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Time for a Retirement “Leisure Audit”?

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by Denis Wuestman

Retirement is like life itself- it’s full of surprises. You may find yourself thinking, “I wish I knew then what I know now”.   If we had a dime for all the “could haves/ would haves/ should haves” in our life…well, you know the story. Did you enter retirement life with a plan or are you just winging it when it comes to how you will spend your leisure time? Are you risking having multiple “could haves/would haves/should haves” during this part of your life?

Taking an “audit” of your leisure life up to this point may be worth it.

More than Just TV

Some interesting facts may stir your creative juices as to how you ensure that you control and make the most of your leisure time. It may or may not be shocking to you, but according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics[i], watching TV is the #1 “leisure” activity for people age 65-74 (4.1 hours a day) versus 2.73 hours a day for all those over 15 years of age.   Admittedly there is a lot of variety available to us via the TV and it has morphed into a true entertainment medium due to all the technology enhancements over the decades. (Which show are you “binge watching” now?)

There is much more to your leisure life in retirement. This is truly a time to take up activities that stimulate your mind and body and create a good balance for a fulfilling retirement life. It’s not too late! You will have a lot more time to invest in leisure activities – perhaps putting that time into the proper “buckets” can make a difference.

Key Elements of Leisure

Let’s see where you are today with regards to your retirement leisure “scorecard”. In the book “The New Retirement” by Richard Johnson, PhD[ii] he defines leisure among 6 key elements, which can help one maintain a healthy balance in our retirement lives. Johnson reminds us that we must regularly “vacate” our lives to remain focused on it! Creating meaningful activities in each of these areas can help us stay fresh in mind, body and spirit. The 6 areas are:

  • Social interaction
  • Spectator appreciation
  • Creative expression
  • Intellectual stimulation
  • Physical activity
  • Solitude

Did you ever think that leisure had so many parts?   Isn’t it just “doing what we want to do, when we want to do it”? Perhaps, but what happens if those moments put you in front of the TV for days on end? Maybe OK for some but I would argue that this could potentially lead to boredom, an unhealthy lifestyle or listlessness. In thinking about these 6 elements, it is rather easy to create a more fulfilling leisure plan for yourself and/or your life partner.

Your Leisure Audit

Now it’s time for your personal “leisure audit”. Start with charting how much of your “leisure time” each day (not working/volunteering) goes to each of the above buckets? Do this for a week or two to get a good sample. Now ask yourself these questions?

  • Are you doing too much of one thing and not enough of another?
  • Which of these are most important to you?
  • Are you satisfied with where you are today?
  • What do you want to change?
  • What will you do differently tomorrow or this week to start that change?
  • What will help you “stick to it”?

Leisure is one of the fun parts of being retired and more of it is a well-deserved reward after decades of “less leisure time”. Unlike those times, when leisure was a break from work, our retirement leisure can really make a difference in how well we enjoy our time in retirement. Consider a balance of meaningful activities across these 6 areas of leisure – and eliminate the “could haves, the would haves and the should haves” in your retirement life. Get started today!



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[i] Bureau of Labor Statistics Time spent in leisure and sports activities for the civilian population by selected characteristics, averages per day, 2016 annual averages (Table 11A)

[ii] Johnson, Richard P. PhD. (2001), The New Retirement: Discovering Your Dream. Career Partners International

Denis can be reached at [email protected]

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