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How to have an active retirement
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How to have an active retirement

You have walked out of work for the last time. The retirement card of your co-worker’s signatures and well-wishes sits on your mantle, and your golden years stretch out before you. You worked towards this day for years, and now it’s time to figure out how to have a happy and active retirement.

A US News and World Report survey of retirees reveals their top post-professional activities activities. Some of them make sense — visiting with loved ones and finally getting around to that kitchen remodel — and others reveal an ambition for doing far more than filling days.

  • 59% more time with family and friends
  • 49% travel
  • 36% home improvement
  • 34% keep working
  • 33% volunteer
  • 31% new skills or hobby
  • 31% exercise
  • 12% start a business
  • 12% live abroad
  • 12% write a book

That’s quite a list! Although these hopes for the retirement years are full of adventure, the list doesn’t reveal what should be planned before retirement. Long before the last day of work, take a bit of time to test out a few options so that being active in retirement doesn’t become a job of its own. Here’s how to enjoy dipping your toe into your new life so that you can make a big splash when the time to dive in arrives.

Think social network. According to one study, developing a group of friends and family, some old and some new can prolong your life. If your social network has shrunk the last few years think about expanding it again through groups such as Meetup, which has a segment devoted to retiree activities. Also, look to your local house of worship as well as local senior centers for lectures and other social activities.

Expand your circle. Online and offline, reaching out to old buddies and connecting with new friends who you have commonalities with now that your retired may help ease the quiet or loneliness that can come with not seeing coworkers every day (even the annoying ones!). If you have a partner, simply dining out somewhere new, joining a book club or attending a political function together could be opportunities to meet other retirees, or meet up with friends you haven’t seen in the daily grind of work.

Hobbies and volunteer work. Learning a new skill, or volunteering for an organization also can help develop friendships, and keep your mind sharp. One study reported that people who learn a new skill help prevent memory loss. Don’t feel obligated to put your professional skills back to work as a retired volunteer. This could be a great chance to express your formerly quiet love of puppetry or desire to be a better cook or hold out arms to comfort newborn babies — all while serving others.

Travel. Does it sound like a dream to walk out of your cubicle and into an airport, ready to begin a great adventure? Travel is stimulating and a great way to cap off a long, successful career. One tip to finding trips that cater to your sensibilities is to look to your alma mater; many colleges and universities sponsor trips for alumni and often a professor will go along to explain the local history. Churches offer mission trips that may have not fit with your previous 8-5 work schedule. Deal sites list dream vacations that can get you moving with a group of like-minded active adults — walking through Ireland, sailing the Mediterranean, biking the East Coast. There are also many options catering to retirees, work with a local travel agent to find an itinerary that best suits your goals.

Keep working. Just because you’re not doing the nine-to-five anymore doesn’t mean you need to stop working altogether. As a retiree, you can choose to go into a new industry, and pick the hours that you want to work. In the same vein, you can try a small business that best suits your retirement goals — anything from a craft store on Etsy to a consulting role in your area of expertise. You get to call the shots on how you want to work. (How cool is that?)

Active retirement does require planning. Talk to your friends, family and your financial advisor to see what works best for you. But it’s an exciting time, with a clean slate and endless possibilities. What will you do in retirement?


TapGenes TakeAway: Retirement is an opportunity to expand your social circle, get moving and see the world! Here’s what retirees say they want to do in this part of life and tips to get there.

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