I recently asked someone how they would define retirement. "Not having to work anymore," they said. I think that's what most people would say, but I don't think that's the best way to think about it. After all, do you really want retirement to be about not doing things?
Expanding the Definition
A better way to define retirement is, "Doing what you want to do rather than what you have to do". And that brings me to my secret for having a satisfying retirement: Having things to do. In short, hobbies! This might seem strange that a Financial Advisor is telling you that hobbies are the real key to retirement, but worrying about not having enough to do is a common concern I hear during planning sessions. And they do have a point, if you have nothing to do, what's even the point in retiring?
A Hobby for Every Occasion
In fact the most common reason I hear people give for wanting to work at least part time in retirement is because they, "Want to make sure I have something to do." And while there's nothing wrong with doing some part-time work, I have to ask, "Wouldn't you rather be doing something just for the joy of doing it?" That's really all a hobby is and it's important to have hobbies for every occasion. There should a hobby for social interaction, a hobby that can be done alone, a hobby for cold weather, and a hobby for physical activity. While some of these might be one and the same, it's important all the boxes are ticked.
My Hobby Journey
I learned this the hard way as my kids have started getting older and I found myself with free time again. At first, I just started working more, but then I realized that would lead to an early grave. Instead, I started gardening. I enjoyed learning about plants, soil, and gardening techniques. It was a joy to get my hands dirty digging holes to plant and pulling up weeds. But I found I wasn't really meeting anyone except the cashier at the plant nursery. So I joined a local tabletop gaming group. Now I was meeting new people and getting social interaction. But when winter came around my solo hobby disappeared and on non-game nights I felt like I didn't have anything to do. That's when I took up building and painting models. This I could all by myself even if the weather was frightful.
Joy and Meaning
Now I have a number of activities that bring me joy and give meaning to my time beyond work and being with my family. As rewarding as both of those aspects of my life are, personal development through hobbies gives me a chance to define myself beyond being a father and Financial Advisor. This way, when retirement comes I already know how I'll be keeping busy, and I hope now you will too.
If you'd like to talk more about how to have a satisfying retirement, please contact me. And until we speak individually, get hobbying!