A 2013 study by New Age in the US looked at the myths and realities of retiring by asking pre-retirees the same question they asked retirees – what will they miss the most? The study will surprise you. For those about to arrive at this milestone in their life, it may be helpful to understand how perspectives of what is important to them will shift along the way.
Before retiring, the #1 on their list of concerns is quite obviously finance – “Reliable Income”. When you are working, you are a net saver adding to your retirement savings as you have been doing for decades in your adult life. Then all that stops when you leave the workforce and begin to depend on your savings. Over time, the new financial reality begins to normalise as retirees begin to adjust their lifestyle and expectation to a sustainable level of spending. Concerns about money then gives way to something more important.
To be sure – for most, finance is remains top of mind – but that drops to #2. So what is the top thing you miss after you retire? Social Connections. Apart from missing the paycheck, retiring also means that you lose the usual day-to-day interactions with your co-workers and colleagues that forms a large part of most adult social interactions. You may love to hate your co-workers, but those relationships are important even outside of work. When you stop going to the office, most of the connections begins to fade. And this is what retirees will miss the most. Here are some ways to can fill that void.
- Go back to work part time. This is a great way to “transition” and many do find it helpful way to ease into full retirement. Not only do you still have some income, but you continue to have meaning work and social connections. Not everyone will be fortunate enough to be rehired in their previous job in a part-time capacity, but given the increasing longevity, society will continue to need seniors to the workforce into their late 60s or 70s. That is good and bad news!
- Making new social connections is another strategy. Volunteering in causes that you are passionate about will create new networks of social connections with like-minded people. In the study, about 85% have found this to be a satisfying and meaningful way to remain socially active and develop new friendships.
- Another way to complement your real world network is to engage in digital communities. Fortunately, you can achieve most of that with your smartphone. Staying connected using social media is a good place to start. Many also stay connected using chat groups like WhatsApp or Telegram. And of course, you can always use email to stay in touch as well. For the one-to-one contacts, do not forget that you can video chat with anyone, anywhere for free using apps like FaceTime or Skype.
Staying connected is important to your happiness. In darker side of ageing is loneliness – which is the root cause of many other problems like depression. That is why it is not surprising that social connections is the #1 thing retiree miss most!