Update: So you’re retired, what do you do all day? by Bob Lowry

bob and wife

By Bob Lowry

A post I wrote a little over five years ago remains the most-read one on this blog. In that time, almost 36,000 folks have clicked the link to take a peak inside the life of a retiree. Fresh comments are still left on a regular basis by someone who just discovered that post and wants to be part of the discussion. I love to see that; it means what has been written is still relevant.

So, You’re Retired: What Do You Do All Day was written just a few months after I starting blogging. If I wrote that post today it would be quite different. In the five years that have slipped by I have changed my attitudes and understanding of a satisfying retirement. I have a better understanding of what leaves me feeling fulfilled. I have a much clearer picture of what is meaningful.  I have a better handle on the concerns that have turned out to be not important or worth the worry.

The path to my satisfying journey is available in previous posts available in the archives. I invite you to take some time to see if anything resonates with you and your needs. And, I do encourage you to email me if you have a specific concern or problem that you’d like my thoughts on. 

What I’d like to do with this “reboot” version is to take a quick sample at what the last few years of some national studies and authors have written about retirees and their use of time. Then, I ask you to comment on how well what has been described matches your day. I will bet there will be some very interesting and important differences!

One nationally respected source lists these three top “activities:”

  • Reading
  • Resting
  • Watching TV
A little farther down the list are:
  • Sleep
  • Shopping
  • Chores
  • Volunteer work
What seems to be missing are some rather important activities for retirees. Even though the number one concern of the vast majority of us is the state of our health, this list does not indicate that physical exercise or staying active is even in the top ten. Finding an activity or hobby to become passionate about is also missing. Spiritual development is something that many retired folks find is much more important in their lives; it isn’t noted.


Another author was a bit more thorough. Financial concerns and management take up parts of a typical day. Working on relationships may not seem like it needs to be on a list of what retirees do during the day, but the author (and I) would certainly suggest it is vital. Nothing can make a 24 hour day a miserable experience than being with another person, all day, every day, and being unhappy or argumentative.

One writer used a phrase I understand, but I have a problem with because he is probably right more often than not: “Retirement takes place at the margins.” He is implying that a typical retired person lives a life not that different from his or her working years, except in some of the spare time that now exists. Watching TV, eating, sleeping, doing household chores, shopping……a day after retirement looks like a day before.

Certainly, there are basic activities and duties we all must perform regardless of our employment status. I do agree that there are a lot of retired folks who fill their time with just more of the same. But, the comments left on hundreds of blog posts over the last 5+years, the research I conducted for my last book, my relationship with other retirees, and my personal experience tells me that a retirement that “takes place on the margins” is a wasted retirement. 

If the only way to tell if someone is retired is the the lack of regular paychecks or a daily commute, then that is a sad. For many of us, retirement will last almost as long as the years spent employed. If we are careful to watch our money we are not likely to “run out.” If we take care of our bodies and minds by staying active and engaged, we will have productive decades ahead of us.

If we find a passion, nourish our relationships, give some part of ourselves to others, and understand that there is something greater than us watching over us, a satisfying journey through retirement is not only possible, but likely. 

Each day is a day full of possibilities and promise. What do you do with that time?

By Bob Lowry

2 responses to “Update: So you’re retired, what do you do all day? by Bob Lowry

  1. Reblogged this on Beyond Halfway and commented:
    Bob Lowry is one of my favorite bloggers on the topic of retirement. This is a nice recent post of his on the subject of how retirees spend their time. He challenges the notion that retirement is lived “on the margins,” an idea that stems from the notion that we are our work and, therefore, retiring cuts out the heart of who we are. Good job, Bob!

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