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How to Avoid Retirement Burnout

Dave Bernard

It sounds hard to believe, but after the initial honeymoon period you may start to feel dissatisfied with your life in retirement. Twenty years is a long time to spend catching up on sleep and watching TV. And many people are unprepared to take on the responsibility of filling their days with more meaningful activities. While a suddenly blank calendar and no place you have to be often sounds great to overscheduled working people, it can also get boring or lonely if the absence of activities continues for an extended period of time. Without a reasonable amount of variety, challenge and newness, retirement could turn out to be far less enjoyable than you hoped for.

After working so hard to get there, it is important to stay active and engaged in retirement. Here are a few ideas to help you avoid retirement burnout:

Keep challenging yourself. No one wants to find themselves mired in a boring routine with nothing to look forward to. Although it may feel safe to remain within the familiar walls of home, it may also lead to boredom and laziness. You can avoid such a debacle if you try to keep challenging yourself. Experimenting and doing things for the first time helps keep life interesting and fresh. New experiences often require new skills, and developing those skills is an important way to stay sharp and on top of your game. Just because you may be less physically nimble does not mean you have to spend your retirement doing nothing. Do what you can safely manage, but keep doing something.

Stay engaged and building new relationships. Once you retire you will find yourself with more free time than ever before. You may choose to spend some of that time with friends and family. Relationships can be strengthened and new memories will be created with the people you engage with in retirement. In addition to renewing existing relationships this can be a chance to branch out and meet new people. Since your interests will likely change once you depart the working world, getting to know new people who share your new interests can keep things interesting. Whether you prefer one on one face time or a group gathering, a little variety in the people you interact with can help you avoid burnout.

Broaden your horizons. After six or more decades of living, some retirees may feel they have done it all. With little they have not yet experienced, they settle into a life of repeating what they know and are most comfortable with. But experiences you may have viewed as boring in the past could deserve a revisit. In my earlier life, I had no interest in opera. Then my wife took me to an Andrea Bocelli concert that changed my mind. Today it's not uncommon to hear the soft lilt of an exquisite Italian tenor playing in our home. It never sounded interesting back when I was working full time, but now I have discovered an unexpected new passion. Whether it is music, sports, the theater or even dining out someplace new, retirement can be an excellent time to broaden your interests.

Do some good. The idea of doing something for others has always been interesting to me, but I never made time to do it during my frantic working days. I see retirement as the perfect opportunity to give something back to the community. During my second act, I will have the free time to contribute, and there is always a need.

Stay young at heart. Have you ever met someone who spends their life acting the way they feel rather than the age they are? Although wrinkled on the outside, some retirees maintain an exuberant carefree attitude far younger than their years. Often their zest for living exists in spite of physical limitations, but they choose to stay positive and enjoy life. A positive attitude can help you to better cope with the challenges that come with aging.

Dave Bernard is the author of "I Want To Retire! Essential Considerations for the Retiree to Be". Although not yet retired, he focuses on identifying and understanding the essential components of a fulfilling and meaningful retirement. He shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement-Only The Beginning.

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