Retirement is a life-changing event.
And you deserve to have the best retirement possible — on your terms.
After all, you’ve worked hard your whole life to secure a great retirement, and now you can finally enjoy the fruits of your labor.
As long as you’re financially prepared, everything falls into place, right?
Not so fast.
Retirement can be overwhelming and confusing with all the activities available for older adults.
We all know that it’s important to have a fulfilling life after work, but when that time actually comes, many struggle with finding clarity and wonder how to enjoy retirement.
No wonder there’s a retirement honeymoon period that typically lasts about a year. In fact, it’s the first of four retirement phases.
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of 27 activities for retirees that will boost your happiness in retirement.
Caveat: Our list is less of a checklist, and more of a sounding board to reference.
Like everything related to your true passions and purpose – pay attention to the ideas that naturally light you up. Those are the sign posts that will lead you to deeper moments of happiness and joy.
We invite you to comb through our 27 retirement activities to discover what truly ignites inspiration and excitement from inside you.
#1 Create a “No Regrets” list
We can all glean something from Mark Twain:
“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by those you did.”
Life is too short to not have (and complete) a bucket list. A “no regrets” list – a list of regrets you would have if you didn’t complete them – is also something worth adopting.
It can include anything from skydiving or visiting every continent in the world to repairing a relationship or learning to forgive.
And don’t be fooled by the not-so-glamorous items on your “no regrets” list – more often than not, it’s simply relationships that bring you the most meaning in life.
Start checking off your “no regrets” list today.
#2 Start a Book Club
Suppose you’re a book lover that wants a chance to make new friends and have stimulating conversations about books you like or dislike. In that case, starting a book club is the perfect activity for you.
This activity not only provides ample opportunities for social interaction while discussing favorite authors and novels — it’s beneficial too (check out this article on the benefits of reading books).
If you’re looking for something exciting that’ll get both your brain and heart pumping, then starting up a terrific book club may be just what you need.
#3 Learn How to Play an Instrument
Many people think that once you reach a certain age, it’s too late to learn something new.
But that’s just not true. The path to happiness in retirement is paved with lifelong learning.
It’s never too late to try something new, especially if you have a deep appreciation and love for it. Why not learn an instrument?
Learning how to play an instrument is a challenging hobby that will help you stay mentally sharp by improving your memory and providing some musical therapy in your golden years.
#4 Create a Vision Board
You should never stop dreaming in life. You can achieve happiness in retirement by reflecting on the past and creating for the future.
Vision boards are a great way to plan out what you want life after work to look like. Whether it be taking up painting as a hobby or traveling the world, vision boards give you an idea of what to do in retirement.
Here’s how to actually create one:
- Pick topics that really speak to you — it can be anything from traveling around the world to spending more time with family.
- Find images or quotes that represent what you want and glue them onto a poster board.
- Get creative and write, draw, doodle, or paint to fill in the blanks
- Hang up your new creation where you’ll see it every day as motivation for living your dreams
Here’s the catch: A vision board can motivate you, inspire you and empower you to create the life of your dreams — but you still have to take action and make your dreams come true.
Our secret sauce advice: Break everything down into micro-steps and commit to one single daily micro-step. Do this and watch your world change.
#5 Create a Morning Routine
What’s your morning routine? If you’re a retiree, it’s especially important to start the day right because retirement can feel like such uncharted territory without a set schedule.
With more “free time” on your hands, it’s easy to want to go with the flow and let things happen naturally without making any plans. But this approach could lead you down a path that leaves you feeling unfulfilled or bored.
(Trust us, the majority of people we have the honor of helping, initially come to us with an unfocused day full of daily distractions – you’re not alone if you feel a void and not as accomplished as you once did.)
As we’ve already said, your morning routine is everything. Regardless of what your routine consists of, it’s important that you set an intention for the day and stick to it.
If you find yourself floundering with inconsistency, leverage the magic of micro-stepping your way to a solid healthy habit.
#6 Relocate to a New Home
In the last decade, moving for retirement has been a growing trend, with over 400,000 American retirees moving in 2020 alone.
Choosing where to live in retirement is a difficult decision, not just financially. People may need to consider emotional factors when picking the perfect place for them to live out a happy retirement.
The question is, where should that location be?
For some retirees, the answer may be a warm climate with year-round sunshine. Others may want a more urban environment with plenty of activities to keep them busy. Still, others might desire an isolated spot in nature away from it all.
The key is to find clarity first, before physically heading in a direction with your belongings.
Do it with the right intentions and carefully plan your move. You’ll definitely experience an improvement in your quality of life and boost your happiness in retirement.
#7 Get in Touch with Your Artistic Side
Older adults need creativity to keep themselves engaged and stimulated mentally.
In retirement, you finally have time to explore your creative side. Contrary to popular belief, creativity doesn’t decline with age, but there are certain things you can do to keep it fresh.
It can be hard to know where to start but just think about artistic hobbies that would bring more happiness to your retirement. Whether it’s painting or pottery or even playing an instrument — give it a try.
#8 Take an Online Course
Lifelong learning is a must and it is bound to increase your happiness in retirement. Whether it’s learning a new language, brushing up on some digital skills, or trying out a creative class like painting, there are so many opportunities for retirees to learn from home.
There are courses available in literally everything from finance and cooking to health care administration and writing memoirs. If you’re curious about where to hunt for interesting classes, consider these popular online course offerings:
- CreativeLive – creative classes taught by renowned leaders
- Mindvalley – personal development courses taught by global instructors
- SkillShare – creative classes including animation, design, illustration, and writing
- Second Wind Movement – free workshop: How to Live a Purposeful Retirement Life
Best of all, you can take them at your own pace. It’s like having your own personal tutor that walks you through the course material whenever you need it.
Maybe you’ve been putting off taking an online course because it just seems too complex or intimidating. Maybe you aren’t sure what you want to do (which is why you’re reading this blog post).
#9 Read and write poetry
Poetry is a form of self-expression and healing that has the power to bring joy to your life and happiness in retirement if you let it.
But reading and writing poetry is also a form of therapy with many benefits, such as improved emotional well-being, cognitive function, and creative thinking.
The idea that writing poetry is something only for well-educated or trained writers is just a false assumption. Anyone has the ability to write poetry; you just may not be aware you can.
We all have a story to tell. So take a piece of paper and let the words flow out without any judgment or overthinking.
#10 Write Down a Piece of Advice You Would Give to Your Younger Self
We all have regrets and things we wish we did differently. In fact, sadly, 4 out of 10 people regret how they’ve lived their life, according to one UK study.
But dwelling in the past is a recipe for disaster.
The good news? Awareness can help you direct your future in a way that’ll make you proud and bring you more happiness in retirement.
Writing a letter to your younger self is an effective way of helping you move on from things that have hurt or upset you. You can get all of those feelings out and finally close the most impactful chapters once and for all and make room for new memories in the future.
It may seem like writing back to yourself would be an odd thing. But it can be a cathartic, self-reflective journey.
Just pick up a piece of paper and a pen and see where it takes you.
#11 Travel to Another Country
According to the Transamerica Center Retirement Survey, as many as 65% of retirees dream of traveling and think it’ll bring happiness in their retirement.
If you’re looking for ways to be more adventurous, then we highly recommend packing your bags and traveling to another country.
Traveling is one of the most rewarding experiences. And there’s always an opportunity to learn something new, from discovering hidden gems to meeting locals around the world who are just as curious about your culture as you are about theirs.
Traveling forces you outside your cultural bubble, which can be both scary and incredibly enlightening. So treat every trip as an adventure in self-discovery that pushes you out of your comfort zone.
Our travel tip: Immerse yourself in the local culture and go beyond the typical tourist attractions (there’s gold to be found there).
#12 Read Your Favorite Books
Reading is one of the favorite activities for retirees, and it has a lot of benefits. It aids brain development, increases the ability to empathize, and improves cognitive function, to name just a few.
It’s a great way to spend some quality solo time while still being productive. There’s just nothing better than curling up with a good book and just forgetting about everything else going on around you by getting lost in another world entirely.
And it doesn’t matter if you don’t like reading. With audiobooks being so popular nowadays using platforms like Audiobooks and Amazon’s Audible, it’s never been easier or cheaper to find the perfect book at any given moment and have someone read it to you.
#13 Visit the National Parks
The United States is home to 423 magnificent national parks, monuments, and federally protected lands. These areas are filled with wildlife as well as breathtaking scenery that will astound anyone who visits them.
America’s national parks are a treasure trove of natural beauty — from the grandeur and power of the Grand Canyon to the peace and serenity found at Yosemite.
Not to mention the many benefits of spending time in nature, such as improved cognition and affect.
If you’re excited by this activity and think it’ll bring you more happiness in retirement, this is your friendly nudge to add it to your retirement bucket list. And here’s our guide to touring the US National Parks to help you decide which ones spark your interest.
#14 Go to a Senior’s Summer Camp
Right now, you’re probably thinking, “aren’t summer camps for kids?”. Well, who said older adults can’t have fun and learn new things?
Summer camps are a novel way for older adults to enjoy their golden years. Campers get the chance to explore physical fitness, challenge themselves with new activities for retirees and make friends among like-minded people who share an active lifestyle.
What’s more, connecting with nature hugely benefits your mental health, as noted by a recent Mental Health Foundation study.
So take a step out of your comfort zone and join an adult summer camp that caters to your interests — like the Epic Nerd Camp, the ‘Camp’ Camp, or the Escape Camp.
#15 Spend Time in a Boat
Are you looking for a way to spend time outside and stay active?
Spend some time boating. The feeling of being out on the open water is unlike anything else. It’s a break from technology and an escape from reality that can bring you peace and happiness in retirement.
Whether it’s fishing, swimming, sailing, or just sitting back and enjoying nature, there are so many things you can do while out on the water. You can even venture as far as sailing around the world for six years like Larry Jacobson did.
Globe-sailing aside, the feeling of being in a boat on the sea or lake is something that everyone should experience.
Boating is proven to improve your creativity, emotional health, and relaxation since you can hear the calming sounds of waves and surrender to an overall sense of peace.
So go out there and find your perfect boat ride today.
#16 Learn a New Language
If you think language learning is reserved for children only, think again.
Adults have more developed powers of reasoning and are better at explicit learning. For example, you can spot patterns and learn grammatical rules quicker than children.
Apart from literally making your brain grow, language learning also improves cognitive processing, delays the onset of dementia, improves working memory, and boosts creativity.
If these benefits don’t inspire you, maybe the idea of traveling to a foreign country, making local friends, and expanding your cultural horizons will bring you happiness in retirement.
#17 Reflect on and Write Down the Most Meaningful Memories
What are some things that you would never want to forget? The birth of your first child, the day you got married, or maybe the moment when you graduated from college?
All these memories stay with you for a lifetime, and what better way to remember them than by writing them down?
The trick is to figure out which memories really matter most to you by asking yourself what makes your heart sing and what truly brings you happiness in retirement:
- What did you love about life?
- Who were your favorite people?
- What were your fondest moments?
These are some questions you can use as a starting point for writing down those special memories.
You can even fill out books with prompts and pass the memories on to your children and grandchildren, like these Grandpa Tell Me Your Story and Grandma Tell Me Your Story journals.
And don’t worry if this sounds too daunting right now. Just start with one or two and slowly build momentum.
Memories are your legacy; don’t let yours disappear forever.
#18 Take up Knitting
Knitting is a hobby that can keep your hands busy while you watch TV, occupy your time during long car rides, or serve as a pastime while you spend time with friends.
You’ll quickly find yourself getting creative with new patterns and stitches as you try different combinations on hats, sweaters, socks — the possibilities are endless. Knitting lowers the risk of dementia and benefits overall wellbeing.
If you’ve never tried knitting before, there are plenty of videos on YouTube or even local workshops that will teach you how to do it. If this sounds like something up your alley, then give it a stab.
#19 Take a Photography Class
Photography is one of the most rewarding hobbies in retirement because it helps you appreciate all that life has to offer.
Not to mention, digital photography is considered a high-challenge activity that boosts your memory
It’s also a creative outlet that lets you take pictures of the things that make your life worth living: family, friends, travel destinations, and more. And it gives you an opportunity to create memories in the form of art that you can share with others.
Take a photography class to learn the basics and spend one week capturing what lights you up. Just be mindful of what makes you happy and capture those moments forever.
#20 Redecorate Your Home to Reflect the Current Version of You
Your home is a place where you can show your personality. If it’s been the same for decades, it might be time for a change.
Join the 70% of people who plan to redecorate their home and update your home to reflect the current version of you.
From updating wall colors and furniture styles to adding new artwork or switching out knick-knacks on shelves to decluttering each room, there are many ways to give your home a refresh.
Whether you’re moving in, planning on selling, or just want to freshen up the space with new décor and furniture, it can be an exhilarating process that may take some time. But is worth every penny if you feel more comfortable in (and proud of) your home.
#21 Immerse Yourself in Art Museums and Creative Exhibits
Art museums and creative exhibits are an incredible way to experience new perspectives, learn about different cultures and periods, and explore creative expressions from around the world.
Whether it’s a traditional museum or a modern performance, there is always something new to discover. The museums of the world are full of exhibits that will challenge, inspire, and delight you.
It’s never too late to enjoy creating and experiencing art. Plus, there are several benefits and reasons why older adults need creativity in life.
From paintings and sculptures to live performances, you’ll find that there’s plenty of variety for any taste. Simply open yourself up to experiencing art in all its forms.
#22 Take a Retreat and Set New Goals
It’s sometimes easy to think about all of the things you’ll be able to do with more time on your hands, which is supposedly when you retire.
But, you may start planning for trips and hobbies in retirement, and then life happens – and you barely have any time left over for yourself. Which leads to feeling unaccomplished and spread thin.
Not to mention a whopping 1 in 4 older adults report anxiety or depression amid the pandemic – yikes.
There’s hope for happiness in retirement – a retreat can offer a getaway from everyday life and the opportunity to reset and rethink your goals. You can attend a wellness or yoga retreat to focus on improving your health. Or even just a goal-setting retreat to discover your values and set new goals overall.
Retreats are all about relaxing, reflecting on the past, and then creating a safe space for you to explore how you want life to look next.
#23 Go Back to Your Roots
You may not know it, but your family history can be a rich treasure trove of information. Genealogy is the perfect hobby for retirees because it can be enjoyed out of the comfort of your own home. All you need is an internet connection, detective skills, and a bit of patience.
No matter where your family came from, there are many ways to explore their history. You can search for old photographs, birth certificates, and letters, explore online databases like FamilySearch and Ancestry, or even talk to relatives.
All these things can give insight into who we are — they’re pieces of our puzzle as individuals.
Why not start exploring your family history? You might be surprised by what you learn – and it might be worth passing on to the next generations.
#24 Brush Up on Your Digital Skills
Technology is changing at a rapid pace, and the younger generations are leading the charge.
In fact, as many as 25% of older adults (65+) in the US don’t use the internet at all.
Everywhere you look, it seems like there’s something with a screen in front of your face. With all the smartphones, tablets, and computers, it’s easy to get lost.
Learning how these things actually work can make life easier. And it’s never too late to become tech-savvy.
The easiest way to go about this is to ask a family member — more than 75% of grandparents learn technology from grandchildren. If that’s not an option, consider reading books, watching instructional videos, or taking a class.
Though anything related to technology might sound a bit intimidating, with patience and dedication, you’ll become a pro in no time.
#25 Take Up Home Brewing
Homebrewing offers a world of variety and experimentation to explore new flavors in your kitchen or garage. Thankfully, you’re never too old to enjoy a good beer.
Homebrewing has surged in popularity over the last few years. There are tons of resources online for recipes and tutorials on how to brew at home, just like Brew Your Own or Beer & Brewing.
There are even online forums, like Homebrew Talk, where other brewers post their latest creations.
Considering this hobby is not only fun but also provides some great benefits such as saving money, reducing waste from store-bought beers, and making friends with those who share your interest – why not give home brewing a try?
#26 Become a Foodie
How many times have you eaten at the same restaurant or cooked the same meals? Well, it might be time to change things up.
There are so many restaurants in your city that you might not know about, and so many cuisines you might not have tried.
Start your culinary journey with the book 1,000 Foods to Eat Before You Die and work your way through this ultimate food lover’s bucket list.
Just be open to trying new things — you never know what you might end up liking.
#27 Work Some Magic
It’s said that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But why not prove them wrong and learn a few magic tricks?
Magic can be a way to inspire creativity in your own life. Even if you’ll never become a professional magician, the art of magic helps build self-confidence, and improves presentation abilities, and enhances motor performance.
With just a few tricks up your sleeve, you can become the life of any party and leave your audience in awe.
There is no single answer to the question many retirees ask themselves — how to enjoy retirement?
But as we’ve seen in this article, there are plenty of ways you can achieve happiness in retirement. All it takes is some clarity, creativity, and the courage to act on your dreams (including stepping out of your comfort zone to find them).
Sometimes dreams can be scary because they involve taking risks. But if you don’t take risks, you’re not living life to the fullest.
Remember: if you never try, then you will never know what could have been.
(P.S. If you want help unlocking your passions and post-career purpose, schedule your free Breakthrough Session with Cyn Meyer directly using this link — she helps people just like you every day.)
What’s holding you back from dreaming bigger, trying out these activities for retirees, and boosting your happiness in retirement?
For more ideas, check out our list of 101 things to do when you retire.