Entering retirement is one of life's greatest transitions. During our working years, our daily schedules are mapped out -- going to work 40 hours each week (or 50 hours, or 60 hours), then sleeping late on the weekends and tending to chores we don't have time for during the week. Retirement presents an entirely different picture: from day to day, we can do as we please.
Some people handle this sudden freedom better than others. If you appreciate routine in your life, then spend some time before you retire thinking about what new routines you might set out for yourself. Have an action plan in mind. Some people find themselves completely at a loss; not knowing what to do with their time, they fall into clinical depression or worse.
What have you dreamed about doing, that you've never had time for during your working years? Do you want to pursue continuing education? Travel? Start up a small business? Get "serious" about a lifelong hobby? Take positive steps toward achieving such goals; go to your local university and register for classes, visit a travel agency and cost out travel plans. Always keep a fresh goal in mind, so you feel you're working toward something achievable.
Many retirees indeed pursue further studies, and most colleges and universities in the United States and elsewhere welcome seniors, often offering special programs for adult students. Your options range from taking single classes in auto repair or Spanish language at a local community college, to auditing upper-level courses at a university, to pursuing an advanced degree. Focus on topics in which you have a passionate interest, and be realistic about what you can accomplish. Try to diversify your interests. If you've just finished up a long career in banking, then study literature or art or geology. New worlds will open up for you.
Other retirees continue working. If you're still interested in you field and can keep up with current developments, then consult -- you may have a Rolodex filled with people who would pay good money for your advice. Or open a small business focused on a lifelong passion, whether growing orchids, keeping bees, or opening a bed-and-breakfast. Be sure to develop a good business plan, and don't sink any money into your business that you can't afford to lose -- your nest egg is meant to sustain you during your retirement years, and any small business will be a high-risk venture.
Or, volunteer. Thousands of organizations are on the lookout for qualified people who have the ability to devote time and expertise to whatever activity they're involved in. This could involve a few hours each week at a local animal shelter, or a two-year stint overseas in the Peace Corps.
Finally, don't forget to have fun. Even if you're a Type-A person who can't sit still for more than a few minutes, learn to relax. Travel, play golf or other sports, read books, take long walks in the afternoon. Soon you'll develop entirely new routines, or learn to live without any routine at all.