Boredom in retirement? Let me guess.
You’ve been planning your happy retirement for years. All the things you’ll do, the places you’ll visit. Imagining not having to get up in the morning. Visualizing groups you’ll join and new friends you’ll make.
The light at the end of the working tunnel. It’s what most of us look forward to.
Or… is it?
Perhaps, as retirement day gets closer, your dream begins to waver. Maybe reality is kicking in and those retirement ideas are losing some of their sparkle. Because what if…
There isn’t enough money for travel?
You aren’t finding groups to join?
Fear of boredom in retirement begins to concern you?
Do you know what the three most common words retirees use to describe retirement are?(1)
Whether you’re approaching retirement and worried that daily boredom might become your reality, or you’re already retired and finding this to be so, keep reading.
Because you’re not alone. I’ve been there. So have millions of other people.
And I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be this way.
But first, let’s take a look at why retirement reality might not match “the dream.”
Can Money Prevent Boredom in Retirement?
Of course — if you have money. With money, you can travel. Live the life of relaxed indulgence you looked forward to after all those years of hard work.
But here we hit some scary facts. Like…
- Longer life expectancy means 53% of people over the age of 45 believe they will outlive their retirement savings.(2)
- More Americans over 60 than ever before are helping out children and grandchildren by carrying student loan debt — and the cost is growing year on year.(3)
- Six in ten pre-retirees are cutting back expenses, securing life insurance and increasing contributions to retirement accounts because of fears their retirement pension won’t stretch.(4, 5)
- Feeling unable to pay off debt before death, let alone have enough to travel to all those fabulous places, is causing severe distress among both retirees and those coming up to retirement.
Seems like those retirement blues might be an even deeper shade of blue. Unless, of course, money is no object.
Otherwise, it’s time to think about supplementing your future income.
Here’s the thing, though. Studies, like Ameritrade’s Unretirement Survey, for example, consistently show that money isn’t the only, nor the most important, issue for retirees. The majority want to work after retiring from their “day job,” and money, obviously, is a nice by-product.
But it’s not the main concern.
A fear of being bored in retirement.
Sound familiar? Read on!
Retirement: A Loss of Identity?
Have you ever asked yourself the question “What will I do when I retire?” “Who will I be?” Fear of losing the person you were when at work may be one of your biggest retirement concerns.
Once again, you’re not alone. A recent study(5) found that more than 29% of retirees say they lost a sense of identity when they retired.
This gentleman(6) puts it well:
I worked my whole life and retired at an early age of 52. I was a carpenter, and considered myself lucky to retire with a good pension and all the time in the world to do what I want, when I want…
I soon found out that this was the one thing that would lead me down the path of depression. What happens is people go in different directions and I found myself on the outside looking in.
Your ex-colleagues and friends may envy what they see as your freedom. But the fact is, they’re all still at work. They still have a sense of purpose, however much they may dislike their job.
And you? Perhaps you’ll do some volunteer work. Great idea! But it won’t cover all day, every day.
Love to read? Excellent! But you can’t do that all day for several years, either. And there’s only so many TV programs a person can stand…
So many days now are spent in front of the TV. I can’t sleep anymore. I’m up all night on the computer, or watching the same TV shows.
My marriage is suffering because I don’t want to leave the house. Anxiety is brutal now. My family wants me to see a psychologist.(6)
The fact is, retirement can be, simply, boring. And boredom can affect your well-being.
Retired and Bored (Out of My Mind!)
Is that you? Or is that the person whom you fear you might become once retired? Time to take stock.
You’ve no doubt heard the phrase “bored to death.” You may even have used it before retirement.
It is based on reality. It’s fine to be bored if you’re comfortable with it, but many people aren’t. Most people like to keep themselves at least entertained, if not busy.
Otherwise, life seems to lose its purpose. And boredom can eventually lead to anxiety and depression.(7, 8)
There’s evidence(9) that the average retiree grows bored after just one year of work-free life. For some, it’s as little as five months.
The daily routine has gone. You enjoyed staying in bed till late for a few weeks — it’s like being on vacation. Your colleagues also kept in touch for a while, but they’re still working — they have busy lives.
For you, every day now feels the same.
So what fills the gap? For many, the answer becomes unhealthy behaviors: food, or drink, or gambling, for example. Which bring their own problems.
But don’t despair. Because for you, it can be different. And in a very exciting way.
How to Overcome Boredom in Retirement: Practical Solutions
Generally speaking, people feel most empowered and alive when they can push their capabilities enough to reach, but not so much as to be overwhelmed.
When I told my mother I intended to retire early from a stressful job, her immediate reaction was horror. What, no more steady monthly income?
Her second question was “Can’t you stay at work and just take up knitting?”
Now, knitting is fine for many people. I have a cousin who knits the most amazing pullovers. I know of people who have made a very successful post-retirement business from knitting.
But anyone who knows me knows that I can’t do crafty things to save my life.
Here’s the thing: it doesn’t matter what things you choose to do in retirement. There’s no need to be bored in retirement — there are multiple opportunities waiting. Choose something that speaks to your heart and — just do it!
- Volunteer. My sister, who always had rescue dogs, retired early from the police and joined Pets as Therapy with her dogs. The support she gave to vulnerable people gave her enormous satisfaction — and enhanced both her and their lives massively.
- Use your practical knowledge to start a side business in retirement. A cousin of mine makes and sells designs in stained glass.
- I have a friend who became a film extra and regularly appears in the UK’s longest-running soap. If you live near a place where a lot of filming is done, why not try that? (As a bonus, the food is good apparently!)
- My dad, at the age of 80, wrote his life story for his children and grandchildren — and then recorded his notes. Listening to his voice is one of the great comforts of not having him physically here any more.
- Instead, I chose to start a website as my path to thriving in retirement — which became an online business. About raising chickens
Yep. Weird. My whole family (especially my mother) thought it was weird.
I don’t care. My website opened up a whole new world and stretches my mind. I never, ever get bored. My site earns me a substantial amount of money each month and has introduced me to friends all around the world.
And more than all of that — it’s fun.
What could you do?
Start An Online Business: Earn Income From Your Knowledge and Experience
After a lifetime of work, you may crave a sense of purpose in retirement but not want to continue working full-time, or in the same line of work. That’s where starting an online business can be a practical solution.
An “online business” is a website or blog that earns money in various ways. For some, it can be a fabulous way to use your knowledge and experience, be relevant in whichever field you choose, stay connected to people whom you respect, and avoid being bored in retirement.
As a pre-retiree or retiree, you’re more likely than most to have…
- passion for and knowledge about your subject — whichever subject you may choose
- commitment to work at it regularly
- persistence and determination to stick with it when others might give up
In return, it will give you…
- a sense of purpose, and pride in achievement
- an effective antidote to boredom in retirement
- money to supplement your income
Additionally, an online business is location independent. You’ll be able to take your work with you – whether on a trip or to spend a few weeks with grandchildren.
Feeling a Lack of Inspiration?
“If I retire, I’ll be bored” occurs to most of us on or before retirement day. But boredom in retirement comes with a lack of structure.
Finding structure in retirement can be daunting. After working for decades when every day is planned for you, finally being “free” can lead to overwhelm. You have no idea what to do, or where to start.
Following a step-by-step process to create your very own online business can help you discover a different kind of structure, one that excites and energizes you.
And you wouldn’t do it alone. You’d be part of a friendly, helpful community of likeminded people, all working towards the same goal.
Click here to explore how Solo Build It! works. For me, it was a real blessing. It can be the same for you.
1. National Citizens Service. Pub. One Poll, 2019.
2. Wronski, L: “Retirement deep dive.” Pub. Axios / Survey Monkey, 2019.
3. “Snapshot of older consumers and student loan debt.” Pub. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 2017.
4. Mullen, Caitlin: “How the ‘gray wave’ is changing the workforce”. Pub. Business Journals, 2019.
5. Ameritrade: “Unretirement Survey.” Pub. Harris, 2019.
6. From the website “Retirement Online.”
7. Hedrick, M: “Boredom can be dangerous for mental illness.” Pub. Psych Today, 2018.
8. Perone, S: “Over and over again: Changes in frontal EEG asymmetry across a boring task.” Pub. Society for Psychophysiology Research, 2019.
9. Renner, B: “Retirement Blues.” Pub. Study Finds, 2019.