With significantly more free time for you to decide how to spend it, it’s important that you keep your wellbeing in mind when deciding what commitments to make and how to fill that time.

This includes keeping in mind the physical activities that you participate in, as well as dedicating your mental or emotional capacity to others.

We reached out to our Rest Less Events community for some top tips on how you shouldn’t spend your retirement, and came up with 5 things to avoid during your retirement (and what to do with it instead).

The most popular answer by far was:

1. “Do not sit inside all day doing nothing”

Do not sit inside all day doing nothing

Some suggestions of other ways to spend your newfound spare time included:

  • Get Outside – many retired people spend time in allotment gardens. You can apply for an allotment via your local council, however there are also many public or shared plots run by local groups or charities, such as one owned by Age UK Herefordshire & Worcestershire.
  • Join Local Clubs or Special Interest Groups – read our beginner’s guide here
  • Travel – whether it be solo travel, cruising, or a safari adventure, there are plenty of tour companies specialising in travel for retirees. Many retirees choose to take a Golden Gap Year
  • Adopt a Pet – you may find you desire a new type of companionship in your retirement. This often comes in the form of a pet. Older pets often don’t get adopted by families, and also may not need as much physical exercise. Speak to your local animal rehoming centre for advice on how you can give a pet a new home.
  • Volunteer – Giving back to the community and making a difference in the lives of others can be so fulfilling. There’s a lot to consider when deciding whether to commit yourself to volunteering, and how much time you want to dedicate to the cause, so read our guide on Volunteering in Retirement to see if you think it could work for you.

“Volunteering has been proven to promote a positive mental attitude – essential in retirement.” – Pat

However, it is important to find the right balance for you, which could be a very different pace to other retired people you know. Patricia made a very important point, “One of the best things about being retired is the freedom to do what you want when you want. Make sure your volunteering doesn’t stop you doing that”.

2. “Don't run around like a headless chicken. Don't lose your identity.”

Many people who are at the stage in their life when they are thinking of retirement, or have recently retired are anxious of losing a large part of their indentity which developed through their careers – their work identity. There are plenty of resouces online which discuss this idea, for example, this Forbes article titled ‘Grieving The Loss Of A Work Identity‘ and this podcast from Harvard Business Review, titled ‘How Retirement Changes Your Identity’.

It is important to look after your wellbeing in retirement, both physically and emotionally. That includes setting clear boundaries with anything you have signed up to help with or participate in, as Micheline said, “Don’t over commit – or life will be one mad rush again, governed by the clock”. This includes setting boundaries and learning to say no, even to family. Pat warns, “Don’t let your children rely on you being available when they want you, soon you will have no time for yourself.”

3. “Never think you are too old to take up a new challenge!”

  • “Don’t stop trying new things.” – Patricia


  • Learn a new skill – There are plenty of free courses for over 60s, read our essential guide here.


  • Re-enter education – this could be studying for an A-Level course, a university degree, or the many other different types of qualifications out there, learning has no age limit! Don’t want to become a student again, what about becoming a teacher later in life?

Priscilla shared that she is now studying for a Level 3 in Art and Design. “After supporting others in Education for years I’m now the one doing the learning and loving it.”

Jenefer also directed us towards a free online course by the University of Tasmania called Understanding Dementia (MOOC). “I found it so informative when befriending a 90 year old lady. And who knows, it may even help me to understand what’s happening to me in the future.”

4. “Don’t procrastinate…do it now!”

A lot of people urged others to do everything they wanted while they could. As Eila wrote, “Don’t put it off. Do it whilst you can. You never know what’s round the corner”, and pointed to the Covid-19 pandemic as a good example of why you should grab life with both hands while nothing is stopping you!

Some tips to avoid procrastinating in retirement include:

  • Filling your diary with plans – if you physically write it down, you are more likely to commit to something rather than just saying it or thinking it.
  • Be open-minded and flexible – you may think that this would counter the point above, however if an amazing opportunity comes your way and you can be flexible with your plans, take that opportunity while you can! It might not be available again.
  • Set yourself small goals – is there something you always wanted to learn? A new skill you wanted to try? Now that you are retired you can set your own goals!

5. “Don't forget the reason you saved for retirement”

If you are fortunate enough to have retired financially comfortably, make the most of it! Jane told us, “I had saved all my life for retirement but still had to give myself permission to spend it”.

This short article from Forbes talks about how many people are torn between leaving a legacy for their children or grandchildren, and spending the money for themselves. By creating a plan, you can fulfill your wish to leave a legacy, but also enjoy your retirement by giving yourself permission to spend your money.

Final thoughts to remember

“I’ve been retired 20 years and they have been wonderful years.” – Sue

Most importantly

“Find your own rhythm!” – Linda