Retirement & New Relationships

Following my last post on finding a new herd, I thought I’d look back on one of the biggest changes I’ve experienced in my transition into retirement – relationship connections. Even 3 years into retirement this continues to be a personal challenge.

While I was working, I interacted with a lot of people every day. For an introvert, that could sometimes be draining. Yet, those daily interactions, even if just the casual conversations about what is happening in your life – from an update on my kitchen re-do to vacation plans to a family/personal challenge – all provided me with moments that validated me, grounded me, made me feel like I was not alone.

Daily work interactions provided people who listened to my issues and stories.   I might get some advice, some commiseration, some empathy, or just an acknowledgement that I was a real person dealing with real life. And I provided it to others. Work was my tribe, my herd, my village!

I miss those daily connections, those grounding and validating moments.  When I stopped working, they completely disappeared.   I went from lots of connections/ relationships to almost none.   Being a workaholic, I didn’t have many non-work-related friends.   I had to consciously work to create moments of connection, to establish (re-establish) and build relationships.

So how is my relationship development going three years into retirement? Alas, it is only so-so.

Of course, there is hubby, my best friend. In retirement, we are spending more time together. We are still working though the time together/time apart dynamic.  And yes, he validates me, but he’s often living the issues and stories and certainly doesn’t want to hear about them!

Creating more diverse moments of connection took conscious planning and action.

  • There is my Quarterly Coffee-Chat plan. I put 2-4 people’s names on my calendar every quarter to set up a coffee date. I am hoping at some point I become the recipient of someone else’s coffee-chat plan as well, but for now, this creates a couple of connection moments a month.
  • There are my Women-Who-Walk friends. From monthly to weekly, weather dependent, we walk and chat. Combining connection and physical activity – a two for one.
  • I’ve created and continue a Mid-week Foodie Club (mostly retirees) that meets up monthly for a nice dinner and stimulating conversation.  Yes, food is one of my interests, so this fits my life vision.
  • There are our Dine-Out-Couples who I connect with quarterly to set up dinner double dates. I’m very happy that a couple of them are starting to call us to set things up, so I’m not always the planner!
  • There is my blogging community – from those I read and comment, and those who read me and comment.  A new set of virtual friends who provide inspiration and encouragement.
  • I have my (Florida) yoga buddy and my Zumba pals. A couple of Meet-for-Wine & Whine girlfriends. My long-distance write/talk pal who’s known me for years.

Some attempts to create more relationships have not been successful. Joining a philanthropic group left me with a third-wheel feeling as everyone else joined up as existing friends.  A local yoga studio is more a come, do it and leave; it was 4 months of regular attendance before one instructor even asked for my name.  Classes (pottery, cooking, writing, life coaching) so far have not resulted in any longer term connections.

But I’m not giving up. I recently came across an apparently old phrase: ‘friends for a season, friends for a reason, friends for life’.  I will continue to consciously create opportunities to create friends in all three areas.  Some comments on my last blog about the herd have inspired me to try come new things.

I’m hoping at some point to “have a village” – not work dependent, but part of my life.

What have you done to create more connections/relationships in your retirement life?

 

Picture Credit: Tim Doyle, “Family Portrait”,  Africa 2017

Advertisements

Herd Mentality – Finding a New Herd?

It’s hard to acknowledge that I follow a herd mentality. Life is defined by social norms. As social animals, we find life easier and more comfortable to adhere to group roles or mimic group behavior – it promotes safety, saves energy, and the approval is a source of pleasure.

So of course, given that almost my entire social sphere is still working, I’m more comfortable with being perceived as a part-time, free-lance worker.  I “fit in” if I’m working. It allows me to keep a part of my former identity and the validation that comes with that identity. And being an early retiree, almost all my work colleagues assumed I would continue to work.

So, since retiring, I’ve continued to work part-time as a consultant in my field of expertise.  Working is my herd mentality – comfortably adhering to group roles and expectations.

This past May, I got caught up in the work, not thinking about life. I returned to the regular work habits of years – juggling multiple projects, loving the fact I was being asked my opinion on things, but also not exercising, not blogging, not connecting with friends. Yes, I returned to my workaholic habits.

And I didn’t like it at all.

I’m not sure how to give up part-time work. Since I struggle with the workaholic tendencies, I think I need to.  But it’s hard to be different from your social sphere.  I’ve realized I don’t know how to “fit in” with friends or even how to live life if I’m not working as part of it.

How do I find a new herd mentality to become part of? How do I find a social sphere of (young-ish) retirees who are not working? Will this give me alternative role models and help me feel like part-time work is not the must-do to fit in?

Yes, there are many retirees (especially on line) who are not working.   They are active travellers, active grandparents, and/or active hobbyists. I’m none of those things. I also know that, just like Facebook, you don’t see the total picture of other’s lives on blogs and I should not do any inferiority-focused comparisons.   I guess I assume that by creating a IRL connections with a tribe of non-working retirees I’ll see more real pictures of how to live day-to-day life not working.

I’d love to hear your POV about this struggle of mine.

 

Picture Credit: Tim Doyle, Gnu Herd, Africa Safari 2017

Fear of Missing Out?

During our recent African Adventure, I came across a number of Millennials and experienced first hand how different they are from me as a Baby Boomer!  Yes, I know not all Millennials are the same, just as all Baby Boomers are different.  But there were definitely some generational gaps I noticed.

It is said that Millennials largely live for today because they hold a deep “fear of missing out” on life experiences by saving money for a future that many not come. The term has even been reduced to FOMO.

The Millennials we met on tour took 2-3 trips a year of the kind I called our once-in-a-lifetime trip. They even talked about their fear of missing out on life experiences and needing to live like there is no tomorrow. They had their next adventure already being discussed and planned while this one was not even over.

It also amazed me how they moaned about not being connected. As soon as we got to a space that had WiFi they were immediately on their phones, heads down, no conversation with those who were physically with them. To them, (old) virtual connections were more important than (new) physical connections. I guess the FOMO was linked to making sure they were up to speed on things back home.   Hubby and I ended up interacting mostly with the (other) 50-70 year olds and met some amazing, inspiring people!

My Baby Boomer delayed gratification behavior conflicted strongly with this FOMO, do-everything-now mind-set.  I realized I like having lots of possibilities on my possibility list – probably more possibilities than I’ll ever get to! It gives me reasons to look towards the future.  I wonder how these younger folks will continue to find things to look forward to, when they’ve done it all by the time they are 50.

Are you happy with a long list of possibilities that might never all be realized (without regret)?  Or, do you have a fear of missing out?

 

Picture Credit: Tim Doyle, Kenya 2017