Retiring soon? Start making plans now

At some point in your life, you reach the time to retire from your workplace. Whether it’s your decision or workplace policy, it’s a huge change in lifestyle. Many retirees make a big mistake at this time in their lives. They try to stay casually connected to those whom they were once casually friendly with at work.

This usually doesn’t work, because retiring puts you in a different rhythm from those who are still on the job. People whose lives revolve around the same kind of environment all share the same experience. It acts as a sort of bond. For example, people going to college each must buy their books and study for tests. They all understand what ‘cramming’ for finals means, mentally and emotionally; they share the same experiences and rhythms in their daily lives. But these friendships are mostly casual.

Meanwhile, you may have several very close friends who will stay friends for decades or even a lifetime. However, most people don’t have the time or capacity for more than a few of these relationships.

You will want to keep the intimate friends that share your life just because you both like each other. But working to keep the casual relationships, not so much. When you retire, don’t hang on. Don’t always call Joe because you want to know what’s going on at the place where you formerly worked. That’s just gossip that you want to hear, not friendship.

The problem is that a job usually takes a lot of time out of your day; more than a third of your life over decades of working. Don’t suddenly come to retirement only to find yourself at a loss because you don’t know how to fill that time which was formerly always occupied by your job. Most important, don’t wait until the very last moment to start looking for ways to fill all the free time you’re left with after retirement. It takes a long time to figure out what’s going to fill your life after you are no longer working.

So at least five years before you get to your retirement, start making plans. Volunteer work is a given. It allows you to keep your self-esteem, not just because volunteer work is often very much like a beneficial job, and most volunteers are both wanted and needed.

Otherwise, you may fall into the depression which affects too many retirees. Having no job to work at makes them feel unwanted or unneeded. They lose their self-esteem. Some try to make up for these feelings by having an affair or suddenly starting to drink more than usual. These actions are not solutions; they are terrible mistakes that may ruin the many years left ahead.


Wina Sturgeon is an active 55+ based in Salt Lake City, who offers news on the science of anti-aging and staying youthful at: She skates, bikes and lifts weights to stay in shape.

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