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Retired and bored or — worse yet — boring? Try this

By: Richard Eisenberg

One vexing problem many retirees face: boredom. A 2019 survey by the British National Citizens Service mentoring group found that the average retiree grows bored after just one year.

As a journalist who “unretired” in January 2022, now freelancing part time and finding ways to fill the hours the rest of the time, I have two suggestions: Learn a new skill (which could turn into extra income) or pursue a childhood passion for the joy of it.

Retirement is “the perfect time to experiment with things you think would be fun and diverting,” says Kathy Kristof, founder and chief executive of the site, which reviews and rates more than 450 online platforms. “You’re in this unique and wonderful period of your life where you can do anything.”

Learning new skills — which you might not have time for during a career or while raising a family — is good for your brain, too.

Kathleen Coxwell, director of brand and communications at the retirement planning site New Retirement, pointed me to a 2019 University of California-Riverside study proving that. The researchers discovered that people aged 58 to 86 who took three to five classes for three months (such as Spanish, photography and music composition) increased their cognitive abilities to match others 30 years younger.

In my case, after thumbing through an adult-education catalog recently, I signed up for a free introduction to voice-over class from a company called Such a Voice.

Doing voice work is something I’ve long thought might be enjoyable, and podcasting “Friends Talk Money” for the past few years has been good training, I think.

The intro class led me to sign up for six half-hour coaching sessions. When they’re over, who knows? That might be the end of it. Or it might be the start of a side hustle — what Ross Haycock, vice president and financial adviser with Summit Wealth Group in Colorado Springs, Colo., calls “a playcheck.”

But many new retirees have trouble getting themselves to try something new.

“Some people who’ve been working so hard all their lives — when that ends, they don’t know what to do,” says Nancy Schlossberg, 93, author of “Too Young to Be Old: Love, Learn, Work, and Play as You Age.”

Others (men especially) don’t attempt to pick up a new skill because they fear they won’t be good initially.