Taking The Hobby Route To Self-Actualisation
Jim Green created his own retirement masterplan when he retired a few years ago. Now in his seventies he enjoys runs his own internet business. He is based in Glasgow.
It is good practice to have at least one hobby in retirement but better to have two, because then (as Vic Wright confirms) when your interest in one temporarily wanes, you can always switch to the other for refreshment. Some retirees would appear to focus most of their energies in this direction and, in so doing, take the hobby route to self-actualisation. No bad thing. A passion for leisure pursuits can often replace the void experienced on departing the full-time workplace.
Read the ‘Review of more than 50 popular retirement hobbies’ below, to ascertain whether anything takes your fancy. Always remember: only you can devise the masterplan for enactment. If hobbies take centre stage, so be it. This is your retirement and your life.
How to match a hobby to your needs
Here are some questions you might want to ask yourself before you select a retirement hobby.
- 1Will I really enjoy this hobby?
- 2Can I afford it?
- 3Am I physically able to become involved?
- 4Do I have enough room at home to accommodate the hobby?
- 5Does the hobby allow me to retain my privacy?
- 6Does the hobby provide opportunities to work with others?
- 7Do I really have time for the hobby?
- 8Can I develop the necessary skill to do the hobby?
Assessing the enjoyment factor
To settle for a retirement hobby that does no more than fill in time is less than satisfactory. It must provide you with some benefit, some enrichment, some joy that will add colour to your third-age adventure. Use enjoyment as the benchmark when evaluating potential hobbies.
Assessing the cost factor
Preferably, the hobby should cost little or nothing. Few of us third-age people can afford to splash out on leisure pursuits, but fortunately there is no requirement for indulgence. Only a handful of the popular retirement hobbies reviewed below will cost you more than pin money.
Assessing the health factor
Your state of health is also a consideration but it needn’t prove a barrier, because there are lots of hobby options for those who are unable to get about as well as they used to. The options include reading, sewing, writing, and website creation.
Assessing the space factor
Unless you are hell-bent on pursuing some project that requires above-average floor space, avoid options that take up too much room. Select your hobby to match your own requirements, but always ensure you have enough space to accommodate it. You don’t want to turn your home into a retirement warehouse ...
Assessing the privacy factor
Many retirees enjoy their own company, so if you fall into this category, choose a hobby where you exercise total control. Hands-on creative writing is a good example.
Assessing the company factor
For some retirees the opportunity to work with others is paramount. Choose the more social options from the hobbies reviewed below.
Assessing the time factor
Make time; your time is your own now. Life is too short to miss out on anything that will add enjoyable new dimensions to the third plateau of the lifespan.
Assessing the skill factor
You have a lifetime of accumulated experience to draw upon in developing any necessary skill. Browse through the hobbies below and see if you can find one that is just right for you.
Review of more than 50 popular retirement hobbies
- Antique restoration: This hobby requires considerable patience - a quality you may need to develop. For those who love beautiful woods and like to see them at their lustrous best, each refinished piece is a triumph.
- Aquariums: A good all-round website for anyone thinking of expanding their aquarium, or just starting out, is Fishkeeping UK (www.fishkeepinguk.co.uk). It provides an extensive directory of national associations, importers, retailers, and web-based clubs.
- Art: Everyone has to start somewhere. If you are a beginner, Teaching Art (www.teachingart.co.uk), a leading producer of art training videos, has chosen a range of videos to help those new to painting or who are trying a fresh medium or subject. There are over 100 videos to choose from, including Oils for Beginners, Watercolour Landscapes in England, Seascapes in California, Chinese Brush, and Gardens in Pastel.
- Artificial flowers: They are made from special papers, ribbons, fabrics, buttons, beads, and even shells. You could earn some pin money from this hobby, because of the growing demand from local retailers who use the produce to add ambience to their outlets.
- Astronomy: A great website for the budding astronomer is UK250 (www.uk250.co.uk). It lists all the astronomy websites you could possibly need. Find out about the world of astronomy and learn what you need to become an amateur stargazer. If you are interested, Cosmicdust (www.cosmicdust.com) offers a diary of celestial events so that you can plan your gazing with ease - without equipment even. However, if you do want to get the full kit, try Beacon Hill Telescopes (www.beaconhilltelescopes.mcmail.com), one of the UK’s leading suppliers, who offer a large selection and low prices.
- Basketry: An ancient craft dating back to the dawn of time. Basket-makers often combine their hobbies with nature lore, and spend hours gathering and preparing natural materials for their projects.
- Beadwork: Beads date back to the earliest of times. They are made of seeds, shells, glass, metal, wood, plastic, and precious and semi-precious stones. This hobby requires good eyesight, but is typically clean and inexpensive.
- Bookbinding: Simple sewing skills, exactness, and love for books are all this hobby requires.
- Bridge: The best word to describe the English Bridge Union website (www.ebu.co.uk) is exhaustive. This is definitely the website for an experienced player thinking of entering tournaments, who wants to know the exact rules of bridge. A rather easier website for someone wishing to pick up the game as a hobby is Card Games (www.pagat.com), which tells you the rules of play for rubber, duplicate, and Chicago bridge. You can also visit the Card Games home page for information on other card games.
- Calligraphy: Easier than drawing or painting, calligraphy (or ‘beautiful writing') is making a comeback, especially among retirees. No one is too old to take up and enjoy this simple hobby, which trains both eye and wrist, and can be pursued equally well from your armchair or bed. You can use calligraphy simply to improve your handwriting, and make it beautiful and legible, or you can letter greetings cards, wedding invitations, and so on.
- Camping: Camping can run the gamut from the extremely primitive to the luxurious; you should pick the type that best suits your temperament, camping skills, and wallet. Camping sites are easily accessible from most places, and you can pick up a directory at most bookshops.
- Candle-making: Candle-making is enjoying a burgeoning popularity as a craft and as a retiree hobby. Only a few simple materials and tools are required to make your own handsome candles.
- Caning: Caning, the making of furniture with cane, is almost a lost art. Anyone looking for an interesting hobby with some income possibilities would do well to investigate caning.
- Clowning: If you have ever had a secret yearning to be on stage, now is your chance. As a clown, you can escape into a world of fantasy and give untold pleasure to children and grown-ups in homes and hospitals.
- Collecting: Collector Online (www.collectoronline.com) provides the most complete listing on collectors’ clubs. Using the search facility is easy—just click on the letter you want to search and check the listings for clubs. It was on this website that I discovered a football medal I acquired in my youth is now a collectable worth several hundred pounds. Collect only what you love, what you have room for, and what you can afford. For example:
- rocks and minerals
- Cooking: The culinary arts are growing in popularity, especially among men (myself included). If cooking appeals to you, why not try a few of the basic recipes favoured by your family and close friends, and invite them to serve as guinea pigs for your gourmet treats?
- Crosswords: You can find plenty of crosswords of all standards on the web, and many other puzzles too. A good starting point is http://home.freeuk.net/dharrison/puzzles/ which provides puzzles and forums. If you are looking for help in solving a puzzles, try One Across (www.oneacross.com), which provides suggestions. If you want to develop your own crosswords, you might like to review special software available at Crossword Compiler (www.crosswordcompiler.com). Also, take a look at Questique (www.questique.co.uk), a strategy crossword game for up to four players. A simple handicapping system allows children and adults to compete as equals.
- Digital photography: Scanners are currently available for less than £100, and digital cameras delivering almost photographic quality can now also be purchased at affordable prices. Digital photography provides some unique benefits: an instant review of your pictures, the ability to edit them on your PC, and the opportunity to publish them on the web or email them to friends and relations (refer back to ‘Case study 8’ in Chapter 4 for an illustration of how one retiree excels in this hobby). To learn more about all aspects of digital photography, visit Short-Courses (www.shortcourses.com), which provides concise explanations of products and techniques. Armed with this information, you can check out the latest cameras at Image Acquire (www.image-acquire.com).
- Dramatics: This hobby involves more than just acting. Each play needs its readers, directors, set designers, stage-hands, carpenters, prompters, and publicity staff. Lack of acting talent or skill is no excuse for not participating in dramatics.
- Drawing, painting, and sculpture: Look into these arts, even if you think you have no talent. Sign up for lessons. You may be surprised at the results. At the very least, you will find that an increased sensitivity to shape and composition will make you view the world through new eyes; at the most, you will find a rewarding pursuit to enrich your retirement.
- Fishing: Where to Fish (www.where-to-fish.com), as its name suggests, is a website devoted to finding the best fishing spots worldwide, for all different kinds of fishing.
- Gardening: A great idea if you have time on your hands is to invest some of it in making your garden something to be very proud of. TheGarden (www.thegarden.co.uk) boasts an impressive list of services: hints and tips in the ‘Shed', a retail and wholesale directory in the ‘Nursery', and information on gardening services and products in ‘Services’. The ‘Shed’ page contains not only tips, but also links to other gardening websites and a directory of gardens you can visit. Gardening UK (www.letsgogardening.co.uk) really is a one-stop gardening website for all your needs. It has the latest gardening articles, weather reports, questions and answers, tips, details of shops and products, news about clubs and shows, and stories about gardening personalities. There is enough reading here for a whole wet summer!
- Gem-cutting: You don’t need to be a geology graduate to enjoy this hobby. Appreciation for beauty of colour and design, and the patience to work with a specimen until its full potential of beauty is realised, are what it takes. Not all lapidaries hunt out their own specimens, so you don’t have to be a rock hound to enjoy gem-cutting.
- Genealogy: Genealogy, the study of your family history, is one of the most popular uses of the web. There are a lot of websites to choose from, but here are some that are particularly good. One Name (www.one-name.org) specialises in tracing the history of a particular surname, and has links to groups that can help you make searches. AOL Hometown (www.hometown.aol.com) gives lists and contact addresses for research websites and record offices across the UK. It also links to maps and gazetteers, as well as to websites that publish historical research and explain older dating and calendar systems. UK Genealogy (www.ukgenealogy.co.uk) is the portal for UK genealogical research. Family Search (www.familysearch.org/) hosts a worldwide database of births, deaths, and marriages. Searches of the database are free and will return lists of names that match your criteria, plus links to other relatives. Obviously the database doesn’t contain records for everyone who has ever lived, but it is worth a search. (Note: records are only available for those who died more than 100 years ago.)
- Graphology: Can analysis of someone’s handwriting really indicate their personality? Graphology has become increasingly popular as a partial selection method for jobs, but it is also an interesting retirement hobby and relatively easy to learn. Have a look at Handwriting Analysis (www.handwriting.org). The purpose of this web page is to promote awareness, understanding, and support for handwriting analysis, and to provide a central source of information. Links are supplied to related websites that may be of interest. The British Institute of Graphology home page (www.britishgraphology.org) contains information about tuition, as well as helpful links.
- History: If you are interested in history, then it is well worth taking a look at www.bbc.co.uk/history.
- Home-brewing: TheEasyBrew Home Brew Shop www.easybrew.co.uk in Hampshire has been established for over 13 years; they are always pleased to help out with all your home brewing needs and freely give advice. Here you will find all the home brewing and wine making equipment you should need.
- Jewellery-making: This hobby can be confined to a relatively small space and requires no great outlay of money for tools and materials. It is wise, however, to work with a teacher at the beginning, since there are tricks to soldering, setting stones, and working with metal. Jewellery-making is also a potentially good income producer for the enthusiastic retiree.
- Juggling: Why not learn juggling? Not only can you amuse and astound your friends, but you can also improve your coordination and balance. Juggling (www.juggling.org) is the main website for jugglers on the internet. It has listings for clubs, societies, events, magazines, and software. Most importantly, it has lessons on how to juggle clubs, balls, hoops, and anything else you can think of. The lessons have illustrations and are easy to follow, and there are online catalogues for you to order from. Jugglenow (www.jugglenow.com) is another fun website.
- Kites: Kiteworld (www.kiteworld.co.uk) is the home of kite-flying on the Net. It has everything for the kite enthusiast, but if you aren’t too serious about the topic, then try Clem’s Kites (www.clem.freeserve.co.uk). He will tell you how to make some great kites from nothing but newspaper, tape, and string.
- Leathercraft: This is a versatile hobby. There are many different ways of working leather, each equally interesting, practical, and different to offer a variety of possibilities for the craftsperson to maintain interest for a lifetime.
- Macramé: With a little string, you can make belts or key rings; with a lot of string, you can make planters or wall hangings. This is another retirement hobby that you could turn into a money-spinner by calling on local retailers to make a presentation of your produce.
- Magic: Providing you have patience and are ready for hours of practice, you can make conjuring, popularly known as magic, a fascinating and profitable hobby. You will be in demand at children’s parties and fund-raising events, and in homes and hospitals for children and adults.
- Metalwork: There are many metals and a number of ways of working with them. Some methods require considerable equipment and special workspace; others are possible at home with a few tools. The methods by which some or all of these metals can be worked are engraving, etching, stamping, tooling, and turning.
- Model-making: Model trains, ships, and planes; models of machines, both old and new; solid models; working models - the hobbyist with a yen for model-making has a hobby good for a lifetime. Visit Hobby’s (www.hobby.uk.com), a recently launched website, for sundry model-making ideas. Scale Modeling Central (http://home.centurytel.net/˜bjepsen/) is another good starting point. The website covers equipment, techniques, buying tips, and detailing at both beginner and intermediate levels. It also contains product reviews, feature articles, frequently asked questions (FAQs), and links to related websites. You might also want to visit the website of Hobbies (Dereham) Limited (www.hobbies-dereham.co.uk). The company supplies a vast range of toys and model-making equipment worldwide through the famous Hobbies Handbook. You can order any product from the website.
- Mosaic art: This is an ancient art that is once again thriving, and makes for an undemanding retirement hobby. Create designs using tiny pieces of glass, stone, clay, or seed.
- Museums: If you live in an area that has its own museums, consider yourself in luck. Visiting museums can be a stimulating, satisfying, and educational hobby. Whether the museums house art treasures or remnants from man’s early existence, they provide something for everyone to marvel at, learn from, and enjoy.
- Music: Learn to play an instrument, collect or make folk instruments, attend concerts, add to your collections of records, join a chorus or orchestra, or form your own group. Music is an ideal retirement interest, because it lends itself to both solitary and social enjoyment.
- Photography: Photography is a hobby with legions of followers. Anyone choosing this hobby on a trial basis should beware of the possibility of lifelong addiction. Those who have been bitten by the photography bug will tell you that they suffer no pain that the taking of another picture doesn’t cure.
- Pottery: Create something from raw earth and experiment with shape and colour. This hobby is enormously satisfying: consequently, pottery is one of the fastest-growing retirement crafts.
- Puppeteering: This is an unusual hobby, but very satisfying for the creative type. This website (www.mimicsproductions.co.uk) gives details of how to design and produce your own puppets and stages in different styles, as well as providing links to related websites.
- Radio: Amateur radio allows millions worldwide to communicate with each other. Radio amateurs even have their own satellites and can transmit TV pictures from their own homes. The Radio Society of Great Britain (www.rsgb.org.uk) is the UK’s internationally acclaimed society for all radio amateurs.
- Reading: Too much could never be said for reading as a hobby. The person who admits to a dull life has never really read a book. We can travel the world or be wildly adventurous right in our own armchairs. We can bring faraway things to hand or let ourselves be carried back to ages past through books. All the wisdom, beauty, knowledge, information, and inspirational thought that man has been able to put into words on a printed page can be made our own through reading. The individual with reading as a hobby holds the joy, the laughter, the beauty, the wisdom, the sorrow, and the hopes of humankind through the ages in the books they hold in their hands.
- Sewing, knitting, crocheting, and weaving: As pastimes, these handicrafts have the virtue of being readily started and stopped as time permits. As moneymakers, they are somewhat limited by competition.
- Sightseeing: Some retirees make a hobby out of travelling around from place to place to catch up on aspects of our heritage that they never had time to enjoy while they were working, for example, stately homes, listed buildings, conservation areas, churches, and cathedrals.
- Sports: Many people get great excitement from watching and participating in sports. You don’t have to possess any physical qualifications to make it as a fan, and fortunately there are a number of moderate sports like tennis, golf, boating, fishing, and bowling that are good exercise and fun for most of us. Be careful, though, not to overdose on spectator sports.
- Upholstering: A beginners’ class in upholstering would be a good place to start, as this hobby does require rather exact skills. Strong hands and nimble fingers are a real asset.
- Walking: Whether you are a long-distance hiker or a short-distance walker, the time you spend walking can be a pleasure-filled experience. Most of us could walk a little each day, and be better off physically and mentally for it.
- Website creation: My research tells me that website creation is rapidly growing in popularity with retirees, as is attested by 78-year-old Ron King in the case study below.
- Winemaking: With experience, you can attempt to reproduce in your own wines the characteristics you find most desirable in fine vintage wines. A good wine-tasting class usually precedes the interest created in this hobby.
- Woodcarving: You only have to visit Oberammergau to be overawed and inspired by this craft. Every child in this town is taught to carve; small wonder that it is a Mecca for woodcarvers. Don’t discount woodcarving as a possible retirement hobby until you give it a fair trial.
- Woodworking: Here is another choice that has income-producing potential, since skilled woodworkers, carpenters, and furniture restorers are much in demand.
- Writing: Do you have the urge to write a novel, short stories, or poems? Perhaps you have always wanted to try your hand at journalism? The web is a major source of advice on writing and research resources. If you fancy writing mysteries, The Mystery Writers’ Forum (at www.ideas4writers.co.uk/public/ideas/mystery.php) provides information on forensics, poisons, guns, and other topics that will help you get your facts right. Writing for the web itself is now a major activity and the Trace Project (www.trace.ntu.ac.uk), run by Nottingham University, focuses on online writing. There is a structured website tour to take you through the facilities, which include writing communities, competitions, conferences, and online discussions. Perhaps you are already writing and want to know more about publishing. Have a look at Dan Poynter’s Para Publishing (www.parapublishing.com). This gives guidance on every aspect of publishing, including self-publishing. Maybe a course is required to develop your writing talents? The Arvon Foundation (www.arvonfoundation.org) runs inexpensive one-week residential writing courses at inspiring locations in Devon, Yorkshire, and Scotland. The courses cover the writing of fiction, poetry, travelogue, and screenplays. As a final thought (here cometh the commercial), surf over to my own website (www.writing-for-profit.com) and make a start on learning to write niche non-fiction in retirement (Fig. 10.1).