I’ve thought about it for a few years, even looked forward to it. But, now that the time has come, how will I cope with my life in retirement.

My work as a manager in a call center kept me busy. The usual data crunching and report writing was only a small part of my job. Keeping ninety-seven men and women of all ages motivated to perform well was quite a task.

I would walk around with notes in my pocket saying “ask Susan: how her father’s surgery went ”, “Ken: how did David enjoy his birthday party” and “Marsha: was the new arthritis medication helping”. In a busy office, it was impossible to keep track of everyone’s personal life but I made an effort to connect with those that were experiencing stress. It kept my job interesting and I loved it.

After eighteen years of working in the same office, I considered my employees to be extended family. What would my life be like without them?

I have friends, some of them retired. We could make plans to do all the things we didn’t have time for when working. I might finally learn to speak Spanish, take courses at my local college and visit family now living in another city.

As I began the second phase of my life, I was worried that:

  • Most friends will have already arranged their life and were busy, leaving very little time for me.
  • Some might invite me to join them in their group activity. Did I want to learn to play bridge, golf or flower arranging?
  • Social activities would be limited to day time as most friends were married and spent evenings with their husbands.
  • Travel was going to be alone unless I sign up with a Singles Travel Group.
  • Volunteering opportunities would be limited to boring jobs that paid-employees didn’t want to do.

Here’s how my retirement unfolded:

  • Moved to a new location which was walking distance to shops, restaurants and the YMCA.
  • Enrolled in yoga, ballroom dancing and aqua-fit classes.
  • Joined a reading club.
  • Went to cooking classes and learned to cook Eastern European dishes.
  • Bought a bicycle and left my car in the garage most days.
  • Volunteered in the neonatal ward of our local hospital, caring for tiny babies.

Although I still meet up with old friends and work colleagues, I’ve made tons of new friends. I am busier than ever and have to keep accurate record of my time to avoid double booking.

My family thinks that I’m avoiding them. After all, “you’re retired and have all the time in the world”.

Next month, I’m going to Europe to tour countries that I have not previously visited. My travel companion has never left the country so even applying for a passport was a new experience for her.

Now looking back, it was the interaction with people that brought me joy. Just because I retired, that didn’t have to end.

A long-time friend expressed concern that in a few years she would be retiring and not have anything to do.

True, we’re not all outgoing, gregarious people but even the quiet, cerebral types can find satisfying interests. A good place to start is the internet. Just type in “painting classes”, “museums” or “reading clubs” and you’ll find endless websites where you can begin your investigation.

Take the first step and you’ll find it will lead you to many more. Opportunities don’t come and find you on your couch. You have to go out and find them. Happy retirement!