It seems like from the moment we enter the workforce we’re counting the days until retirement. We’re doing mental math to make sure our savings will be enough for when we reach that magical age and we get to bow out — removing ourselves from the demands of the daily grind.
In stark contrast, we spend much of our time bemoaning getting older, dreading the aging process, and having lively conversation about everything we need to accomplish before we’re forced to slow down. We put limits on the elderly and associate getting older with a decrease in capability.
While the eventual effects of aging are inescapable and retirement is certainly worth looking forward to, our society holds these two ideals in dissonance, trying to provide for both at the same time. In an effort to be supportive or safe, we limit the opportunities available to our elders, whether physically or mentally, by putting them in a box of what they can and can’t do.
If you’re on the cusp of retirement (or recently retired), be excited — you have legitimate freedom to do what you want and the wisdom to know what that is. Thanks to recent medical advancements, staying on top of your health in order to make that happen is only becoming easier. Telehealth allows you to contact your provider from almost anywhere in the world, wearable medical devices help track and manage symptoms like heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar, and common issues like cataracts or degeneration no longer need to slow you down thanks to Lasik.
Use everything at your disposal to create a fulfilling lifestyle. In this article, we discuss a handful of ways to cultivate a fulfilling lifestyle through retirement using different physical and intellectual resources. Keep your mind sharp and your body moving, explore new things that you’ve always wondered about, and live it up. You deserve it after all those years of work. Well, you deserve it regardless, but it’s a little sweeter after so many years of the daily grind.
Seek Intellectual Challenges
For some individuals, an active mind can be as rewarding as an active body. Though studies have shown being physically active can improve a person’s intellectual capabilities in both the short and long term, being physically active isn’t the best choice for every aging individual. If you prefer to flex your brain instead of your muscles, or have physical limitations, consider these activities for a challenging and fulfilling experience.
Write What You Know
Taking on a writing project is a great way to keep your memory sharp and create a legacy at the same time. You might have always nurtured a love of fiction writing or a secret desire to write a poetry anthology — now is your chance!
If fiction isn’t your thing, consider writing a memoir, autobiography, or an authoritative text in your area of expertise. Future generations will love having an intimate portrayal of your life, and the research involved in putting together a book (even if it’s just finding out where childhood friends ended up) is a worthwhile pursuit.
Take a Class
Retirement may seem nice at first, but you might find yourself bored and restless before you know it. If you don’t feel intellectually ready to leave the workforce, consider going back to school. You may find that auditing classes is enough to satisfy you, or you could end up with a fulfilling “second career.”
If you find yourself longing for the sense of accomplishment that came along with work projects, look for ways to help out in the community that use skills you honed at work. Or, add on to those skills by going back to school. Look into classes at local colleges or online universities to see what tickles your fancy. Just auditing classes that look interesting can prove to be challenging and satisfying.
Start a Creative Hobby
Is there something you’ve always wanted to learn about, but didn’t have the time available? Local community centers often have courses available to kickstart a new hobby, like metalworking, jewelry making, or painting. Many people enjoy the process and satisfaction that comes with creating something all their own. If you’re so inclined, you can even monetize your hobby by selling what you make.
Make Movement a Priority
Of course, always consult your physician before starting a new exercise program, as some activities may not be suitable for those with specific medical concerns. Though their accuracy has been disputed, fitness trackers and other remote monitoring devices can help you keep track of your heart rate and activity level, and even provide reminders for when it’s gym time.
One of the perks of no longer being trapped in an office building all day (if that’s the type of job you had) is the opportunity to spend time exploring the outdoors. Sunny days are perfect for soaking up mood-boosting vitamin D and seeing new sights. Hiking and nature walks are a great way to get outside without inviting excessive stress. Hikes range in difficulty and are often marked or described in ways that make informed decisions easy.
If you enjoy being in nature and helping out those around you, you should consider being a park host at a local campground. RV camping can offer a surprising amount of luxury, and you get the added benefit of helping campers and taking care of parks. These jobs can be seasonal or full-time depending on where you live, and you’ll be making some extra money to help cover bills or fund hobbies.
Being outside isn’t the only option for staying physically active, and if you live in an area with harsh winters, being outside isn’t always practical. Finding a community center or gym with structured physical activity makes staying active easier when it’s crummy outside. If you have friends to try new classes with or to act as accountability partners, regularly making it to the gym will be less of a chore.
Weight training is incredibly beneficial throughout the aging process. Lifting weights not only helps to counteract the natural atrophic effects of aging but also improves balance and positively stresses the skeleton. By keeping bones weight bearing, the tissue remodels itself to be stronger and less prone to damage.
If high-impact or weight-bearing exercise isn’t a good option for you, there are still plenty of ways to remain active. Swimming is a non-weight-bearing workout for the whole body that increases muscle tone and endurance, as well as promoting good cardiovascular health. Yoga is also a wonderful option that helps with joint flexibility, core strength, and overall balance.
**Finding What’s Right for You
Being physically and mentally active are two important aspects of staying fulfilled through transitional periods in your life. Moving into retirement is a huge change, and even though there’s freedom, there’s also uncertainty.
You may find yourself missing work or wishing you had more purpose. Starting a project or finding a new hobby is great for combatting those feelings. Rather than slowing down and stopping, seize the opportunity to learn new things and make the most of your free time. Utilize your community to get involved in physical and mental activities so that you stay active, reactive, and fulfilled.