Keeping the mind occupied and finding purpose after retirement

Career-Retirement, Creativity, Tis Thing Called Life

Many seniors are at loss of what to do with their lives after retirement. Especially loyal folks of the workforce that stuck with the same organization through thick and thin for many years (like both of my parents). Work and family are usually their only priorities in life. So when it comes to retirement and the children are leaving hometown in search of better income in the cities, they suddenly find themselves with too much time on their hands and do not know what to do with their time.

Astro (local cable TV) realized this and uses advertisements targeted to pull at the children’s heartstrings- the clear message…the kids are in town and the parents are lonely in the village. So why not get them cable TV so that they are happy…and the advert ends with the faces of happy parents watching Wah Lai Toi (a very addictive Chinese movie and drama channel).

Honestly, to work all your life looking forward to retirement only to spend literally all your waking hours watching TV (time away are only to sleep, toilet and go out to get food) is little sad, don’t you think so?

Hopefully our idea of retirement does not involve spending time in front of the TV, eating takeaways and dwelling on the outcome of the next episode in the soap drama series. If we do not wish to have that kind of life, we should not wish the same for our parents either.

To get an idea on what to do, I want to share with you on how Mr Foo, my friend’s father :


I had the privilege of meeting with Mr Foo during his grandson’s birthday party. Mr Foo is already 75 years old but is full of energy, super duper friendly and cheerful. He was formerly a government servant and now is enjoying his retirement.  He came down from Taiping (my friend’s hometown) to celebrate the birthday of his grandchild.

How did Mr Foo managed to keep his mind happy, healthy, strong and occupied?

He kept himself busy by producing craft works out of recycle items and present them as gifts to people. He made all sorts of items-

  • Furniture sets, pen holders, animals out of tin cans- he just took them to the coffee shops and they’re snapped up by his friends
  • Birthday cards
  • Modified items for the home- like making holders for other items in the home.

His friends had offered to buy his birthday cards for RM10 each and his aluminum pen holder for RM5 each. His birthday cards to all his grandchildren are prized and valued- most of us may throw out birthday cards from stores during springcleaning and decluttering exercise but many would not part with handmade cards. birthdaycard-fromgrandpa

It’s the same for me, I could never find in my heart to throw away handmade birthday cards and bookmarks that I’ve received from friends– even though they’ve forgotten about it a long time ago.

Jeez, the man even has his own personal name cards. He took out his name card and handled me one. And asked me for mine…what a shame, I have never gotten mine made-which is something I plan to get doing soon.

When I enquired if Mr Foo had this hobby in the past, he said yes. He had always loved to dabble in craft and handwork.

3 Coca Cola cans are required to make one of these

3 Coca Cola cans are required to make one of these

I must say that my friend, inherited her father’s creativity because her apartment is one of the most homely places that I’ve visited- when you walk into her place, it’s like walking straight into a home in outskirts England.

Despite being very busy balancing a demanding career and taking care of her family, she found time (after her baby is asleep at night) to do her scrapbooking. She had done a few scrapbooks on her wedding, honeymoon, trips with her husband and her baby boy.

They’re so beautiful and personalized- complete with memorabilia like entry, plane tickets, brochures and restaurant bills of the places that she had visited.

Therefore, it’s important for us to keep our hobbies alive- because in our hobbies, we allow our mind to roam free and be creative. And then, the creativity will spill into other areas of our lives.

When we need a place to relax and unwind, getting occupied in our hobby can sometimes be more fulfilling than going out for entertainment, shopping or to the pub. Because it is something we enjoy doing, we will tend to get better at doing them and it adds on to the sense of accomplishment.

Therefore, start a hobby now- so that you have something to look forward to when you retire and the kids are out of the nest.

Even if you have already retired, it’s never too late to start a new hobby- think of the things that you wish you had time and resources to do in the past but could never do. And take it one step at a time from there. Many seniors who have retired start their own blogs to share their experience, which is often invaluable. And they also learned to monetize their blogs which also make it a hobby that pays too.

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