Pursue Neglected Interests in Retirement

Retirement is a great time to pursue neglected interests.

The busy years of parenting and career building often leave no time to pursue hobbies, go to movies, read best sellers, or learn new skills. These are also years where interests get postponed due to costs in terms of money and/or time. Mortgages and post-secondary education costs cause careful evaluation of discretionary expenditures. Personal projects take a back seat during these years.

The good news is that neglected interests don’t need to be postponed forever. Retirement is when personal projects can become a priority.

Retired people often cite boredom as a problem. Instead of letting boredom create a funky mood, consider those things you always wanted to do in mid-life when there was no time left after working long hours, managing parenting responsibilities, and the dealing with the everyday stuff of living. Pursuing neglected interests brings pleasure in retirement as it allows us to refresh our minds, find energy, and spark creativity.

Lost or Forgotten Pursuits

Many neglected pursuits fall into the ‘lost’ or forgotten category. Looking back on the interests and activities pursued before life got in the way can revive ideas for projects or hobbies in retirement. Remembering the concerts you enjoyed as a young adult or the artists and bands you followed may give ideas for music to listen to again. Remembering what you loved as a child or teenager can spark a neglected pursuit.  Sometimes a happenstance event will trigger a neglected interest. I have a friend who visited an antique car show and remembered cars that he previously owned. He decided that he, too, could restore and collect antique cars. He now owns three beauties and travels to many events to showcase his restored cars.

When thinking about neglected interests, those times when you tried a new hobby but gave it up may come to mind. Perhaps, like me, you tried something like woodworking but gave it up as you had no suitable equipment.  Perhaps you wanted to learn a skill like photography. Is it time to re-engage?

If you loved reading, looking back at the classic bestsellers you missed or want to re-read may re-ignite a love of reading. Perhaps you always wanted to read Tolstoy or Proust? Perhaps you loved to draw or write but never had time to take art lessons or learn the basics of constructing a piece of writing. Perhaps you always loved movies. A friend decided to watch all the award-winning movies from past decades he missed because he was too busy to watch movies. He keeps a log of movies he watches and rates each one. With more time available, the value of such pursuits can be seen with ‘new’ eyes.

Choose Interesting Projects

When considering neglected interests, many people find an abundance of appealing choices. Things to watch; things to read; things to learn; music to enjoy. The list becomes endless. Returning to hobbies or interests enjoyed as a child or young adult sometimes helps to narrow the choices. Sometimes people choose to build on things that they do for fun. Perhaps you love a sport and have the physical capacity to join a team or club.  Golf often comes to mind but you might try pickleball or table tennis and benefit from the physical exercise involved.

You don’t have to develop exceptional skills or become proficient.  If you love doing something, if it captures your interest,  then this is a beginning of enjoying neglected pursuits!

Learn something new

After retirement, I took several classes as I explored projects.  I took a class to learn Indian cooking.  I tried — and failed– several times to learn tai chi. Many people learn a new language especially if knowing another language will enrich travel aspirations. Others learn a new sport or a new craft.

Finally, it’s important to take action. Intentions are good but you need to act.

You can start small as it’s likely some choices won’t work out. That’s okay because many things don’t work out as planned. Nothing is permanent or irreversible.

Some things will be out of your comfort zone — that’s okay too. Take risks but try to choose projects with outcomes that you can control. For example,  after a hip replacement, I can’t relive pursuits like a biking vacation, nor is it wise to consider winter sports like cross country skiing or skating —  but I might re-engage with a previous interest such as photography. Pursuing a neglected interest will have some level of uncertainty.  Mistakes will happen.  Choices that are wrong can be abandoned — after all, nobody is paying you for this!

Neglected pursuits may lead to outcomes you did never anticipated such as new relationships, intellectual challenges, or opportunities for travel. It’s important to stay open to possibilities!

Thanks for reading my post.  I’m interested to know whether you have taken up neglected pursuits since retirement.  Have your experiences been fulfilling?



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