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I had lunch with a friend last week. She and I worked together for seven years and she retired a few months after I did so we have a lot in common. We both love retirement, but we both miss our friends at work, but not enough to wish we were back there.
We talked about one of the downsides of retirement: the lack of purpose. When we worked, we got up every day and went to an office and did what needed to be done. Every day was scheduled and every day had specific things that had to get done. We had a reason to get up in the morning: we had things that had to get done. We had purpose in our lives.
Retirement removes the former purpose and we have to find a new purpose. We need a reason to get up, get ready, and do something useful. I think that’s one reason some people don’t handle retirement well. After 30 to 40 years of having others tell you what to do and when to do it, retirees are left hanging, with time on their hands and nothing to focus on.
I think retirement training should include how to refocus time and energy on something new. How to find a new purpose in life. Old habits die hard and the habit of having others determine how to spend your days is a hard one to break. In retirement, no one tells you what to do—other than your spouse. That brings a memory back to me. When my kids were little and they said they were bored, I’d tell them that either they needed to find something to do or I would find them something to do. There was always mopping, laundry, cleaning, and yard work to cure any hint of boredom. Hubby has learned not to tell me he’s bored because he knows I have a honey-do list with his name on it.
One of the best ways to have purpose in your life is to do good for others. Volunteer. Somewhere. Anywhere. A little or a lot. Regularly or whenever you can. Whether it’s helping feed the poor, contributing to a fundraiser, helping with an event, making quilts for children in bad situations, or teaching adults how to read, find a purpose by giving your time to make the community a better place. Along with volunteering, retirees should find a hobby. Have no hobbies? Most people can learn new things so if you don’t have a hobby, find something fun and interesting and take classes for it. Community ed has all kinds of classes that are fun. It’s a good way to get a taste of different things to figure out what interests you.
I tried stained glass crafts for a while, but got tired of cuts on my hands. I guess I should have worn gloves. I tried knitting, but didn’t like what I made. I tried quilting and loved it, but it’s pretty expensive so that hobby is on its last legs with me. I love to sew so I’ll make purses and things. They cost less and are less strenuous to make. I took up clogging for a while. It was great fun and great exercise, but we moved and I couldn’t find a group to dance with. We need to start an old ladies clogging group that gets together to exercise and visit afterwards. No competition. That’s for the young folks.
I’m taking a couple of weeks off. This time of year is for family and friends. I wish you happy times with your family and friends. I wish you a great holiday time of year and a very healthy and happy 2016!

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