How to ensure that your transition into retirement is fulfilling

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First, full disclosure: I’m not retirement age. As a 40-year-old dad with two young kids, I can only dream of the day when I have free time to myself.

But I have closely observed a few retirees lately. And, they all frequently seem to send the same message — they’re bored.

I see it in my father, a frequent traveler who has seemed listless lately, during a COVID-19 pandemic that leaves senior citizens uneasy about packing into airplanes or cruise ships.

I also see such boredom in my girlfriend’s father, a recent retiree who seems to find joy elusive of late. Many of his stories seem to be from years gone by, of past travels, or practical jokes he once played on coworkers.

When someone retires, they often lose their purpose. And, when you don’t have anything on your docket at the start of a day, it can leave you feeling directionless.

With those thoughts in mind, I sought insight from someone who sounds like the must fulfilled senior citizen you’ll ever meet: renowned Twin Cities-area newspaper columnist and radio icon Patrick Reusse, a recent nominee for enshrinement in the National Baseball Hall of Fame as a media member.

Here’s how to ensure that your senior years leave you feeling as content as possible, in the opinion of a 75-year-old who still writes two or three columns per week, and often appears on podcasts.

Find a purpose

Like many of his peers, Reusse has a condo in South Florida. He spends several days each winter relaxing near the ocean. But, the longtime newspaper columnist and radio personality also maintain a routine that allows him to continue to do what he loves professionally, at least on a part-time basis.

Maybe that’s why his podcast appearances and columns frequently have a light-hearted air about them; he’s still having fun.

“I can only watch so much Netflix and Amazon,” Reusse, who turned 75 on Oct. 17, told theladders.com.

The longtime Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist said he’d be “bored to tears” if he didn’t still do what he loved, even if it is in a reduced role. That said, working reduced hours has granted him valuable time with his two young grandchildren, too.

“I’m the guy who can’t screw in a lightbulb,” Reusse said. “My household duties involve loading the dishwasher and putting in a load of clothes. I’ve never done yard work.”

“I definitely would lack purpose,” he adds, “without the [part-time work] duties.”

Find a hobby

For years, Reusse, an eventual president of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, crisscrossed the country, covering Major League Baseball and the Minnesota Twins for his employer. That makes for long workdays and little free time.

For many, that profession isn’t so much work as it is an obsession. As a result, quitting cold-turkey would leave a writer like Reusse feeling lost.

That’s a key reason why — in addition to spending time with his grandkids — Reusse still makes time to hammer away at his computer keyboard, opining about the sports world.

“My aging mind seems to go back in time when I’m writing,” he explained. “I feel 60 again when I’m hacking [i.e., typing], rather than the 75 I feel the rest of the time.”

Finally, remember this

While it might be tempting to sleep in once you’ve reached retirement age, Reusse has a different line of thinking. For him, and many like him, it’s imperative — on most days, at least — to wake up with a plan in mind.

And, it’s just as important to “do what you love,” he says, even after you’ve reached 65, 75, or 85 years of age.

“If you love going to the cabin, mowing the lawn when you get there, swatting mosquitos while you look at the lake and all that B.S., go for it,” the 75-year-old says. “If you love your job, and nobody is yet forcing you out the door, keep working.”