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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 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!!