Making friends once we leave the workforce presents a cruel irony for most of us looking to stay socially connected in retirement because we now have the time to live life without the encumbrances of a work schedule and finally do the things that have been collecting dust on our rainy day lists, but we may not have the people around us that we want to have around us as we start checking off activities from our bucket lists because people may be still working.
Many may think that having the time to do should be enough to satisfy our social needs. On the surface this may be partly right but I would also suggest that having a opportunity to do the things we love that bring a sense of purpose meaning and richness to our lives in retirement cannot meet the aforementioned social connectedness water mark unless we have an opportunity to connect with others while participating in our endeavours of interest.
Regardless of how much social connection we need with others it still remains that we as people are inherently social in nature and it is these connections that contribute to a rich retirement experience that is based in a foundation of health and wellness and begs the question about how do we create a lifestyle that affords us with the level of connectedness we need to experience a retirement lifestyle that is fulfilling and meaningful.
The answer to the question is to stop looking at making friends and let it happen in a more natural manner. This sounds counterintuitive but is really the way to go. I would suggest that you will be better served on identifying interests that you would like to do and identify steps you can take to access these in the community in which you live. The later part of this is important because the hope is that the people you will meet at your activities of choice will potentially lead to future connections with them or others at the same or similar events in the future. Always start local because if you do find a kindred spirit then you will have more of an opportunity to stay connected with them someone if you live in the same city or vicinity.
Some Ways to Stay Socially Connected
What better way to create a meaningful social connection than to participate in a volunteer experience that allows you to contribute to a cause that is important to you. Volunteer experiences come in many shapes and sizes and a good way to start is to connect with organizations like your church, local service organizations, community associations and social service agencies. You may even want to connect with the local volunteer centre in your community. Many cities have organizations similar to Propellus and Connector Link in Calgary that will help people connect with the perfect fit volunteer opportunity. The key is that the place and activity where you volunteer should resonate with who you are as a person and the values that are important to you. The key is that if the experience resonates with you personally you will enjoy it more and will be more likely to share that positive experience with others that are present during your volunteer time.
One of the cornerstones of a successful retirement is to continue to nurture your need to learn and grow as an individual. Many people leave their work lives and feel that because they are not working, they will not be able to continue to learn and contribute anymore because there best days are behind them. The reality is that there are more people now that are 60 years or older that are signing up for online and classroom courses being offered by a variety of different learning institutions. When you think of it, what better way to stretch yourself, learn something new and in turn meet some new people that share a common interest with you. Even self- study courses may lead to you participating in other activities where you can meet new like-minded individuals. This sounds like a win-win situation. Learning opportunities can be found in local educational institutions through both their regular and continuing education departments similar to the retirement transition courses we offer through the University of Calgary Continuing Education department. Additional opportunities can be accessed through community associations, church groups and of course online through platforms offered by MOOC and your local public library. There is never any shortage to scratch your learning itch and meet new people in the process.
As we have discussed getting out and enjoying activities that you enjoy is a great way to meet people that have common ground with you. It is this common ground in a volunteer situation, personal development learning activity or in many of the social and learning activities offered through Meet-up Groups. There are many different meet-up groups were people of all ages and varied interests can get together to enjoy each other’s company while enjoying and activity of interest by joining an existing group or starting one of your own and inviting others to join you.
The bottom line is that staying socially connected in retirement is an essential part of living a retirement lifestyle. There are many different ways to stay connected in retirement and the aforementioned alternatives just scratches the surface. The key is to choose the approach that best fits your needs as an individual and that provides you with opportunities to learn, grow and thrive during your retirement years.
So, go out and explore, and have fun!!!
- BU Centre for Psychiatric Rehabilitation; The 8 Dimensions of Wellness https://cpr.bu.edu/living-well/eight-dimensions-of-wellness/
- The Volunteer Connector of Calgaryhttps://www.volunteerconnector.org/
- Propellus; The Volunteer Centre of Calgary https://www.propellus.org/
- Jeffrey, S., CE Sage, The Ultimate List of Core Values: Core Values List: Over 200 Personal Values to Discover What’s Most Important to You https://scottjeffrey.com/core-values-list/
- University of Calgary Continuing Education Department: https://conted.ucalgary.ca/
- Meet Up Calgary Website: https://www.meetup.com/cities/ca/ab/calgary/
- Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs): https://www.mooc.org/
Brian Lambier is a retirement coach, career counsellor, workshop facilitator and the owner of Career Vitality Services located in Calgary, Alberta.