Find your purpose

5 Ways to Avoid Boredom in Retirement

Research shows that the likelihood of returning to paid employment after retirement is quite high these days. One reason for this is boredom. In fact, according to Statistics Canada, “22% of retirees returned to employment because they did not like retirement,” and many interviewed cited the rewards offered by working, such as staying busy and being challenged mentally. 64% of semi-retirees wish they had worked full-time for longer, according to this article.

Other studies tell us being retired is actually bad for your health. Here we learn, “…continued work after retirement is generally associated with higher levels of health and happiness.” And here, “It is possible that health will initially improve when somebody retires and then, after a while, start to deteriorate due to reduced physical activity and social interaction.”

So the question really is, instead of returning to a work-a-day life, why not orchestrate your best life during your retirement years? No one gets to choose what your retirement looks like but you. And if you find ways to avoid boredom, stay busy, and therefore stay healthy, why not do that? So here are five suggestions for living life to the fullest and avoiding boredom in retirement:

1. Adventure

Is life fun? Does it make you feel alive? Is it keeping you healthy? These days retirement needs to be about doing, otherwise being retired can decrease physical, mental and self-assessed health. The adverse effects increase as the number of years spent in retirement grows. It seems retirees get bored before a year is even past. So seek out adventurous activities–not necessarily physically risky, (skydiving anyone?) but rather accomplishments that result in an active, interesting lifestyle. Whatever keeps the blood flowing and the brain muscle in shape. How do you do that? First, by having a purpose…

2. Purpose

Does your retirement life offer you a chance to be a valuable part of your community? Is it fulfilling? It’s important to stay active and busy, to socialize, and to still feel important. Everyone needs to have a role, and that doesn’t change just because you hit a certain age. Think of those grandmas in the documentary ‘Happy’ that spent their days caring for the village’s young children. Part of their longevity and zest for life was clearly because they had a purpose.
A common purpose for retirees is to travel, see the world. Awareness of your options is helpful in this department, but many people think the only question in retirement travel is ‘where’ when it is actually ‘what am I going to do with my life?’ Again boredom can creep in if it’s only travel, and not travel with a purpose. If you feel life is meaningful and you are fulfilled by your activities, retirees can avoid the killing kind of boredom. Travel with purpose. Build a boat. Write a book. There are many ways a retiree can find a cause that makes it worth getting out of bed in the morning.

3. Contribution

Furthermore, while having a purpose is nice, making a contribution is even better. This is how we stay connected to our community, society, and world. If you have something of value to offer the community, why not give it? Too much knowledge is lost these days because youth are disconnected from their elders. Make a contribution and make sure your knowledge is shared. Teach a class. Volunteer. Publish the book you wrote when you found your purpose.

4. Learning

Does a retired lifestyle keep your brain well exercised? In an article from Harvard Health Publications called ’12 Ways to Keep Your Brain Young’ we find that both mental stimulation and physical exercise play a part, as well as building social networks. While we can learn and grow through teaching, as we touched on above, it’s also important to remember that learning never stops. So why not pick up a new language? By learning other languages we can only contribute more easily, creating a win/win situation while also exploring new cultures and traveling (a tidy way to incorporate all of the above)…which leads to the final suggestion…

5. Cultural Immersion

Many retirees these days choose to relocate to a tropical country. Sometimes they plan to live there year-around; sometimes they just want a winter retreat where they feel at home. What are the best places, you ask? “The goal is to find a balance between a region that allows you to maintain your financial security and one that doesn’t compromise your quality of life.” (See this article for more.)
Resorts are a great option for everyone, whether tourists, those looking for a winter retreat (aka snowbirds), and those wanting to invest in foreign property. It’s especially nice to get in on the ground level with new resorts when you are looking for investment property. If the local government is in support of the new development it will benefit the local population. There are many villages in Mexico that flourish when they tap into tourism dollars. Learning more about the local culture is crucial in this approach, as well as the intention of being there to become a part of that community and having a vested interest in improving it.

For resorts to be successful, they need to address the needs of retirees seeking a fulfilling, busy lifestyle to make them ideal for avoiding boredom: fun activities, safety, affordability, and ease of access. And there are things that make some destinations more appealing, like direct air travel and similar time zones. That similar time zone makes Mexico an obvious choice for many. One source says approximately one million Americans live in Mexico and the National Post ran this article where a Toronto-based financial planner pointed out that you can reduce your cost of living and your taxes by choosing Mexico. This is just one example of how cultural immersion can spice up your days. (TIP: Check out Concierto Ocean Front Resorts. Their focus on physical and mental well-being after retirement is refreshing.)
So there you have it, five ways to avoid boredom in retirement that could very well prolong your life, and will certainly add some zest.