Many people spend years or even decades looking forward to the time when they no longer have to work. But stepping away from work can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, there’s no more early alarm, no more late nights or stress about that big presentation. That can be the problem as well. Work often defines a large part of who we are. That’s why it’s important for soon-to-be retirees to think through how they will spend their time.

The key is to create a game plan beforehand and to set goals. Individuals may want to ask themselves, “What have I always wanted to do?” or “What’s the best use of my time?” These questions may help create a roadmap for what the post-retirement years will look like.

That means that while retirees are making financial plans, like a way to create income and updating estate plans and beneficiaries for their permanent life insurance (such as whole life insurance or universal life insurance), they also need to be thinking about plans for all that free time. These five tips can help keep boredom at bay.

Learn a new skill

Research around neuroplasticity shows that older adults can still learn new skills. It’s not only children who can take up crosswords, puzzles, or Scrabble to sharpen their minds; taking up these activities can help older adults maintain cognitive fitness. Retirees can also try physical activities such as a dance class or pickleball to boost daily exercise.

Get a pet

Those who have always wanted a pet but couldn’t find time for them have an opportunity to become pet parents during retirement. Playing with pets, caring for them, and taking them on walks is a great way to stay engaged and entertained. Some retirees may want highly active pets to accompany them on walks and hikes, while others may prefer a laid-back companion for reading and watching TV. If pet ownership sounds like too much of a commitment, then volunteering at an animal shelter may be the next best thing.

Plant a garden

These days gardening is not a hobby reserved for those with backyards. Many individuals take great pleasure from tending to potted houseplants, hydroponic gardens, and vertical gardens, too. Community gardens are an option for those who want to be outdoors or garden socially. Gardening can be a relaxing, calming activity, and watching plants grow and flower over time is a gratifying experience. Some will love the precision and detail of growing bonsai while others may prefer low-maintenance succulents or brightly colored flowering plants – there’s something for everyone.

Travel and explore

Travel restrictions have eased up and retired folks can use their newfound free time to visit the destinations on their bucket list.

“Travel provides an opportunity to learn about new cultures, try new foods, and explore amazing cities,” said Rob Randels, Northwestern Mutual Private Client Group wealth management advisor. “These days, many travel companies offer packaged tours designed specifically for retirees; this can take away some of the stress of planning. Packaged tours can also be a great way to meet like-minded people and form new friendships.”

Take up consulting or start a business

Those who want to continue professional work may want to try life as a consultant or coach. Some organizations will allow their retired employees to continue in an advisory role; retirees can also consider setting up their own independent consulting practice for more flexibility. For some individuals, retirement may provide time to pursue an idea they’ve always had like setting up a catering business or finally writing that novel. The key with any of these options is to stay consistent and focus on small steps that lead to the larger goal.

Source: Northwestern Mutual

Contact: Don Klein, 1-800-323-7033

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