paperwhite! Not only does it allow me to store a ton of books on it, easily highlight important excerpts, and adjust the font to what I’m comfortable with, but it also has a built-in backlight, which is perfect for reading in bed.

Still, I only read a half-hour to an hour maybe 4-5 nights a week. It’s crazy that I don’t have more time to read, but there are just too many other things to be doing!

And for me, the big one is my daughter, Faith. She was the main reason for me wanting early retirement to begin with and now I have the opportunity to spend huge amounts of time with her and with Lisa. Whether it’s hiking, beach trips, playing games, watching movies, or just talking, we all have a lot of fun.

I can already see the writing on the wall as Faith’s getting older now (she’s 11) and wants to hang out with her friends more or just spend more time entertaining herself. However, the fact that I’ve been able to be around her so much over the past few years is amazing. And it makes it easier to be there whenever she does want to hang out.

Once that time with her becomes less (I give it another year), I’ll be able to fill in the gaps with other things that I’m longing to do. That’ll be hobbies such as writing books, learning the harmonica, volunteering, taking martial arts classes, starting to draw again, reading more, etc.

In the meantime, we continue to travel all over the place as well. Making use of our travel rewards makes most of the travel free, too. Life is rough, isn’t it?! Check out my recent post on the Southwest Companion Pass for the latest reward we’re about to jump on.

In other words, there are so many things to be doing, I just don’t know how anyone could be bored in retirement!

What can a bored retired person do?

This is still a hard concept for me to grasp. Being bored in retirement just seems like something that’s not possible.

However, I tend to have a knack for always finding something to do – sitting still and doing nothing is relatively foreign to me. And considering that I have a kid probably fills in a lot of the downtime that a person without children might not have.

But if you’re bored, it’s time to take a step back and realize that maybe you need to take the bull by the horns. Only you can change your circumstances so you’re not bored in retirement.

Don’t think solely about what you can do over the next hour to fill time. But rather, what are some things that interest you that maybe you could start pursuing as a hobby?

That could be anything from woodworking to painting to writing… whatever. The world is your oyster (whatever the heck that means!). Maybe pick up a new sport to try – John from ESI Money loves to talk about how pickleball is the way to go! Perhaps you should climb a volcano if you need something more!

Maybe it’s time for a road trip or some other traveling. Head out and explore the world! How about some camping?

If it’s the lack of socialization or structure that you’re struggling with, then maybe it’s time to join some groups of people with similar interests. Or think about doing some volunteer work – good for you and others! Perhaps going back to work part-time doing something you enjoy or starting a business of your own might be the answer you’re looking for.

If you haven’t checked it out, Fritz from The Retirement Manifesto wrote a fantastic book called Keys to a Successful Retirement. It’s focused more on the non-financial side of retirement than the $$$ side (though there’s some of that as well). This can give you some great ideas to stop being bored in retirement.

And finally, try to find a purpose in your life.

How do I find my purpose in life after retirement?

This is a tough question to answer. And after three years of searching, I feel like I’m only getting inches closer to figuring it out in my own life.

Finding a purpose in life is going to be something very personal and different for each of us. Some of us are content with simply living in the moment and enjoying the present for what it is… just being. On the other hand, some of us have this desire festering to do something more.

If you’re one of the former, you’re in good shape! Take it in and enjoy!

But if you’re one of the latter, it can be a struggle unless you can figure out what that purpose is. It’s something that can easily lead to a state of depression if you can’t get control of that feeling.

I’m one of those who feel that I should be doing something more. I still enjoy the present and feel blessed with every day. However, I have this nagging feeling that I should be helping others who are less fortunate.

My only advice on this topic is to just start doing something to help satisfy this pulling feeling. Start small and figure it out from there.

Well, I hear that a lot. People want to change the world. Don’t know how to begin. You want to know how to change the world, son? One act of random kindness at a time.

— Morgan Freeman as God [Evan Almighty (2007)]

Fun little movie… awesome quote.

As I’ve said, I’m far from bored in retirement. But I need to do something to help quell this draw I have. I feel like I need to be doing something big, but I’m just like that movie quote in that I don’t where to start.

So I’m going to start small. Once we move back to the U.S. next year, I hope to begin doing some volunteer work likely to help with homelessness or hunger. I’d love to do something big, but until I figure out what that needs to be, I’m going to take it slow and build up from there.

Consider the same if you’re in that position. Start small in an area that affects you and go from there.

So can you be bored in retirement?

I think it would be hard to be bored in retirement. Maybe it could be from having very few hobbies, passions, or desires to do much. Or possibly it could be from a lack of ambition to want to do anything about the hobbies, passions, or desires that you do have. I don’t know the answer.

I honestly wish there was more time in the day to enjoy each day. Every early retiree I know seems to resonate with that same satisfaction in enjoying their days of freedom as well.

I think Purple from A Purple Life and I seem to be on the same page lately. Recently, she turned me on to the fantastic book, The Psychology of Money, which I wrote about in my post, One of the Best Money Books I’ve Ever Read.

Then there’s this post you’re reading right now. I was in the middle of writing it and took a break to see what the personal finance community has been up to. What are the chances that Purple had just posted an article that’s an offshoot of what I’m writing about today?

Her post “I Recorded Everything I Did Every Hour For A Year: Here’s What Retirees Do All Day!” came out last week. The reason I’m mentioning it is that it just goes to show you that the idea of being bored in retirement isn’t something that many of us are likely to experience. It’s a very cool read and a great example of how being bored in retirement is tough to do.

So folks, don’t be afraid that retirement will lead to boredom. I can’t imagine that being a problem for anyone. And if it is, it’s time to use some of my suggestions to make that a distant memory!

Retirees, are you bored in retirement? And for everyone else, do you think you’ll be bored when you retire?

Plan well, take action, and live your best life!

Thanks for reading!!

— Jim

You know you wanna share this!!

20 thoughts on “Aren’t You Bored in Retirement? The Truth Comes Out!”

  1. Love the article Jim. It really clarified the traditional advice of “retire to something”. I’m still building my lists of interesting things to try. I used to feel guilty putting stuff on the list that I’m might not do but as your article describes, that’s ok. It’s always about the journey. Early retirement doesn’t have to be a pass/fail test.

    1. You got it – there’s no right or wrong way to do it. It’s about enjoying the freedom provided. You try things you’re interested in and see what you like. I had gardening on my list to try and when came to doing it, it just didn’t fit with me. I may go back to it later, but for now, it’s time to move on to other things. 🙂

  2. Thanks for the shout-out on my book, Jim. Ironically, I have a draft 75% done for my next post which tracks my time now that I’m retired. I saw Purple’s post after mine was underway. Weird how we all hit on the same theme within a few weeks of each other. Amazing minds…

  3. I was involuntarily retired 2 years ago. I’m doing a little part time work – middle of a project for the VA right now. But it might be my last as I do not like the interruptions needed to collect a paycheck.. When we sold our CA home we bought a Class B RV and enjoy trips in that – just got back from 3 weeks in PA but ready to be on the move again. My train room is almost operational, and our gardening has taken on a life of its own. We’ve spent a lot of time on spiritual development, too. No, not bored yet.

    OT a bit – I noticed that Series I government bonds are paying 7.12% for next six months. Not bad for a cash stash. You need to hold for at least 1 year to cash them, and cashing before 5 years costs 3 months interest. But still not bad. There is a $10k buy limit per account per year – but you can also buy $5k more with a tax refund. Could make accidentally overpaying estimated taxes look inviting!

  4. When I retired slightly early at 60 one of my relatives told me “Don’t do it, you’ll be bored.” He had been involuntarily retired from a seven figure job as a Fortune 500 C Suite exec and did not have very many hobbies outside of work. I retired anyway and in the nearly six years since then I won’t say I’m never bored but I will say I’m much less bored than I ever was in my work years. I think occasional boredom is part of the human condition and is nothing to fear. Anyway my mega-millionaire relative eventually bought a factory so he could run it as a hobby. He enjoys life much more since he did that. Most of us, even people like me who have plenty of fat in their retirement plan, can’t buy a sizable business to run or would even want to. But it is an example of how you need to think about how you’ll spend your time in a meaningful way. In my case I have many hobbies and many volunteer gigs plus even some light paid consulting at times. But if you don’t I would not wait until retirement to start lining up somethings you enjoy in advance. Or spend the first months of retirement trying things out. People like Jim and Fritz and John and Purple are all living life differently but they are all living great lives. Their posts are a great place to help figure retirement life out.

    1. Different strokes for different folks! Some people enjoy the business world and there’s nothing wrong with that (though that’s not my idea of fun!). I think you nailed it that everyone’s living life differently but still enjoying it. The key is to find those things that you enjoy doing. It’s even better if you can figure some of it out before jumping into retirement – it helps make the transition much easier.

      I think that’s interesting to hear that you’re much less bored now than when you were working. Most folks would assume it would be the opposite! 🙂

      1. I wasn’t bored much at work, but there were times when I was doing endless paperwork, working on budgets, etc. that it wasn’t too stimulating. I’m also rarely bored now and I think less than when I was at work because if I find something becoming tedious now I can usually just stop doing it. There are very few things anyone forces you to do in retirement. But I do think everyone is bored at times, but it shouldn’t be most of the time.

  5. Great post Jim. I am 42 and now 3 years into my post FI lifestyle. Like you I am the opposite of bored. So far it has been hugely adventurous and fulfilling. However, I do have fears about losing super power skills that I honed when I was running programs / businesses. I also think about what my life looks like 30 years from now when my kids are long gone, and I maybe have less opportunities / drive at more traditional retirement age. In this regard Fritz’s experience is reassuring as he is approaching 60 I think? I wonder as we age if it becomes about building systems and a framework for supporting the golden years of say my mid 70s and onward where drive and horsepower might become more of a challenge?

    1. Yeah, I think Fritz really has this figured out pretty well! 🙂 I know several folks who are up in their years and still don’t do a good job in retirement. They just sit and watch the news all day and then complain about the state of the country/world.

      My opinion is that living a successful life in retirement has to do more with a person’s personality than anything. For someone like you (or me) who’s already finding fulfillment in early retirement and actively contemplating what the future will be like, I don’t anticipate a problem. I think we’ll just continue to adapt to live the best lives we can and Fritz and his wife, Jackie, are great examples of the possibilities of what it can be like.

  6. Enjoyed reading your post. Even though I’m retired for almost three years, I rarely get bored, if I do, I can always take a road trip and explore something interesting in the state of Texas or beyond. I enjoy reading ideas about making money….. passively. I do not feel compelled to create a job for myself or anyone else…that would defeat my purpose for retiring. I never want to set an alarm clock again, to drive through gridlock traffic at 6 am in the morning to arrive at a desk piled with work….wash, rinse and repeat. After attaining critical mass, the goal is now to safely maintain and grow the nest egg.
    I was wondering if you have written a post on how to generate an income stream? I saw that you have an Invesco Bond ladder, but I’m concerned with the safety of bonds in an environment of rising interest rates.

    1. I like your idea of taking a road trip if you’re having a period of boredom. It’s a giant world out there and there’s so much to see and do out there!

      I haven’t written a post on generating an income stream. There are a ton of different possibilities though with risk versus reward. For example, we had our rental properties for a number of years and that provided a good income stream. But the headaches that come along with that can get old as well (they did for me, at least). So we sold the last one during this hot market and moved all that money into REITs. We probably won’t make as much as we would physically owning properties, but I’m willing to settle for not having to deal with the aggravation.

      We do have the bond ladder but those are short-term bonds so the rising interest rates shouldn’t affect them dramatically. However, some of the comments about the Series I government bonds that I keep seeing (like KevG’s comment in this post) make that something I’ll be checking into. That might be worthwhile for some of the extra cash we’re sitting on.

  7. I can’t wait until early retirement jim!! I have a lifestyle business that I want to implement after I retire that’ll prob only take like 10 – 20 hours a week to do during the week.

    One day… I keep saying it over and over like a broken record and one day it will be a reality.

  8. I’m of those people who can chill and enjoy life. Seems like I don’t need a purpose, for now. Early retirement is great and I love it. There are so many things to do already. Blog, catch up on shows, collect scooters, drive my son to school, coach soccer, fix the long list of broken stuff around the house, deal with a dying cat, etc… No time to do anything thing else right now

  9. Sometimes having all the options in the world makes it harder to make any decision at all. I feel this way in the mornings sometimes when I can decide to do anything I want to. I get overwhelmed and may end up having an unproductive day instead.
    I do better having a loose schedule to follow or just a list of things I want to do. This also helps me remember when I have a good idea to do in the future.
    So I can’t say I am bored but I do need to learn to narrow and focus my attention to do what I want.

    1. That’s interesting, Jenni, and I can definitely relate. If I don’t have a plan each day, I tend to become unproductive as well. That’s ok sometimes, just not great to happen on a regular basis or nothing would ever get done. 😂

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