I wasn’t prepared for this part of retirement… 24



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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?

Guest Contributor

  1. I retired nearly four years ago and agree with the writer entirely. I had worked in a large office and fortunately I realized before I left that the social interaction was one thing I would miss. I did my homework and had plans made when the time came and I am so glad I did. The local U3A and 60 & Better groups are wonderful and I have made lots of new friends through them & also a handcraft group. I am secretary of one group so that helps keep my brain active & I feel I am giving something back as well. I am out and about so much my full days at home enjoyable and busy. I really love retirement! 🙂

  2. Of course it is up to you to make the changes. In fact, it is a good idea to start the community involvement BEFORE you retire and therefore the transition does not feel so overwhelming. I don’t know how I had time to go to work!

    1 REPLY
    • Me neither Leah, I have wr itten a piece here and it says it all really, in a nutshell. If not a very big nutshell. Good luck to you and your happy, joyfilled retirement.

  3. well yes that’s great.. I too retired (retrenched) at 58 and some of my friends worked but most didn’t now. I had lived on my own for many years, but saw the g randchildren – was hands on nanna, e ven thought they lived 60 or more kms away I caught 3 buses to get there and 3 buses back. The bus trips alone were quite interesting to say the least.. I did 2 long courses in childrens services and youth, just to keep up with things and perhaps find employment in a new field.. I live in a co-operative housing group of 20 homes and was hands on in the roles as tenancy officer and treasurer and many others that keep my mind on the ball incorporating learning all the time, I am kept me busy beyond belief sometimes. I go to the pool, etc and luckily, unlike the reader live close to all amenities, like that was a God send for me not having a car now.. Finding things to do isn’t easy at first, but as I was always and active person in “other areas of life” it wasn’t so hard. I have my down days, but more up days than ever.. I am aware everyone has these, whether working or not and go for walks to the shopping centres, into the city and learn new things every day… The key is to be prepared to go outside your box, learn a new thing every day if you can, even if its a word., then feel proud that you are still in the loop… My grandchildren who are young teenage always ask my advice and when creative writing comes in to it, I am down there or they are on the phone, helping out…which they truly appreciate. Its hard I know, but I have suffered cliinical depression all my life, and I push myself and know that being busy is the best medicine, not just medication. I have a few physical health issues now, but I work around them, so days I am not so mobile, or am aching all over, I just do what I need to, at home… Living life to the full, is not just a saying, its true and I intend to do this until I drop.

    1 REPLY
  4. Thetransition from working to retirement can be a bit difficult, volunteering is great, however, beware those groups that think they have a free full time worker. There are so many social groups around and getting involved with them is well worth the effort. Libraries have ‘friends of the library’ groups, and if you are a reader, then this is a great way to be involved.

  5. I also missed the social interaction of other’s, but in my retirement I could either sink or swim, so I took the bull by the horn’s and have learned how to use a jigsaw cutter, wield a paint brush, do a kitchen makeover and numerous other thing’s. The circular saw was a bit scary at first, but I have managed to master that. Stripped down picture frames and cupboards I have purchased from the thrift shop’s and re-used them for my own decoration. There is nothing that we cannot do if we put our mind’s to it, I myself like to keep up the maintenance in my home by redecorating and keeping it up to today’s modern standards. With the knowledge I have gained I have been able to help other’s, which is rewarding, knowing that you can pass on what you have learned……and……The people at Bunning’s are wonderful, very happy to pass on tip’s and what experience they have. My life at the moment is very fulfilling and if there are any of you that are starting to feel a little lost and lonely, try and use your skill’s or what interest’s you most, utilise what you have inside you and don’t give in to the overwhelming feeling of being on your own. You can do it and you never know where it will take you………Maybe I should have been a male, I love Bunning’s! lol!

  6. Thanks for your honest view. I too worked in Retail, and every day was filled with helping and communicating. Customer Service. A void appeared when I left. Feeling lonely. Now I do Art class but not enough. I shall endeavour to search to stay connected. My family works or on holidays. Thank you. D

  7. Has anyone checked their upcoming aged pension due to be paid on 26th March. Just looked at mine and have been given the extra princely sum of $1.71 per fortnight. Their generosity knows no bounds does it and Tony reckons pensioners are better off under the LNP. What an insult to our intelligence.

  8. Before I retired a friend told me “when you retire plan to do at least one thing each day even if it is only Changing a tap washer and make sure you do that 1 thing ” well it worked now I am so busy that I don’t know how I ever found the time to go to work.

  9. I retired last year earlier than I planned when I was only 62years old, due to issues with management. I put my nursing career to rest after 45years. It hurt at the time and for many months I grieved the loss of something I loved doing very much. But…life goes on and I do not regret the decision now that I made in haste then.
    Life is good and God and my family and friends have supported me all the way. I live alone but don’t feel lonely. I am involved with my church, am a presenter on our local Christian radio station, volunteering also at the ED of our local hospital and palliative care unit. I also enrolled in U3A and enjoy creative writing classes and poetry appreciation classes. My days are full and yet there are still time for reflection and to stop and smell the roses. Our Autumn years can be the best time of our lives.

  10. as you see you retire from your work( job) not life, time is yours to do as you wish and how wonderful that your giving back to society this way. Working with children is a rewarding one as with the elderly who need a helping hand. Good on you enjoy your much earnt time

  11. I retired at 57 and don’t know how I found time to go to work. I have some place to go every day. Volunteer work, craft group, social group,line dancing, aqua aerobics. Rarely spend a full day at home-weekends we catch up on jobs around the house.I did some of these activities while I was still working. We also travel a lot in our caravan-been retired for 8 years now

  12. I went from work to study. Doing the advanced diploma (took 3 years) where I met many people my own age who have remained friends was a wonderful experience. I never missed work or the people there (apart from a couple) as there were so many problems with the office politics. I now spend my time doing courses, socialising and volunteering and honestly have always felt this is the best time of my life.

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