Take a minute and reflect on where your friends come from. For many, it is the workplace. But with retirement, the frequency of interaction with those friends dramatically decreases, as do the issues shared in common with those still working. Another source of friends is neighbors or the parents of your children’s friends.
In retirement, the routine shifts. People move away permanently to be closer to children or temporarily if they become snow birds. The individuals with whom you have had the tightest bonds may well continue, but, with time, the bond loosens, as the opportunity for frequent interaction diminishes. And, with time, some friends will pass away.
There we are. In our 60s or older, needing to make new friends all over again. In some respects, we may have forgotten some of our relationship development skills because we haven’t had to use them in a while. Yet having sufficient social interactions in retirement is critical. Especially if you are an introvert. You may find you have to “put yourself out there” and make an effort to connect with others. How do you do that? Here are just a few tips to consider.
- When you and a friend or spouse go out to dinner, instead of getting a table, sit at the bar! But that’s just the first step. The trick is to find a way to start up a conversation with a stranger.
- Be the one to introduce new friends to old friends and vice versa. Whether it is inviting them to your place or coordinating a “field trip” to a theater performance or museum exhibition, introduce people to one another and ask them to do likewise with you.
- Find common activities to share. Golf, cooking class, walking and city touring, learning a foreign language, or something else—there are plenty of ways to get involved in a variety of activities and make new acquaintances at the same time.
- Volunteer. It can be an exceptional way to combine forging new relationships with supporting a higher cause.
If you find yourself needing to expand your social circle, set an intention. Perhaps every week you might commit to putting yourself in an environment, or participating in an activity, where you can meet new people.
Whatever you decide to do, be prepared to be flexible. Friends will change with increasing frequency as you age. Don’t get hung up if someone doesn’t want to be your friend. They may have many and don’t need any more. Just keep trying.
Find out more on how to prepare for an “intentional retirement” at our upcoming workshop on October 18th as we explore the 7 things for you to consider beyond the numbers for retirement readiness.