Feature Stories

A Hobby Adds Excitement to Retired Life

Everyone can get stuck in a rut sometimes. It happened to me quite a bit when I was working for a living. I let my job get to me more than I care to admit. When I retired three years ago, I immediately went into a little bit of a shock over how much free time I had, and I still revel in the complete freedom retired life has given me. But I’ve also heard from people who find themselves a little bored in their post-working life. They often ask me about the best way to add a little excitement to their life and one of the first questions I ask is whether or not they have any hobbies. A majority of these people say they don’t have a hobby or, if they do, they’ve gotten bored with that as well. I strongly believe that the right hobby can make all the difference in the excitement level you’re feeling in retirement. Do you look forward to each day or do you just stay in bed because there’s nothing worth getting out of bed for. The right hobby can be life changing and you don’t have to limit yourself to just one.

The change that can come over a person when they find a new interest or passion is remarkable. If you’ve never experienced this personally or seen it in someone else, you’re missing out on a tremendous amount of joy, excitement and the thrill of accomplishing goals that you’ve set for yourself. My wife was so busy throughout her life with raising our children and teaching in the challenging field of special education, she had little time to devote to anything that would qualify as a hobby. But she did have one thing in the back of her mind that she wanted to try: woodworking. She loved the craft of furniture making and admired some of the pieces we had seen in stores or people’s homes and always thought that it might be fun to try. As we looked at some of the simpler pieces, she was thinking ahead and saying to herself: “I bet I can make something like that.”

As we got closer to retirement, she would find a couple of tools under the Christmas tree that were marked for later use. A subscription to a woodworking magazine whet her appetite and got her to take a night course on power tools that was offered by the high school. After one class she was hooked. This was going to be her retirement hobby and she couldn’t wait to get started.

She started slowly with a simple plant stand and moved on to bigger ones that would hold her summer herbs and she has gotten better with each project.It is wonderful to see her smile after each completed piece. Using designs that she finds online, she adapts each one until it is a customized piece. Part of the enjoyment is tweaking the basic drawing to get it to be precisely what she wants in both size and functionality. In just three months the improvement has been remarkable. The pictures she posts get rave reviews from her friends and requests for workshop lessons. She has more than filled her days– she has created a whole new pastime.

That’s the magic of retirement. Too many people take this wonderful time of their life for granted and it’s so easy to fall into a rut where life becomes ordinary and repetitive. There are many possibilities to tap into your own creativity and pursue a long-forgotten desire. One of our friends just completed his first effort at a screenplay and found it to be one of the most fulfilling things he has ever done. This is someone who teaches music for a living but always had it in the back of his mind that he wanted to write a play, a book or a novel. He didn’t do it for the money but for a bigger reason: he had a desire and a dream. If you have even the slightest inkling of doing something new, you owe it to yourself to try it. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks – do it for you. The truth is that it isn’t what undertake or even what you create with whatever activity you’re considering – it’s what you become and how you grow during the process.

For those who would like to liven up their social life, a hobby can be a great way to expand your contacts by meeting new people with similar interests. Although the pandemic and social distancing has put a damper on some of these activities, let’s be optimistic and get ready for when the world opens up again. Hopefully, that will be soon. In the meantime, you can become a new person who has an exciting new chapter in their life by pursuing a new hobby. Whether it’s writing, painting, quilting or auto repair, the desire to learn more will challenge you in a way that will add excitement to your life and give you more satisfaction than you ever thought possible. But you have to take the first step and the best time to do that is right now! It’s time to Enjoy Retired Life.

 James Conner retired from Corporate America in 2017. He lives in upstate New York and is the owner of the website EnjoyRetiredLife.com.  He can be reached jconner@EnjoyRetiredLife.com.

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