“Let’s have fun!” I’ve been told that this is the mission statement for Disney World. And having fun is one of the many fantasies and expectations we have about life after retirement.
In my family, the embodiment of that “have fun” mandate was our retired Aunt Hannah. Whether playing bridge, or baking her coveted chocolate nut squares, or treating one of her nieces or nephews to the latest Broadway play, Aunt Hannah would smile and say, “When did I ever have time to work?” In fact, it became the family joke that, before we could plan any extensive family affair, we would always first need to consult Aunt Hannah’s social calendar! She became the poster child for “how to have fun and not be bored in retirement!”
Webster defines “fun” as “enjoyment or “amusement.” Well, that’s all well and good. But, in reality, one person’s idea of “fun” may be anathema to another’s. What’s important in retirement, is that you find your own “fun recipe” and determine those magic ingredients that blend together to form your perfect fun formula.
Let’s start with that secret wish that you’ve always had about something you would like to try. Your fun could start there. Then you could move on to somewhere you have always wanted to explore. Or someone whom you privately emulate and would even be in awe to experience, or even to meet, in person! Is your something square dancing, and your somewhere Nepal? Is your someone Prince Harry or Willie Nelson or the Dalai Lama?
One important ingredient to your own version of fun is your natural gifts. Now be realistic. If you had a rendezvous with a tree on your first (and only) ski trip, (and on the “kiddie slope!”)… If you fell off the horse during your first riding lesson… If the lifeguard had to jump in the pool to retrieve you from the shallow end… Then these may be activities that are fun to others, but not to you. And you probably need to rethink adding them to your own future fun bucket list.
Reading is my idea of fun. Also, I greatly enjoy writing and travel and learning and listening to music of every kind. But riding a Segway will forevermore be on my list of ways to make myself completely miserable, right up there with rock climbing and golf.
What about your personality? If you know in your heart of hearts that you’re somewhat of a loner, that you dread walking into a room of strangers, that you usually escape a cocktail party at the first opportunity, and that the very words “group” or “club” provoke an anxiety attack, perhaps you’re most content alone at home with a glass of wine and a movie, or playing Words With Friends, or tackling a Sudoku. If this sounds familiar, then you might want to resist any initial impulse to organize a march to Washington in support of the latest trending social cause, or annual trip abroad with your book club.
A caveat… This is not to suggest that you should not try new things or that you should not venture out of your comfort zone. Instead, recognize that now is your time — the time for you to truly identify what gives you pleasure, what amuses you, what you consider fun.
Whatever that is, embrace it with abandon. Dance with it as if no one is watching. And do it often.