How do I stay connected in retirement?

By Megan Giles, Retirement Transition Consultant

Interestingly, for the majority of people I speak with who are preparing for retirement, their finances are not the thing that worries them most (albeit it is up there). Rather, the sentiment shared is “what’s the point of having money if I can’t enjoy it and spend it with others?”

Becoming lonely and getting old before our time is something that many fear as they step into retirement. They’ve seen their parents or a neighbour grow old rapidly – they sit in front of the TV, rarely leave the house and allow their world to become smaller and smaller. The people that I speak with are adamant that this won’t be them. Particularly as they are often leaving the workforce at the top of their game, they are well recognised for the contribution they make and are depended upon by many. They still have so much to give in terms of skills, ideas and motivation.

But what to do with this energy? How do we stay connected with others, keep learning and remain relevant when we no longer have the structure of work – that thing that requires us to wake up each morning, interact with others and be accountable for our actions and results.  

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Meeting new people and starting new activities can be quite daunting when you’re an adult.

As a child it’s quite simple. You see someone your age, you walk up and start playing. Before you know it, you’re friends!

So how do we do it as adults? It’s all well and good to say ‘yup, I’m going to take up cycling/pilates/pottery’, but how do you actually get started? I can’t make you take the first step but I can give you some tips to make it seem a little less daunting.

Choose the class that is right for you

Common worries when starting a new activity or class ‘how will I know what to do’, and ‘what if I can’t keep up'?

  • Ask for recommendations from people you know and trust
  • Sign up for a beginner’s class (don’t make the mistake of going straight into an advanced class – I’ve done that and been asked to move to the back of the class – awkward!!)
  • Consider a one-on-one class before you step into a group class. Yes it’s a little more expensive but you’ll get the drill and feel more confident

Check out your local Council website

(this is actually more exciting than you think!). One lady shared that the Brisbane City Council runs regular activities such as tai chi, stretch band pilates, and orienteering as a part of their GOLD program (Growing Old Living Dangerously!). Find out what your local Council offers.

Connect online

There are great ways to connect with people online to laugh, share stories and keep up to date with the latest thinking and technology. People from around the world you may otherwise not meet.

  • Facebook and LinkedIn offer groups you can join for free and converse with like-minded people over a common cause, interest area, profession, even your favourite sporting team
  • Specific chat forums such as the Natter@60 Forum (www.natterat60.com), provide discussion threads for almost any topic under the sun from ‘thinking of travelling without my husband’ to ‘are you researching your family tree’
  • Community groups that traditionally met face-to-face have responded to changing member needs. For example Rotary now has e-clubs which use videoconferencing, message boards, instant messaging, and Skype to connect members and contribute to the community around them.

Online connecting platforms

Meeting people via an online platform can seem a little daunting but there are safe, regulated ways to do this.

  • Events@60 Coffee Meet-Ups are run by Starts@60 (www.startsat60.com) and are great informal ways to meet others over 60 for coffee and a chat. The only cost is your coffee
  • OverSixty (www.oversixty.com.au) promotes events run by their readers, for their readers such as coffee meet-ups and walking groups
  • Meetup is a worldwide network of local groups (www.meetup.com) and there are likely all sorts of options in your local area from bushwalking to personal development and foodie groups. Not all will suit you but there may be something that lights you up

Take the lead!

If you can’t find anything that tickles your fancy consider starting your own group, be it a book club with friends, a walking group with your neighbours, or a ukulele group (if that’s your thing!).

It can be daunting, but what do you have to lose? Dip your toe in the water, try it once and if it’s not for you, move on! I wish you the very best of luck in your journey.

In planning for a holiday we always think “we need to go there” and “we should see that” but when Day One of our holiday arrives, we draw a blank…What were all of those things we were going to enjoy? In the busyness of life they’ve slipped our mind.
Don’t let this happen to your retirement. Download the My Retirement Planner and start capturing those ideas and inspiration so that you’re ready to step into retirement with gusto!