10 Smart Ways to Keep Feeling Good When Your Working Life Ends

When the P45 is handed over, the pass to the company door is no longer valid, and there’s no one for you to give instructions to or take them from, the penny soon drops.

It is that the subtle thing called ‘status’ has also left the building. And for some it can be somewhat unnerving, taking the gloss of what ought to be days of joy.

It’s easy to understand why. Once we stood shoulder to shoulder with colleagues. Looked up to those to whom we were responsible. Held accountable those we were responsible for.

We were ‘someone’. But now we are on our own. With all that clarity gone.

Of all the changes that come ‘after work’, this one impacts us most in terms of how we feel about ourselves. And for many it is not enough to say ‘well at least I now have more time to prune the roses’.

So, what’s to be done?

The spiritual bit

If our sense of personal value and self-worth depends only on our role in life, and the approval of others, then we are missing something.

Our status and significance ought to be wrapped up in the God who had us in mind before anything existed, loves us unconditionally and paid the ultimate price to restore our relationship with him. Indeed, our true value can only be measured in the price he was willing to pay for us – the life of his own son.

We matter not because others tell us we do. But because God tells us so. Mull on these amazing facts and let them sink in. God would have you know –

You are unique Psalm 139.13, You are loved Jeremiah 31.3, You are special Ephesians 2.10, You are precious 1 Corinthians 6.20, You are important 1 Peter 2.9, You are chosen John 15.16, You are mine Isaiah 43.1.

That is not the total answer to facing the loss of status that comes when work ends. But it is a vital foundation.

The practical bit

Those who are happiest in retirement – according to Stewart Friedman, founding director of the Wharton Work/Life Integration Project – are those who do more than just relax, watch TV box sets, travel and walk the dog. They are those who, ‘look to use their talents and passions to make a contribution’.

With that in mind, here are ten practical things you can do:

1. Make the change gradually if you can – a slide into ‘after work’ rather than hitting the buffers full-on can be better

2. Don’t fill your time with whatever comes to hand – or what people throw your way. Aim for some clearly defined projects and goals that have an outcome you can see. 

3. Get a job or volunteer – ideally part time. The status may well be different but it can still be fulfilling both for the tasks involved and the human contact it brings.

4. Learn a new skill or develop an existing one. A musical instrument? Touch typing? Photography? Line dancing? Computer literacy? The options are vast.

5. Join a project group – a choir, drama company (they need more skills than just actors), environmental group, local political party, etc.

6. Asses how what you were good at in your work life can be used in the context of your church, a Christian agency or your local community. And then look for opportunities.

7. Don’t sign up for rotas in your church simply because you now have the time. Also look for productive roles that draw on your past experience and skills.

8. Identify your skill base and see where it can be used to teach, train, mentor or serve others.

9. Take up an activity. It doesn’t have to be golf, bridge or bowls. Check out badminton, walking football, fishing, boating, swimming, painting, woodwork and more. And, if possible, take lessons so you have a peer group.

10. Start a business. Is there a local niche you can fill? There’s always a need for someone to walk dogs, fix computers and bicycles, watch empty houses. And web-based start-ups are easy and cost little to fund. 

Finally, try not to figure out your future all on your own. Tap into others who have been this way or are at the same place you are.

Peter Meadows

Peter uses his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his eight grandchildren, escape to Spain and spend his kids inheritance.

Have you tried any of these practical things? Do you have any tips of your own? Please share your experience with the AfterWorkNet Facebook Group.

Comments

  1. Absolutely love this site. Please keep it going. Inspirational for those of us who are retired. Also we just love the simple pleasures like having a cuppa in bed when we wake up and spending longer listening to worship music and listening to christian podcasts and having Quiet times with God. Gives us strength for the day and a purpose- to know Him better. Much love kath x

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The word retirement is not even in the Bible. What is taught in scripture is transition. There is nothing that says you work most of your life and then get to be selfish for the next 20 years"

Rick Warren, PurposeDrivenLife