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Retired Or Not, The New Year Is Your Blank Canvas

Kim Shea Images December 2022

Retirement Living: Kim Shea

As the December holidays start winding down, I always find that I start to look forward to putting all the decorations back in their boxes for the next 11 months.

“Most activities should make you happy on some level.”

Blank Canvas In January:

Surfaces in my home that have been occupied by artificial greenery, tiny lit-up houses, and shiny baubles are now starting to look cluttered. Once these items have returned to storage, I can play with what still interests me and put out the big seashells that make me happy. I can also reassess items like a big vase and decide to donate it. The possibilities of making my house fill me with joy again are endless. I have a blank canvas in January.

You can think of your retirement as a blank canvas as well. If you’re a new retiree or even a bored retiree, now is the time to explore whether you want to join a book club, learn French, or get a part-time job. It’s important to allow yourself to really consider the activities that you choose to fill your calendar. You don’t want to commit to activities just to keep yourself busy. Most activities should make you happy on some level.

You have earned it after working in a job or role for decades! Does the thought of joining a book club really interest you? If not, choose something else. If you aren’t sure what to do with your time, try lots of things– move along if it doesn’t feel right.

Choose Happiness:

One area that might not allow you the luxury of choosing your happiness is work. Many retirees must work. A lot of people take a break from working but start up again because they miss the benefits. Money, social interaction, and feeling needed are just a few perks of working. Extra money is not only a perk for a lot of retirees – it’s a necessity. For those who haven’t saved enough, they may have to work to survive.

People have the potential to live much longer than their parents and grandparents did. Medical advancements mean we can all be healthier for longer, but our retirement funds might not cover our needs for our lifetime. Depending upon our backgrounds and our locations, job options can be sparse.

“Extra money is not only a perk for a lot of retirees– it’s a necessity.”

You should try to find a job you love, but you may have to settle for something that just helps you make ends meet. Keep a positive attitude and make time for other activities and hobbies you love.

Emotional Benefits That Are Good For Your Health:

Some retirees choose to volunteer their time, especially if they no longer have to work. Volunteering can be highly rewarding and a wonderful addition to your blank canvas. It offers many of the non-financial perks of a job, but it can be more impactful than a job because of the emotional benefits. Volunteers usually feel that they get more than they give.

This feeling can last for days following this type of work. One key to keep in mind is that you should truly love what you’re doing. If you are volunteering in a situation where you don’t feel needed, or you just don’t enjoy it, look for something else.

There are other people who will want your spot. You don’t want to wait until you dread or resent your volunteer time. Keep searching until you find a good fit. In this way, you’ll have the most impact and reap the most rewards.

Health Limitation:

One area you should definitely make time for in your life is exercise. There are a multitude of options in this arena. Gyms, video lessons, swimming pools, and neighborhood walks are all excellent sources of exercise. Dancing and sports training classes will also get your heart pumping. Have you considered Pickleball?

The value of exercise as you age is vital to good health. It’s good for your heart, your brain, and your mood. There are many ways to make your workouts social to keep you motivated. Working out with a friend can help you stay on track and make moving more fun.

Having a health limitation or disability rarely excuses you from exercising. Look online to see if other people with your condition are exercising. You may be surprised and motivated. Make plans to move every day. Your body and mind will thank you.

“If you’ve been retired for a while, you may still have areas that you want to explore and add.”

If you are new to retirement, this is an exciting time. You will have lots of choices to fill up your calendar with things that interest you. If you’ve been retired for a while, you may still have areas that you want to explore and add.

Plan Your Life Retirement:

Here are some points to cover when planning your new blank canvas.

  1. Stay connected to others. Being social is invaluable for your mental health and ultimately your physical health.
  2. Explorer a variety of activities. Keep looking until you find what that suits you.
  3. Consider working or volunteering to stay engaged and to have the benefits of working.
  4. Make time for hobbies that interest you. This will make you a more interesting and interested human.
  5. Get moving! You need a healthy body to see you through. It’s also crucial for your brain health.

Enjoy your retirement by keeping a varied schedule. Being alive today means you may have the option of having a long retirement. Planning well can ensure that it’s a happy one.

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About the Author:

Kim Shea is a retirement coach, and runs a mental health practice serving older adults. She has an MAS in Leadership of Healthcare Organizations.

Kim has been interested in the mental health of older adults since she was a caregiver for an older friend who died in his mid-fifties. Kim observed how important it was to feel purposeful right up to the end of life. She further worked with older people in a skilled nursing setting who also needed to feel that they still matter and are needed.