Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Where do You Belong After Retirement?

An important aspect of retirement life is feeling connected. It's important to believe you belong.
I was very concerned about my husband’s transition to retirement. He had worked the nightshift most of his adult life. Because of his schedule, we never developed a social circle of friends. Outside of work and family, he didn’t have a place where he had a sense of belonging. People often don’t realize the importance of being connected, feeling you belong.

For most of the history of mankind, a sense of belonging came from your clan and geographic community. As baby boomers who grew up in the suburbs, much of a sense community based on where we lived was lost. Many of us don’t even know our next door neighbors, let alone feel a sense of connection to them.

As baby boomers became adults, work replaced school as a place to belong. For many, a sense of community is formed by the company you work. Or it may come from camaraderie of a particular profession. For many baby boomers, work fulfills many needs beyond just a paycheck.

For people who do not have a large family, strong church ties or other social group they belong, retirement can be very isolating. It can be a challenge for people to find new ways to connect.

For many, finding a sense of belonging will be based on locating a community based on your interests and passions. I’ve been painting for twelve years. I paint at a studio twice a month. It forces me to paint, no matter how busy I am, but more importantly, it gives me an opportunity to be with my friends, to feel connected others. My painting buddies from my tribe. This is a place where I feel accepted.

My husband is building a plane in our garage. Every day, the garage door goes up. People now stop by throughout the week, checking out the plane and talking about flying. A pilot, who lives up the street, invited my husband to go to the airfield recently. The neighbor introduced my husband to the other pilots. He is finding a new community to belong.

Finding a retirement activity is a way to stay challenged. It also is important as a way to stay connected. Finding a place to belong is an important ingredient to creating a fulfilling retirement.

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