How to keep your relevance and avoid being a bore in retirement

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Have you thought about the importance of not becoming a bore or irrelevant once you retire? I have started to ask retirees this question and wanted to share some thoughts on this and will likely have a part 2 etc.….

Learning from experience

My awareness of this started a few years ago when I had the extreme pleasure to spend some time with a vibrant 80 year-old man during a baseball spring training excursion. He was a friend of a friend and we were introduced over dinner. On this same trip was my 25 year-old nephew. We both spent a lot of time with this man and we found him engaging and interesting. I don’t recall meeting someone like this before and I wondered if he was happy etc., so I asked him the dumb question — “what’s the secret to being the way you are”? He took no offense, smiled and said he thought it was simple but took him some time to learn. He named me his top three things, which I quickly jotted down:

1. Keep moving! This man walked 2 miles every day of the week/rain or shine. It showed as he easily kept up with those 20 and 50 years younger than him. Good genes, attitude, exercise, eating — whatever — it worked for him. He displayed a vigor that made you take notice.

2. Surround yourself with younger people! He loved talking to my nephew and vice versa. Me, I am not sure aboutJ. It wasn’t a forced conversation, centered just on baseball (naturally as it was a baseball trip), but dove into work and other parts of life. He was a natural and easy to talk to with knowledge and perspective about things that were interesting. He kept up to date on current events but after expressing his opinion, shrugged and asked us: “I’d love to hear what you think”. He was engaging and interested in others.

3. The “good ole days” were not the “good ole days” but were rather hard and daunting at times. He was referring to the 60’s and 70’s when he worked two jobs and raised a family. He refused to live in the past and said that he believed the best days in life were what we had today — because it is where we are now. “Don’t go back — go forward,” he said. Great way to remain relevant.

This 80 year old had a strong impact on my nephew and me. I am glad he had this opportunity to see what was possible as one ages. He got it- what a great attitude this man had!

Applying the Lessons

For me — it helped me put into my terms what being a bore and irrelevant meant to me. So — here we go.

Being a bore is someone who is:

1. Being too opinionated, not listening to others

2. Being unfriendly

3. Living in the past

Being irrelevant is someone who is:

1. Shuns social interaction from various ages

2. Not having a purpose for being

3. Ceasing to learn/do new things that stimulate body and mind

Being aware of what these two traps are as we age and having the benefit of someone stirring my thinking on this has certainly had a positive impact on my mindset on this topic. Now the harder work — creating some goals for myself on these topics. That’s the fun part…the journey continues.

Care to share your thoughts on how to avoid becoming bored or irrelevant when you retire? There have to be some great lessons out there!

Denis can be reached at denisw@retirementwisdom.com