Kittle: Plan to connect and commit in retirement
Maybe you are retired already, or just getting close to retirement. Are you beginning to wonder what you will do with yourself in all that spare time you are finally going to have?
While some eagerly anticipate this change in pace, many seniors do not look forward to it.
Regardless of where you fall in this spectrum, the truth is that you can’t make your job your only focus and commitment in life, because you won’t always have it.
Dr. Henry Lodge, co-author of Younger Next Year, maintains that it’s a good idea to plan for the retirement years, socially and emotionally.
Now is the time to begin preparing for this big change, building new networks of friends, and commitments that will be there when your job ends. Find projects to do and to keep working on. Volunteer work is one of the most satisfying things you can do—society would be at a loss without our seniors who devote so much time to volunteering.
Cultivate friendships and don’t neglect social activities. Your mom was right—be friendly if you want to have friends. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others. You have much to offer, and much to gain in return.
Have you always been curious about something? Now is the time to take a class. Learn to dance. Join a bird-watching group. Learn a foreign language in order to prepare for that trip you have always wanted to take, but never had the time. Take up exotic cooking, join a book club, or learn an instrument.
If you are married, think about creating a new life with your partner. Instead of focusing on what’s wrong with him or her, focus on what’s right. What are their good and strong points? Focus on building memories together. Your relationship can grow even deeper as you head towards your golden years together. Explore a common interest, or develop a new one. Ask questions, research, and act on those interests.
Speaking of partners, we are mammals, created to cuddle. Human contact and intimacy is critical to good health. Any mammalian contact helps.
A recent study on heart attack victims kept track of who did and didn’t have a dog, with the non-dog owners six times as likely to die of a second heart attack.
Another study showed that isolated/single men were four times more likely to have a second heart attack than married/connected men. Consider the returns from connecting and committing to relationships in this third portion of your life. Life is meant to be lived to the full, not simply endured.
If you are fortunate enough to live in Canada, you are already more fortunate than many in this world.
Bobbi Kittle is a personal trainer and fitness
instructor in Kelowna who specializes in working with seniors.