Following retirement, and we are no longer in the workplace, our relationships with work colleagues tend to naturally decline. For many retirees, our children, and grandchildren, have become independent, or live far away from us. The risk with transitioning into retirement, is we may become socially isolated and lonely. This in turn can negatively impact on our health, sense of well-being, and happiness.
Friendships, for many of us, is the key to happiness in retirement.
One of the things I appreciate about my new-found retirement lifestyle is having more time. And, with this time is the opportunity to reconnect and rejuvenate friendships.
Given we have been travelling Australia for the past year you may say this is a funny comment from me. Yes, it is certainly true, in the past year we haven’t seen friends we would usually see regularly. (We are very much looking forward to seeing them soon.) Yet, our retirement travels have provided the opportunity to catch up with friends we don’t usually see.
Since travelling Australia we have met up with:
Friends we met when travelling overseas
We have met up with a number of people we met while travelling overseas. Interestingly, we have kept in contact, often on Face book. But there is nothing like seeing friends face to face.
Friends we have made travelling Australia
We have made “new” friends as we travel Australia. We have contacted these “new” friends, and caught up again, whenever we were in the same vicinity.
Friends who have retired and moved away
Some of our close friends were people we used to work with. But, over time, these friends changed jobs, retired, or simply moved away. So, catching up with these people is particularly special.
Friends / relatives we haven’t seen for decades
We have also caught up with old school friends we hadn’t seen for decades, some since early adulthood. We have also caught up with relatives we hadn’t seen for many years.
It’s interesting when we consider catching up with someone we haven’t seen regularly. We notice there may be a degree of hesitation. We might say things to each other like:
- They won’t remember us
- They won’t be interested in seeing us
- We haven’t the time (Laugh Out Loud)
It’s so easy to make excuses to not contact people we don’t regularly see.
So, how come we hesitate? Doubt and fear are usually the culprits that get in the way. We begin doubting that people will want to see us. Or, fear we won’t get on as we used to. Or, even worse, fear of being rejected as a friend.
Yet, think about it. The people who have been friends in the past are likely to be remain our friends. Invariably, those people who agree to meet up are delighted to see us. And, the vast majority of people we contact do agree to meet up. We then experience the pleasure of rejuvenating friendships. The reality, most often, is it’s like time stood still. Our relationship hasn’t really changed, we get on just like we used to.
What we have learnt is travel experiences are about far more than travel destinations. Rejuvenating friendships, by catching up with people as we travel along, enriches our travel experiences and our sense of happiness.
Retirement provides an opportunity to give priority to what makes us happy – NOW! At this stage of life we no longer have to work and save for the future. Rather, we have the ability to focus on what makes us happy today.
Yes, travel is a pleasure. But we are social creatures. Friendships matter.
In my experience developing new friendships is harder work than reconnecting and rejuvenating old friendships.
I encourage you to try:
- Contacting people you have been good friends with in the past.
- Make the call. Don’t put it off.
- Take the lead. Don’t fall into the trap of saying you will wait for them to contact you. Or, got hung up on the fact that you made the call last time. Yes, we simply may need to be the leader.
- Be choosy about which friends you want to be in contact with again. Choose friends who lift your spirit and energy, make you feel like you matter, and improve your sense of happiness. In other words, choose to recontact those people who tend to put a smile on your dial and put a spring in your step.
What about you?
How important do you believe friendships are to your sense of happiness in retirement? Since retiring, have you reconnected with any friends you hadn’t seen for quite some time? How did it go? Have you found it easier to rejuvenate old friendships or to make new friendships?
Love to hear your thoughts and comments. Please join in the conversation.
Best wishes from Estelle