Adjusting to Retirement

“Every stage of our lives offers fresh opportunities. Responding to divine guidance, try to discern the right time to undertake or relinquish responsibilities without due pride or guilt. Attend to what love requires of you, which may not be great busyness.”
Quaker Faith and Practice 1.28 (Fourth edition), Britain Yearly Meeting, 2009

Q: How might I attend to what love requires of me in this new stage of my life?

When asked what they will do in retirement most people will answer with one of the following:

“Get all the pictures in the albums.”
“Take a trip.”
“Brush up my golf game.”
“Clean the attic, or the closets, etc.”
“Catch up on my sleep.”

Those things take the first six months, then what? There are three different threads of satisfaction that work offers:

  • Community: A room of women in a repetitious job were asked if they liked their job, all replied, “YES!” Asked why, they said it was the fun and the talk they had with each other while working that made it a good job.
  • Competence: There are those for whom being the best, the most creative, the problem solver is the key job satisfaction.
  • Control: Only a few people like to be in charge, to have all the responsibility for decision making, but that few thrive on it.

Which of these, or combination of these, has your work given you? This offers you a key to retirement satisfaction: this need doesn’t end when the job stops. How will you meet this need in retirement?

Q: How do I find meaning in life after retirement?

What can I do?

  • Is there a need in your Meeting or your community that you can fill? Ask your County Agency on Aging about programs for retired volunteers, check with local schools, museums, hospitals, parks, animal shelters, social service organizations.
  • Consider local colleges and universities, public school systems, and community college or online learning programs for lifelong learning opportunities.
  • What are you passionate about? Where do you see a need for change or growth.
  • How can you contribute toward a better world for future generations, locally or globally?

Three Components of Successful Retirement

Studies have been made of successful, happy, retirements and they contain three components:

  • Inner Life: This can mean developing or expanding your spiritual life now that there is time in any way that has meaning for you; or, sharing what you’ve learned in life or work with younger people.
  • Creative Life: Art, music, gardening, writing can be part of a rich creative life, as can ballroom dancing, keeping a journal, telling stories.
  • Connected Life: Meeting activities, volunteering, playing in a band, taking classes, exercise, community improvement.

Notice how the activities under creative life draw on the inner life, and also how they can lead to a connected life. On that gray winter day in your retirement when your spirits match the weather, check whether you are engaged in activities that meet all three of these needs.

“I see this time as our opportunity to explore and experiment with this law of spiritual change in our own lives, beginning with little ways, infinitesimal ways, which will lead us to the larger, broader ones…There are infinite possibilities for us…”
Gene Knudsen Hoffman, 1982 quoted in Practicing Peace, edited by Catherine Whitmire

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LINKS TO MORE INFORMATION: Click on the blue text below to be directed to outside websites that offer additional information on this topic. The websites will open in a new window, when you are done, simply click out of that window and you will be back on this site.

U.S. Department of Labor Senior Community Service Employment Program
Grandmothers for Peace
Lost Generation video on Youtube
Time Goes By blog
Poetry Foundation poems on life and growing older

Sources/Further Reading:

William H. Thomas, M.D., What Are Old People For? How Elders Will Save the World, 2007, VanderWyk and Burnham, Acton, Massachusetts.

Theodore Roszak, The Making of an Elder Culture, 2009, New Society Publishers, BC, Canada.

William Sadler, The Third Age: 6 Principles for Growth and Renewal after Forty, Perseus Books Group, USA.

Molly Strode, Creating a Spiritual Retirement, 2003, Skylight Paths Publishing, Woodstock, Vermont.

Tracy Gary and Melissa Kohner, Inspired Philanthropy, 2002, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA.