6 Tips for a Successful Social Life in Retirement

It’s as common as you think, but it’s still weird. We spend 30, 40, even 50 hours a week doing work with a group of people, and little by little some of those people become our people. We have lunch together, we make small talk that migrates to important things, we collaborate on tasks and, finally, we get infected.

They are predetermined relationships, framed by our converging interests, abilities, or circumstances, and some of them become the most valuable and enduring relationships of our lives.

a strange dilemma

The dilemma? What happens to those relationships when you leave that job and all the social patterns that go along with it? We spend hundreds of hours getting used to people, if not enjoying their company (pun intended), yet we strangely dream of moving on so we can’t do anything without them.

A common complaint about the wonders of retirement is, “It’s boring.” Another is: “All my friends were work friends.” None of us wants a boring, friendless retirement, but we can end up isolated if we don’t design otherwise.

What follows are some suggestions for building community and human contact after retirement when your job had provided you with a social life.

why this is important

More to the point, if you’re reading this, you’re an inherently social animal, a human being. Not only do you enjoy a certain level of give and take with other people, but it is absolutely necessary for your survival. We depend on a rich social fabric to keep us fed, safe and loved.

Some of us are further from the introvert continuum (personally, if you leave me with an unscheduled weekend, my instinct is to work on my house, not start a dinner party). However, the simple fact that solitary confinement is used as punishment speaks volumes.

Social contact provides a mental health exercise, even for introverts, and for many of us, our work gave us that encouragement and direction. Employment was our daily “play date activity” pursuing some purpose, even if we didn’t care for our co-workers, and that purpose was the why that defined our social lives.

where do we go from here

The good news is that you don’t have to pretend to be more or less socially active than you naturally are. What you can’t fake, though, is identify the next purpose (or purposes) for you to get involved with. Whether few or many, what are the new “play dates” that belong on your calendar looking for that topic?

Pro Tip: If you’re bored and lonely, you should probably schedule more social contacts. If you don’t want to, do it anyway.

Tips for a Successful Social Life in Retirement, Purpose by Purpose

1. Friends by Association

This is exactly what it sounds like. Join an association related to a field or topic that interests you. Tired of the theme in your career? Find a new topic. Are you interested in providing wisdom to the next generation in your field? Direct your attention to an association that draws on your expertise.

2. Common interests

Take a class. Take an interest in things, sign up for them (especially the free ones), and then introduce yourself. You don’t need to make small talk with strangers: it’s the facilitator’s job to make it all work. You will find that you either agree with and appreciate, or disagree with and don’t appreciate, the perspectives of others. You can’t get more social than that.

3. Travel

A great feature of package tours is the exposure to new people on the tour. Sure, there are enough interesting people wherever you visit, but on tours specifically, you meet people who at least have enough interests in common to select the same trip as you. A nice feature of this type of social contact is that if you get along, you can travel together again in the future. If not, c’est la vie.

4. Diversify your portfolio

Try that one thing you always thought you were going to do, or that one other thing you never thought you would do. Don’t forget: it’s a valid experiment to discover that you didn’t like something or the people involved in it. A little bit of risk is what a good investment is all about, even when major currencies are just a little bit of time and social exposure.

5. A league of their own

It doesn’t matter if you’re a novice or an expert, there are leagues and informal groupings that love to play and need more participants. Whether competitive or anti-competitive, leagues for games of various kinds have been stirred up.

If you poke around and find nothing, start one yourself! When humans are having fun, other humans want to join in, and groups that come together around the purpose of play can be some of the most consistent and enduring.

6. Be the change you want to see

There are elements of society that you may have taken for granted before retirement, even something as simple as America’s democracy’s reliance on volunteer poll workers. Decide what’s important to you and get involved with the people who mean it too, whether it’s fundraising, fixing things, or participating in an educational campaign. That’s a contribution that pays you back with a purpose.

The conclusion: there is no conclusion

The most important element in building social contact after retirement, whether you relied heavily on a previous job to do it for you or not, is letting purpose drive it for you. Socializing by itself is agenda enough for some personalities, while others need something to bring us together. But let’s be clear about one thing: As a social animal, you’ll need to make it an aspect of your life while you’re here with us.

Source: www.travelawaits.com