When juggling work and family, your idea of retirement may be fewer responsibilities and unlimited time to do the things you want. The reality is too many people get to retirement and find that their social connections revolved around work. They lose daily connections with co-workers as well as clients and customers.
Suddenly they are out of the loop with day-to-day happenings at the office. They miss hearing from friends and lose the camaraderie of lunch conversations.
The Stanford Center on Longevity found that traditional social engagement is waning. Today’s 55-64 year olds are less engaged with family, friends, neighbors, community, and religious activities than their predecessors 20 years prior (Sightlines report).
Building a social portfolio for retirement is just as important as building an investment portfolio. Meaningful relationships and participation in communities do not just happen once you retire. Building strong social connections before retirement is a key to increasing social connectivity in retirement. As a matter of fact, it is directly linked to wellbeing and a long life. The hurdle is knowing when and how to build new connections. Here are a few suggestions to get you thinking:
If you value spending time with family, find ways to connect regularly. Get your family together a few times per month for a dinner. Rotate from house to house so everyone has a chance to host the group and you have the opportunity to get out of the house.
Make it a point to get together for an activity once per month. Play a game that involves family members at all age levels, or go to the pool, bowling alley, or park.
Plan a family vacation annually or bi-annually so that you can get others away from the day-to-day demands of life and create a backdrop for building memories together.
Too often we talk with friends about getting together only to find months later that nothing has happened. This is a common experience for most people. Scheduling time to get together with friends regularly may seem excessive but it’s not. Getting your activities scheduled and on the calendar increases the chances that you will actually spend time with your friends.
Your friends are also looking for ways to make connections and get out of the house. Plan regular activities, such as meeting for lunch or taking tours of the city or surrounding areas that interest your group. If you enjoy being outdoors, find a new trail to hike each week or join an off-road riding club.
Volunteerism is a great way to share your time with purpose and find fulfillment in retirement. But just like relationships, it is better to look for opportunities with charities before you retire. Understanding the needs within your community or religious group will help you gauge your time and availability. The Sightlines report states that while people want to volunteer their time, they feel like they don’t have enough information or nobody asks them.
Lining up opportunities and building a social portfolio before retirement will lead to a smooth transition and more enjoyment during your golden years.