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Retirement Boredom: Will It Happen To You?

Retirement Boredom: Will It Happen To You?

By Avi Mizrahi  

For many people, the first six to eight months of retirement can be a busy time.  A joyous time.  It’s often characterized as the honeymoon phase of retirement.  Retirement boredom is not something that’s top of mind for most people when they first transition to retirement life.  It’s definitely a time to ‘play’ once again.

However, after the dream trips, a much smaller to-do list, and the realities of retirement life become clearer, it’s not uncommon for new retirees to question what they’ll do with their time for the next 20-30 years in order to maximize their personal fulfilment.

 Do you know what you want to achieve in the first 5, or even 10, years of your retirement?

 It’s not an easy question to answer.  After all, we enter this new stage in life with a financial plan, a bucket list, and some pretty high Woman on Beachexpectations for how we want to feel.  In my experience, the missing piece is understanding which activities are best suited for achieving your expectations.  Spending several weeks considering your options is a great start.  Unfortunately, if you spin your wheels for too long, your risk for experiencing retirement boredom is greatly increased.

 A Simple Approach To Overcome Retirement Boredom.

Finding meaningful activities in your city during is not as daunting as you might think.  With a positive attitude and this simple approach, you can easily overcome retirement boredom, without putting your retirement financial plan at risk.

We’ve put together five practical steps to help you prepare and take action.  Here’s what you need to do to get started:

 Step 1: Figure out what you’d like to do.

Some people struggle to figure out how they would like to spend their days once they retire from their careers.  For others, the wide array of choices may be a bit overwhelming.

Many new retirees tend to just pick activities and go with the flow, and for some people, this approach may work.  However, in my experience with people who have been retired for a few years, randomly selecting activities often results in feelings of frustration and discouragement. The primary pain point for them: the chosen activity did not live up to expectations, and left participants feeling unsatisfied.

Here’s a quick and easy fix: let’s think differently about your approach.

  • First: Find a quiet room, bring a notebook and pen along with you.
  • Second: Think about the roles you’ve had in your career and jot down aspects of your work life that have excited you.  What types of tasks energize you at work?  What will you miss from work if you were to step away tomorrow? Is it the thrill of working on a team?  Is it solving tough problems? Don’t worry about self-editing at this point.  Just create a list.
  • Third: Once you are happy with your list, rank the three items that you feel the most strongly about.

By the way, you can do this exercise even if you are STILL WORKING.  There is no time like the present to create a plan for your time in retirement and reduce the risk for retirement boredom.

MH900398831Step 2: Find your ‘Why’.

‘Why’ is probably one of the most powerful words in the English language.  Have you ever noticed that young kids use it all the time?  For some reason, we stop asking ‘why’ as we get older.  Let’s get back to this innocent, yet impactful word.

A productive approach that I use with my clients is to ask “why” not once, not twice, but as many as FIVE times!  It is only after peeling back the layers that we get down to the core reasons for doing something.

To get started, figure out your why by revisiting your top three items in Step 1.   Only this time, ask yourself why FIVE times.

For example, if you noted that you enjoy solving problems, your list may look like this:

  • Why 1: I enjoy solving problems.  Why do you enjoy this?
  • Why 2: To have something to do.  Why do you want to have something to do?
  • Why 3: So that I am not bored when I retire.  Why do you think you’ll be bored?
  • Why 4: I think I’ll miss the challenge of working in teams and on projects that create something tangible. Why is that important to you?
  • Why 5: When working on a team project, I feel like I am part of something bigger than myself.  Why do you feel this way?

Core ‘Why’: I thoroughly enjoy helping others out.

Result: this person clearly likes working in a team environment, on projects that create something, for an organization that supports a worthwhile cause.  Retirement boredom could kick in if they didn’t know this about themselves.

Now that we know the ‘why’, it becomes much easier to move on to the next step.

Before you proceed, complete the above exercise for your top answers in Step 1.

GoalsStep 3: Have a goal.

At this point, you’ve generated a ranked list of things you enjoy along with the emotions you want to experience – your why.  Now comes the fun part.  Setting goals.  It’s hard to suffer from retirement boredom when you are striving to achieve your personal retirement goals.

 “Without an idea of where you are headed, how will you know that you’ve arrived? “

 A simple way to set a high level goal for yourself based on the priorities you have on your list is to ask yourself what impact you want to have.  Is it to learn a new skill?  Is it to help new residents get acclimated to life in your city?

Get creative.  Set a goal to help you figure out what success looks like.  But, don’t over think it…this should be fun.

Imagine, for example, that you want to help a child learn to enjoy reading because it makes you feel good to help kids.  You may set a goal to help five kids at a local elementary school.  But how will you do this?  Proceed directly to Step 4.

 Step 4: Brainstorm activities & organizations.

This is my favourite step in the process and my clients love it too.  We will now plan out how you will attempt to accomplish your goal.

Start by brainstorming a list of activities.  If you get stuck, visit the MBC Activity Hub to get some ideas.  There is often a variety of activities that will help you achieve your goals and experience the positive feelings outlined in Step 2.  The problem is, people often start here without taking the time to work through Steps 1-3 above.  The result, is a random list of activities that often disappoint because they don’t serve any of your personal goals.

Here’s the challenge, though.  You will likely come up with several activities, some very different from each other.  Your challenge will be to pick one!  Keep the others.  You may refer to them at a later date.  Kick retirement boredom to the curb with a robust activity list.

 Step 5: Take action!

Now the fun begins.  Don’t just sit there with your beautiful list.  Reset your retirement beliefs and reduce the likelihood that retirement boredom will happen to you.  Get out outside and make something happen!  Nobody else can do it for you.  Not your spouse.  Not your friends. Not even your kids.

So, reach out to the organizations you picked in Step 4 and find out what you need to do to get involved. Once you’ve tried out one activity a few times, you can determine if it’s meeting your needs. If so, keep at it.  If not, try another activity from your list.  The beauty here is that you know your Why and you have set a high level Goal.  Remember, there are different activities that will enable you to reach your goals.

At the end of this process, create an image of what success will look and feel like to you.  You can tear one from a magazine, print one from the internet, or if you’re artistic, sketch it out. Put it somewhere in your home where you can see it daily.  This way, you will have a visual reminder of where you want to go and stay motivated along your journey.   

Also, don’t keep your plans locked inside you: tell your family and friends what you’re up to.  Share your goals with them.  You’ll be surprised what kind of support you’ll receive.

So, there you have it.  A step-by-step process to help you find fun and fulfilling activities that are matched to your personal goals.  When the weather won’t allow you to “play” outside, you now have a plan to ensure that you have a satisfying and productive retirement.

Remember, only you can create the experience you desire for your retirement. 

Avi Mizrahi is the Co-Founder & Chief Lifestyle Facilitator for the Toronto based My Best Chapter.  With deep experience centred on strategy & planning he has developed a keen ability to help people and teams to envision desired results and to create and execute plans to achieve those results. Avi started My Best Chapter after seeing firsthand and researching the “The Retirement Challenge”. You can reach Avi at amizrahi@mybestchapter.ca or follow him on Twitter at @mybestchapter.

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