Now that you’re retired, you’re freer than ever. Finally, your time is truly your own! This may feel great at first, as you enjoy waking up whenever you want to without an alarm, reading through your stack of library books before the due date, or binge-watching that trendy Netflix show from 10 years ago that you finally have time for. But the novelty will eventually wear off, and you may find yourself bored, at loose ends, and perhaps doing unfulfilling things just to pass the time. If you find yourself watching too much TV, sleeping too much, or mindlessly scrolling through social media posts for hours at a time, you may be suffering from Rhythmless Retirement Syndrome.
Previously, work and other types of regular activities provided rhythm and structure for your days, but now that has subsided with retirement. Don’t despair! Now’s your chance to create this for yourself, rather than having to bend to the rhythms other people once pushed onto you. How do you do this after spending a lifetime following preset structures?
First, consider what you want your purpose in retirement to be. You may find you have more than one! Try writing down your ideas to help you clarify them. Maybe you’d like to use your extra time to get to know your grandkids better, to volunteer at church or a local community organization that always needs help, or to take up that hobby you never got around to. It’s never too late to learn to knit, play the cello, or write a novel! List a few concrete things you can do for each item on your purpose list to help motivate you to get started.
Once you have some ideas about your purpose, or purposes, plan some activities that will help you fulfill them. In particular, regularly scheduled activities will help you start to create the rhythm you’re looking for. Set up a once-a-week piano lesson, help out at the local soup kitchen every Tuesday for the lunchtime rush, or offer to help in the nursery at church once a month.
Remember, meaningful activity doesn’t require going out constantly. Rather, a healthy mix of activities can include both going out and staying in. After all, you’ll need to spend plenty of time practicing the piano before your lesson. Try scheduling at-home activities at regular times as well, to continue creating structure and routine for yourself—two necessary components for building rhythm.
This doesn’t mean just on Facebook. Schedule regular outings with friends and family members—go out for lunch, see a movie together, or invite a group over for a game of cards. To increase your sense of rhythm, make the card game a regular weekly or monthly event! If you find yourself needing more friends, now that you’re not interacting regularly with colleagues, stretch yourself to find some of those meaningful activities outside the house where you’ll meet people with interests similar to yours.
As you’re creating a schedule of activities for yourself, make sure to include exercise and healthy eating in your routines. If you participate in some scheduled fitness classes or invest in a fitness center membership, you might also make some new friends along the way!
A few hours of work a week can be a great way to give yourself some structure without overtaxing yourself. You may not be able to keep working in the same career field, but think about your purposes and how part-time work could help you fulfill them. For example, if you value interaction with people, a customer service job could be a great option for you.
At 50 North, you’ll find a large variety of events, classes, and activities that will match up with nearly any purpose. From trips to concerts to needlework clubs, educational series like "Did You Know?", fitness classes and more, we help adults ages 50 and up find their purpose, create rhythm, stay healthy, make new friends and more! Find where you fit at 50 North.