Two happy older couplesLearning the new ground rules for a jobless (or less-job) futuremight make all the difference between a joyous retirement and adepressing one. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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Lots of people facing retirement have their whole identities tied upin their jobs or professions, and may be anticipating theirso-called “golden years” with more dread than delight.

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If you number yourself among them, you might want to consider anotion that's far more commonly employed at the beginning of acareer rather than at an end—an internship.

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Learning the new ground rules for a jobless (or less-job) futuremight make all the difference between a joyous way to use the timeyou have for your own interests and ambitions and sinking into astultifying routine filled with boredom and lacking purpose.

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According to a Kiplinger report, people should be approaching retirementthe way they did college or their career—taking a period of timebefore diving in head first to see what they want to do, to try outwhat they think they'd enjoy or to redesign their notion ofretirement altogether.

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And a Money report says that the old rules just don't applyany more—among other things, it suggests that retirees seek to keepthemselves employable, lest all that new leisure time prove to bemore of a burden than a reward.

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Money is a big factor, of course, whatever you plan to do, andit suggests “bursts” of savings toward the day you retire—whencollege expenses for the kids end, or if you manage to pay off yourmortgage, put the extra money away against potential expenses inretirement that you may not have anticipated (yes, even the tollinflation will take on your savings).

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Experimenting with living on less can make a big difference,too, since you may find that you enjoy a simpler life with fewerexpenses and fewer complications, or perhaps totally unacceptableafter a newfound interest in pursuing an expensive hobby makes youfeel the squeeze far too much.

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It also suggests not plunging in and spending like mad onwhatever leisure activities you may have looked forward to fordecades—spending too much too early in retirement can leave youshort and force you back to work (there's that employability thingrearing its head).

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And Marketwatch points out that retirement, early or not, isnot the same as vacation and really does require preparation ifyou're going to enjoy it properly and not screw up somethingimportant—whether that's money, health, time or relationships.

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Yes, relationships. You can spend more time with your spouse orpartner or less; rekindle old friendships you may have let go overthe years; get to really know the grandkids; or find that peopleyou used to associate with no longer share your interests or thatyou no longer share theirs. It can also be a chance to meet newpeople, especially if you've moved to new surroundings, and to build a newnetwork of friends.

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Whether you volunteer at a local animal shelter, take upmountain hiking or perform in community theater, decide tolearn archery and fencing and follow the Renaissance fair circuitor turn professional with that musical instrument you loved so muchin high school, there's plenty you can do to transform retirementfrom a shapeless blob of time into the image of whatever you usedto dream about.

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READ MORE:

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15 best states for retirement:2018

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Two blue-collar industries beat white collar forretirement readiness

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Americans most upbeat on retirement in almost 20years

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5 surprising retirement findings

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Marlene Satter

Marlene Y. Satter has worked in and written about the financial industry for decades.