Retirement is the start of a new phase in life, and with it comes a lot more time than you might have had before. Figuring out what to do with that time can be daunting. The following are a few tips to help you find the perfect retirement hobby.
Assess the pros and cons of your career
Looking back at your career and giving careful consideration to the things that you liked and didn’t like can help you better identify the types of hobbies you would enjoy in retirement. Did you dislike working at a desk? Did you enjoy group meetings? Did you prefer working physically or mentally? Did you like working with other people? Tom Sighting, author of “You Only Retire Once,” recommends using the answers to these questions to help inform your future. “If you didn’t like to travel for work, consider hobbies closer to home,” he writes. “If you enjoy time alone, you probably don’t want a schedule packed with volunteer commitments.”
Even if you enjoy time alone, many studies have found a link between volunteering and mental and physical wellness. For example, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, volunteering in retirement can decrease your chance of heart disease. Additionally, a study by CNCS found that 67 percent of retirees who feel they lack companionship are able to meaningfully increase their social connections after starting in a volunteer role. One of the benefits of volunteering is that you control how much of your time to contribute and toward what cause, making it all the more fulfilling.
Learn something new
Retirement is the perfect time to learn something new. Dana Anspach, a certified financial planner and author of “Control Your Retirement Destiny,” says that you can usually find affordable local classes on almost any subject taught at your local community college, hobby store, business, or even city park. Whether it be photography, woodworking, pottery, or knitting, there’s always a new skill for you to learn — perhaps one you’re already passionate about, or one you may quickly discover a new passion for.
Share your expertise
After working potentially decades in your field, the odds are good that you have valuable knowledge and skills to share with others — whether with younger generations and other retirees seeking to learn something new. You can mentor people with whom you want to invest your time or provide your services by formally tutoring students or teaching small classrooms, which is also not a bad way to make some money on the side. Another option is to find a skill-sharing group in your area to combine teaching and learning. “You offer to teach someone something you know, and in exchange, you learn something from them,” Anspach writes. “If there aren't skill-sharing groups in your area, you could set one up or connect with others online.”
Test different hobbies
There’s sometimes no way to know what one would like without trying it first. Open yourself up to experiment and say “yes” whenever an opportunity arises for you to try something new. “Take a photography course, go on a three-day camping trip or volunteer for Meals on Wheels,” Sighting suggests. “Pay attention to what grabs your interest and what leaves you cold.” Odds are that even if you find what seems to be the perfect hobby, it alone won’t be able to fulfill all of your needs in retirement. Experimenting with multiple pursuits can help you find a variety of hobbies that fulfill you in different, meaningful ways.
By pursuing new hobbies and rekindling your passion for old ones, retirement can be more than just a new phase in your life — it can also be the best one.