Why Making Friends Is a Necessary Life Skill For Retirement

Lonely in retirement? Is that really a concern?  I never knew that making friends is a necessary life skill for retirement until I actually retired. If you’re thinking about retiring, make sure you’ve added friends to your nest egg along with those 401k funds.

Between moving and retiring, I found myself really missing having in-person conversations with people in real time. Social media is a wonderful way for staying in touch and I am thankful for all that it offers. But it does lack the personal warmth that comes from actually being in the same place as who you’re talking to.

I never spent much time thinking about how I’d meet new people when I moved and then retired. I certainly never thought about how I’d replace the people I used to work with. Over many years in corporate life, some became good friends, some became great co-workers and some offered good reasons to just retire. As in, “Sorry, can’t help you with that, I’m outta here.”

After years of meeting new people through work, I realized that without the activity of work itself, I didn’t have a handy way to interact with people. Right away I discovered that I didn’t have a lot in common with the people who simply just popped up in my everyday life.  It took some effort on my part to put myself in situations to meet new people.

As soon as I thought of places to go or things to do, I found more worthwhile pursuits at home. That didn’t work so well long term for making new friends, but it did postpone putting myself out there.

Eventually I took a few steps forward and found other people just like me (imagine that!)  who were open to starting new friendships. Some were retired and others not. Sharing interests that weren’t work-related was a happy thing.  It made me wonder why it took me so long to pursue making new friends.

So, if this sounds at all like the situation you might find yourself in when you retire, start thinking of ways to meet people now. Don’t wait until you actually do retire. If you put it off, you’ll only be successful in procrastination.

Ready to start? Think of 5 things you’d like to learn more about or do more of. Find a non-work related activity that involves each one.

Schedule time on your weekends to pursue all 5 of them over the next 3 months. Challenge yourself to talk to one new person at each activity. Share something about yourself other than what you do for work. Get in the habit now of talking about yourself and not your work. Someday work won’t be your fall-back conversation starter, so start getting used to it.

That should get your friendship mojo going and chances are, you’ll meet at least one person you’ll like well enough to see again.  When you meet up, you can talk about how you are feeling more ready to retire every day.

The Retirement Style Blog routinely discusses a variety of retirement transition issues. For a full framework of retirement resources, please visit our Retirement Success Series. To speak with a certified retirement coach about your personal needs, please contact us.

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Showing 4 comments
  • Michele

    Great article! This is my #1 concern about retirement. I am an introvert by nature which makes it easy to hang out at home and not look for ways to create new friendships. At the same time, I look forward in retirement to having the time to have meaningful conversations with good friends.

  • Deborah Williams

    Sometimes you just need to give yourself a friendly little push out the door!

  • CarolG

    It was a most interesting article. Thank you.
    Retired a year now, I find myself distancing myself from former colleagues as we have less and less in common.
    This past winter in the middle of our deep freezer weather spells while hibernating I made a list of all I ‘use to’ enjoy prior to having a professional career and all I didn’t have time to do and/or enjoy during. To my surprise it was the most simple of pleasures I had stopped taking the time to do.
    I look forward to reading more of your suggestions.

  • Deborah Williams

    Isn’t it interesting that those “simple” things that you enjoyed were things that you stopped taking time for when you were pursuing your career? I did the same thing and now wonder why I let them go. I hadn’t thought of that before, so thank you for bringing it up! I appreciate your kind thoughts and wish you best as you transition into retirement!

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