So you've retired and plan to live out your golden years on your own terms. What does that mean exactly? All of a sudden your days have opened up, as have the weeks, months and years ahead. It's freeing, but can also be daunting. What do you do now that you have the free time you've always dreamed of? Read on to find hobby ideas to make retirement fulfilling and fun:
Expand your current hobbies
Maybe you're already an avid traveler, knitter or writer, or have always wanted to find time for your passions and interests. Now is the time to pursue those hobbies with vigor. Plan a two-week trip instead of the weekend trips you're used to taking, or set aside a few hours each day for writing, whether that's fiction, a family history or a memoir of your life.
Dust off the camera in your closet and learn a bit more about photography. Check out local courses to expand your skills and hone your eye, as well as to socialize with others who are interested in photography. If you'd rather not purchase an expensive new camera, you can also take on photography using your smartphone's camera. These cameras have come a long way in the last several years, allowing you to take high-quality portraits of family members, photos of street scenes, or to capture nature scenes.
You don't have to be a lifelong artist to enjoy painting. Look for local classes to learn how to use watercolors or oil paints and create something you're proud of. Or buy the supplies on your own and set up your easel in the living room or back porch and paint what inspires you. Don't get discouraged if you discover you're not Monet – it's about having fun, and you'll discover your style and skills over time.
There's a special kind of satisfaction that comes from working with your hands and creating something out of nothing. Take a woodworking course to learn your way around a saw, and after a few weeks you'll come home with a new chair, table or other creation you can show off to others.
If you have shoeboxes full of photos tucked away, or scores of photos of family and friends saved on your phone's camera roll, scrapbooking may be the perfect hobby for you. Head to your nearby craft store to buy the necessary supplies and sit down to have some fun. Collect photos, ticket stubs, programs from events and other mementos and put them all in one, creative place. If you want, you can create a scrapbook with written captions to describe celebrations, family members and the good times you've all had together.
With more time on your hands, you can dedicate yourself to a good cause. Besides donating money, you can donate your own services and help your community directly. Volunteer to read to children or help with adult literacy courses, spend time with animals at a local shelter, clean up forest preserves or volunteer at a homeless shelter. Check around online for opportunities nearby, or talk to others with volunteer experience through religious organizations if you'd like to get involved with people or places you're already familiar with.
Join a book club
If you're an avid reader or would like to become one, a book club may be the perfect new activity for you. Organize a group yourself with friends or family, or join an established book club through your library or local senior groups. Some are more fast-paced than others, meeting every couple of weeks, while others meet once a month. You can go at your own pace and dive into a new book regularly, while introducing yourself to a new social group.
Gardening is good for you in many ways – it's a healthy activity, it gets you plenty of time outside and gives you the satisfaction of growing something beautiful in your surroundings. If you have trouble kneeling, head to your local hardware store or nursery to purchase a kneeler or stool so you can be more comfortable while you garden. You can plant flowers, native plants and your own vegetables that you can later cook with. If you don't have an outdoor space to yourself, look around for communal gardens where you can get time outside with a group. And don't forget the sunscreen.
Maybe you made dinner for your family every night for years, whipping together favorites but never branching out much. Now's the time to acquaint yourself with new foods to make meals more exciting. Take a cooking class to learn how to create meals from around the world, how to slow-cook, or to familiarize yourself with wine pairings. Or spend some time with your own cookbook to make delicious treats for yourself and to share with others.
There are infinite options for you to explore in your golden years. Experiment on your own, join in with others and don't forget to have some fun along the way.