It’s certainly possible that you’ve been so busy – with children, work and personal relationships, as well as investing and other arrangements – all your life that you haven’t had time to think about what you want to do when you retire. Retirement always seems so far off, even if it’s only a year or so away, perhaps because it’s such a drastic concept – no work at all after a life of nothing but. So maybe the first thing you should do when you stop working is think about what you want to do with the rest of your life.  After a certain period of contemplation, you may identify certain things you want to do with your time. For instance:

Maybe You’ve Always Wanted To...

•     Volunteer. One study shows that 45% of those who retire, at 55 to 64, do formal volunteer work. So you will find many age mates in volunteer work; it could even be a good way to make new friends from outside the work you’ve always done. If your spouse is a volunteer, you’re even more likely to becomes one yourself. As you are probably aware, there’s no dearth of tasks that need to be done, so volunteering can be crucial to a lot of causes. (You may be interested in knowing about Volunteer Protection Laws.)

•     Work Part-Time. Given the figures of what Americans get for Social Security benefits and what little those same people manage to save for retirement, it’s not surprising that, according to the 2015 CareerBuilder's annual retirement survey, "54% of senior workers (age 60+) say they'll work after retiring from their current career – up from 45%in 2014. Of this group, 81% say they'll most likely work part-time, while 19% plan to continue working full-time. Of course, working part-time can also be fun, and it gives you the opportunity to try a field that you haven’t worked in before (perhaps one you’ve always wondered about). (Consider 5 Good Reasons To Build A Nonprofit Career.)

•     Take A Course. Now that’s something to think about: What have you always wanted to learn? It could be chess, cooking, literature, CPR – a whole host of subjects that could lead to part-time work or just expanding your mind and your choices. And in most areas of the country, there are universities that offer part-time courses, or schools set up for just the purpose like the Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes. You might want to check the internet for specific courses near where you live, or simply choose courses you can actually take on the internet itself, where courses are offered by some of the greatest universities in the land – MIT, Harvard and any other place you might think of. There are also free courses available, from, for instance, the University of the People (tuition-free online university).

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Top 5 Things To Do When You Retire

•      Travel. A lot of retirees find that travel is something they can really enjoy now, since there’s no limit on the time available anymore. You might even decide to travel in pursuit of where to live for the long haul. Retirement can go on for a long time these days: Life expectancy rates are over 80 in many of these United States, so you might want to experiment a bit when you travel to find just the right place to spend your golden years. For those who live in colder climes, a choice of something more consistently sunny seems appealing. Could that be why the southern states have increased in population of late? Another country, where life is less expensive, is another option for some. (See, for instance, Find The Top Retirement Cities In Vietnam.)

•     Relax. And who can blame you, after a life tending to business, as it were, getting up early, getting to work on time and staying there for all those hours. You can just luxuriate in free time – some people find that just being able to get up when they feel like it is a huge benefit, although that might not be enough for the long haul. Try some of the options above and see how they work for you over time. Traveling, working a little, volunteering and learning can all help make your life meaningful even when you’re not engrossed in a career, and some of them can even help you earn some small change to help you enjoy a carefree life.

The Bottom Line

Of course, you are invited to add your own choices to make a personalized Top Ten list: Want to spend more time out of doors? Plant a vegetable garden (raised beds are good) or tend a plot in a community garden. Or take up painting like Grandma Moses or former president George W. Bush. Launch a virtual book club online with a few far-flung friends from college. Now that your calendar is more open, the possibilities are limited only by your imagination and perhaps a smaller budget.