Taboo #2 – Boredom.
Retirement and boredom – the last taboo?
So you thought you were bored before? Now look at where we are in lockdown and having to make our own entertainment, work from home and/or go totally nuts! That or go out, ignore the advice and potentially contract a deadly virus – us ‘oldies’ especially the men are prime candidates and there’s also a postcode/zipcode lottery too, mainly to do with wealth or more likely the lack of poverty. Getting old isn’t much fun but as my Father-in-law used to say – “It’s better than the alternative!” Suffering the Covid-19 illness can be pretty tough too although some manage to go through it without even knowing they’ve had it. In fact there was a part of me that ‘aspired’ to getting coronavirus as I thought being relatively fit and not ‘too old’ I’d survive it and be able to get on with the rest of my life! Hah! So much for that. 1. I could have risked a severe illness and died (I know of those much younger and fitter than I who have succumbed.) and 2. I could have survived but be left with ‘Long Covid’ a condition that blights a proportion of patients even several months after the virus has been ‘beaten’. Coronavirus is certainly going to have left it’s mark on us in more ways than we could ever have imagined.
Retirement is often portrayed as a thirty-year holiday, free from the shackles and restrictions of work. But if you enjoyed working and the sense of purpose and structure it provided, you may find you are surprised to find you are actually bored without it! Those working from home and avoiding the long commute, able to have a lie-in or even start work earlier to free up time later in the day make a coffee whenever and even play with the kids, walk the dog or hang up the washing initially thought this was Coronavirus’ silver lining – sitting crouched on the edge of the bed, collar and tie on top and boxers below, Zooming to colleagues on the laptop really did feel like utopia or at least something close that you’d still get paid for doing! However at the same time the big companies in the centre of town are looking at getting rid of hugely expensive office space and encouraging work from home, those at home are getting somewhat restless and funnily enough for many of the same reasons they loved it. Home ain’t no office and where’s the copier and the guy that fixes the printer? Where’s the stationary cupboard and “can I get some help here PLEASE!” goes pretty much unanswered! My accountant tells me he’s working MUCH harder from home as no one offers to help when he’s looking a bit overwhelmed and it feels like infringing other peoples personal space to ask them when they answer Zoom at the kitchen table with ‘domestic bliss’ going on in the background. So as the (relatively free of Coronavirus Chinese say ‘Be careful for what you wish for!’ – and for those libertarians out there – those that have not already taken up their God given right to ignore the Coronavirus and are still unaffected – don’t you just sometimes wish life were a bit more boring and you and everyone else just did what the government said (…and more) and stayed home? USA 241,000 Deaths, UK 50,836 and China 4,742 (Friday 13th November 2020) – OK, big differences and untruths from some but I suspect a few deaths can be hidden or explained away but 100,000s?! – Rant over! – That was getting FAR too interesting for a boredom post!
For some lockdown, working from home or not at all has given insight into what retirement might look like and for many this has just been more TOIL whereas for others it’s truly the TOYL!
A study has shown that the joy of retirement wears off just ten months after quitting work. (…or possibly being sent home, Furloughed or made redundant – time will tell!) Days free from the stress of commuting, pressure of work and having to answer to a boss start to become boring early on in retirement. Instead, new pensioners face endless daytime television, the likelihood of putting on weight because they have stopped being active and the prospect of continual bickering at home as they find themselves spending more time than ever before with wives or husbands. The downside of retirement is felt by more than half of those who have recently stood down from their jobs and the end of early retirement and the likelihood of having to work on into what was once old age may for many people be a boon rather than a loss. ( See the 100 year life – 100 Year Life.)
….could this be you??
I get up in the morning and the first thought that pops in my head is what the hell am I going to do today?
I worked my whole life and retired at a early age of 52, I was a carpenter and considered myself lucky to retire with a good pension and all the time in the world to do what I want when I want.
I soon found out that this was the one thing that would lead me down the path of depression and over thinking my life.
I should also mention I’m divorced with no children and very few hobbies but that never seem to matter before because hung out with many acquaintances.
What happens is people go in different directions and I found myself on the outside looking in.
I am in desperate search of what to do with my life to bring satisfaction and not just be existing out here waiting to die.
I am somewhat of a health nut, I exercise and eat healthy everyday and try to stay away from the party lifestyle so I don’t end up a lonely old man sitting at the end of a bar.
Top reasons retirees get disillusioned are:-
- I missed the camaraderie I had at work.
..and you hated the boss and couldn’t get away fast enough from your co-workers – I suggest this as you don’t seem to have made much effort to keep up with them, have you? You know where they hang out after work, go join them or better still give them a reason to be jealous of your TOYL whist they TOIL!! However maybe it’s time to make new friends and comrades. The bridge Club, Book Group and Darts team or pub quiz team may or may not be your thing – but believe me your ‘thing’ IS out there albeit hiding! How about camaraderie AND getting fit? Try volunteering for or participating in ParkRun every Saturday morning at 9am? ParkRun or if your mind needs stimulating try an Exploring What Matters Course run by Action for Happiness who also run great lectures / seminars. Action for Happiness. Mind and Body – Friends and Comrades – I’ve run over 150 5K ParkRuns and made many friends, I’ve also attended the AfH course and then helped to run two others – the groups continue to meet and stay in touch! (See No.79 of the 101 things to try!)
- The novelty of not working wore off.
Preferably find some novelties BEFORE retiring – Remember this is the Time Of Your Life TOYLing like anything else needs practice and best start early. Those that expect retirement to show you the way are often hugely disappointed. Taking up golf might be a great idea that will fill endless days but what if it turns out not to be your thing? Even keen golfers don’t want to play 24/7! Test out a few things, dace classes, language apps, book groups – even if you can’t make the full commitment whilst working at least you’ll have a flavour and an idea as to whether this is something you want to pursue.
- I was bored.
My exceedingly busy better half retorted to our children’s protestations of “I’m bored” with “Oh great, I aspire to boredom, I just haven’t found the time yet!” – When the time is there it will need filling and daytime TV surely isn’t the answer whatever the question! I’ve often suggested to those who are depressed that the time to deal with this is when they are feeling a bit better and can be a bit more proactive. First get a large box. Next go to the book shelves and pick out 3 of your favourite books and another you’ve not got around to reading yet. Make a list of your favourite movies and the names and telephone numbers of the 5 or 10 best friends or family members. Create a ‘to-do’ list – all the things you’ve enjoyed in the past but not had time for – not necessarily putting those shelves up but some practical things getting done may encourage the DIY master within you – Getting it done AND relieving the boredom – everyone’s a winner! Music is a great healer – I bet you’ve a pile of old LPs or CDs you haven’t listened to all the way through for a while but were always the go-to when you were younger. So, when you are feeling low and bored go to the box and play tombola – pick out a book, put the music on, phone a friend or look down the ‘to-do’ list and plan the movie double bill – Sorted – What’s not to like? Nothing by definition!
- My mind wasn’t being pushed.
OK – Easy-Peasy – You want ‘pushed’? – Be careful for what you wish for, this might have been the reason for retiring – too much push, but now you control the push and pull if necessary! Study for a degree (in anything you wish), Learn to speak a language fluently, write a novel or read all the “classics”, learn an instrument (see 4 Music Myths- Get Playing! & MUSIC – Exercise for the brain!) – It’s all there waiting for you. Also 4 Music Myths – Get playing!
- I didn’t have as much disposable income as I thought.
Financial planning – See my ‘FIRE’ blog and see a financial adviser. (Also Taboo 3 – Money.) “I wouldn’t start from here if I were you!” may well be the most unhelpful retort to those requiring direction in this area but often true none the. Frugality is a dish best avoided but making the choice is far better than being forced into a desperate situation. The FIRE blog and links may help point you in a direction albeit at the opposite end of path to financial freedom. Please seek advice early.
- The glow just wears off because you get used to it.
Just as our dream of spending all day every day on the Caribbean island beach will pale after a few weeks, or in my case a few days, the ‘glow’ of retirement will fade if it is not sustainable. It might be best to change the dream scenario to something more realistic. It’s NOT about money – Psychoanalyst Manfred Kets de Vries is a therapist treating the angst of the super-rich. “Pretty soon, to attain the same buzz they have to spend more money. All the spending is a mad attempt to cover up boredom and depression”. The poor dears have “Wealth Fatigue Syndrome (WFS). “When money is available in near-limitless quantities, the ‘victim’ sinks into a kind of inertia. Feeling any sort of excitement means taking more and more risks, financially and physically.” – Passion is the route to rediscovering your ‘glow’ – bad luck if that’s Formula One or race horses, however look back to the simple things you used to enjoy – long walks and time with friends cost nothing.
- When everyday ended being the same as the day before.
This is in YOUR control – why not stick to the routines of having a weekend etc, although this could be any days of the week you choose! I suggest getting a diary – electronic or analogue it matters not – and start putting in simple activities, tasks, projects etc. 9am – Walk to shop and buy paper. Call Tom, Find out about xyz, Do the language app etc. NEVER be faced with I don’t have anything to do. Try not to be faced with the question “What do you want to do today?” because in the past when you were very busy you were good at doing “Whatever I want!” and “When I want to!” which may often have led to ‘nothing’, R & R, TV etc. which was fine for an hour or three but not for all time!
- I didn’t have many friends who had retired.
Well find some! – see 10! Just like the perception of age in the elderly where many perceive themselves not to be as ‘old’ as their contemporaries – you are only as old as you feel, those in poor health may well feel ‘older’,
You won’t find the new friends you would like to make who have retired sitting on street corners waiting for you to come along and befriend them. No, they are out and about and doing stuff and that’s where you’ll find them, in that hidden world you’ve never stumbled across whilst doing the 9 to 5. The museum lectures in the middle of the day, Bridge Clubs, Cookery Classes, Book Clubs (start one), Coffee mornings – host one! Etc. It’s all out there and the local library might be a good place to start. There are also local internet sites such as NextDoor which by their nature of being local will be a place to find or reach out for similar like-minded people without havi9ng to go to the ends of the earth.
- The nice weather ended, and I had spent more time indoors.
Really?! – Are you like those who won’t swim in an outdoor pool because it’s raining? Rediscover the ‘boy scout’ in you and be prepared! Get some wet weather gear and get out there – you’ll meet others who have the same idea even if it’s finding refuge in the pub and if you’re British you’ll always have the weather to talk about!
- I was lonely.
Patch Adams once told me “Reach out and you’ll never be lonely” – so true. Revisit your old ‘chat-up’ lines and ice-breakers – Have a few, preferably original opening gambits. ‘” Do you come here often?” might have to be a fall back! The ‘trick’ is to be ready and not tongue tied – It might have been a while since you had to start a conversation in the real world, work can be so different!
So here’s the news from the Motley Fool….wait for it…. Maurie Backman writes ‘Bored in Retirement? 4 Ways to Fill Your Days and Make Money at the Same Time – You worked hard to reach retirement. Now make retirement work for you.’
1. Start your own business
2. Monetize your favourite hobby
3. Become a landlord
4. Ask to return to your old job part time
….so essentially go back to work, albeit in a different capacity, one that likely you have no real experience of. If you dislike your job then going back part-time is possibly less pain for less gain, having said that the less I work, the more I enjoy it – I’m not being facetious or clever here – really, having the extra head space and less pressure and responsibility makes the job far more enjoyable. My father-in-law had a hobby of rebuilding and repairing antique clocks and when made redundant as an engineer he turned his hobby into a profitable business, not all of us will be that lucky. Landlord? – First find the capital you can afford to lose – property values have been slipping for the last few years after the boom. Buy a property and refurbish/decorate and rent sounds pretty simple but tenants are not always easy – they are paying for more than space to live in – you’ll be on-call and need to sort everything from a dripping tap to a leaking roof – NOW! My guess is that ‘buy to let’ has had its day – many professional landlords are getting out so if you think you can do better there will be plenty of opportunities to buy. Tax rules in the UK are making it much less attractive financially and landlords now have much more responsibility and regulations to adhere to. Without a rising market the risk is huge!
So what to do to avoid boredom? Andrew Neligan of Neligan Finance came up with these 101 in 45 minutes, there are other lists and if you don’t like this one make up your own! Some require money, some don’t. Some require travel, some can be done from home. Some are indulgences, some are altruistic, but there is something for everyone regardless of gender, background, ability or financial means.
- Study for a degree (in anything you wish)
- Learn to speak a language fluently
- Write a novel
- Read all the “classics”
- Volunteer in a Charity shop
- Teach English overseas
- Help dig wells/build schools/hospitals overseas
- Volunteer on conservation projects overseas
- Cycle a country (or continent!)
- Learn an instrument to grade 8 level
- Visit all the football grounds in the UK
- Visit the world’s iconic stadia
- Eat in the world’s top restaurants
- Paint your ‘master piece’
- Teach school leavers your skills
- Become a bird watcher/astronomer
- Write a screen play
- Sail around the Greek Islands
- Swim with Orca
- Watch the great African migration
- Create a wild life haven in your garden
- Create a video series of your skills and experiences for the benefit of others
- Travel around the British Coastline
- Drive Route 66
- Go on a cattle drive with cowboys
- Visit all the wonders of the world
- Learn to scuba dive
- Be an extra in a film
- Visit the North & South Poles
- Trek the Himalayas
- Trek the Amazon
- Sky Dive
- Bungy jump the world’s highest jump
- Make a random act of kindness every day.
- Learn about the solar system
- Start Yoga
- Walk the great walks of the UK
- Keep a bird of prey
- Drive a motorhome around Europe
- Cruise the world
- See the Northern Lights
- Do a shark cage dive.
- Become an expert in wine
- Grow your own fruit and veg
- Watch every West End show (or Broadway show)
- Study the life and times of an icon (past or present).
- Learn how to save a life
- Restore a classic car
- Join a book club
- Build a scale model of something
- Build a model railway in your attic
- Get your golf handicap as low as possible
- Teach your grandchildren a new skill
- Learn to cook
- Learn to fly
- Write your memoirs
- Learn computer code
- Cross the Atlantic in a tall ship
- Run a marathon
- Complete a triathlon
- Learn to sing
- Join a choir or band
- Become a church minister
- Learn about the world’s religions
- Study politics
- Learn economics
- Study philosophy
- Build a house
- Learn to sail
- Write a book of poems
- Spend time in a monastery
- Become a landscape/portrait/animal… photographer & publish your work
- Produce your own beer
- Learn to play chess
- Become an ebay seller
- Write a children’s book
- Become a cartoonist
- Write a travel journal
- Start a blog about your retirement experiences – been there, doing that!
- Start ball room dancing
- Learn to play poker
- Become a tour guide
- Volunteer for your local wildlife trust
- Watch your favourite team home and away for a season (or more)
- Volunteer for your local political party
- Learn graphic design
- Make soft toys for disadvantaged children around the world
- Take up carpentry
- Study the Bible (or any other great work.)
- Swim with dolphins
- Take other people’s dogs for a walk
- Become a companion for someone who is lonely
- Become a counsellor
- Learn public speaking
- Start a social enterprise business
- Start a for profit business
- Make and sell your own cakes/jams/preservatives
- Visit the world’s holy places
- Study a period of history
- Become an actor
- Learn mindfulness
What would you add to this?
Q1. What would you add to this list?
Q2. What will fill the time you have previously been working?
Q3. Have you thought through what you would enjoy and be fulfilled by?
I’d love to hear from anyone out there that has experienced BOREDOM in retirement but gone on to succeed as well as anyone for who it didn’t work out – We can all learn from each other.