Your senior years are supposed to be a time to take it slower for all the right reasons, whether it’s to take better care of your physical/mental health, spend time with family, or just relax a little bit after a life of hard work. There’s a bit of a rough balance to strike here though, especially if you’re the type of person who thrives on being busy. How do you go from running a household and working to not having either of those responsibilities? For some, going without something to do can be just as frustrating as being overworked.
Some people get small jobs to try and fill the time, but this may put unnecessary pressure on your schedule, and money may not be a major issue. One way to use some of your time in a positive manner, especially when you are 50 and over, is through cultivating a hobby. Here are some ways to decide what hobby is best for you, and how to get started.
What Hobby Makes Sense For Me?
In some cases, the answer for what your hobby should be is right in front of you. Perhaps you had an artistic or creative passion that you used to do for fun, but didn’t want to cultivate into a career. Now is the perfect time to indulge and hone the skills that you’ve had all along. This can range from art to writing to crafts to even other creative forms, like cooking. For other people, though, it may be harder.
In this case, one of the best things you can do is sit down and a have an informal self-inventory. Think about the things that you get enjoyment out of and think of non-conventional ways to try and meet those needs. For example, if you enjoy nurturing but your children are grown up, it may not be a bad idea to volunteer at an animal shelter or pet-sit in order to meet that need.
If you have a particular item/sports team/any sort of pop culture fandom, becoming a collector may not be a bad idea also, especially if you already have an extensive knowledge about what you are collecting. Another thing worth considering is finding a hobby with a physical component, not an intense one, but enough to give you a strong set of reasons to move around. Things like birdwatching, hiking, even some of the performing arts, can give you a few health benefits along with the benefits of a hobby.
Putting Things Into Practice
Now, we know what you want to do, but how do you start doing it? Marcus Conyers, co-author of Positively Smarter: Science and Strategies for Increasing Happiness, Achievement, and Well-Being, explains that there are four main facets that help when it comes to improving a skill:
- Novelty: Doing new things that you have never tried before in order to engage the brain.
- Challenge: Trying something that has a high enough degree of difficulty that you don’t lose interest.
- Practice: Putting in the time to learn a skill in order to achieve a higher level of proficiency.
- Feedback: Gaining an assessment of how you are doing with the goal of improving performance.
All of these are easily accessible with the spare time that you have, perhaps with the exception of feedback. But even that’s gotten easier. After all, a major part of making a hobby entertaining for you is not doing it alone. It may not be feasible for you to get out for meetups or sessions on a regular basis, but there are many different types of websites for just about every hobby or subculture you can think of. Take advantage of these to learn more about your hobby if it’s new to you, share insight and stories with other people with similar interests, or simply have some casual conversation. There’s no reason to feel alone with the sense of community the Internet has brought. After a while, the hobby may even become secondary to the social benefits you get from such a group.
When you’re a goal-oriented person, it’s easy to push yourself to try and complete something or meet some set milestone. In a lot of ways, putting a hobby together is the opposite of that. It’s the classic case of the journey being more important than the destination, so don’t be afraid to experiment and enjoy yourself—it’s something you deserve.