If you’ve been working for a long time, especially if it’s been with one company or office, most likely you’ve developed friendships among your colleagues. Probably you’ve assumed that those friendships will continue after the job is behind you, but have you planned for insuring that that really happens? Friendships are important in their own right, and they’re also an important part of planning for a healthy, socially engaged life after retirement. But what do you do if retirement is sprung upon you, without time to really prepare? Here are some things you can do when you didn’t get a chance to plan.
Confess – Let the friends you have at work know how much you value them, and that you want to continue your friendship after you leave.
Make a Plan – Saying that you want to continue your friendship is one thing; ensuring that you will is another. Make a concrete plan to get together in the early weeks after retirement. Pick a location that isn’t associated in any way with work – this allows the friendship the opportunity to flourish in a new context. You might be tempted to keep your plans confined to coffee or a weekday lunch simply because you’re used to being social with work friends while constricted by time. Instead, suggest something on the weekend. If the friendship you’ve shared at work is real, your work friends will transfer you to their “real friend” lives smoothly.
Have a party – Chances are your colleagues will throw a little farewell for you at work, and because your retirement has arrived as a bit of a surprise, this can be not only emotionally difficult but a little awkward. Even if it’s a good experience, it’s not going to be the kind of long-anticipated send off that you deserve. For this there’s no other remedy than to have a party of your own, and because your party is not a work function you can invite, or fail to invite, whomever you please. You might want to try inviting friends from outside work as well and see if they hit it off with your work friends.
Get a roommate! – Roommates mean company, support, financial relief, and a built in social life; it’s a great solution to a number of the stresses of forced retirement if you’re living alone at the time your retirement is sprung on you.