I'm Retired, So Why Am I So Busy?

Retirement is often perceived as a time when people slow down, take it easy, and cut back on pursuing their ambitions. Tis is what I thought would happen to me, but now in my second year of retirement I am a lot busier than I ever was. How did this happen?

Slowing down in retirement is a misconception. The truth is that retirees may have different aspirations than during their working years, buttheir ambition and focus remain.

Retirement provides an opportunity to explore new interests, pursue long-standing passions, and engage in personal growth and development. It’s a time to redefine priorities and focus on what truly matters. So, while retirement may bring changes in aspirations, retirees remain ambitious and focused, and may even achieve greater success and fulfilment in their retirement years.

Retirees have a variety of aspirations and objectives depending on their personal circumstances, these are the aspirations and objectives that occupy me:

ASPIRATION 1 – Maintain Good Physical & Mental Health

Maintaining good physical and mental health is a top priority for me. After all, enjoying retirement to the fullest requires being healthy enough to engage in the activities that make retirement fulfilling. Without good health, you cannot travel, pursue hobbies, spend time with loved ones, or simply enjoy my leisure time.

Physical health is particularly important. As we age, we face a greater risk of chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis. We may also face challenges with mobility and balance, which can limit our ability to participate in physical activities.

To maintain good physical health, I prioritise exercise, healthy eating, and regular medical check-ups far more than I did as a younger man. I know that exercise can help prevent chronic conditions, improve strength and balance, and boost my overall mood and well being. Healthy eating can provide the nutrients I need to support good health and prevent chronic conditions. Regular medical check-ups can help identify and treat health issues early on, which can lead to better health outcomes – unfortunately I learnt this the hard way but now I no longer begrudge the time and inconvenience it takes for check-ups.

Mental health is also essential. Retirement can bring significant life changes. For me this included certain loss of identity, social connections, and daily routine. These changes led to feelings of isolation, depression, and anxiety.

So now, to maintain mental health, I prioritise social connections, and seek support when I need to. Social connections have started providing me with a sense of purpose, belonging, and support.

ASPIRATION 2 – Achieving Financial Security

Financial security is a high priority for me and I believe for many retirees, and understandably so. After working for many years and saving diligently for retirement, we want to be able to enjoy many years without worrying about money. Retirees want to ensure that they have enough funds to cover their daily living expenses, including housing, food, healthcare, transportation, and other essential costs.

Many of us also want to provide financial assistance to our children and grandchildren and make charitable donations to causes we care about.

In order to achieve financial security, I have had to more carefully manage finances and become better informed about investments and spending. My investment knowledge and financial planning insights have started to exceed that of my kids and younger generations – dare I say, I sometimes find I understand some types of investment better than the working professionals advising me. This is because it is a make-or-break situation – there is no time for second chances and so my financial decision-making has to be razor sharp.

(See our Finance Section for an outline of the major financial challenges in our 50s and 60s and tips on how to manage them)

ASPIRATION 3 – Pursuing Interests and Hobbies

After years of working and juggling multiple responsibilities, on retirement I was looking forward to having more time to pursue my hobbies and interests. I only had a short list of hobbies – writing and gardening, but many retirees have a long list of activities they want to explore, from learning a new language to taking up a new sport, to pursuing creative endeavours like painting, writing, or music.

You may have put your hobbies and interests on hold while working and raising a family. Now, you have the time and freedom to explore these passions and interests more fully. Pursuing hobbies and interests can be a source of joy, fulfilment, and even personal growth in retirement.


Travel is a popular aspiration. Many of us have a bucket list of destinations we’ve always wanted to visit, such as Europe, Asia, or Alaska. They may also have specific travel goals, such as visiting all 50 US states or seeing the Northern Lights.

Travelling in retirement provides a sense of adventure, excitement, and personal growth. An advantage of travelling during retirement is that you can take your time and travel at a more leisurely pace, without the pressure of a tight schedule or work obligations.

Travel is also an opportunity to connect with loved ones, either by travelling together or visiting family and friends in different parts of the world.

A funny thing about my travel bucket list – as I see more places, the more I want to see and so the bucket is filling up some more and it is not getting any emptier! For instance, I had been very afraid of cruising because I get sea-sick. Finally, after some affectionate arm twisting from my partner we went on a 9-day cruise armed with tons of travel sickness tablets. No sickness happened – not even a little bit – and now I can’t wait to go on another cruise and so the bucket list is filling up again.

(Check out our Travel section in the Guidebook for great international and domestic destinations with cruises, air and land travel)

ASPIRATION 5 – Spending Time With Family & Friends

Many of us aspire to spend more quality time with family and friends, because we may have missed out on opportunities to connect with loved ones, and retirement provides a chance to make up for lost time. I was lucky in that for most of my working career I worked from home (before it became fashionable) so I never missed out on my kids growing up. However my non-nuclear family is spread around the world and I certainly miss them so I try to combine my travel aspirations and my desire to reconnect with family and friends.

Spending time with family and friends can be a source of joy, comfort, and fulfilment in retirement. And reminiscing with old friends is a great joy! Surprisingly, nostalgia has been found to improve mood and decrease feelings of loneliness, as it allows us to re-experience positive emotions associated with past events or relationships.

Spending time with family and friends, however, is not only about nostalgia or catching up on lost time together. We also have to work on redefining our future relationships after retirement and to establish new patterns of interaction with our loved ones that reflect our changing lifestyles, roles and priorities.

For example, although I have retired, my wife is much younger and still some time away from retirement and so we have to take that into account when we are planning holidays or activities during the week or time with the grandkids. Also, because of the fairly large age difference between us, I am always conscious that she needs to be in the driving seat of our financial life and I should take a back seat – that’s a significant change for both of us, but must be done.

Ultimately, redefining our relationships with family and friends after retirement requires a willingness to be open and flexible. We may need to let go of old assumptions and expectations, and be willing to explore new ways of being together. By doing so, we can deepen our connections with those we love and build a fulfilling and meaningful life in retirement.

ASPIRATION 6 – Simplifying Life

For one of my retired friends, downsizing and simplifying his life is a key aspiration in retirement. This may involve decluttering and getting rid of possessions that are no longer needed or wanted, and moving to a smaller, more manageable home or living space.

The desire to downsize and simplify may stem from a variety of factors. Retirees may want to reduce their living expenses and free up funds for travel or other experiences. They may also want to reduce the amount of time and energy they spend maintaining a large home or property, or simply enjoy the benefits of a more minimalist lifestyle.

Downsizing can have many benefits. It can free up time and energy to focus on other activities and pursuits, such as hobbies, travel, or spending time with loved ones. In my friend’s case, downsizing provides a sense of freedom and flexibility, as he and his partner are no longer tied down to a large home.

Simplification can also be a source of personal growth and self-discovery in retirement. By decluttering and simplifying their lives, retirees may gain a new perspective on what is truly important to them and what brings them happiness and fulfillment. fulfilling and meaningful life in retirement.

ASPIRATION 7 – Personal Development

News Flash – you do not stop learning, growing and discovering yourself just because you are retired. In fact, retirement can be an ideal time for personal growth because you have more time and flexibility to pursue interests and passions.

One of the most common ways retirees pursue personal growth and development is through education. Many enrol in college courses, attend lectures or seminars, or participate in online learning programs. There are literally thousands of online courses and workshops these days with easy online access. Many of these are even free or very affordable. Others may pursue non-traditional educational opportunities, such as workshops or apprenticeships, to gain new skills or knowledge.

Personal growth and development can also take the form of new experiences that you did not have time for in the past, for instance through volunteer work or community engagement. You can use time and skills to give back to the, whether by volunteering at a local charity, serving on a board or committee, or participating in a community service project. These activities can provide a sense of purpose, meaning and self-worth and they will certainly make you grow as a person.

ASPIRATION 8 – Coming to Terms with the Great Unanswered Questions Of Life

It’s now or never if you want to get some sort of answers or acceptance of the big questions in life. Why are we here? What is the meaning of Life? Who am I?

Retirement is the final chance to focus on our spiritual growth and development. For some, this may involve reconnecting with a particular faith or spiritual practice that they may have neglected during their working years. For others, retirement may offer an opportunity to explore new spiritual practices or beliefs that they have been curious about but have not had time to pursue.

Finding your spiritual self in retirement can involve a wide range of activities, from attending religious services to practicing meditation or yoga. It can also involve connecting with others who share similar spiritual beliefs or joining a spiritual community or group.

ASPIRATION 9 – Planning Your Legacy

Legacy and estate planning is an important area to address in our retirement years. Although many of us joke about the SKI principle – Spend the Kids’ Inheritance – in reality most of us want to leave a legacy for our kids consisting of the values to live by, skills we educated them with, care for the causes that were important to us, the family we are a part of and whatever financial resources we may have built or saved.

Amongst all of these things that we would like to leave behind, the financial side is perhaps the easiest, because our will and some estate planning can achieve it. More difficult is the issue of the personal legacy that you leave. This could involve setting up a scholarship fund, making charitable donations, or creating a family foundation. These efforts can help ensure that our values and passions are carried forward after our passing and there is a continuing expression of our love and care for our loved ones. Great words of course – but it all takes, time, effort and creativity to put in place and done right will also be a source of great personal satisfaction.

Overall, legacy and estate planning are an important aspiration for many retirees. By taking steps to plan for the future and create a lasting legacy, retirees can ensure that their values and passions are carried forward and that their loved ones are provided for after they are gone.

With so much to achieve, it is no wonder that most retirees are short of time and always busier than when they were working. It’s time to invest some quality time to plan and map out your future direction. There is lots to do, so it is important to talk over your plan with your partner or buddy to secure a happy retirement ahead.

Navin Pasricha, Chief Editor

Australian Over 50s Living & Lifestyle Guide

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