Checklist for planning your social life in retirement

By Michelle Reed, Over Sixty [Link: www.oversixty.com.au]

Retirement is a significant life stage that can impact both your home and social life. Taking the leap of leaving the workplace behind is no doubt an exciting move, however, it’s important to ensure you plan ahead. According to Retirement Transition Consultant, Megan Giles, adequately preparing for the significant shift in your day-to-day interactions is key to a smooth transition.

“By working, socialising is automatic. You’ve got someone to have lunch with and you interact with your colleagues (whether you like it or not). People often expect to have an exciting and fulfilling retirement, but that doesn’t automatically happen, you need to take some time to action that. Don’t wait until day one. Plan forward the social aspects of your retirement now,” Megan says.

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With Megan’s assistance, we’ve put together a must-read checklist to help you plan your retirement social life.  

1. Reconnect with people

Throughout life it’s perfectly normal for your group of friends to become smaller, due to work and family commitments becoming a priority along the way. Retirement is when you are given back the gift of time. In addition to spending time with family or friends, what better time to reach out to people you have lost touch with? Call that friend who you have been thinking about for years. Use your Facebook account to reconnect with those you have lost touch with. After all, you will soon have a lot more time for long lunches. Additionally, think about those people you work with that you would like to continue a relationship with. Schedule in regular coffees with them or invite them over for a weekend barbeque – lay the groundwork now for a deeper, more meaningful relationship in the future.

2. Take up a hobby  

If you have tap shoes, roller-skates or a set of golf clubs collecting dust in the garage, now is the time to fish them out. It’s important to consider that without the mental stimulation work provides, you will need to develop your interests. Megan advises it is especially important to take your new or rediscovered hobby for a test drive before retiring, so you can see how it fits. “If you’ve always dreamed of salsa lessons, or Pilates, that’s something you can start to do before you retire. Then after a bit of a pressure test, you have time to ask yourself: ‘Is golf what I really want to be doing’, ‘Is this volunteer group or organisation really what I would to be involved in’.”  Bonus points if your chosen activity is a form of exercise. Studies have shown that learning a new physical skill in adulthood leads to an increase in volumes of grey matter in the parts of the brain related to movement control.

3. Join a group

Leaving the workforce can impact your sense of purpose and your feeling of belonging. Finding a group activity, or simply planning a regular coffee catch up with friends, can be a great way to regain that sense of purpose and add to your happiness. “Connecting to other people leads to better life satisfaction,” Megan says. “It also helps you stay relevant. You have something interesting to talk about, something that drives you, something that you want to find out more about.”

4. Learn to spend time by yourself  

Although redesigning how you connect with others is an important factor in planning for your retirement social life, the most important person you need to reacquaint with is yourself. Don’t be afraid to spend some time alone. From reading a book curled up on the couch to spending an afternoon getting lost in a museum, learning to spend time alone can be pure bliss. In preparation, Megan advises taking some time to “practice” spending time on your own. When you enjoy your own company it will take some of the pressure off organising your social schedule and help you find a balance that works for you.

Most importantly, remember that you are enough and that it's the quality, not the quantity, of the relationships that you have that truly matters.

5. Learn to socialise on a budget

You may have factored bills, holidays and insurance payments into your retirement planning, but maybe not boundless afternoon cakes and pricey hobbies. Don’t let the width of your wallet determine your social calendar. Megan suggests taking advantage of the savings available to you as a senior to help balance out the cost of your leisure time. “Many senior’s cards entitle to you to discounted movie tickets, entry to museums as well as savings on health and fitness classes,” she explains. “You can also explore what free or low-cost activities your local council offers. If you can’t find an activity suited to your interests in your area, why not start your own? Round up a group of friends or neighbours and start a weekly walking group. Not only is this a great way to connect and interact with others, but you’ll benefit from the physical exercise”. And of course, never be afraid to play host and entertain at home. “Create a space for entertaining at home,” Megan says, continuing, “When inviting people for dinner, consider asking each guest, couple or family to bring a dish. Not only is this option good for the budget but it encourages you to be inspired by new recipes also.”

This article has been sponsored by AustralianSuper Pty Ltd ABN 94 006 457 987, AFSL 233788, Trustee of AustralianSuper ABN 65 714 394 898.  The views expressed are those of Over60 and not AustralianSuper. For more information about AustralianSuper, please visit australiansuper.com.

If you enjoyed this article you may also like to read How Do I Stay Connected in Retirement and Planning For Fun In Retirement.

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If you would like to explore your particular circumstances with someone who can provide an objective perspective in preparing for the non-financial aspects of retirement via structured, action-focused planning, you may like to consider booking a one-on-one or workshop-based retirement planning session. I would love the opportunity to work with you and all of the details are available on my For Individuals page.

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