January 17, 2018

Is This Missing From Your Retirement?


You might be thinking. "nothing is missing. What are you talking about?" The short answer is a hobby or  something that engages you. Then, you might respond, "Why do I need a hobby at all? My life already full and getting busier. Who has time to take on a new commitment?"  I'm suggesting the answer is, you, if you haven't thought seriously about finding one. What exactly is a hobby? According to the dictionary it is an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation.

Two words in the definition give you a clue to its importance: pleasure or relaxation. Often I have discussed the common misconception that a retired person has nothing but free time, few obligations, and even fewer responsibilities. If you have been among the non-working for more than a short while, you know none of that is true. A satisfying retirement can be just as hectic as your working days. So, the need for something that allows you to take a break from the routine is every bit as important.

Hobbies are as varied as the people who pursue them. My father-in-law collected swizzle sticks and matchbooks. I started stamp collecting as a pre-teen and eventually moved into ham radio. Now, I am refinishing and restoring vintage tube radios from the 1940s.  Others choose woodworking, quilting, playing an instrument, gardening, mountain biking, golf, sky diving, fishing.....the list is endless. But, what makes a fulfilling hobby?

Some pick a hobby that is "practical," others do something just for the fun of it. A practical hobby would be sewing, woodworking or vegetable gardening. While it provides the pleasure or relaxation you need, it also produces something that can be used, sold, or enjoyed later. Just for the fun of it is pretty self-explanatory. Mountain biking, ballroom dancing, or most forms of collecting are taken up because the activity is enjoyed. Generally there isn't a practical use for whatever is done. Importantly, both categories have equal value. A hobby satisfies a need you have. Whether it is practical or just a lot of fun doesn't matter in the least.

A good hobby is one that often uses skills or talents that weren't fully utilized during your working career. If you spent a lot of time in front of a computer, a satisfying hobby might involve something more physical, or with different skill sets. If you wrote technical reports all day, turning out a good mystery novel might be just the ticket. On the other hand, if your day used to be filled with some form of manual work, a hobby that uses more brain than brawn could be best for you.

A new diversion can boost your creativity. The energizing aspect of a good leisure activity can prompt you to tackle something new. You learn new ways to solve problems. You face new challenges that must be dealt with differently than during other times of your life.

In most hobbies there are opportunities to meet new people who have the same interest as you. Everything from formal clubs to informal gatherings over coffee are part of many hobby activities. Problem-solving and question-asking through e-mail or telephone exchanges introduces you to someone you may never have met any other way.

Most hobbies require a serious dose of "me-time." You are intently focused on the activity or process. You shut out distractions or the needs of others for just awhile. You feed only yourself. Particularly if you are involved with other people most of the time, this solitary experience can be very pleasurable.

Showing the versatility of hobbies, the exact opposite situation may also occur. You may spend time with a spouse, child, or significant other in a way that is totally different from normal interactions. If you are both hiking a mountain pass, the experience will trigger reactions and conversations very different from those involving who takes out the trash or what's for dinner. The chance to learn more about each other can make a shared hobby a real kick.

Finding a hobby that really fits your needs takes experimentation. Unless you are lucky, you might have to try out several until something clicks. You might change hobbies over time as your needs and interests evolve, and that's OK, too. My only advice: keep searching. I went for almost 8 years without anything that would qualify as a legitimate hobby. As soon as I found what I was searching for I knew it.


What about you? Do you have something that brings you pleasure or relaxation? Have you found something that really brightens your free time? Or, are you still searching? I'm interested in learning about your hobby or your hunt for one. Please share your experiences with us.


29 comments:

  1. I sew all sorts of things. Sewing and reading are my two passions that I have pursued from the time I was four. Two newer hobbies are raising chickens and growing food. When I have surgery, I hope to get back to biking and roller skating. I dabble in all sorts of things that are only meant as short time pursuits, like making bird houses, recovering lampshades. I can and dehydrate food, enjoy needlepoint and crochet. I write short stories.

    I worry about my friend who has no hobbies except going to a Dr. Who club once a month. He has absolutely no interests beyond reading once in a while and watching tv. He is 63 and physically incapable of doing things because of knee and hip replacements. However, he did nothing earlier in life. He still works.

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    1. Your friend's situation is not good for him, as you are well aware. Being physically incapable of activity should have little to do with what he can find to stay mentally active. Since this has been his life's pattern, it will take him finding a special spark to change now.

      On the other hand your list of activities and hobbies is quite impressive. I support your mix of physical and mental activities. That is an excellent approach to staying vibrant. I don't think I've ever known someone who recovers lampshades, but I have seen several in my life that could have used your touch!

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    2. I had chickens until a few months ago and will soon, again. He like chickens and until he could not, he helped changing their bedding in the Rubbermaid tubs that were their homes. He did mow my yard and his, but can do neither now. Thirty years ago, he pulled up all the shrubs in front of his house because he did not want to trim them. He had the trees cut down so he would not have to rake leaves and pine straw. The place is barren.

      He is an industrial engineer and I am a teacher with two BAs and a MA. However, I always had a creative side and athletic side. He has no creative bent or physical talents, not even a bike, ever, since he was a child. He cannot even use a hammer because he never did. However, I can. He is 63 and I am 71.

      I take old lampshades and strip to the frames. Sometimes, I buy new shades. They are very pretty and expensive.

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  2. In my late forties I started running and worked my way up to the marathon.At 68 I am still running but in 2005 I added biking and over the years my wife and I bicycled all over the USA and Canada.A few years ago I added swimming to be able to do a sprint triathlon.Trying to master swimming was and still is the biggest challenge!After I retired my wife found me a couple of new hobbies:doing the laundry dishes and cooking.And you know what ,I still have lots of time to do volunteer work and watch my favourite sport soccer.Ritirement is as good as it can get.Great post,Bob!

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    1. You are my age, and are physically quite a bit more active than me - good for you.

      Ha, and congrats to your wife for teaching you a few new skills. In that regard you and I are twins.

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  3. I am fortunate in that I have always enjoyed working out all my life. We are about five weeks into our three month winter travels, and I have been lucky to be able to exercise every day in the pre-dawn hours (run six miles one day, lift weights the next, and repeat). Reading has been a passion all my life, and in retirement I have been able to tackle all the major work around the house myself that takes days to complete in many cases. I also live in a retirement community that produces some of the best older age basketball and softball teams in the country. Down the road I may go back to basketball, which was a passion of mine for much of my life, but for now I am probably too busy. Looking forward to hearing other replies to your post, Bob.

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    1. Not one to go quietly into the night, are you Chuck! I have a back patio/sprinkler problem that will require some serious digging and rearranging over the next month or so. Will I get it done, or end up calling in a younger professional? Stand by!

      I enjoy posts like this because of the variety of hobbies and activities folks write about.

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  4. My social group is very small and I am enjoying that. My husband is a wood worker and a reader. Vegetable garden and canning are my obsession. This winter, with the cold, my soups have been stretching into cooking for a homeless group. I am hoping to work with farmers next year on "second harvests". Expanding into the farmer world may be a real stretch for me. We shall see. I do believe that there are quiet times in life and I am enjoying this one.

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    1. Except for our family and small group at church, my social group is basically, Betty. There are some friends who are seasonal visitors or former work associates who I see a few times a year, but otherwise we are quite content to enjoy each other's company.

      We start the day reading the Bible together and then the newspaper. But, each of us have our own activities and interests that keep us busy but separate until dinner time.

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  5. My dad was a history teacher, and it seems that has rubbed off on me, since some of my interests or hobbies are history-related or at least "throwbacks". I will soon be joining the local historical society, and I have modest collections of vintage safety razors and fountain pens, both of which I enjoy learning about. My wife and I enjoy cooking and trying new foods at home and at restaurants. I also enjoy writing in various forms and hope to develop that further. On the physical side, I love to golf (when there is not a foot of snow on the ground!) and we have taken up badminton. Hopefully that will be at least a start in keeping me busy through this wonderful journey.

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    1. You have made a good start. Collecting vintage safety razors is a new one for me. Fountain pens can be so beautiful; I have seen collections at various stores in Las Vegas. A friend of mine did collect some gorgeous ones years ago.

      Now that badminton is an official sport at the summer Olympics, you may have opened up a whole new path to fame and glory.

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  6. "Life is a banquet, but so many are starving!" I've always had multiple interests that I circle through, set aside, go back to, as I please. I have always been a avid reader and make sure to be reading lots of fiction but also at least one book about history or politics each month, to educate myself on stuff I seem to have missed in school! I love card and collage making,dabbling in watercolor, writing, playing cards, astrology, studying nature, hiking, and cooking. What's awesome in retirement is I now have all the time I want to pursue all of these things!! I think that's why travel is not as big a deal as we thought it would be, both Ken and I are busy with hobbies and interests we love.. although we have two road trips on the books soon... I also love reading about other readers' interests!

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    1. Yes, your home shouts "creativity lives here."

      I have discovered a new, free, audiobook site that I am enjoying listening to in the evening or while doing my 30 minute walk. Though I prefer holding a book in my hand, there are times having something read to me is a nice change.

      I understand being so involved that travel has to be squeezed in. Since we watch our daughter's dog so often, our travel happens when she is in town to watch her dog and ours.

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  7. Hi Bob! There is something about the word "hobby" that trivilizes it don't you think? It makes it sound as those it is just something to do to fill the time. Quite the contrary in my opinion. I've been listening to some podcasts lately about pursuing our "dharma" or true purpose and how that stays with us regardless of of our age. Plus, it changes as we change. But what's so very important is that we find those things that give our life meaning and purpose and that is what makes them so important. Good for you for finding what wakes you up in the morning with a smile on your face. ~Kathy

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    1. Hobby is kind of an old fashioned word but sometimes "passion" strikes me as too much, too. So, activities and interests may be best.

      I am comfortable with the reality of my interests changing over time. Sticking with one or two things is great for many folks, but I would get bored I'm afraid.

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    2. I like the the term "avocation." Not a job, but still a calling.

      My problem is I am interested in too many things, and my house and garage show the evidence. I sometimes envy people who have one hobby as a "single obsession." They often seem more relaxed and they certainly have cleaner garages. I am all over the place, moving from interest to interest. I have no idea what boredom is. A good problem to have, I guess.

      Rick in Oregon

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    3. Rick,I also have a half a dozen avocations I circle through--I could never be happy doing ONE THING! So enjoy your variety!!!! Yes,I have piles of messes too.. so what!! I always say a too-neat house is the sign of someone with not enough to do!!

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  8. I've been swamped with writing this past year and I'm looking forward to getting back into my art. Both are more than a 'hobby' but they are what keeps me sane and give me joy. I do need to exercise more, though.
    b

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    1. Well, so far this winter you could take over the snow shoveling I see Dave doing on Facebook!

      I love the various gift card sets I have bought from you over the years. You are a talented artist.

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    2. I started snow skiing as a young adult as a fun activity to do with my wife and friends. We skied every year and loved going to the mountains. When I retired I parlayed that hobby into a wonderful play job. I taught kids to ski every winter for five years and had a ball. I got into great shape. I eventually retired from that but still ski 20 days or so each winter. I love the clear air and cold crisp mornings after fresh snow.

      Oh ya. About 70% of my friends are over 70 and ski more than me and most of them have at least one steel knee or hip. So those are not a good excuse to not get out and have fun.

      I also have been a life long boater. We have a 23 foot Maxum sport boat now that we use all summer. It is just great fun to get out on the water.

      We also travel a lot. We try to do at least one foreign vacation trip each year. Plus we keep homes in Phoenix and Lake Tahoe. So there is constant work and chores to keep them clean and working well.

      So yes retired life is fun and there are lots of hobbies. Enjoy.

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    3. Good for you! Skiing with an artificial joint...why not.

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  9. Many years ago I woke up one morning and quite unexpectedly said I needed to make quilts. It was an overnight passion for me. I have since made a quilt for all close family members and hope it will be some small way a part of me can live on after I am gone. I have yet to make a quilt for myself or my husband so I am finally working on that now. Aside from that I have an on and off hobby of scanning past family photos. I've scanned over ten years worth but that is just the tip of the iceberg! I enjoy following a variety of blogs including quite a few from Europe. It is fun to read of the every day lives of those in other countries. As Maya Angelou said: "We are all more alike than different." I am just beginning to work on genealogy and can see that will keep me as busy as I would like it too. There are many other hobbies I would like to try such as art doll making and other similar crafty things. But now that I am retired there is just not enough hours in each day! What a surprise!

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    1. A friend of ours makes beautiful quilts. They are quite stunning.

      WE have tens of thousands of old analog photos to scan. I have found a company that will do it for a reasonable fee and get it down in a week instead of years if we did it ourself. The first step will be to cut down the number of photos by eliminating duplicates and those not worth saving.

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  10. What brightens my day & gives me pleasure? Reading and writing are on the list. Cooking & eating are two of my favorite things. I enjoy making a weekly menu, trying new recipes & reading recipe books, having friends & family for meals. Walking is a two-for-one activity that provides for exercise, fresh air & meditation. Gardening & yard maintenance fill my time in off-winter months. Vegetable gardening and preserving is another two-for-one activity that provides exercise, fresh air & homegrown food. I appreciate music so host Home Routes concerts, attend concerts & listen to favorite radio programs. I've lost track of time while scrapbooking. Something new I want to pursue is kayaking. It's an activity I get lost in the few times I've done it. Like Madeline says, life is a banquet.

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    1. ...and you have set a full table, Mona! Your list of activities is really inspiring and has something for everyone. In fact, I am about to get on my bike and pedal for a few miles!

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  11. Loved the post AND the comments! How we choose to spend our time, what ignites our passion and captures our attention, reveals something about our unique selves. It's fun to see the variety of things that people claim as hobbies.

    Hmm, for me, let's see. I'm not sure I would call it a hobby, but I do spend a lot of time with martial arts. I am distinctly lacking in artistic talents of any kind (my sister kept all that for herself and is a wonderful artist!), and I definitely don't have Betty's creativity and skills, so I had to look elsewhere for my passion.

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    1. You should add writing to your list of passions!

      Yes, it is instructive to see the tremendous variety of ways folks express themselves.

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  12. Hi Bob.
    I have found writing letters to be my thing. The flow of ink on page looping and curving is slow enough to make the effort mindful and thoughts begin to slow, too, as the focus becomes one thing at a time. When the letter is done, I draw art on the envelope. If the recipient is a camper, for instance, their address might be placed on a drawing of a vintage trailer, or a bird watcher's address may be scrolling from a bird's beak as in song. Also, if the stamp has flowers I may extend the picture down the side of the envelope with leaves and vines. It's great fun, meditative, creative, maintains my penmanship and brings pleasure to whoever recieves it. Sometimes I enclose a specialty tea bag or an origami as an added surprise. It also costs next to nothing. This was a pleasant find after exploring many lists of what I might like to do as a hobby. It was difficult particularly because I had done so many hobbies over the years and wanted something new. It also suits my minimalist nature. Besides, at some point writing with pen in hand will be a lost art. I am preserving history!

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  13. Hi Bob.
    I have found writing letters to be my thing. The flow of ink on page looping and curving is slow enough to make the effort mindful and thoughts begin to slow, too, as the focus becomes one thing at a time. When the letter is done, I draw art on the envelope. If the recipient is a camper, for instance, their address might be placed on a drawing of a vintage trailer, or a bird watcher's address may be scrolling from a bird's beak as in song. Also, if the stamp has flowers I may extend the picture down the side of the envelope with leaves and vines. It's great fun, meditative, creative, maintains my penmanship and brings pleasure to whoever recieves it. Sometimes I enclose a specialty tea bag or an origami as an added surprise. It also costs next to nothing. This was a pleasant find after exploring many lists of what I might like to do as a hobby. It was difficult particularly because I had done so many hobbies over the years and wanted something new. It also suits my minimalist nature. Besides, at some point writing with pen in hand will be a lost art. I am preserving history!

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