What Can I Do to Ensure My Leisure Time Doesn’t Turn into a Job?

Published on March 3, 2012 by Tracey Fieber

Small-business owners, entrepreneurs, and other go-getters often worry that, in retirement, “spending” (that is, getting rid of) the time they have each day will become a burden akin to a full-time job.

This is a perfectly reasonable and understandable fear, especially if you’ve spent a significant part of your working life devoted to your business at all hours of the day, all days of the week. But no matter how intertwined your work and your life are now, there are steps you can take to ensure that you enjoy the leisure time you find in retirement.

Strategies for Enjoying Your Down Time

The best time to start thinking about your retirement is several years before you decide to take it. Actively and consciously transitioning from work mode to retirement mode will allow you to prepare yourself for the ways your life will be different after work ends and get you excited to enjoy all that retirement has to offer!

That transition should include a few basic elements.

  • Start taking time off. Practice makes perfect, and if you haven’t had a completely work-free weekend since you started working, it’s time to start. In order to prepare for full-time retirement, make it a point to avoid work on weekends and take real vacations. Allow yourself to enjoy these fully, without thinking about work.
  • Cultivate some hobbies. Whether you have hundreds of hobbies or none, it’s important to spend time with at least a few as you approach retirement. Experiment with a variety of activities (gardening, collecting, sports, dancing, volunteer work, singing, traveling, etc.) to find out what you love—and then start getting excited about how much time you’ll have to devote to that activity when you retire.
  • Spend time with friends. A busy work life may prevent you from socializing as much as you’d like, but as you approach retirement, make the effort to kindle or rekindle friendships. You will appreciate having these people in your life when the working days are done, and you’ll probably rely on their companionship more than you do now.
  • Take care of your health. It’s hard to enjoy down time if you can’t do much, so make sure that you’re taking steps now to ensure that you’re healthy in retirement. That means eating right, exercising, getting enough sleep, and checking in with your doctor on a regular basis.
  • Make a list of things you want to try. Some people call this their “bucket list.” It’s a great way to give focus and purpose to your leisure time as you approach and enter retirement.
  • Consider part-time employment opportunities. Entering full-time retirement doesn’t have to mean departing the work world altogether! If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at a fun but not-so-profitable job, retirement is the time to do it.
  • Build your leisure network. Just as a business network is crucial to helping things hum along in the work world, a leisure network is important to maintaining your well-being in retirement. Build relationships with friends, volunteer organizations, family members, and others you’ll have time to interact with after retirement.

Retirement can and should be enormously enjoyable. But like anything else, doing it right takes some planning