People Need People
Now is the time to re-connect with old friends,
create new connections, and love the ones you're with,
because when it comes to aging, isolation is fatal.
Who are you without your job? Your work means more than a paycheck. It's your community, your tribe, your influence, your title, your connection. It's the joy that comes from working with smart, dedicated colleagues to make the world a better place.
Retirement joy requires that you re-envision your identity, renew your relationships outside of work, and reach out to bring new people into your life.
Isolation is Fatal
What is the number one fear that people have of aging? Dying alone.
That makes sense, because as we age we lose work colleagues, friends, loved ones and a list of people who make up the fabric of our lives. It's easy to become socially isolated.
Google delivers pages of studies showing that without the structure of work and social connections, retirees can lose their sense of purpose, grow depressed, and fall victim to health and substance abuse issues, leading to an early death.
The good news is that it doesn't have to be that way. We don't need to acquire hundreds of new friends. A few close connections are enough.
Start Building Your Cheer Squad
One great thing about retiring, is that you can let go of the aspects of your life that never felt quite right. You no longer have to appear confident, authoritative, and capable 100% of the time. You can create space for a new experience of you. As you do this, you may find that your social network starts to change in powerful ways.
Start by asking, who is part of your life now? Who is there for you to confide in? Who will support the changes that you want to make in your life? Who spurs you to take action or to think more deeply? Who knows when you're BS-ing and calls you on it? Who adds fun to your life?
If your list is sparse, ask, Who am I leaving off and why? How could I show up differently for them? Who else would I love to have in my life? Who could help me grow?
If you're an introvert like me, this is a challenging step. It's tempting to stop here because moving forward requires courage and vulnerability. It requires asking for help. It requires knowing who you are when you are at your best and how to be courageous when you're tempted to hide.
It requires taking action, which you can learn more about here.