Retirement Activities

Random Observation/Comment #329: If I were retired, I’d probably play table tennis every day. Oh wait, I already do that.

see lemons dream human

What does retiring mean to you? Does one ever retire if one is doing something they love? For those who weren’t fortunate enough to create their career around something they really wanted to do, maybe retiring is that chance to finally do the thing you love.

The important question you have to ask then becomes “What did I always wanted to do if making money wasn’t in the equation?” If we lived in a utopia free of economic factors, how would you spend your time?

My personal answer comes from a proverb my parents taught me. This is a rough translation from Chinese: “Materialistic things like money, cars, houses, etc can always be taken away from you. Once you learn something, this is yours for life.” In my retirement, I would always keep learning and become an expert in my favorite hobbies. As I learn more about these hobbies, I would extend as an expert of a broader field to search for more interesting content.  Most people focus on healthy cooking, some type of physical sport, connecting with a community, and art. In any case, it’s about keeping the body healthy, mind sharp, family strong, and search never-ending.

If you’re retiring with your companion, you may find that spending a prolonged period of time with them will be unbearable. If you think you’re bickering over stupid stuff now, it won’t get better once you retire. For example, what if Dad feels the need to redecorate a room while Mom is at work so he can surprise her when she returns home? BAD IDEA. Don’t reorganize anything of your wife’s because, although it looks nice and may make sense to your organizational pattern, she has no idea where you put anything and will flip out accordingly.  Do something less controversial, like cook dinner or make artwork.

In the case where the non-retired person still works regular hours, be sure you keep your morning and night routines as they were before. Wake up and go to sleep at the same time as you used to so your companion does not feel like you’re getting lazy.  Being retired is a time to relax, but it’s also an opportunity to give back to the people you love.  Be sure to include this into your routine.

I realize that the suggestions and advice I’ve made are very generic and obvious, so here are some activities and interests that I’d pursue if I retired tomorrow:

  • Table Tennis. Let’s be honest, I play every day at Spin and I would still do it every day if I stopped working. It’s the physical sport that keeps me in shape and maintains my cat-like reflexes.
  • Science behind cooking. I love cooking. I think the next level would be spending more time experimenting with ingredients and cooking styles.  Take the extra hour before dinner to think about what you’ll make instead of just making something for the quick meal. Learning the science behind cooking is the big factor that will bring some deeper understanding to the meals.
  • Photography. I’d take pictures of everything and probably submit them to different sites for appreciation. I do this now, but with extra time, I’d set-up a studio to take more stock photos in an extra room. I’d definitely learn more about lighting and attend some meet-ups to speak to others about it. It will probably also help with taking photos when I travel. I’d also consider doing a 365 Project where you take a photo everyday on a different topic.
  • Travel. I also do this a lot now, but I think I’d be a little bit more involved with travel sites and researching/planning places I’d love to go. While I’m there, I would try to create a side project that can incorporate all of the culture.  This is where scrap-booking and journal entries may come into play.
  • Artwork. I draw mediocre. I’d like to try other mediums like sculpting, painting, or calligraphy. In the long run, I’d make some artwork and share it with friends.
  • Models. I love Gundam models.  I’d build, paint, and setup these models. I would only do this because I like working with my hands and doing things on a smaller scale.
  • Play an instrument. Maybe you used to play guitar when you were younger. Pick an acoustic up and learn again. It’ll be good to stay creative and create new music. There are millions of resources out there to learn.
  • Languages. Perhaps you’re not as comfortable speaking Mandarin as you are with Cantonese. Work on Mandarin better by watching movies and speaking more Mandarin at home.
  • Teach. Find something you’re good at and teach it to someone. I know many people who love Quora and work to be the best in that community answering all the questions they know.
  • Write. Even if you were never a good writer, try to put some things on paper by first keeping a journal. It will really help with memory.
  • Gardening. It’s hard work, and probably not the best idea for Long Island real estate that has soaked up all the random chemicals from the flood, but I think flowers are pretty and learning about them would be interesting.
  • Play a fun video game. I would suggest GranTurismo5 for my Dad to play since it’s basically driving awesome cars. This will be my first retirement gift to him.

The interesting part about making this list was that I already do all of these things in some capacity. Because I know I love these hobbies, I have already included them in some degree as work-life balance.  For those who are reading this that are not retired, make sure you’re taking advantage of your youth.  The list certainly narrows when you get older.

For everyone, I suggest creating a bucket list of things you want to do.  Next, create a project plan of how you can achieve these goals. You’ll be surprised how many of these activities do not cost that much to do.  In my current side project, I am finishing one “triumph” moment every month for the next year.

Remember: Pace yourself. Dream big. Keep active. Life is truly what you make out of it and there’s so much more to do.

~See Lemons Doing Retired Things