April 18, 2012

Rekindling Your Creative Spark During Retirement

Angelita Williams has provided the following guest post on a subject that is a requirement for a satisfying retirement: keeping your mind active and your creative juices flowing.

After years of tedious and difficult work in the same career  or job field, our capacity for creativity can diminish. This is not to say that doing the same type of work throughout your whole life ruins your creative edge, it's just likely that your creativity becomes narrowed and specialized to your specific area of work and thinking.

Creativity is one of the most powerful tools we as human being possess. The power to think and create beyond our own immediate knowledge and existence is a very useful and invigorating thing. One of the luxuries that retirement can offer is the time and inspiration needed to rekindle your creative state of mind. While it can be a challenge to step into the world and mindset of creativity again, it can also be one of the most rewarding activities you have. There are many ways to nurture and develop your creativity after retirement. Here are three tips to help stoke the creative fire that glows in your newly retired (!) brain.

See and Do New Things

It is only through experiencing new things that we can engage in new avenues of creative thinking. Take on new experiences, visit new places, try things you've never done before—these things can help to spark some new line of thought that only that new sensation can inspire.

Creativity comes from inspiration. Find things that you never thought of doing and do them. Painting, snorkeling, travel, reading a new genre, writing, watching foreign films, or listening to different types of music are activities and experiences that can inspire some new way of seeing your surroundings.

If coming up with new things to do is a challenge, going back to things and places from your past can be a good place to start. Revisit things that used to inspire and motivate you that you lost the time or place for in the working world. By revisiting these old interests and passions, you can rediscover what about those things inspired your creative energy. (Bob says, guitar playing!)

Expand Your Education

Another great way to create new experiences is by expanding your mind and education. While taking on more educational pursuits as a retiree may seem odd, there are many avenues for extended education that are reasonable for retirees to seek. Things like online learning and open courseware offer a wonderful and easy way to access knowledge without spending significant chunks of your retirement change. Take classes on a subject you know nothing about. Study a new language. Learn a new skill.

Education and learning are two of the best ways to expand your mind and broaden your ability to think creatively. Retirement provides for the perfect opportunity to become a lifelong learner. Take the opportunity you have to explore subjects and topics you thought you never had any interest in. You are bound to run into things that you really don't like or aren't interested in, but even these things can be some of the best ways to unlock creativity.

Observe Creativity in Others

Another great way to tap into your long lost creative pathways is by observing other individuals and their creativity. Submerging yourself in their world of creativity is bound to arouse some creative juices of your own. Spend time  with creative people—writers, artists, musicians—and take in their work and their spirit. While this may sound a bit hard to accomplish, it really is a great way to awaken your creativity.

What many people fail to realize (or at least fail to reveal) is that much of our creativity comes from seeing the creativity of others and mimicking it. Finding inspiration from the creative masters is just another method for tapping into your own more original ideas. Retirement provides for an opportunity to revisit those artists and individuals who inspired your creativity in the past. Revisit the classics and attempt to find new guides and mentors. Very few things in the world today are actually original. Take advantage of the creative minds around you in order to really tap into your own creative potential.

This guest post is contributed by Angelita Williams, who writes on the topics of online courses. She welcomes your comments at her email: angelita.williams7@gmail.com.

I will add I completely agree with Angelita on the importance of creativity in helping you build a satisfying retirement that is happy and complete. Creativity can mean writing a blog or a book, but it can also mean cooking a great meal out of leftovers, growing a few pretty plants in pots in your dining room window, or making a scrapbook of dinosaur pictures for your grandson. Creativity is at the core of what human beings are. Don't sell yourself short. You are creative.


  1. And I would add, don't forget to make a habit out of it. That way it becomes something you do everyday and becomes part of who you are.

    1. Habitual creativity..sounds a little strange when you say it, but you are absolutely right, Roberta. It is just like the cliché "practice makes perfect."

  2. Great ideas here Bob, useful even for us working stiffs! I think it's important for all of us to realize that creativity doesn't have to mean in the classic sense of being an artist or crafter. Anything that we do that stimulates our minds and keeps us interested can be considered creative. I've been reading a lot lately about finding things to do that just "flow" for you, meaning the things that you get so absorbed in that you don't even notice the time passing. This article includes some good suggestions and reminds me that I don't have to love everything I try.

    1. Creativity has taken on a meaning that is too restrictive. Angelita makes the important point that virtually anything you do can show your creativity. And, you you note, Cindy, trying doesn't have to equal liking. Some things just won't fit for you. But, trying is the key.

  3. I wholeheartedly agree with this perspective! I never want to stop learning.

    1. Learning has no finish line...unless you draw one!

  4. I've always said that my sister, who is a very talented artist, got all the creative talent in the family. But as I've gotten older, I see that I have my own little areas of creativity. And now that I'm retired, I love the idea of this old dog learning some new tricks. I've been studying Chinese the last few years, for example. And I've taken up a paper crafting hobby. As an older learner, I'm much less concerned about looking foolish, or asking questions, or achieving some degree of success. It's all about having fun.

    1. That's the beauty of creativity. I think it is pretty creative to put some colorful plants in an old wagon in the backyard, while you learn Chinese!


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