Boredom In Retirement (Sneak Peek #2 from my new book!)


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and we may receive a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you sign up or purchase products or services mentioned.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

When I was in the early stages of negotiating the contract to write my new book, Keys to a Successful Retirement (affiliate link), the publisher requested a writing sample on one of the proposed topics in the book.  I chose to write about boredom in retirement.  In less than one hour, I wrote the following article.  It started with these 14 words: 

“I don’t think I’ll ever retire.  I don’t know what I’d do all day.”

Those were the very first words I wrote for the book, followed by the article below.  This writing sample was a key element in successfully concluding my negotiations with the publisher and ultimately led to the creation of the book which is being released next Tuesday, May 5th. 

Since these are the words that led to the creation of the book, they seem appropriate to share as my promised second (and final) “Sneak Peek” inside the covers.   I hope you enjoy…

BTW, if you’ve not yet ordered the book, I’d appreciate if you’d consider pre-ordering this week to help boost the Amazon rankings when it launches next week.  Here’s the link to order the book (affiliate link).  Thanks in advance!.

I don't think I'll ever retire. I don't know what I'd do all day. Are you worried about boredom in retirement? Here's what you can do about it... Click To Tweet

Boredom In Retirement

“I don’t think I’ll ever retire.  I don’t know what I’d do all day.”

Have you ever had anyone say that to you?  I suspect you have, given how common this sentiment is among people of retirement age.  Many people love their work and worry that they’d be bored without the daily activity their job provides. Unfortunately, even if you love your work, there will likely come a day when you’ll retire, whether by choice or by circumstances outside your control

Even for those who are excited about the prospects of a life without the obligation of work, you’ve likely asked yourself the question, “Will I get bored?”.  I don’t know too many people who were more excited about retirement than I was, and yet I found myself asking myself the same question.  

It’s a normal worry. 

Life in retirement does not have to mean a life of boredom sitting in your recliner watching T.V. all day, every day. However, it’s up to you to decide how you want to live your life of freedom.  Without any effort to plan ahead and develop outside interests, it’s certainly possible that yours will be a life of boredom.  

It happens.

If it happens to you, you’ll have no one to blame but yourself.  Perhaps that’s a tough message, but it’s true. Unlike the workplace, where you have a boss who tells you what to do, retirement is an entirely different animal.

You Are The Boss.

You set the rules.  You set the schedule.  You set the agenda. Isn’t that exactly the freedom that excites you about retirement?  It’s also the reason you probably worry about being bored. You’ve never had this level of freedom before, and you’re not sure how you’re going to handle it.  Don’t worry – there are thousands who have walked this journey before you, and there are lessons you can learn if you study the things that have worked for others.

To minimize the risk of boredom in retirement, start working now on finding new activities to pursue during your retirement.  However small the interest, start writing down ideas for things you’d like to try. Build a bucket list of things you’d like to accomplish, and stretch yourself to go beyond the obvious “travel” ideas.  Build a list for personal development. Throw in a few ideas to stretch your artistic side. Think about physical activities that have interested you but you’ve never had time to pursue. Look online for clubs in your area, and sign up now for their e-mail list.   Check out volunteer opportunities, and test out a few during an upcoming weekend. Focus on creating as large a list as possible, and look it over if you ever get bored in retirement.

In our case, the best thing we did was to create a “Retirement Activity Jar” a year before my retirement date.  My wife and I each filled out slips of paper with activities we wanted to do in retirement. We each tried to come up with one new idea every week, and we never shared our ideas with each other.  By the time I retired 52 weeks later, we had two years’ worth of weekly activities stuffed in our jar, half of which were a complete surprise for each of us. It’s been fun pulling out a slip of paper every week and trying a new activity, and it’s kept us from getting bored. 

Will you get bored in retirement?

Only you can answer that question.

After all, you’re the boss.


Conclusion

Are you worried about boredom in retirement?  If so, you’re not alone.  Many people worry about finding activities to fill the time that becomes available when you no longer have to go to work.  There’s a reason I included the topic in my new book (affiliate link), and there are things you can do now to minimize your risk of facing boredom in retirement. 

Like many things in retirement, avoiding boredom is something that’s within your control. No one will do it for you. If you’re worried about boredom in retirement, start taking steps now to mitigate the risk. I’ve been retired for two years, and I can honestly say I haven’t been bored a single day.  Given my personality, that’s saying a lot.

There’s hope.

But it all depends on you.


Your Turn:  Have you struggled with boredom in retirement?  What have you found effective in mitigating the risk?  Let’s chat in the comments…

46 comments

  1. The concept of not being interested in anything in the world besides one’s job frankly amazes me. I realize there are people who have this but I wonder what planet they came from. If my days had 48 hours I’d still be able to fill each one with interests

    1. But there’s only so much content on Netflix. Eventually you’ve got to reach the end of it, right??

    2. Second that Dave – just putting a dent my reading list alone would consume all waking hours – and I think you being skimpy with 48 hour days 🙂 . My biggest issue is having to cull some of the projects and interests – a good problem to have 🙂

  2. I have so many things I want to do. Not sure how in the world I can manage to be bored. I think the concept or fear of boredom in retirement is more relevant to people who had a “classic” 40 year long career which defined them as a person.

    1. BF, I don’t know if boredom is more an attibute of people with a “classic” career, or more a function of personality style. I worked 33 years in one company, and haven’t been bored a single day in my retirement. Interesting thought…I wonder what the key differentiator is between those who get bored vs. those who don’t.

      My Guess: Innate Curiousity.

  3. I’m looking forward to reading this and just ordered my Kindle copy. Congrats on getting this published and thanks for all of the very helpful information you have provided to me and countless others. I was one who was afraid of being bored in retirement since I had a long-hours, high stressed job and a 5 hour a day commute at the end. Yes I spend more time that I care to admit watching TV, but I now have time to read, meet with friends and family, work on healthy eating and activity, playing my flute & piccolo, directing our church volunteer music group, attack long neglected home projects and most recently working many, many hours clearing our property and preparing my garden for planting. I retired just after you (Aug 2018) and love my new freedom. I keep in touch with my work family and help them on occasion with the caveat that my former employer doesn’t find out. It’s nice to know that my guidance is still appreciated and I look forward to meeting up with them a couple of times a year. Your column well-prepared me for enjoying retirement. Thanks!

    1. I was excited to order the book. I am 9 years away from retirement and just starting to think about it. I am set financially with a good pension but learned so many things from your blog. Congratulations!

      1. Beth, kudo’s for starting to think about it 9 years out. You really can’t start too early, so long as you take time to enjoy the journey as you’re living it and don’t obsess too much about your eventual retirement. I suspect you’ll find some interesting things to think about in the book. Thanks for being a loyal reader, much appreciated!

  4. Wonderful post Fritz. This is what I admire and love about your retirement blog. It is more than just the quantitative aspects of retirement, but also the all important qualitative as well. I know family and friends who have made it financially but are frightened about the prospects of having all that free time in retirement. I often remind them of having all the time in the world to do those joyous things they do minimally or stopped doing entirely due to work commitments. Moreover, they should contemplate what they else could bring joy in their lives. I had to chuckle at your title because we unfortunately have a pause in the qualitative aspects of our retirement lives due to the Covid19 virus. Video conferencing family and friends is getting old. Getting teasing videos from travel blogs what we are missing is driving me nuts. Watching replays of my beloved Tampa Bay Lightning winning the Stanley Cup in 2004 just isn’t working for me. I miss seeing them upfront and personal live!! We are social animals. Hopefully, we can return normal soon!

    1. Moreover, they should contemplate what they else could bring joy in their lives.

      Best line in your comment, and spot on. And, I agree that video conferencing is getting old. We were supposed to be visiting our granddaughter in Seattle this month, but had to delay. Those video chats are nice, but they’re a long way from replacing the real thing.

  5. Fritz,

    I’ve pre-ordered your book and am excited to dive in. I’m 56 and have been retired now for 2 1/2 years and am loving life. I still hear people quote your sad line above when they ask how I’m doing although COVID has caused a massive pivot in thoughts about work. I’ve come to the conclusion that the comment is an excuse to not stop working since their entire identity is wrapped up in their job. Generally, it’s a power or title thing. Sometimes it’s related to their busy lives because of their work not affording much free time. But, excuses are a simple way to not act whether it’s getting to the gym, cleaning out your garage or retiring. You’re correct that we all will one day “retire.” So plan now to retire “to” something vs. retiring “from” something. Keep up the great work, my friend.

    1. Stan, thanks for the order! Glad to hear your retirement is going well, appreciate you making me a (small) part of it. Great point about “power of title” and folks eagerness to use excuses. Good addition to the discussion.

  6. Fritz,

    As usual, your post has some good points to consider as I approach retirement next year. I don’t know if you were in sales with your prior job, but this post was a good selling tool – I just ordered your book!

    1. Haha about the sales line. I was, in fact, but it was early in my career and that was a LONG time ago, afraid I’ve forgotten any sales tactics I may have once known. Wink. Thanks for ordering the book, I hope you find it of value.

  7. I started thinking about what my retirement days would look like long before I actually pulled the pin. I have always thought about life as being lived in 3 trimesters. The first thirty years, more or less, you are a kid trying figure things out like school, career, life in general. The next thirty years you are immersed in a career, family, and working to achieve some goals that you have hopefully set for yourself. And the third trimester is retirement and the freedom to go, see, and do all the things you have developed an interest in along your journey.
    My first day of retirement,7 years ago, I woke up and thought to myself “I feel like I am 8 years old and this is the first day of my summer vacation”. I’ll never forget that thought, it was the sense of freedom that I’d not felt since I was a kid. I loved my career, 31 years in law enforcement and I enjoyed every minute of it. It went by in the flash of an eye. When my past comes up in conversation and people say ‘thank you for your service’, my reply is always a heartfelt ‘no, thank you for the opportunity’.
    Retirement has been a non-stop adventure for my wife and I. We have had the opportunity to make our plans come to life. Since there is no 4th trimester, we have resolved not to waste a day of our precious time. We are 8 years old, and it’s the first day of summer vacation, what a great adventure lies ahead!

    1. I love this. I’m going to adopt the “Trimester” idea, as that really rings home for me. As someone who’s only in the 2nd trimester, I really like the idea of not wasting a single day of your “3rd trimester summer vacation!”

    2. “I feel like I am 8 years old and this is the first day of my summer vacation”.

      Wow, 31, it’s almost like you read my book (you’ll find in it a strong reference to the summer vacations of our youth)! You must be able to read my mind, not a surprise given you’re one of the few readers who have read every single post I’ve ever written.

      Also, I love your concept of trimesters, I hadn’t thought of that, but it’s a great way to think about it. Thanks for the valuable addition to the discussion.

  8. Hey Fritz,
    I remember reading a comment before I retired that essentially said if you were happy at work you would be unhappy in retirement, and vice versa if you were miserable at work you would love retirement. This gave me some concern as I finished out my career with a very satisfactory work situation. However, I’ve been retired now for over 2 1/2 years and could not be more satisfied with retirement life. As you said, I am totally in control of each day and what it brings. So, I’ve got your book on order, and if I feel like it, I may just read it sometime. (ha, ha)

    1. Larry, I enjoyed working with you and it was very apparent that you loved your job (and, you were great at it!). I’ve heard the same, and wonder if there is a correlation. By the end of my career, I was definitely tired of work. Regardless of how we all get here, the reality is that retirement is a great opportunity to live the best years of your life. Glad to hear you couldn’t be more satisfied. That’s quite a statement. Thanks for ordering the book, hope you enjoy it (if you ever take the time to read it. Come on, man, it’s a short book!).

  9. I’ve been working from home since 2009 and make my own schedule, set goals, etc…. Retirement will be more of the same without a paycheck. I’ll continue to plan and schedule, some of the same stuff and some new stuff. The change will be my wife will be home and we will make plans and such together. We don’t envision our lives changing drastically, more like some adjustments.
    Thanks for sharing your experience and advice.
    Blessings.

    1. Cary, don’t underestimate how big the adjustment will be to both of you being home together (I suspect you already realize that). I dedicate a significant portion of the book to exactly that topic, and some couples struggle with it for a while until they’re able to sort out their new reality. You’re fortunate to be able to have worked from home for 11 years, something I always wanted to be able to do but was never able to convince the boss…. 🙂

  10. As always I really enjoyed the post. I liked the idea of writing down things and putting them in the jar for the future. Im looking forward to reading the book 🙂 The last month has been a bit if a test run for me. I plan on reducing my work hours to part time so I can keep my health insurance in a few months and was “asked” to do this for the last few weeks. And with not eating out with friends with everything closed and being home more I realized that I will be grateful for the contact with my coworkers. The biggest part of semiretirement I’m not testing right now is traveling. Something I hope I get to change this summer.

    1. Bill, great point about the last month being a “test run”, I suspect many folks feel the same. Good luck on the “part-time transition plan”, sounds like a great approach. The travel will follow soon enough – enjoy the journey!

  11. I taught high school for 38 years. I spent summers taking classes to improve my teaching. The last t twelve years they were all technology classes. As one of the senior members of the faculty, I was the first to use an on line grade book to communicate with parents. It is the standard now but was a radical idea at the time. I always kept a What to Do When Retired notebook. Eventually, it became six notebooks. Some things I managed to fit in along the way and some I’ve tossed but others have still held my interest.
    I figure that, with every new item I am adding, I have enough for three lifetimes.

  12. Good morning! I’ve enjoyed your blog for many years, and @ 62, in anticipation of some form of “Retirement” in the next 5 years. Your articles are frequently my reading material on my lunch break at work! Our local newspaper recently had an article that discussed current Stay-At-Home life vs. Retirement, and the author was quick to mention that the comparison was unfair to Retirement. Seems obvious, although many people are so focused on what it’s like right now “to have nothing to do” and being at home all day either alone, or with a spouse, that they’re forgetting the vast differences between our current situation and Retirement. I’m wondering if you would comment on whether any of the advice in your book (ordered!) might be different in hindsight, knowing what we know/don’t know today about our economy? Many people may consider delaying Retirement given the state of their “funds” and there’s no where to go at the moment, so why not work a little longer… Thanks!

    1. “I’m wondering if you would comment on whether any of the advice in your book (ordered!) might be different in hindsight, knowing what we know/don’t know today about our economy?”

      I wouldn’t change a thing. The advice applied before Coronavirus, and it still applies now. We never know where the Black Swan will originate, but we always know it will swim onto the pond. I focus a chapter on knowing when you’re financially able to retire, and the advice would still apply. I do suspect, as you mention, that many folks will choose to work One More Year given the current environment. Can’t say that I blame them, I’d likely have done the same if I were planning to retire this year.

  13. Very well stated Fritz!

    I agree that planning and creating a bucket list of activities and things to accomplish goes a long way in preventing boredom. After retiring, each of us becomes our own boss with the complete freedom to do whatever we want, whenever we want. That can be both a good and not so good thing.

    In some respects, retirement is bit like being a kid in a candy shop! Too many sweets and wishing we had a little bigger allowance.

  14. I suppose the existential question of what to do with one’s time is evergreen. I’m 33 and I think about what I would do with my time if I wasn’t working a regular 8-4 Monday to Friday (in healthcare, mind you, so this COVID situation hasn’t led to any downtime).

    I often think about the possibilities of eventually scaling back to a Monday to Thursday schedule, a “point-eight” workweek. I enjoy my work, but the prospect of additional freedom is appealing.

    I love the idea of the “idea a week in a jar”. I might well keep it for the future.

    Take care,
    Ryan

  15. “I can’t wait to retire. I know exactly what I’ll be doing all day.”

    Yep, that was my mindset in the waning days of my W2 life. Maybe it was because I had a ho-hum job that essentially did nothing to improve the human condition? Maybe it was because I still had a child-like curiosity and that curiosity was being relentlessly stifled by my 9-to-5 job? Or maybe it was because I was an inveterate contrarian? Well, whatever it was, I eagerly awaited my last full day of gainful employment–October 14, 2016–and I can happily report that my fateful decision to retire on that date has not produced an iota of regret. And not once during the past three and a half years have I been bored. Great post, my friend. May your excellent book inspire ultimate freedom “throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.” Cheers.

  16. First time commenter. Thinking about what to do in my retirement years is at the forefront of my mind even though I’m probably 6 years away from that. I’ve pre-ordered your book, and I’m hoping that you talk about how to get the bucket strategy setup.

  17. Another great topic Fritz. I don’t like to use the word bored. There is ALWAYS something to do even if not what I WANT to do. I’ve been retired 4 years already and can truly say I’ve never been bored even during this stay at home stuff. I LOVE retirement!! Sorry you aren’t with your beautiful granddaughter this month. Just think, when you do see her, how much more special all those hugs and kisses will be!!

  18. I’m actually looking forward to doing pretty much nothing,, perhaps to the point where I am board. People ask me why am I retiring; my answer is to be able to contemplate. My head is so full of my work, I never get away from it. I’m genuinely looking forward to trying out being bored for a month or two and seeing what comes out of it.

    1. Bob, I think many folks feel that way as they’re approaching retirement. You’ll find in the book that I spent the first 4 months of retirement decompressing. Eventually, that urge is fulfilled, and you’ll likely find yourself moving on to the next phase of retirement. It’s a fascinating journey, and I wish you the best!

  19. Before I retired seven years ago, I had no doubt that my “golden” years were going to be every bit as active as my working years. My personality wasn’t going to change.

    I did develop a general list of expected activities. But I quickly found that some were more enjoyable than others. Today I run a 45 person golf league I built, with competitions three times a week. My wife enjoys with me our frequent wildlife photography trips. We’re having a new house built so I can expand my woodworking shop. Somehow I find time for the gym.

    Far from being bored, my chief struggle is finding the time for all four of my main activities. I never found time to research and write Texas frontier biographies or to learn gourmet cooking. But I’ve got a couple of decades left, so there’s still hope.

  20. I divide the world into 2 populations – the 90 percents in the bottom and the 10 percents on the top.
    Boredom in retirement is resulted as follow:
    1. For the 90Percenters – they constantly need the validation from the world around them in everything they do. If the praises and the validation are not fed they will eventually quit doing what they set out to do.
    2. For the 10Percenters – they specifically need financial validation of their works. If they are not reward with proper financial gain, they will eventually quit doing what they set out to do.

    Most of us will be classically conditioned into these two categories!

Comments are closed.