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Retirement is Your Last Chance to Do These Things

Dave Bernard

When we retire, we get to refocus our days on doing what we want, rather than what we have to do. We will be free to explore new avenues, experiment with new things and experience what life has to offer outside of a 9-to-5 grind. This promise of the good life in retirement keeps some people going during challenging moments.

Just over half (52 percent) of the oldest baby boomers who were born in 1946 have fully retired and are not working, according to a recent study conducted by the MetLife Mature Market Institute. While 38 percent retired because they had reached retirement age or wanted to, 17 percent retired due to health issues. The good news is that most of these boomers (92 percent) say they like retirement somewhat or a lot.

But not everyone is prepared to make the most of their second act. One day you are working, and the next suddenly you are on your own, no longer beholden to someone telling you what to do. The new freedom to choose is exciting, but can also be a bit overwhelming. Here's how to fill in the empty time:

What have you always wanted to do? I have already started a list of the things I most want to do in retirement. When I finally retire, I plan to enjoy some downtime doing nothing at all. I will not think about work, nor will I pressure myself to fill my moments with meaningful accomplishments. I just want to exist for a while and catch my breath.

But once I am recharged, I have grand plans. I want to write a novel, most likely tilted toward horror like my idol since childhood, Stephen King. I want to learn to speak a language, most likely French, so I can travel comfortably through Paris and the countryside of France. I want to spend more time playing the piano, and then sit down at a restaurant or lobby and wow the passersby. I plan to create the garden I have always wanted with tomatoes, fresh vegetables and fruit trees, including apple, pear and peach. Will this list be enough to keep me entertained for the next 20 years? Probably not, which is why I am starting this list before I reach retirement age.

Where have you always wanted to go? If you were unable to wander the globe to your heart's content while working, retirement can be your chance to make up for lost time. Some world travelers find the more exotic the destination, the more exciting the adventure. If you are a thrill-seeker, majestic mountains, fast -moving rivers and deep dark jungles can be yours. Now that you have the time, your trips are not restricted to a week at a time. You might even opt to live at your destination for an extended period to really get a feel for the culture and surroundings. And don't overlook your own backyard. Many of us live in beautiful and unique locations, but have not had the opportunity to fully investigate. Travel does not have to be long distance to be exciting and fulfilling.

What have you always wanted to be? Looking back on their career, too many people realize they have been working just for the money. Retired life can become the perfect chance to try your hand at something new, without the burden of struggling to making ends meet. Encore careers can allow retirees to do something they enjoy and are passionate about. Many dedicated employees envision themselves as writers, artists or humanitarians, despite what it may say on their business card. In retirement, you have the chance to be who you really want to be. If you have had your fill of the working world, there are many other options available from volunteering to mentoring to getting a degree.

Whatever you want for your second act, retirement can be the perfect time to do it right.

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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