There are so many posts and comments on this subreddit to the effect of “I could never stop working, I’d be so bored just sitting around on a beach/watching tv/on the porch.” It always confuses me that so many people think life is a set of two binary options: 1) work full time at a job or 2) sit around doing nothing and be bored. As if there isn’t an entire world of opportunity in between there.
I’ve been keeping a mental list of all the activities I plan to devote my time to once I’m retired, and I thought I’d share it here to give people a little jolt of imagination.
Note for the “build the life you want” crowd: I’m already doing (or have done) most of these activities now, it’s just that my spouse and I both have demanding corporate jobs and a young child that don’t leave us enough time to explore everything we want to do. My push to retire early is not even necessarily that I don’t like my job. It’s just that my job isn’t the only thing I like. There is an entire vast world of other people, places, and activities that I would like to experience as well.
So here’s just a sample of what we want to retire to, in no particular order:
• Family and Friends: Look, you can love your job, but your job is never going to love you back. You know who will? Your friends and family. But one thing that has always frustrated me it how hard it is to find time to get together when we’re all working and running errands and shuttling the kids around. We all want to see each other more but are always short on time and energy to make it happen often enough. Retiring would mean I could have extra time for planning and hosting dinners, weekends, and events with friends and family. Those that are still working wouldn’t have to worry about doing the heavy lifting of social planning – they just need to show up.
• Roadtripping: as an extension of the first point – we’ve moved several times and have friends and family all over the country (not to mention all the places I just want to visit). It would be great to have all the time we need to travel out to see people and interesting places.
• Backpacking: we try to go out a few times a season now, but limited vacation time means we can only go out for long weekends. We would love to be able to take off several months to hike long trails: John Muir, PCT, or AT. I love the idea of researching, planning, gearing up, and taking off into the woods for an extended stretch.
• Volunteering: there is always desperate need for people who not only show up, but who actually have time to get things done for local organizations. School boards, community committees, libraries, tutoring, Meals on Wheels, voter drives, helping out at community events, the list is endless. There’s a cool group in my community where you volunteer to have coffee with people trying to learn English so they can converse with native speakers. I’ve served on the Board for several organizations (child’s daycare, writer’s group, community association) but never have enough time for it all. There are soooo many opportunities to be involved and engaged with your community – we could do entire posts on just this!
• Classes: I never want to stop learning and exploring. I’ve found time to take a dance class here or an art class there – but think of everything out there! Language classes, more dance classes, cooking, astronomy, tennis lessons, pottery. There are always city parks, community art centers, or community colleges offering classes (often cheap or even free!) and I would love to take advantage of as much as possible.
• Writing: I’ve already published a few books and I like to say I still write in my “spare time” which is practically zero lately. I dream of mornings where instead of rushing around to get ready for work and get the kid off to school, I can sit with a cup of coffee on my back deck and let the creative juices flow once more.
• Sewing: I love sewing, but only impractical costumes and historical garb. I love researching the history of the clothes, the fabrics and construction methods, and then spending days or weeks (or more) creating big, beautiful, dresses. This is yet another interest that has been pushed aside by the demands of corporate life that I would love to get back to.
• DIY house projects: Spouse and I love to work on small projects around the house together. Or find the perfect piece of old, damaged furniture we can restore or revamp. Or design and build a piece ourselves.
• Cooking: I’d love to be able to devote time to growing my own herbs and vegetables, to sourcing local meat and food, to more thoughtfully planning meals and cooking them from scratch. We do the best we can, but dinner right now is often another thing we just try to cram in between getting home from work, wrapping up emails, homework, and evening chores.
• Adventure travel: we both travel a fair bit for work and pleasure, but I’d love to kick it up a notch with some more exotic trips. Trekking to Mount Everest basecamp. Hiking through Patagonia. Riding horses through the Mongolian steppes. Again, there is a whole wide world out there and I’ve only seen tiny pieces of it.
• Rock Climbing: I love the outdoors, I love mountains, and I love climbing things. I’ve tried rock climbing once or twice, but I would really like to get more into it. Not with the expectation that I’ll be any good at it at this stage in my life, but just for the pure joy of it.
• Music: I played cello for many years and have taken lessons on and off. Haven’t picked it up in awhile and would love to take lessons again.
• RVing: I want to rent an RV for a season and travel to as many National Parks as we can.
• Sailing: I crewed a racing sailboat one summer and caught the sailing bug. Would love to get out on the water more.
• Sitting around: So yes, I’ll admit it. There is actually is a need in my life to just sit around once in awhile. Watch tv. Read a book. Just relax. Drink wine.
• Fitness: I try to fit in a few workouts a week, but I’d love to have more time to really work on myself and my fitness. Maybe train for and run a marathon.
• And more! Book clubs, discussion groups, gardening clubs….
There is so much more on my ever-expanding list, but I’ll stop here.
What about you all? What are the things you’ll be doing once you retire? Post some ideas we can all add to our mental lists! And, hey, if your answer is that you’re one of those people that really does want to keep working, that’s cool too!