How is leisure time different in retirement?
Hours of Leisure Time Per Week
Liberated from many of the responsibilities of work and child-raising, retirees experience unprecedented levels of free time.
Retirees also have greater flexibility with their time - enabling them to travel when they want, to take longer, immersive trips, and spend undistracted time with family and friends.
Source: US Census, American Time Use Survey
Happiness by Age
In part because of all their newfound leisure and fun, studies show retirees can be happier than at any other time in their lives.
Source: Arthur Stone, "A snapshot of the age distribution of psychological well-being in the United States", 2010
What are some strategies to optimize my leisure time in retirement?
Retire with a Plan
For most of us, retirement is the first time since childhood that we have almost unlimited leisure time. Optimizing your leisure time requires some thoughtful planning. Too many retirees end up not using their newfound leisure to the fullest, or spending their days in front of the TV (the average retiree watches almost 35 hours of television a week1). Many of the happiest retirees use their free time to pursue their favorite passions or interests they didn’t have time for before. What was a hobby or interest you had to set aside when you were younger because you simply didn’t have the time? What was your favorite vacation, and what did you enjoy most about it? Are there other places you may want to travel to expand your world? What do you want to learn, enjoy, and experience in the years ahead? While it’s possible you might stumble upon something you enjoy, you are far more likely to have a fulfilling retirement with some creative brainstorming and planning for what you most want to do.
Seek New Purpose
Many people during their pre-retirement years define themselves through their work. Earning a living and succeeding in a career help drive them and give them purpose and a reason to get up each morning. In retirement, you have the opportunity to choose and define your own purpose. What gives you most meaning in life? What do you take the most pride in? Retirees say they often find purpose in giving back to others: contributing to local charity, volunteering overseas, mentoring schoolchildren, or playing a meaningful role in their grandchildren’s lives. Others find purpose in learning and self-improvement, such as mastering a new language, learning to cook, improving their health, or spiritual growth. Still others find purpose in civic engagement, working to improve their community or even running for office.
Expect Your Plans to Change
With today’s unprecedented life expectancy, retirement can last 20, 30, 40 years or more. Throughout the course of your retirement you will find new interests and passions to pursue. Be open to transitions and changes and new ways to find fun and fulfillment during different stages of your retirement.
What are some creative and fulfilling ways to spend your leisure time retirement?
Lifelong learning. Continued learning is a powerful way to keep your mind sharp, stay socially engaged, and make retirement more interesting and fulfilling. New freedoms in retirement enable you to study topics you find most interesting, and on your own schedule. Many universities and colleges offer lifelong learning programs for older adults. Edu-tourism provides opportunities to combine travel with learning about local cultures, language, art, and history.
Multigenerational travel. Traveling with children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren can create opportunities to deepen family relationships. Multigenerational travel is today's biggest travel trend, according to a survey of travel advisors.2
Adventure travel. Adventure travel, including active pursuits such as scuba diving, sea kayaking, safari, whitewater rafting, and hiking, is now a $700 billion industry, and accounts for 30% of global travel experiences.3
Fitness and wellness. Studies show that many retirees have more active lifestyles, are less sedentary, and adopt better health habits than pre-retirees.4 Active sports, yoga, and mental wellness pursuits can be part of a healthy and fulfilling retirement.
Contribute your time. Giving your time to your community or causes you care about can make retirement far more fulfilling. Retirees volunteer more time than any other age group.5 Voluntourism – combining travel with volunteering – can enable you to connect with and help people around the world.
New creative pursuits. Retirement can be a time to immerse yourself in new creative pursuits that you may not have had time for during your working years. With ample and more flexible time, many retirees learn new skills, hobbies, and pursuits to enrich their retirement years.
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1. US Census, American Time Use Survey
2. 2019 Virtuoso Luxe Report
3. Travel Weekly, “Adventure travel lucrative and growing”, 2018
4. ScienceDaily, “Retirement is Good for Your Health”, 2016)
5. US Census, Bureau of Labor Statistics
This publication is designed to provide general information and is for discussion purposes only. The effectiveness of any strategy is dependent upon each individual’s facts and circumstances. This article does not provide legal, tax or account advice. Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error, the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or availability of any information is not guaranteed.