While there are many benefits of retirement, there are also some adjustments that many people need to make in order to transition to this next phase of life. While most of us do not miss the stress that came along with our careers, we do miss the mental stimulation. There is also less social interaction when you don’t go to an office every day. However, instead of dwelling on the downsides, think of all the things you have always wanted to do but never got around to doing. Remember that art history class that you wanted to take but never had time? Or what about when you wanted to learn how to make the perfect lasagna or become a wine connoisseur?


Well, now is your chance! There are no excuses for not exploring those interests anymore. There are literally so many ways to learn a new skill or delve more deeply into a subject.


Here are some ways to get started:


1. Local Universities:

Many colleges will allow you to audit a class for free which means you can take the course but you do not earn credits towards a degree. However, if you decide you want to enroll full or part-time to work towards a degree, many universities provide reduced rates or even have tuition waivers for seniors.

Many colleges also have a regular schedule of guest speakers including authors, musicians and experts on numerous subjects so you can simply go listen to a lecture. For a full list of Florida colleges and universities by location, refer to the end of this blog.


2. Online Courses:

If you prefer to learn from the comfort of your own home, there are courses for just about any subject you can think of. Many universities have online courses available and there are other schools that are online only such as The New School. And Senior Planet provides a list of great options that are free for seniors only


3. Community centers:

If you don’t want the ongoing commitment, many local community centers offer shorter courses. Topics can range from learning computer skills to language classes to how to drive defensively. Many centers also have partnerships with senior residential communities so you can even get free transportation to and from events. These centers are not only a great resource for meeting new people in your local area, but you can usually take advantage of lessons for free or for a very nominal fee.


4. Ted Talks:

If you are not familiar with TedTalks, you are really missing out. Ted Talks are influential videos from expert speakers on education, business, science, tech and creativity. Their speakers are at the top of their field and the videos are free to stream and download. Topics range from architecture to exploring the ocean to how to be a better communicator. There are literally thousands of videos to choose from and you will not be disappointed in the quality.


Whether you want to acquire a new skill or just be inspired, there are real benefits to learning. It is not only stimulating but it can help stave off depression and memory loss. It can jumpstart your social life and it can also give you a renewed sense of purpose. So if you are simply looking for an enjoyable pastime or want to challenge yourself to learn to paint like Michelangelo, now is the time to take advantage!


As Henry Ford famously said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”


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