You may think that, because you are retired, you no longer need to make New Year's resolutions and plans for self-improvement. But, this is not your grandmother's retirement, and no longer are we expected to spend our "golden years" sitting in rockers on the porch.
Not that sitting on the porch is a bad thing to do, especially if you are engaging in conversation with friends or loved ones, practicing a new skill or reading, on either a paper book or a device.
The fact that people are living longer, and enjoying good health longer, means that retirement can be an exciting time, and New Year's resolutions can help you make the most of that time. If you retire at 62, you may have another 30 years (or more) left to enjoy life.
Here are 10 New Year's resolutions for today's retirees:
- Learn something new. The old adage "you're never too old to learn" has never been more true. Learning a new skill exercises your brain and it feeds your soul. You can study a new language, learn to plan an instrument, begin to draw and paint, start making things with your hands, improve your cooking, learn to dance – this is the time to try something you've always wanted to learn.
- Keep in touch (or get in touch) with old friends. It's easy to lose touch with friends during the years in which you're struggling to keep up with child-care and work obligations. Now that you're free of those chores, take advantage of your newfound time to reconnect with people you enjoyed spending time with in the past. Facebook makes it easy to find old friends, but it's not the only way to connect. Call, send greeting cards, set up lunches and even travel to catch up with your college roommates or your former co-workers.
- Give back. There are many, many people who could use your time and your help. Those may be people in your own life who need help with daily chores, or support while recovering from an illness, or rides to chemotherapy. Or, they may be children in your community who need people to work with them on reading and math, orphaned kittens who need bottle feeding or homeless people who rely on free meals provided by volunteers. Evaluate your interests and your skills, and then look for a place where you can make a difference.
- Keep up with technology. Too many people give up on learning new technology when they leave the workplace, and that can be a shame. Think of the joy you get from Facetime with your grandchildren or the usefulness of the GPS function on your phone. Most public libraries offer free classes on how to use computers and smartphones.
- Exercise every day. We all know older people who run marathons, and older people who can barely get up from their chairs. While some maladies are unavoidable, staying fit pays enormous dividends for most people. Options for staying fit are limitless, from tennis to yoga to senior aerobics classes to dancing or walking, alone or with a friend. Strength training is also important to retain muscle mass. If you don't want to go to a gym or a senior center, check out workout videos on YouTube or design your own program at home.
- Keep an eye on your money. Many people worry about running out of money in retirement. There are steps you can take to make your money last longer. One of those is to create a budget to make sure you are living within your means. For some people, working part-time is the answer. Be on guard against scams and other nefarious schemes to rob you of your money. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don't sign up for any investments or major expenditures without taking the time to research and consult friends and advisors.
- Make friends with younger people – or older people. It's easy to spend all our time surrounded by our peers, people who are at the same time of life. But it's interesting and sometimes eye-opening to spend time with people who are not like us – people young enough to be our children or old enough to be our parents. You can make friends of all ages through work, volunteer activities, political activism or hobbies.
- Remember your children and grandchildren have their own lives. It's great to have more time to spend with your children and grandchildren. But don't let their lives become all you have in your life.
- Be part of a community. We all need to find our "tribe," the people who are there for us when we need help and the people who will share our joys and sorrows. You may find your tribe through a hobby, a church or synagogue, a political cause, a neighborhood or a volunteer project. If you aren't part of a tribe, create one.
- Reflect and analyze. It's easy to get caught up in the minutia of daily life and spend way too much time washing dishes and weeding the garden, putting off until tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow the things we want to do. The beginning of a new year is a good time to evaluate how you are spending your time and see if it matches up with how you want to spend it. It's never too late to change course or head down another road not traveled.