Serious Leisure – how to retyre

“Your mind is the garden, 
your thoughts are the seeds,
the harvest can either be flowers or weeds.”

William Wordsworth

Japanese man seriously flying his kite
Hobbyist propagating his air plants from seeds
Hobbyist propagating his air plants from seeds

Several years ago, after my MBA, himself had a crazy idea that I do a temp job with Starbucks as a coffee barista. I did not take up his suggestion as I was worried about running into my friends in this down-and-out state. Many years later, I would be paying good money (instead of being paid) to learn café culture and how to do latte art.  Café culture is really big time in Asia now, and something I really wished I had picked up.

How to make good use of your downtime, whether voluntary or involuntary. No experience is ever wasted. In his timeout figuring out his next step, Steve by Apps Hat Mini” href=”#”> jobs learnt western calligraphy and the landscape of printed font was never the same again. (I can’t stand courier.)

Author of Roget’s Thesaurus, Dr Peter Mark Roget, published his Thesaurus of antonyms and synonyms in his 70s. An obsessive-compulsive, with a family history of depression, making lists calmed him. You can read about his story in this website on late bloomers.

I’m drawing inspiration from (2015) “Deng Xiaoping” by Ezra Vogel. In his 3yrs, banished by boss to manual labor in the Jiangxi rural countryside, Deng, the chief architect of China’s economic rise, read late into the night, and was formulating, how to reform China. He was 65 yrs old then, while men younger than him fell to depression.

85 Ideas on what to do with your downtime.

Some ideas here came from “How to Retire Happy, Wild and Free – Retirement wisdom that you won’t get from your financial advisor” by Ernie J. Zelinski. I’ve added my own cultural specific ones. Free lessons can be obtained from the internet (Youtube), internet, local library or local community centres.

  1. Learn art of Japanese tea making
  2. Experience Café Culture
  3. Coffee Appreciation class
  4. How to create latte art
  5. Learn western calligraphy
  6. Learn Chinese calligraphy
  7. Learn to bake Hokkaido milk bread
  8. Join a club such as the Lions or Rotary.
  9. Join public speaking club such as Toastmasters
  10. Learn to grow plants
  11. Record the history of your hometown
  12. Create a drawing of your family tree
  13. Write your family tree on how your ancestors have affected your life
  14. Become a connoisseur of inexpensive restaurants.  (ieatishootiblog)
  15. Chinese tea appreciation
  16. Grow a herb garden
  17. Go back to university and get a degree
  18. Watch interesting court cases at the courthouse
  19. Go sailing
  20. Gaze at the stars
  21. Write poetry
  22. Memorise a poem
  23. Learn famous quotations
  24. Start a collection of …
  25. Write a mobile app
  26. Teach children from low income families to read
  27. Teach English as a second language
  28. Practice the art of gratitude
  29. Do something for others for 29 days
  30. Declutter your room/ drawer/ cabinet
  31. Paint a self portrait
  32. Write a novel
  33. Write a “How to”
  34. Compile lists of … (remember Roget’s Thesaurus)
  35. Play guitar or ukulele
  36. Learn to speak a foreign language (Spanish, German, Chinese)
  37. Paint watercolors
  38. Take an online writing course
  39. Write a diary/ journal
  40. Take a one hour walk everyday
  41. Visit the museums
  42. Volunteer as a museum guide and attend their training
  43. Learn pottery making
  44. Volunteer in a home for the aged
  45. Visit your parents
  46. Bestow gift of real listening without interrupting
  47. Be certified as a career counsellor
  48. Sponsor a child in Haiti/ Vietnam
  49. Meditate for 30 mins daily
  50. Practice a new habit for 21 days
  51. Spend an hour by the beach/ riverbank and listen to the sound of water
  52. Speak to your plants
  53. Make a list of favourite music in different genres (Jazz, Classical, Opera, Pop, R&B, Hip-Hop)
  54. Watch movies of different genres (e.g. Hitchcock, Woody Allen, Kurosawa, Ang Lee, Wong Kar-Wai
  55. Learn different form of photography (portraiture, black-white, nature, children, night, action)
  56. Learn martial arts (e.g  Tae Kwando, Akido)
  57. Go mountain-climbing with a friend.
  58. Take up dancing (Ball room, waltz, Zumba)
  59. Have friends over for lunch
  60. Volunteer to Teach a children arts-and-crafts class
  61. Volunteer to build in “Habits for Humanity”
  62. Learn about other religions
  63. Go to church.
  64. Sketch daily, buildings, new inventions
  65. Learn to hash-tag on Facebook
  66. Have a long conversation with a child and see where the conversation takes you
  67. Play a game with young children (depending on age, e.g. playdough, card games, guessing names)
  68. Cook
  69. Invite your friends for tea/ lunch
  70. Visit a different part of town never visited
  71. Bake a tart
  72. Make a list of all your friends
  73. Email/ send a card, written note (one person a day) on what you appreciate about them
  74. Learn art of gift wrapping
  75. Learn the art of small talk
  76. Start a web page of inspiring quotations
  77. Sweep your floors everyday
  78. Try finger painting
  79. Cook a different cuisine (e.g learn to make Vietnamese Spring rolls or Thai Pomelo salad from Youtube)
  80. Learn to swim
  81. Learn to play chess/ mah-jong/ bridge
  82. Learn about fashion/ colors that suit your skin tone
  83. Shoot a mobile video
  84. Climb to the top of the hill and watch the sunrise
  85. Walk for 4hours (that’s what Charles Dickens does to de-stress from writing!

Create your own 85 things to do in your free time. Make it 100!

This blog post was first published in 2015

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