What to do After Retirement

It might sound ridiculous, but the end of your working life might sneak up on you. You’ve probably done a lot of retirement planning, setting up budgets and shuttling money into your investment portfolio, but what happens when you don’t have to get out of bed for the morning commute anymore? For some 40 percent of retirees, this comes sooner than they’d like – through early retirement or other changes, employment ends earlier than they had planned. Most of us focus on how we’ll make ends meet and forget to think about what to <em>do</em> after retirement. Suddenly, a big gap in your day appears and you have to fill the time, but how?


In order to make the most of your new life, there are three keys:


Learn New Things

We all know the time-honored maxim that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but nothing could be further from the truth. Each year, a growing number of studies show a correlation between fresh experiences and continuing education helping the brain stay sharp. Find ways to challenge yourself, but do more than read books and solve crossword puzzles: exercise is a major component for a healthy mind, too. Try out different activities, like hiking or yoga, to keep your coordination intact. No matter what you do, whenever you encounter something distinctly separate from anything you’ve done or heard before, you are creating an environment for growth instead of allowing your brain to wilt.


Make Friends

One of the most underrated aspects of the workplace is the sense of camaraderie. The transition from spending half (or more) of your waking hours with the same people to nobody calling when you don’t make it to the office can be difficult. Like it or not, your job became a major part of your identity and where you derived joy from. When that is gone, you are more susceptible to depression and isolation. Nip that in the bud by finding groups who share common interests, whether gardening or ballroom dancing or running marathons. And, beyond just the psychological benefits of good company, there is some evidence that social interaction helps the brain combat degeneration associated with dementia.


Get Back to Work

Though it may seem unnatural, chances are good you still have a lot to offer the business community. If you remain active, you are likely to live longer, which means others can benefit from your knowledge and experiences. This might mean you decide to open a consulting company to guide people in your former industry or perhaps you spend time at a nearby shelter for homeless youth. There are all sorts of people that could benefit from your wisdom, so seek out opportunities to share it. Entire organizations, such as Encore, have been created to help retirees connect with the non-profit sector for mutually beneficial relationships. Chances are good there are local groups begging for people just like you to plug in and contribute their know-how. Who knows? You might find your golden years end up being the most fulfilling of your life.