After years of plotting and planning, the day final came. I retired. Just leaving from 30 plus years of a demanding career coupled with raising a family, I found myself with lots of time on my hands and a “to do” list with nothing really to do. This was the first time in years that I really didn’t have to answer to anyone or anything but myself.
At the age we think about winding down and enjoying a life of leisure, many of us are faced with two compelling questions: What’s Next? and How can I maintain a quality lifestyle, especially if I live another 25 years or so? After the initial euphoria of retiring or moving on to a less demanding life, we begin to realize that there is more to life than sitting around the house and watching the reruns of the reruns of our favorite TV programs or playing video games. While our “bucket lists” can give us a sense of anticipation and purpose, the real task begins with successfully managing the quality of our aging process each day of our life.
The good news is…there are fun ways to stay socially connected and active. The bad news is… you must be willing to make the effort each day.
Start with these simple tips:
Get up and get dressed. Who knows what each new day will bring? Be prepared to get out of the house and explore new things. Greet the morning with optimism and a spirit of adventure.
Enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. As the weather permits, get outdoors at least once a day. Walk around your neighborhood, go on small hikes, ride a bike, play a sport, or work in your garden. Stop and experience the wonders of nature.
Create new and nurture existing relationships. Take the initiative. Reach out to invite others to join you for coffee, lunch, or a special social event. Schedule a time each day to call a friend or visit someone.
Take classes. Keep your brain active, meet new people, and have fun. There are a lot of inexpensive learning opportunities for older adults in your community. Consider taking classes through your community college, university, YMCA, or at the local Senior Center. Expand your circle of friends and connect with people who share your interests.
Become a volunteer: While volunteering is essentially unpaid services, it offers priceless benefits to you and the community in terms of goodwill and quality of human life. Volunteering is an excellent way for you to go beyond your comfort zone, build new relationships and connections with community members, and create a sense of accomplishment and identity.
Use technology. Your smartphone, computer, iPad, or other mobile devices are great ways to stay in touch with friends and family members. Learn how to post cute pictures or funny videos onto Facebook or into your text messages. Embrace the power of social media.
Keep moving. Engage in physical activity to keep your body strong and mobile. Physical activity can be anything from walking to gardening to working out at the gym. To stay socially connected, try to engage in physical activities such as playing tennis, golf, joining a gym, or walking with a group of friends.
Be passionate about quality living at any age. Make a pledge to thrive by staying active and socially connected.
Written by: Patricia K. Flanigan, Smart Strategies for Successful Living
Patricia K. Flanigan has worked in higher education for over 28 years. She holds a doctoral degree in Organizational Leadership from the University of La Verne as well as a M.A. in Latin American Studies and B.A. in Anthropology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Before retiring and moving to Idaho in 2015, she served as the dean of online education and learning resources at Saddleback College, a large community college in Southern California. She currently consults in higher education, volunteers for AARP, writes for a local magazine, and serves as an Affiliate Faculty member at Boise State University and a contributing member to LEARN Idaho. Since February 2017, she has been the founding director for Smart Strategies for Successful Living, a community-based website designed to promote quality aging. As an educator, her focus is to inspire others to live and age well.