The difference between those who remain active during their golden years as opposed to those who do not, goes a long way to explaining why some people have a much more enjoyable retirement than others.
This post is dedicated to examining the area of ‘purposeful activities’ , why they impact so strongly on our well-being in retirement and, importantly, why each individual needs to choose the activities that will suit them best.
When people start planning how long they will spend during their retirement they will often picture themselves enjoying their favourite weekend leisure activity, others will tell you about the brief overseas holiday they took sone years ago.
While some people focus on the types of activities they will tackle, others argue that it is more important to focus on activities that involve interacting with people.
So who is right?
Two types of activities are widely accepted to be beneficial during retirement. These are;
- Maintenance – for example gardening, doing the housework, polishing the car
- Recreational – Such as golf, fishing and reading.
However a third category, ‘purposeful activities’ has shown to be just as beneficial.
so what are purposeful activities?
Purposeful activities fall into three categories.
There are the activities where we produce something tangible – these may include such activities as restoring an old car, producing items from skills such as woodworking, oil painting or craftwork.
These are activities where we provide a service, either paid or unpaid, such as working in the community, working part-time, or even running our own small business.
Finally, purposeful activities may include self-development or self-improvement pursuits such as participating in courses ranging anywhere from one to two day course right up to a formal university degree.
how can I use this information to increase my enjoyment of retirement?
One simple method is to sit down and make a list of those aspects of your occupation(s) that you enjoy the most. For some it will be the work itself, for others the work may have been boring but they found that they enjoyed the interaction with work friends.
Everyone has their own sets of interests, values and skills. As a unique individual, it is your task to identify what you enjoyed most at work and then seek purposeful activities that incorporate those qualities. If you find that quietly working alone and seeing projects through to completion gives you the most enjoyment, make sure that you include such roles in your purposeful activities. On the other hand, if you are more socially inclined at work, seek our purposeful activities that involve you interacting with people.
where can I find these ideas for purposeful activities?
The types of activities that we find enjoyable will vary from person. It is really up to you to find, and then settle on, the activities that suit you best. In the meantime, here are a few ideas that have proven useful for others.
- Speak with others who are living active lives and ask them what they and their friends do during a typical week. The more you have in common with the people you speak to, the more likely it is that their activities will be of relevance to you.
- Check your library and local papers. The library will usually have a notice board on which local groups advertise their coming events. The local paper is also a good source of information about what is going on in your community, new interest groups formed or short courses available. The library should also have details of any local University of the Third Age (U3A) groups. These groups are staffed by volunteers who run a variety of courses for a minimal fee. The courses are for interest only and no exams or other assessment are usually involved. You may also find that you have your own area of expertise which could form the basis of a class for others.
- Check with the local municipal office and ask the staff for a copy of the annual community booklet which lists details of what is happening locally. these booklets also list the contact details for social and service clubs in the area. Even if you don’t feel like joining a particular club, it can still be worthwhile attending at least one meeting – you may meet somebody there who will tell you of other interests they have which may also suit you.
- For some people, volunteering is their way of giving back to the community. The website www.govolunteer.com.au is one of a number that provide information about volunteering together with the details of volunteering opportunities in your area.