Staying Active in Retirement

There are many mistakes you can make as you prepare to enter retirement. That’s one reason many people suggest you sit down with a professional before you retire.

But one thing people often overlook when they leave their jobs is that they are walking away from their existing network of friends and colleagues without considering the consequences.

Often people dream for years about walking away from that 9 to 5 and into the retirement sunset. Some of them hate their jobs. But they still need to consider exactly what they are walking away from. You want to leave the job, not the community you have built over your career.

Even if you do not want to maintain those work contacts, for whatever reason, you still need a network. And that means that when you retire, you need to figure out how to create a new network.

“If we are not actively engaged, we can become bored, stressed and depressed,” says Janet Taylor, a psychologist and health care and wellness activist.  “If we are involved in activities, especially ones that engages all our senses, we can improve our mindset.”

One way to stay engaged is to maintain an active lifestyle and continue to network with your former friends and colleagues.

“I think any person that is healthy and vibrant should not retire,” says George Fraser, author, speaker and networking expert. “They can retire from whatever that office job was, and then move to a place that that is more comfortable and reach out to the world.

“Herein lies one of the values of maintaining and even cultivating and developing new relationships.,” he says. “This is when I think you have your greatest value. Its’ when you know the most. You are an elder. You can make a huge contribution and incremental value to your life.”

Taylor says figure out what you want to do next when you retire. “When you retire think about what’s next,” she says. “Make a list of everything you want to do in terms of action. Make of list of the top ten. If you want to volunteer, how and where? Pick you top three, and then pick one. Look at it from the standpoint of how you will make it happen. Do you have the skill to do that? Do you know people in that field? Figure out how much time you dedicate to it and come up with a schedule whether it’s daily, weekly or monthly. Incorporate that into your life.”

Some suggestions on building or creating a network.

  1. Figure out your interests and find like-minded organizations. Call and meet the staff to make sure you have common goals, and tell them what you are interested in. Help at a senior citizens’ home or an animal shelter. Volunteer to help accounting at a nonprofit if you are a financial person. Combine what you know with what you love.
  2. Keep your old networks. Keep active with your old friends and colleagues from the job. Plan lunches or outings to keep and touch.
  3. Considering going back to school. You don’t have to go for a degree. Sit in on classes at a community college. Some major institutions allow retirees to audit classes for free.
  4. Work part time. Some people retire because they hated what they were doing. If you have a passion, find a part-time job in that field. Love golf? Work in a golf shop. Love gardening, work in a gardening department of a big store.
  5. Use your hobbies. Always wanted to take pictures, now is the time. Grab your camera and go. Maybe even start getting paid to take pictures at weddings or other events.

Networking keeps you “vibrant, alive, interesting and interested,” Fraser says.

“The ultimate goal of a retiree is to infect, affect and effect others with your knowledge,” he says. “The best way to do it is get out in the world. You do it at your leisure. Pick and choose where you want to go. It also helps my self-esteem and to understand that I have value. That makes me feel good. When you are wanted, it is good for your ego and good for your health — your mental health and your physical health.

“There is a highly recommended exercise that we engage in other than physical exercise,” he says. “It’s mental exercise. It keeps you young and excited and in demand, at your leisure. You are retired.  Participating as a volunteer is one of the healthiest things an elder can do. One of the worse things an elder can do is sit in a chair and watch television and dismiss himself for the world.”

“We don’t want people to retire and regret retiring, essentially sitting in a rocking chair and dying,” said Alicia Lewis, co-founder Layman Lewis Financial Group, Loveland, Colorado. “We want to make sure you achieve your goals and dreams. We want you to  have a future and a purpose.”