One of the few things that are never talked about when you are considering retirement is the adjustments you need to make. From work to having an extended time away from work after retirement. Most writers discuss the financial side about retirement and whether you will have enough money to live comfortably. Will you be able to do some of the things you want to do. There is much more to retirement. Whether you enjoy your retirement or not really depends a lot on other things such as friends, hobbies and interesting things to do. You Need Friends in Retirement. Money is important, but then so is having interesting things to do and enjoy with friends.
My wife is always telling me that I need to focus more time on keeping up with friends and less on working. “You’ll be sorry when you retire and don’t have anyone to do things with besides me,” she warns. I think she is also worried that I will be underfoot and our relationship will suffer. She could be right. It’s easy to assume retirement planning is all about the bucks. The dollars are important, but non financial issues matter too.
A Pew Research Center report shows friendships rank with sound health and finances as the factors most likely to boost happiness. The study found that retirees who are very satisfied with their number of friends were nearly three times more likely to be happy than those who are worried about relationships. A comparable gap exists between those who are very confident in their finances and those who aren’t.
You Need Friends in Retirement
Retiree’s with friends not only feel better about themselves, they have more to discuss. Most people with friends find that they are doing more extracurricular activities as well. Whether it is golf, which is often popular, cards, hiking, swimming or whatever you and your friends find interesting, there is something to look forward to and enjoy.
The fact is, as we age, our focus tends to shift from finances to finding meaning in our lives, according to research by the MetLife Mature Market Institute. “You begin to think about how much time you have left,” says gerontologist Sandra Timmerman, “and you ask yourself, ‘What’s really important in life?'”
So what do we really find important? Social connections, for one. The Pew study found that another factor driving happiness is attendance at religious services. Retirees who attend some form of worship, even if only occasionally, are more content than those who seldom or never do. I bet this has as much to do with being part of a group with which you share time and values.
Investing in relationships
You should not necessarily address lifestyle issues with the same precision you do your finances by, say, allocating 40% of your time to health matters, 35% to friends, and 25% to spirituality. But it can help to approach financial matters in a somewhat similar manner.
For example, just as you should diversify your nest egg, you need to have a balanced approach when it comes to retirement readiness.
And just as it’s important to visualize your retirement before you invest, you need to plan ahead for the role your friends will play in your post-career life. Start by taking stock of your social network. One way to expand your connections is by joining groups dedicated to causes you believe in, or by volunteering. Retirees who volunteer are about 15% more likely to be very satisfied than those who don’t, according to Urban Institute research.
Increasing the priority level you give to maintaining your friendships and enjoying their company is important to your overall enjoyment during retirement. There is more to retirement than money and friends.
Invest time in Interesting Activities
Let’s face it, once we retire, there is a lot more time for us to consider life and think about what we are going to do next. This transition from work (getting up in the morning at a regular time, meeting with colleagues etc) to a life with lots of time on your hands can be traumatic for many people. Even with lots of friends, there will still be lots of time on your hands, so it is important to spend some time on what you would like to do during retirement.
Having lots of friends will automatically add activities. But what do you do in those down times? Prior to retirement it is important to explore some of the hobbies that you may have given up when work was too intense. You may want to start new hobbies. You may want to work part time. You may want to spend more time with the grand kids, travel, or start a new business. We already mentioned volunteering in the traditional sense. What about volunteering for a small business in return for free services? We know one friend of ours that volunteer at the YMCA in return for a free annual membership! Not only does he meet new people, he gets some exercise, he is also contributing to the community.
There are lots of ideas and activities which individuals can consider. Start by writing down a list of possibilities. Set it aside for a few days, review it, add some more, cross off those that just will not work for you and try a few. Some will work while others will not. Eventually you will find something that catches your interest. Talk to your friends to generate ideas as well. What might not work for them might be perfect for you.
Whatever you do, think about more than your nest egg. It would be a shame to get that part right but still not enjoy your retirement. Remember that it is important to strike a good balance between time spent on maintaining your nest egg, maintaining and building friendships and also finding interesting activities to challenge you and maintain your interest.