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Avocations (play, learning, hobbies, sports, travel, entertainment, etc.) enrich your life, connect you with others, help keep you physically and mentally healthy, and soothe the soul. And as we age and, for the most part, loosen our ties to money-making responsibilities, avocations move closer to center stage for us. So rather than just continuing with the pastimes to which we have long accustomed ourselves, we can now expand our repertoire, and multiply the benefits that avocations bring to us.
At the same time, aging eventually threatens our ability to engage in our favorite avocations. Health problems, decline in mental acuity, and a lowering of overall vigor can make some of our favorite activities difficult to pursue. Relocation, death, illness, or incapacity in others we are close to can remove our favorite partners for travel, socializing, competition, or whatever we like to do. Eventually, some of us become shut-ins ourselves, and further lose opportunities for fun.
This is why we endorse gerontologist Gene Cohen’s idea of developing a “social portfolio” – that is, a range of interests, some of which involve others and some of which we can pursue alone, and then within each category, avocations that involve reasonably high mobility and energy, and those that do not.
This way, even if we lose some of our ability to connect with others or to engage in certain activities ourselves, we still have other interests that can keep us alert and interested and ready to get up when each new day comes. So as you expand your interests, consider striving for balance among these four main categories. Or if you are already limited, perhaps you can find ways to expand within the spheres where you are still able.
Avocation relates to:
- Spirit, because recreation and play restore our mental / spiritual well-being; because how we spend our spare time ought to be in tune with our beliefs about what is proper and beneficial; and because we may want to engage in religious or spiritual activities depending on what our beliefs are.
- Purpose, because we need to balance our purposeful activities with leisure and rest. And because some activities can fulfill both needs.
- Love, because many of our most enjoyable activities are those that we do with others. And because maintaining relationships with family, friends, and our local community can be among our most rewarding avocations.
- Security, because many avocations are expensive to pursue, and most have at least modest ongoing costs.
- Health, because good mental and physical health enable us to pursue our preferred avocations. And because engaging in activities that challenge us physically or mentally helps keep us healthy.
Topics and sub-topics under Avocation
If you are still able to engage in these activities, don’t let the opportunity pass. You might not be able to do them – or at least to enjoy them with your favorite companions – forever.
- Sports: A little sweat and healthy competition.
- Performance arts: Is this your cue to get on the stage?
- Coaching and teaching: Coach a sport or game; teach dancing, acting, gardening, or some other physically demanding activity.
- Travel: Getting out to see the world.
Having ways of getting physical exercise by yourself is important, because our friends are not always with us, or bad weather or transportation problems may interrupt our schedules. And there may be some things you just prefer to do alone.
- Challenging sports you can do alone: Run, swim, ski, sail, row, weight-lift, whatever tests your limits.
- Physical exertion for exhilaration: Walking, jogging, horseback riding, physical workouts, landscaping, splitting wood – get the blood moving.
- Physical games you can play alone: Bowling, shooting baskets, throwing horseshoes, darts – hone your skills.
- Getting into nature: Gardening, hiking, bird-watching, hunting, fishing.
Inspiration for when you’re not in the mood for perspiration.
- Get educated: Or educate others. Attend classes or workshops. Learn a new skill. Teach others something you are good at.
- Be one of the crowd: Go to plays, movies, sporting events, concerts, zoos, museums, and other public attractions.
- Do things with friends and neighbors: Join a club, a reading or discussion group, a sewing circle, a local chorale, a church group, a coffee klatch, a group that plays chess, cards, cribbage, mahjong, bingo, or whatever amuses you.
- Just hang out: Visit or invite a friend; dine out, drop in at the pub or the park or the senior center; cruise the mall or local flea market.
- Interact online: Use the internet to chat, play games, and share ideas with friends and strangers alike.
This may be the most important area to develop interests, because if you live long enough, there is a good chance you will end up spending more time alone, and perhaps not have the strength for high-energy or high-mobility activities. If you are prepared, these can still be good times for you.
- Educate yourself: Read, visit the library, or study online to explore new realms of knowledge, or deepen expertise you already have.
- Challenge your brain: Do crosswords, other word games, or sudoku; play trivia, poker, Scrabble®, chess, and other games online.
- Stay in touch: Write letters and emails; call or text message your friends.
- Pamper yourself: Get a massage, manicure, pedicure, sauna, or whatever will make you feel like a million.
- Pursue a hobby: Start something new or revive an old interest. Learn to cook a new kind of food, start a collection, learn a skill you can pursue indoors; write, paint, sew, take photographs, grow plants.
- Get exercise: Do calisthenics, breathing exercises, Pilates, yoga, dance exercises, or T'ai Chi; play Wii.
- Relax constructively: There’s more than junk on television and radio, and you can get a lot of good old movies and television shows on cable, video, or online. And don’t ignore the potential benefits of contemplation, meditation, or prayer.
©2016 Still River Retirement Planning Software, Inc. / RetirementWORKS, Inc.