Retirement Benefits

138 People Share the First Thing They’ll Do in Retirement

Woman looking off into distance smiling

Dreaming about retirement is part of having a career. You work hard and deserve to imagine what life will look like without the alarm clock.

In December, we surveyed CalPERS members who are still in the workforce. We asked: What’s the first thing you’ll do in retirement? The responses were joyful, inspirational, and sometimes very specific. Some people preferred to keep their answers private. Others wanted to shout from the rooftops!

Below is a selection of answers. We hope you enjoy them, and maybe add one or two ideas to your own dreams.

Thank you for serving California.

  1. Sleep as long as I want. – Mathew
  2. Take a long walk on the beach. – Anonymous
  3. Visit my friends in Australia. – Silvia
  4. Sell my home and move to my daughter’s neighborhood. – Brenda
  5. Live in a different country for two months. – Anonymous
  6. Build a platform for my van to convert it into a camper van and go into the wilderness and beach to paint and take photographs. – Belinda
  7. Declutter my home. – Delia
  8. Go visit a lot of the mushroom clubs in Northern California and go on forays with them. – George
  9. Take off on an endless journey around, over, across, and through the USA, seeing all of our National Parks and as many of our state parks as time permits. – Jeanette
  10. Take a hike and not worry about the time. – Lulu
  11. Alaska cruise. – Todd
  12. Take math classes. – J
  13. House projects and sleep. – Michelle
  14. Volunteer. – Maria
  15. Go on hikes/long walks each morning. – Alexandria
  16. Breathe!!! – Anonymous
  17. Relax and enjoy life. Then catch up on home repairs, get back to surfing and beach life. – Christopher
  18. Hit the road for a road trip. – Anonymous
  19. Get a consultant job. – Crystal
  20. Spend time with grandchildren. – Guadalupe
  21. Build a better vegetable garden. – Karen
  22. Find a part-time job. – Anonymous
  23. Travel in the “off season.” – David
  24. Relax and sleep in. – Damon
  25. Organize my home office, garage, kitchen… – Sylvia
  26. Smile. – Anonymous
  27. Visit Columbia. – Anonymous
  28. Unwind and rest up! – Janice
  29. Be home and enjoy my family, beautiful home, and take my grandkids to school. – Patty
  30. Start purging items in my home. – Tina
  31. Book a cruise! – Taz
  32. Give thanks to God for keeping me healthy, mindful, and smiling. – Armida
  33. Get organized!! – Bruce
  34. Call friends that are also retired to schedule a get together. – Eddie
  35. Spend time with my grandchildren! And even babysitting my little ones! I have 24 grandchildren—12 boys and 12 girls…Just enjoy life being with my family! – Marcie
  36. Raise a glass to myself! Then buy an open-return plane ticket to wherever I want. – Lea
  37. Join medical missions to serve one year in a foreign country. – Simon
  38. Learn to play the piano and the guitar. Take a trip to Australia and New Zealand. – Marge
  39. Exercise Jazzercise 3-4 times per week up from 2-3 times per week. – Merribeth
  40. Revise my budget. – Kimberly
  41. Go to Disneyland. – Chris
  42. Sleep! Something I have been deprived of for many years. Over my career, I have learned that resting is not something I can get enough of. When I retire, I plan to catch up on my sleep (rest) for one month before making plans for anything else. – Lesha
  43. Buy a home. – Felipe
  44. Go back to school. – David
  45. Make plans to keep busy without the stress. – Jino
  46. Finish my adult children’s baby books! – Vicki
  47. Restore classic cars. – Gary
  48. Create a play space for my grandchildren. – Anne
  49. Travel the United States. – Patrice
  50. Read many new books. – Anonymous
  51. Attend my nephew’s graduation and then to Puerto Rico for a week to decompress! – Doris
  52. Start an animal rescue. – Anonymous
  53. Whatever I want! – Anonymous
  54. Giggle relentlessly. – Kevin
  55. Go to the gym. – Darin
  56. Make a trip to the east coast, visiting historical sites and lighthouses from Florida to Maine. – Kris and Jennifer
  57. Enjoy my life without deadlines! – Kimberly
  58. Take walks whenever I like. Not be tied to a computer all day. – Cathi
  59. Start selling my artwork. – James
  60. Travel to my home country and spend three to six months with my extended family. – Romilda
  61. I am going to take a long vacation somewhere to just relax and unwind from all the years of working. – Monica
  62. The first day of retirement that would have been a working day, I’m going to get up at the same time as I did when going to work. I will take a shower, get ready, and then take myself out to a wonderful breakfast to watch the sun rise on my new life. – Sheri
  63. Volunteer in local theater. – Eleonard
  64. Sleep late for two weeks, then start projects! – Paula
  65. Travel, COVID permitting. I’ll have more time to spend painting. – Lori
  66. Get a pet. – Anne
  67. Take courses immediately to learn to read Chinese and to do Tai Chi. – Linda
  68. Get a new fitness regimen. – John
  69. Visit zoos in other cities! – Sharon
  70. Relax and connect with family and friends. – Ida
  71. Take a moment to let it sink in. – Tracy
  72. Retirement from state service will allow me to work on my passion growing holistic herbs for healing. – Troi
  73. Start jogging, sleeping more, and eating healthy. – Ajay
  74. Create more artwork. – Maria
  75. Get my yoga certification and start teaching. – Jessica
  76. Nothing. Just that, absolutely nothing. – SJ
  77. Work on family history. – Janet
  78. Control my investments, set up my pension, start enjoying life with no stress. – David
  79. Watch many of the shows and movies I am unable to due to work and family responsibilities. – Anonymous
  80. Start up hobbies I haven’t had time for in years, such as commercial acting, and also plan a big vacation with my children! – Dorena
  81. Rest! Take a few short trips. Starting to write a self-help workbook with a few retired colleagues. – Jessica
  82. I want to give extra time to myself. Take extra time to exercise, meditate, eat better homemade food, and walk. Raise myself to a higher level. – Rekha
  83. Have my house paid fully. – Johana
  84. Go back to school to get my degree in Psychology. – Alberta
  85. Exhale. – Delores
  86. Move to San Diego from Mountain View to take care of my elderly mom. – Elsa
  87. I want to become a volunteer with Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children (CASA). There is such a need for foster children and others to have someone focused on them and on their needs when they are pulled into the court system. – Barbara
  88. Remove clocks from everywhere in my home. – Maria
  89. Decompress. I don’t want to plan anything for the first couple of weeks, just focus on rest, relaxation, and being spontaneous. – Marianne
  90. Learn to play the marimba! That has been a lifelong, postponed dream. – David
  91. Save money. – Anonymous
  92. Build a robot. – Dan
  93. Spend quality time with my husband. – Maribell
  94. Downsize. – Kai
  95. Finally fulfill my dream of climbing the highest peak in my life, Mt. Kilimanjaro. Since the age of six, it has been my goal to tackle this obstacle. Fifty-five years later, it will become a reality. – Gayle
  96. Travel exploration, seek out volunteer opportunities, and stay up late. – Jeff
  97. Throw away my alarm clock! – LD
  98. Go visit my mother in Florida. – Beverly
  99. Whatever I want! – Anonymous
  100. Buy a tiny house. – Anonymous
  101. Join a women’s golf league and bowling league. – Kay
  102. Buy a cake that has ‘I Quit’ on it and take it to work. – Anonymous
  103. I think my wife and I will load up the camp trailer, lock up the house, and go coast to coast for a month or so. – Rob
  104. After sleeping in daily for a month, I then plan to purge the house. I’ll plan that trip to Scandinavia, or relax in the redwoods, swim in the Eel River. No, I’m going to spend time with my eight-year-old grandson. Yes, that’s what I’ll do. – Judy
  105. Relax and read a book. – Donna
  106. Enjoy life. – Anonymous
  107. Restore an 1800s home in Pennsylvania! As a novice craftsman, I’ve always wanted to bring back a house left to decay over time, back to its former grandeur and glory. – Lonn
  108. Take some time to myself in nature. – Anonymous
  109. Rest. Enjoy the lack of urgency for a few months. – Katherine
  110. Enjoy my mornings on my terms and my schedule. – Brian
  111. Write my novel. – Lori
  112. A three-day getaway with my sisters to Palm Springs to celebrate my retirement. – Sharon
  113. Travel the U.S. in my travel trailer, Rosebud! – Margot
  114. Play more tennis. – Timothy
  115. Enjoy working on my farm. – Elvira
  116. Take a road trip to see my children (Portland, OR, and Pocatello, ID) and take as much time as we want to do it! – Juliana
  117. Travel with my grandkids to the Grand Canyon and surrounding areas in Arizona and Utah. – David
  118. Have a house cleaner come help me clean the house top to bottom. – Kar-ron
  119. Possibly sell my house if it has good equity. Then travel to different countries. – Janna
  120. Reconnect with my hobbies. – Mark
  121. Sleep for a week! Move back east, take in the new neighborhood, go back to school for music (saxophone), and join a band. Oh! Continue to love and support my wife! – Leonard
  122. Plan a routine to get into for each and every day. – Michele
  123. Enjoy everything. – Anonymous
  124. Learn a new trade. – K
  125. Celebrate! And go ice skating midday with all my retired friends. – Anonymous
  126. Making my side hustle into a full-time passion. – Tracey
  127. Renting a home on the beach and just relaxing for a week or two. – Anonymous
  128. The first thing…shout for JOY! – K
  129. Take it easy on everything. – Larry
  130. Get rid of my alarm clock! Sleep in every day! Travel more and visit friends who live out of town. Finally start baking all the recipes I’ve saved over the years and never had time to try out. – Karin
  131. Deep breathing and centering for a month to reset my mind. – Anonymous
  132. Go kayaking early in the morning. Work with stained glass. Really start taking care of MYSELF. – Linda
  133. I will relax and spend more time with my family! I will volunteer more to help my community! I will read my favorite books! I will play my classical guitar! I will make a bigger vegetable garden! I will grow more fruit trees! I will buy more from farmer’s markets! I will travel the world! – Juan
  134. Take a long walk to the park to just think about the future and then come home, make a cup of tea, and sit down to write some one-, five-, and ten-year retirement goals. – Sherrie
  135. Relax and play some golf during “working hours.” Later on, do some traveling (as it becomes “safe” again). – Patricia
  136. Whitewater kayaking. – Ralph
  137. Teach scuba diving. – Carlos
  138. Organize and purge my surroundings to prepare for whatever comes next! – Lisa

Infographic lists the first thing CalPERS members plan to do in retirement, for example, get a pet or write a novel.

Learn more about CalPERS retirement benefits.