The day I retired was so exciting. I went to work that day with a smile on my face and after some goodbyes, a cake and some lovely well wishes and gifts, I walked outside with a smile on my face knowing I would never formally work again.
That evening I went home had a glass of wine and watched TV. I was happy – I had so much time on my hands now! For the following fortnight I had a happy routine of going for great walks, catching up with a friend or two for coffee, cleaning the house and doing some baking. I popped into the grandkids once a week as they live a two-hour drive away and I was very happy.
But on the third week something happened. I started to feel like my life was one big rotating wheel. When Mary cancelled on a lunch date one week I realised that it meant this day was filled with absolutely nothing. When I actually got up that day I realised there was nothing to fill my time.
Without realising it, I had lost a massive part of my life and myself when I retired, because I stopped socialising. Every day when I went to work at my job as a bank teller, I would spend the day chatting to a myriad of people. I would catch up on news from my co-workers and there wasn’t a minute of my day that was filled with social interaction.
Suddenly, I had very little of it. I began to feel lonely. I would wake up on a day where I didn’t have anything planned and I’d want to go back to sleep. I had beautiful friends however they were still working, so my days were long and I actually began to get a little depressed.
I would get so excited to see other people that I almost became anxious about social gatherings like dinners and parties. My son and his wife began to get concerned and encouraged me to move closer to them, but it wasn’t until I read a story about a man who retired and experienced rapid cognitive decline, leading to dementia due to a lack of social interaction, that I realised something needed to change.
That day I jumped on Google and looked for any kind of classes and social groups in my area. I lived in a small town so there wasn’t a whole lot but I signed up for a ballroom dancing class and yoga. I thought the ballroom dancing would be great socially and the yoga would be fantastic to help me regain some balance and happiness.
That week I went to ballroom dancing on a Wednesday night and two yoga classes on Tuesday and Friday morning. On the second week, I walked down to the hospital and asked if they needed volunteers. I did the same at the local school. I applied for a Blue Card (Queensland’s “working with children” approval) and once it arrived I started reading at the primary school two afternoons a week and did the same at the children’s hospital one lunchtime a week.
It took a lot to realise that I needed the change and that I needed purposeful social interaction and it was something I hadn’t ever considered when I made the decision to retire. The social change was something I hadn’t ever anticipated!
So I hope that my story can help someone to have a happy and healthy transition into retirement!
Tell us, have you ever experienced something similar? How did you prepare for your retirement?