Usually, when people plan to retire, they spend most of their time thinking about how much money they need to survive, feeling that it's unnecessary to think about other issues. After a year or less in retirement, those same people are often worried more about all the hours they have to fill than they are about money. They also begin to worry about other changes that will happen to them.
Right now you may be feeling just that way, assured you have a long list of activities waiting for your retirement. Boredom, you feel, will not be a problem for you in retirement. All the activities you are unable to start or finish while you're working are on a list. Perhaps you should question whether those are really things that you want to avoid? People usually find time to do activities that are important to them.
If you retire in your sixties, you may have 25 percent of your adult life ahead of you. It is important to choose activities that will continue to give your life meaning and purpose.
There are three basic ideas to keep in mind while you are deciding how to use your free time - activity, diversity and connection with others.
Three Basic Ideas for Using Free Time
Activity: Activity is a very personal issue. What may seem like a lot of activity to one person may be very little to someone else. Do you prefer group activities that are social or service in nature? Would you rather take part in recreation or educational activities? Volunteer work and paid work can give you a great deal of satisfaction if you're doing something that is personally important.
Diversity: In creating your leisure plan, it's important to have diversity. Diversity also includes conditions like cost, climate, equipment, other people, special skills, and time. For instance, you may like your job best when it has a lot of variety or change. You'll want to create lots of activities in your retirement to give you change. Or, you may like your job best when you have a chance to learn something new. A chance to learn something new in retirement will be important to you.
Connection: The last idea to consider is connection; strong ties between you and others. People play very important parts in our day-to-day lives. People share both our good and bad times. Think about the people you've worked with. Consider how many personal things you've shared with a co-worker over a cup of coffee. The common interest between people is what keeps them joined to each other. If you want to stay close to co-workers after you retire, decide what common interests you share outside the work place. If there are none, use the time before retirement to create them. This approach applies to all the people you care about - family, friends, co-workers, or neighbors. When you choose activities for retirement, find ways to include or keep in touch with those important people in your life. Boredom or loneliness can be avoided by keeping or creating contact with a wide variety of people.
Supporting a Healthy Lifestyle
It's surprising how many people have a lifestyle that can lead to poor health. Many of us are overweight, don't get enough exercise, eat an unbalanced diet, or smoke. Recent American Cancer Society figures suggest that 70 percent of cancer conditions are connected to diet, alcohol and tobacco.
Doctors estimate that 50 to 90 percent of our health is directly related to lifestyle choices. Since those choices are yours, it is not too late to make changes that can dramatically improve your health. Prevention saves lives, improves the quality of life, and can save money.
Nutrition: Most experts agree that nutrition is a factor in the aging process, although it is not really clear why. Good nutrition and calorie control are important elements in good health. A low fat, high fiber diet lowers the incidence of diabetes, tooth decay, stroke, high blood pressure, heart disease, and some forms of cancer. Diet can also play an important part in maintaining one's mental health. Memory loss, depression and confusion in old age are often a result of poor diet.
Many people discover that their eating patterns change in retirement. These changes are often the result of physical changes. In later years, the amount of body fat increases. Because your body will have more body fat, you will need to eat fewer calories
Stress: Everything that happens to you, positive or negative, results in some amount of stress. It may be a major life event or a minor hassle. How you manage stress has a direct relationship to how much enjoyment you get from life. Transition to retirement may last a year or two. It is a particularly stressful time. A good pre-retirement plan will include ways for you to reduce the stress that normally goes with such a complete change of lifestyle.
Only 30 percent of those over 65 years old are getting enough exercise. There are two kinds of exercise: aerobic exercise and everything else. Aerobic exercise is cardiovascular conditioning in which the heart rate is raised to a targeted level and kept there for 20 to 40 minutes.
Activities that bring conditioning benefits use the long muscles of the body, which are in the legs, arms and trunk, in a rhythmic way. This type of conditioning strengthens the heart and makes it more efficient. To reach top fitness, exercise at 60 to 75 percent of maximum heart rate for at least 20 minutes at a time at least three times a week.