Test Driving Retirement Activities

I tried something new this week. One of the benefits of a flexible pre-retirement work schedule is the ability to try new and different non-work activities. I feel that I have a handle on the financial side of our retirement plan. I still need to build confidence that can busy and challenged when I am no longer working. So when an opportunity to explore a new activity comes along, I try to take advantage of it.

So I went bird-watching. Hard to believe that an engineer turned patent lawyer would be a nature boy but why not? A couple in our Long Branch Lakes community are dedicated and experienced “birders.” They sent an email to the rest of us, inviting us to learn a little about their hobby and take a first bird watching stroll around part of our 5,000 acres. We met at 8:00 AM on Monday at a pavilion near one of our community lakes. I brought my binoculars, a notepad, and my iPad with a bird app. (The iPad was overkill, I know.). It was a beautiful morning and I was determined to enjoy every minute of it.

Our neighbors the birders were extremely helpful and informative. In less than 90 minutes I
was able to identify 15 bird species including a flock of snipes, a bird that is rarely seen in Tennessee. The fresh air, exercise, and neighborly companionship were plentiful. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. This will likely turn into a regular activity for me because our neighbors will be leading a “birding” walk every Monday morning.

This “test drive” of a new activity had a double benefit for me. First, it taught me that I can learn and enjoy new things that earlier in my life I never would have considered. Second, it allowed me to socially engage with new people while doing more than making small-talk.

This coming week I will write a little about my recent experiences as a pony caretaker which is another activity that potentially looms large for retirement.


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