Some of the comments I’ve heard from people who are thinking about retirement are, “I don’t know what I’ll do with myself all day.”, or “I hope I don’t run out of things to do, because, then what?”, and, “Retirement doesn’t sound like fun to me.”
Nobody likes to be left at home, twiddling their thumbs. OMG, do you remember what it was like to be stuck at home on a Saturday night, when you were a teenager? Can you imagine what it would be like to live that out everyday, all day? That’s not a version of Hell, I want to live. How about you?
An article appearing on the A Place for Mom Blog, aplaceformom.com, list these 16 Facts about Senior Isolation:
1. Senior isolation increases the risk of mortality.
2. Feelings of loneliness can negatively affect both physical and mental health.
3. Perceived loneliness contributes to cognitive decline and risk of dementia.
4. Social isolation makes seniors more vulnerable to elder abuse.
5. LGBT seniors are much more likely to be socially isolated.
6. Social isolation in seniors is linked to long-term illness.
7. Loneliness in seniors is a major risk factor for depression.
8. Loneliness causes high blood pressure.
9. Socially isolated seniors are more pessimistic about the future.
10. Physical and geographic isolation often leads to social isolation.
11. Isolated seniors are more likely to need long-term care.
12. Loss of a spouse is a major risk factor for loneliness and isolation.
13. Transportation challenges can lead to social isolation.
14. Caregivers of the elderly are also at risk for social isolation.
15. Loneliness can be contagious.
16. Lonely people are more likely to engage in unhealthy behavior.
So it appears that our fear of being left alone with nothing to do has merit.
There are things you can do to help battle this situation before it begins. If you’re still working, and everything you do, and all of your friends are work related, stretch yourself out of that box. Find non-work related friends to have fun with. Join a church and sign up for committees, volunteer somewhere that would be grateful for your help, take a class, ect.
All of these are excellent ideas, and I’m sure you can come up with more. However, I know that if your job is/was a job that kept you at your desk in relative cubical isolation, or if you’re somewhat shy, you may not be comfortable just signing up for something and then showing up to do what ever someone tells you to do.
Prepare Yourself to Meet and Greet:
Here are my suggestions for helping you to find your fun tribe.
First have some business cards made. Way back when, before phones, they were referred to as calling cards, and would be presented at the door when you called on someone, unannounced or otherwise. Your title wasn’t important, it was a polite way of introducing and legitimizing yourself.
So get some cards made. Give yourself a title. Maybe, “Queen of the Leisure Life”, or “Pet Lover Extraordinaire”. Something fun that reflects your current lifestyle or favorite hobby, or just something interesting about yourself. You’re looking for a way to pique someone else’s interest in you, or at the very least, start an interesting conversation.
Cards are relatively inexpensive and can be designed and purchased on line, or at your local print shop.
Next, start networking:
“What!?”, you exclaim. “Put myself out there, to strangers! I thought you understood, I’m not good at that.”
I know, I know. It seems counter intuitive. Going out to random meetings to meet random people, and shaking a lot of random hands, is what you’re thinking, but it’s NOT what I’m talking about.
I’m talking about networking with a purpose. So what’s your purpose? When you network for work, you’re generally networking to find your next client. Networking for fun is, frankly, a whole lot more fun, because you get to choose why you’re networking.
Decide who you would you like to meet. Do you like to read? Do you like to sew? Do you like to build and fly model airplanes? What do you like to do that would be more fun if you were able to share the experience with like minded people? That is your new fun purpose. Finding your tribe, those other people walking around the face of the earth, or in your neighborhood, looking for someone, like you, to share their hobbies, or passions with.
“OK, OK, I get what you’re talking about, and you’re right, those people, if I could find them, wouldn’t be hard to talk to at all”, you admit. “But where do I find them?”
Finding Your Tribe:
It’s not as hard as you might think. Here are some places to look for them:
Your local Library. Many libraries are hosting groups for all sorts of topics, from book clubs, to craft circles, to classes of all kinds. If your library doesn’t host a group for your passion topic, ask them if they would be willing to start one.
Your local Community Center. I think this is one of the most overlooked places when we are looking for something to do. They too, may be willing to host a group for your topic, if they don’t already offer it.
MeetUp, MeetUp.com is an online source for meetings of all sorts. You can search by location or by topic. If you can’t find anything you’re interested in, in your area, you can start a group of your own, for free. If you find an event you would like to attend, it’s a good idea to RSVP, and to contact the co-ordinator, to let them know you’re coming, and be sure to ask for their phone number for future reference.
Eventbrite, eventbrite.com is another online source for meetings of all sorts. You can also search by location or by topic. If you can’t find anything you’re interested in, in your area, you can start a group of your own, for free. If you find an event you would like to attend, it’s a good idea to RSVP, and to contact the co-ordinator, to let them know you’re coming, and be sure to ask for their phone number for future reference.
So now that you’ve found the meeting you would like to attend, and you’ve sent your RSVP, and reached out to the co-ordinator, what’s next?
When you go to the meeting plan to arrive 10-15 minutes early. Sometimes the meeting locations are a bit tricky to find, and you’ll want to give yourself enough time to get lost and then found, again. Remember the co-ordinator’s phone number your were smart enough to ask for? You’ll also want to have it handy for just this purpose.
Once you arrive, early, you’ll want to introduce yourself to whom ever else is early, and offer to help with the set up, if appropriate. This does 2 things. It gives you a chance to get comfortable with just a few people, and it will show them that you are a helpful sort of person, just the type most groups love to have as members.
It also does one other thing. The first few members to arrive, for any group, tend to be the power players in the group. Giving yourself a few minutes to chat with these key people, helps you to fit in faster. These people are very likely to introduce you to the other members as they arrive. Being introduced by a power player ups your significance in the group, and you’ve only been there a few minutes.
It’s not political, it’s human nature. You do not want to be the person who shows up late, and sits unnoticed, at the back of the room. You’re looking for your tribe. You have to meet them and talk to them to see if they’re a fit for your needs and personality. If not, no harm, no foul. You’ve just spent an hour of your life meeting and chatting with people you never would have met any other way. To me, that’s a win. Maybe the whole group isn’t exactly who you were looking for, but maybe a person or two are.
Be sure to hand out your card to those people you would like to keep in touch with, and get their card if they have one. If they don’t have one, give them 2 of your cards and ask them to put their contact info on the back of one of yours and hand it back to you. It’s a quick easy way to get their information without having to carry a note book or random pieces of paper, that you may loose. Having them write their info and hand it to you may also be another way for them to remember you, when you take the next step in building your tribe and call them in a day or 2 to set up a coffee/tea date.
Your goal with networking for fun is to find people or groups that you can share your interests with. You’re not climbing the social ladder, you’re looking for new friends, that aren’t garnered through your job. This new group of friends will be timeless, because you’ve found them through your interests and your passions. With enough timeless, interest based friends, you will never have to relive the horror of being left behind on a Saturday night.