Column: Try Something New

When I was in the thick of my working life, I regularly found myself envying people who had loads of time on their hands to do exciting things, and I’d project forward, saying “I’ll do that when I retire.” Now that I’m living the good life (not that work can’t be good, but let’s face it, retirement is 1000% better), I have no excuse not to explore all the possibilities surrounding me.

So, I made a list. Not your traditional retiree bucket list full of travel destinations, but a path for moving forward in my retirement. One small, joyful step at a time. Not that my life should serve as a guide for everyone else – I’m just offering some suggestions.

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Here’s what I came up with, including a personal progress report.

1.    Try something new every week.

  • This is a constant challenge for me. But I realized that it can even mean letting go of a specific fear and trying out a new behavior. Go ahead and stretch yourself.

2.    Explore spiritual activities.

  • I’m doing a LOT of that, and loving it. After a lifetime of spiritual fence-sitting, I’ve immersed myself in religious learning, both formally and informally.

3.    Try a new approach to rekindling important relationships.

  • This is probably the hardest thing on my list, because change takes courage, a huge investment of time, a ginormous dose of patience, a whack of forgiveness, and a willingness to be vulnerable. (To those of you who want to try it, good luck with this. Seriously.)

4.    Volunteer somewhere new.

  • Got this covered. In spades. No room to list all my volunteer activities.

5.    Share my skills.

  • From time to time, I teach friends and acquaintances to bake various kinds of bread. It’s very satisfying. It’s also very fattening.

6.    Make new friends.

  • Lucky for me, this seems to happen naturally when I put myself out there in new situations. Granted, I’m much more open to cultivating new friends now. When I was working, I barely had time to de-stress during my free time, never mind seek out and invest in new friendships.  

7.    Learn a new language.

  • On it. I’ve signed up for an intensive Hebrew class in August. Now all I need to do is remember how to study.

8.    Write like my life depends on it.

  • On it. I could be writing more. But it’s summer and I want to go outside and play.

9.    Be a mentor or tutor. – Doing that already online, and loving it.

10. Grow a vegetable or herb garden.

  • It’s a little known fact that I have a black thumb. Plus, there’s no direct sunlight where we live. (But you closet gardeners out there know who you are, so grab some dirt and grow stuff. Oops, I mean soil.)

11. Learn to play an instrument.

  • Despite the fact that there’s serious music in my genes (my aunt was a well-known concert pianist), I’m not a music person. At all. (But if you’ve always wanted to play an instrument, why not now? It doesn’t have to be a huge investment. Buy a used one on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist.)

Become an expert at something – And I don’t mean an expert at procrastination. Come to think of it, are there really any experts? Isn’t expertise a moving target? Aren’t we all learning something new every day? That’s too heavy a question to ponder in July. Just go outside and play. 

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