Beware of the first months of retirement and their emotional challenge.


The word ‘retirement’ can conjure up enticing images – long walks, travel, new hobbies, fun with grandchildren and more. But the reality can be very different. Especially during the first months of this new adventure.

This is because transition from fulltime work comes with an emotional challenge. It’s a challenge that even leads some to be less open with the truth than perhaps they should be.

This has been revealed by research from the Harvard Business School led by Professor Teresa Amabile. She says, ‘For many, the first months of retirement can involve an existential crisis. It can be a very dramatic moment, with many retirees facing a psychological battle for self-discovery.’

Admittedly, this four year Retirement Transitions Study focusing on 120 professionals and their views of retirement, is from the US. But it still has important insights for all making the retirement transition.

What stands out from the research is that, for many, the first steps into retirements are somewhat blissful. With an empty calendar and no need for an alarm clock in the morning being beautiful things.

Prof Teresa reports, ‘Most people are very happy right from that first morning.’ But, for many, this doesn’t last long. This is because they struggle with restructuring their lives and letting go of a big part of their identity as employed people.

The evidence for this is clear from the responses when retirees were asked by the researchers how they described themselves.

Some harked back to their significant role in the past saying ‘I’m a retired librarian’ or ‘I’m a retired teacher or ‘I’m a retired research chemist’. Others even denied being retired, naming their past role even though it was no longer theirs.

Says Prof Teresa, ‘We asked them why they did this and it’s because they don’t want to be seen as someone out to pasture. One person said “I don’t want to be seen as yesterday’s news I want to be the news right now”.’

This points to something important, stresses Prof Teresa, saying, ‘People think of planning for retirement as a financial exercise, and that’s all. But it needs to be a psychological and relationship exercise as well.’’

She sums up the issue saying that when our formal career ends ‘We need to think about who we want to be. The people in our study who do that, tend to have a smoother transition.’

According to Prof Teresa, when someone leaves behind the structure and identity that goes with their employment ‘they need to be ‘an architect of a new life structure and, often, a new identity’. This ‘identity’ being one where they, ‘build a new life and explore new activities, relationships, and ways of thinking about themselves.’

This led to the researchers uncovering something they called building ‘identity bridges.’ They saw retirees using these as a strategy for preserving continuity between life before fulltime work and life afterwards.

Some of these ‘identity bridges’ include what the research team described as –

  • Activating a latent identity – doing so by rediscovering a passion they were not able to pursue while working fulltime.
  • Giving more time to a relationship not possible before – perhaps with grandchildren or adult children.
  • Maintaining a life philosophy – an attitude that helps remain positive despite retirement’s challenges.
  • Finding a new source for valued affirmation – establishing relationships and taking up roles that provide the kind of positive feedback experienced back in the workplace.
  • Using their workplace skills in a new way – often by volunteering.

This didn’t happen overnight, the study reveals. Prof Teresa says that although most welcomed the freedom and flexibility, many retirees described unexpected feelings of being at loose ends. And it typically took from six months to two years or more for them to sort through their thoughts and feelings.

Stressing the importance of this research Prof Teresa says, ‘These are important findings because they can make people more aware of the psychological challenges of moving into retirement And if people can be more consciously aware of the need to bridge with one or more of these strategies, they might feel less discomfort along the way.

Want more in making the transition to retirement? Check out these past AfterWorkNet blogs –

Want to make most of your transition to retirement? Here’s the 4 must-dos.

What might God’s plan be for the early months of retirement? Ready for a surprise?

What’s your experience of the first months of life after fulltime work? Please tell all either here or on the AfterWorkNet Facebook community

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He’s using his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, and escapes to Spain when he can.

Having a vocation, in response to God’s call, is not just for the young. Here’s how to find yours.

When that wonderful era of life after fulltime work arrives what should be its focus? Vacation or vocation? Two almost identical words yet with very different meanings. And why should it matter?

One – ‘vacation’ – points to a season when the focus is on ourselves. Take a break – a long one. Put ourselves first most of the time. Enjoy what we ‘deserve’.

The other – ‘vocation’ – points to what God calls us to. The word ‘vocation’ even comes from the Latin root vox, meaning ‘voice’ – giving it the sense of ‘what has called us to’.

It’s a stark difference that Jeff Haanen points to in his masterly book ‘An Uncommon Guide to Retirement’. And he brings the challenge not to fall for a ‘me centred’ retirement but to pursue the fulfilment and significance that comes from identifying and living out what God calls us to do in this season of opportunity.

When it comes to the issue of our ‘calling/vocation’ Jeff warns of the danger of falling for any of the four myths that seem to prevail. He says –

1. It’s wrong to believe ‘my calling is to do what I love’. That may be true for some, but for some it may be a call to suffer – just as Moses was called from the tranquillity of herding sheep to confront Pharaoh and demand the freedom of his people.

To quote Jeff, ‘The biblical view of calling speaks to a much deeper satisfaction of following God in every circumstance, come what may.’

2. It’s wrong to believe ‘calling means getting my ideal job’. As Jeff says, ‘The “ideal job” ethos is actually elitist because it undermines work that is not done out of “passion”’ – which, of course, is true for most people.

To quote Jeff again, ‘The road to deep freedom in retirement is found not in self-actualisation (fulfilment of one’s talents and potentialities) but in self-surrender’.

3. It’s wrong to believe ‘calling is a life-stage’. There’s no biblical support for splitting life into the three stages of calling: 1. Youth and education. 2. Career. 3. Retirement. More than that, Jeff asserts, with people now living longer and healthier, ‘lives, relationships, and work will become more fluid’.

4. It’s wrong to believe ‘conversations about calling are just for 20 year olds’. In his experience, Jeff has found ‘the second most common time people ask deeper questions about purpose, job choice and meaning’ is in their later years.

So if that’s the myths kicked into touch, how can we best hear God’s voice and be clear of our calling in this afterwork stage of life?

It’s not all about checking what skills you have stresses Jeff but, rather, where you fit in to God’s purposes and plans. And about what should change from your working life and what should stay the same.

The way forward, Jeff proposes, is to gather trusted friends and family to explore the following questions.

1. What is God doing in the world today that captures your imagination

What’s good out there that you want to get behind? When need presses your button? What’s broken that could be fixed or is missing and waiting being created?

2. Who are you?

Understanding yourself is a big part of figuring out your calling. If you’d like to use a helpful ‘vocational power assessment’ tool here’s a link. The idea behind it is that we each have more ‘power’ than we are aware of.

3. What stage of life you are in

Older adulthood – active retirement – is the season of letting go in order to bless and offer wisdom to the coming generation, asserts Jeff. It’s a move from player to coach.

4. What are your circumstances?

The call is for ‘reality in a hope-filled way’ says Jeff. Take time to make an inventory of your income, relationships, interests, talents, limitations and opportunities. Because this is the context in which to identify and can carry out your calling.

Jeff helpfully points out that Jesus chose not to do ‘everything’. There were those he healed and thousands he didn’t; towns he visited and others he didn’t. Because of his calling he was able to say ‘no’ and that will serve us too.

5. What’s the cross you’ve been called to bear?

What have been the life experiences that have shaped and formed you? Especially those seasons of deep pain. With God, nothing is wasted and it is these things that give you wisdom and insights that are of value to others.

6. What are you afraid of?

This is a surprising question but, to Jeff, one not to be shunned. Fears of death, loneliness, becoming irrelevant, failing health, not having enough money – and more – can all serve to paralyse us.

‘Name them’, says Jeff. ‘Offer them to God and hear him say ‘Don’t be afraid for I am with you to the very end of the age’. Isa 41.10 Matt 28.16-20

To be honest, what you’ve just read only skims the surface of the rich thinking on calling and vocation in Jeff Haanen’s excellent book ‘An Uncommon Guide to Retirement’. And there’s much more there to enrich and encourage you in your after work years

You’ll also find more on how God can use these years on the AfterWorkNet website page Opportunities.

What thoughts or questions has this generated for you? Please share them here or on the AfterWorkNet Facebook community

If you think this blog would be helpful to others please share using the links below.

It’s time to ban the dreaded phrase ‘senior citizen’. And here’s why.


I am not old. My birth certificate and my body may tell a different story. But my mind – and my attitude – say otherwise. And I just wish the world around me would stop trying to get me to change my mind.

The ‘offence’ started a good while ago. My 55th birthday was marked and marred by a mailing from Saga – those blue rinse cruise people – inviting me to do something or other.

That put an end to what was never going to be a good relationship. It was also the opening shots in what has become an ongoing assault on the way I wish to see myself. The biggest culprit being that horrid label ‘senior citizen’ that seems to come from everywhere.

I find I’m in good company – including, possibly, yours. This company includes 78 year-old Retirement and Career Coach Gary Foster.

Recently Gary said, when it comes to senior citizen, ‘I refuse to put myself in that category. This is not a denial that I am not older than most or that I’m not getting older. I just don’t need another moniker to remind me and to plunk me into a category that has a negative tone’.


Of course, it is markedly better than ‘golden years’, ‘elderly’, ‘old codger’ and such. But do we even need a defining category? To be pigeonholed with words conjuring up the image of a shuffling couple trying to cross the road – as the road sign depicts so unhelpfully?

Quick story. My wife, Rosie, hit 60 – and thus was now a pensioner. Caught up in a raid on a jewellers (she lives that kind of exciting life) she came face to face with a local reporter wanting her story. When asked her age (what did that have to do with anything?!) she was wise enough to know what was ahead.

To say ‘60’ would have the paper designate her as ‘pensioner Rosie Meadows’. Not ‘vibrant mother of five’, not ‘former actress’, not ‘world traveller’, not ‘former business owner’. But ‘pensioner’ – with all negative images it throws up.

So Rosie answered ‘59’ – though she could easily have got away with ten years less. And her fingers were crossed, of course.

My point? It’s that words matter – especially when rather than being life-enhancing they create negativity and point to the bad smell of being past your sell by date.

Gary Foster astutely notes why we are where we are. The blame falls at the feet of psychologists and marketers he claims saying, ‘Until 1904 we had two age categories – adult and child. Then, in 1904, the President of the American Physicalists Association invented the term “adolescent.”’

From there came the growth to seven categories: newborn, infancy, childhood, adolescence, young adult, middle age, and old age. As Gary puts it, ‘Each is a lucrative market for psychologists and clever marketers.’

However, since the 1900s the time span between middle age and old age has extended dramatically. Gary says, ‘Senior citizen probably made sense when you were automatically there at 65 in the eyes of the government, financial industry, the general public and were facing just a few years before checking out.’

But no longer is that the way life is. Those once tagged ‘old’ or ‘senior’ may now have some 20 to 40 years ahead with mostly good health. And it is demeaning, even cruel, to badge them – and treat them – as though this is not the case.

What’s being described here are Baby Boomers– those born during the years after the last war. The generation that spawned Paul McCartney, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Elton John, Meryl Streep and such.

As Marc Freedman, author of How to Live Forever: The Enduring Power of Connecting the Generations says, ’Baby boomers and the generations following them don’t think in terms of years or age. After all, it was the baby boomer generation that coined ‘60 is the new 40.’

Marc adds that boomers have benefited from medical and technological revolutions and been subject to the explosion of the ‘how to make you look and feel younger’. With the outcome that most refuse to accept that ageing will lead to less productive years.

That’s me. It may well be you. And it’s why I’ll fight tooth and nail to escape from being a ‘senior citizen’ either in name or attitude.

Gary Foster has his own very American way of expressing his feelings on the subject – regarding himself as ‘a fully-functioning septuagenarian with more gas in my tank than I had when I was wandering in the haze of corporate life at age 50.’

He also fights back by seeking out other ‘kick-ass’ (I warned you he’s American) people like him who refuse to play ball with the ageism that terms like ‘senior citizen’ represent.

He even defines what he means by ‘kick-ass’. Here’s my massaged version. You know that’s you if you are –

Something of a rebel: Resistant to – and outspoken about –ageist stereotypes, attitudes, and comments about ageing.

Have high energy: Driven with a late-life sense of purpose.

In charge of your health: Deliberately doing the right things to promote the health of your body and mind.

Curious: Committed to continue learning, exploring and growing in the fullest way.

Creative: Actively showing that ideas and their expression don’t deteriorate with age.

Selfless producer rather than a self-indulgent consumer: Giving back, paying forward, by sharing skills, experiences, talents with those coming up behind.

Necessary: Living to be important to someone all the time.

Which brings us full circle back to ‘if not “senior citizens” then what?’. If there has to be something then I’m attracted to the solution from Maureen Connors, a San Francisco retail consultant.

Maureen recently told the Boston Globe she coined the term ‘perennials’ as a play on ‘millennials.’

Perennial = ‘lasting or existing for a long or apparently infinite time; enduring or continually recurring.’

Yes. That would do me nicely.

And if you’d like a bit more on the negative views of aging here’s a link to a blog you may have missed – Don’t fall for this ‘best before’ nonsense – about food or yourself.

How do you feel about ‘senior citizen’? Do you have a better version to suggest? Please tell all either here or on the AfterWorkNet Facebook community

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He’s using his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, and escapes to Spain when he can.

Everyone should have a ‘When I die’ document. And here’s how to create yours.

What I saw on the desktop of my friend’s computer stopped me in my tracks. It was nothing raunchy or inappropriate. But simply a file folder labelled ‘When I die’.

My first thought was, ‘How morbid and inappropriate’. After all, he was in good health and it would likely be many years before his bucket was kicked and clogs popped.

But then came my second thought – as vivid memories came of those I know who would have loved their other half to have been this thoughtful. And not left stranded and confused at a time when grief made thinking and sorting a major challenge.

More than that, such information could even be needed well before death opens its door. Such as at a time of serious illness when everything has to be in the hands of others.

As a result, I went home and created my own When I Die’ file. Right now it is printed out and, with my will, birth and marriage certificates, in a place where those who need it know where to find it. If I had a funeral insurance plan the details would be there too along with contact details for the undertaker.

On reflection, though seemingly gloomy, this is one of the most loving and thoughtful things I could do for those I love the most. And if you have not yet done the same here’s my own check list that could also be yours.

The main document

Finance: This covers –

  • The name and contact details of your executor and solicitor
  • Who to contact, and how, regarding savings, investments and pension
  • Bank card pins
  • Login and security for online banking

Home stuff: Where to find details of –

  • Car, home and travel insurance
  • Receipts, instructions and guarantees for purchased items

Computer log in and passwords: These include –

  • Mobile phone
  • Utilities – gas, electricity and water
  • Email account
  • Social media
  • Loyalty cards
  • Apple ID
  • Skype
  • PayPal
  • Etc

This sensitive information is going to be on a document held on your computer. So you may want to use an online password manager to collect them all and then add the master password to the document by hand. Trustworthy password managers include Dashlane and RememBear.

Helpful info: It may also be helpful to others to have the following all in one place –

  • NHS number
  • Passport number
  • NIE number
  • Driving licence number

Funeral plans

I wouldn’t dare to tell anyone else what to say about their own funeral. But am happy to share my own thoughts – especially as I’ve seen well-intentioned requests becoming a burden when there were already too many weights to be carried.

So although I’d love to ask for everyone to be dressed in blue and white and for my ashes to be scattered on the centre circle at Stamford Bridge, I’ve gone for a more reasonable approach.

What I want my family to know is that whatever they do to mark my passing, I will not be there. So it is not about making me happy but meeting their needs.

That said, in the hope it saves my loved ones from hours of hand-wringing and ‘what would Peter want?’, I’ve made a few suggestions to help them on their way should they choose to follow them. Things like ‘buried or cremated?’ and a song or two that might work. But that’s it.

Is there anything you would add to this list? Or lesson learned from the death of someone close? Please tell all either here or on the AfterWorkNet Facebook community

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He’s using his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, and escapes to Spain when he can.

Smile. Optimism is a key to living longer. Here’s what, why and how.


Want to live longer? Then the answer is to look on the bright side of life. That’s what recent research tells us – with those seeing life through optimistic eyes more likely to reach 85 and beyond.

The news is even better than that – as I’ll explain. But first let’s nail that good news about living longer.

It’s from a study at Boston University School of Medicine based on two previous long-term research projects. In each, the participants – average age 70 for women and 62 for men – had been assessed for their levels of optimism. The results speak for themselves.

  • Among women, the most optimistic had lifespans almost 15 per cent longer than the least optimistic.
  • Among men, the most optimistic had lifespans almost 11 per cent longer.

As I said, the news is even better than that. It’s not just that having an upbeat attitude can give us extra years. It’s also that those years are likely to be more healthy ones – physically and mentally.

Indeed, psychologists and researchers tell us –

  • Optimistic people tend to suffer fewer problems with depression.
  • Optimistic people seem to develop fewer physical illnesses.
  • Optimistic people overcome setbacks and keep motivated towards achievement.

What all this makes clear is that how we see life and act on that belief has a profound impact on what happens to us. And there’s much more to optimism than a man keeping his car running while his wife goes shopping.

Optimism covers a whole way at viewing life and acting on that view. Suzanne C Segerstrom, a psychologist at the University of Kentucky, explains that optimism is ‘a combination of beliefs and also behaviours reflecting that belief.’

She says, ‘Where a pessimist may respond to obstacles by withdrawing and underachieving, an optimist responds by formulating goals, planning and engaging with the issue.’

This is one of the reasons those behind the Boston study see their discovery as so important. To quote Lewina Lee who led it, ‘Our findings raise an exciting possibility that we may be able to promote healthy and resilient ageing by cultivating psychosocial assets such as optimism.’

Did you get that? A way to ‘promote healthy and resilient aging’ is by ‘cultivating optimism’.

This is underlined by health psychology expert Dr Catherine Hurt of University of London. She says the Boston study ‘suggest as well as educating and encouraging people to eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly we should also be promoting psychological wellbeing and the importance of optimism.’

Can we do that for ourselves? It’s true that some are naturally glass-half-empty people. But rather than finding danger in every opportunity can we start looking for opportunity in every danger? Instead of finding problems, go looking for solutions? Aim to have high expectations rather than low ones?

It’s true that some people seem to be born optimistic. Yet, ’Anyone can learn to be optimistic – the trick is to find purpose in work and life,’ says Leah Weiss, a Stanford professor specializing in mindfulness in the workplace.

She adds, ‘When we work with purpose or live with purpose, we feel more fulfilled and better equipped to see the glass half full.’

It’s also possible to train your brain to think more optimistically. And here are 8 tips to do so –

  1. Aim to see things through a positive lens – looking for the good rather than the bad.
  2. Focus on solutions, not on problems – not easy but try.
  3. Give the news a miss – after all, how seldom does the media report good news?
  4. Seek the company of optimistic people – and let their attitude rub off.
  5. Face up to what you can and can’t control – and don’t stress over what is not in your hands.
  6. Don’t dwell on past failings or disappointments – what’s done is done and it doesn’t always mean the same will happen.
  7. Keep a note – at the end of the day, jot down those things that went well.
  8. Be realistic – accept the negative as part of life but not as the whole story.

But ultimately, there is an even bigger picture than all this. A reason to be optimistic above all others and perfectly expressed in the Bible’s book of Lamentations ‘Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.’ – Lamentations 3:21–23.

Want to live a little longer and healthier and happier? Then it’s time for a song. Please join me, ‘Always look on the bright side of life – de-dum, de-dum, de-dum.’

Do you have a way to keep optimistic? Please tell all either here or on the AfterWorkNet Facebook community

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s super optimistic Programme Director. He’s using his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, and escapes to Spain when he can.

How do you score on these 10 things to do every day during Covid-19 to keep you feeling good?

Let’s be honest. We are happy to acknowledge that Covid-19 can damage our bodies. That’s whether we catch it or, in trying to avoid it, end up eating badly or moving around less than we should.

But how seriously do we take its potential impact on our mental health? Doesn’t even the phrase ‘mental health’ suggest a place we’d rather not go and issues not to be thought about?

Yet, even as things begin to open up, the coronavirus still generates an understandable level of fear, worry and concern – for ourselves and others. Added to that is the impact of greater levels of isolation and lack of hugs than normal. All of which plays a part in regulating the chemicals in our body that impact the way we feel and our ability to cope.

It’s because of this the NHS and others have developed the 10 things we should all be sure to do every day to promote our own mental health. And here comes my own take on them.

1. Do something you enjoy and are good at

This is about ‘me’ time, something that can be especially hard for those who feel the need to lay down their lives for others. It also means making some positive choices not to just sit and vegetate until the world changes.

It can be harder to find things you enjoy and are good at when most of the time you are stuck at home. But it has to be done.

2. Drink enough water

Please note the word ‘water’ and don’t confuse it with energy drinks or with alcohol even if the latter is mixed in with some H2O. How much water? Roughly about eight glasses a day is the recommendation.

3.Eat wisely

That word ‘wisely’ covers a multitude of non-sins. Including eating our veggies and keeping off processed foods as much as possible. For great advice see the AfterWorkNet website on The Stay Young Diet.

And ‘wisely’ also means no snacking and less ‘I deserve this’, despite feeling the need for some comfort eating.

4. Keep active in mind and body

Each of us will approach this in different ways. Having an active mind can range from attacking a crossword or playing Words with Friends to exploring an interest or learning something new.

The true is same for keeping our body active. Some will tune into online exercise and others will just be sure to take a walk each day.

5. Take a break

Don’t spend long periods in one place doing one thing – be it as a couch potato, a knitter, at a computer screen or whatever. Instead, be sure to take regular breaks if sitting in one position, to stand, stretch and move around

6. Stay connected to those you care about

This is easy for extraverts – those needing no prompting to phone a friend and who then talk for hours when they do. But others may need to be intentional – even down to listing and scheduling – to make sure they regularly catch-up family, friends and acquaintances.

That matters even if you feel there is nothing new to talk about. After all, just because that may be true of you it may not be true of them. And an ‘I just wondered how you are doing’, can be great therapy for both of you.

7. Be delighted in who you are

This is about how you view yourself – as someone made in God’s image and of immeasurable worth. And therefore worth taking care of.

This is the right kind of ‘worth it’ and to be reflected in your surroundings and how you behave. And includes having periods with your windows open to let in fresh air, getting natural sunlight if you can, and getting out into the garden or an open space.

8. Actively care for others

This takes your mind off you and onto others. Who else around you is affected by the way things are now? Might they need to connect with you? What can you do to meet their needs and enrich their lives?

9. Talk about your feelings

We seldom hesitate to talk about our physical afflictions – unless they are somewhat embarrassing. Yet too often we hang back on talking about our mental struggles – treating them as equally embarrassing.

It means giving an honest answer to the question ‘how are you?’ when it comes from someone who is honestly asking. And picking a trusted person to say ‘I’m not having a good day’ to.

10. Ask for help

Okay, this is not ‘daily’ but something you should be open to doing on any day of the week if you need to. It is about seeking help when all the other stuff has not worked and life keeps feeling bluer and bluer.

It may involve reaching out to those you trust who can lighten your load. Or even to a doctor and then being sure to do what they say.

That’s the 10. How do you score? And is there something you should do about it?

How are you keeping your head together during Covid-19? Please tell all either here or on the AfterWorkNet Facebook community

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He’s using his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, and escapes to Spain when he can. And he only scored 9 out of 10 on this post..

What 3 things should every 70 year old avoid if they want to flourish?

There are three things no one in their 70s should do to make the best of their years. All three may surprise you. And all three matter.

So if you are already past that big birthday, or heading in that direction, here’s some wisdom. But I need to confess it’s not mine but comes from the mind of Retirement and Career Coach Gary Foster.

I’m sharing it, first, because it makes sense and, second, in the hope you will not only benefit but check out more of Gary’s rich thinking. You’ll find a link to his blog at the end of this one.

What are those three things to shun like the plague when 70 hits you? Gary is an outspoken advocate for living to 100 or beyond – having set his target at 112 ½. So he’s worth listening to and here they come.

1. Avoid most other 70-year olds.

Gary admits, ‘That sounds cruel’. And it does because most people in their 70s have a circle of similarly-aged friends they love and cherish. But he backs his view with reason.

He points out that many, if not most, 70-year-olds are innocently in the ‘decay mode’ – in terms of their attitude to life and the way their body works. And with that comes a resignation and acceptance of what he calls ‘the myths of automatic senescence and accelerating physical decline’.

Or, to put this in my kind of English, too many in their 70s have fallen for the false belief that age offers no choice but to accept the gradual decay of our faculties’.

As evidence Gary points to the fact that conversations are often limited to the subjects of health, memory or friends impacted by the same. And talk seldom covers how to maintain and celebrate good health and counter decline with wise practices that should always have been in place.

Why does that matter? Gary quotes the opinion of motivational speaker Jim Rohn that each of us ‘rise to the average of the five people we spend the most time with’. In other words, if those closest to a 70 year old are in ‘negative older age mode’ that 70 year old is likely to get infected with the same attitude.

That’s why Gary encourages his fellow septuagenarians to seek the company of those ‘unafraid of change, with insatiable curiosity, and big thinking’ – which is more likely to be found in those in the generations coming up behind.

By doing so, he says, ‘We’ll be able to grow and learn from their creativity and energy and also to help guide them with our acquired wisdom and experience.’

2. Avoid the retirement trap

The ‘retirement trap’, explains Gary, is the belief that life after work should offer endless leisure and rest. A belief that we are born to eventually make the transition from ‘vocation to vacation’ – a concept dreamed up by politicians to free up jobs for those younger and by marketers to relieve us of our money.
He argues that ‘retirement doesn’t exist in nature nor did it exist anywhere on the planet 150 years ago. It’s a Euro-American concept that doesn’t exist in many countries, some of which can claim the longest-living citizens’.
By avoiding the retirement trap we escape the implication that ‘winding down’ is better than staying in growth mode. As Gary would remind us, we are given only two choices with our bodies and brains – grow or decay. And that ‘retirement’ – a word derived from the French ‘retirer’ meaning retreat or go backward – can too easily put us on the decay path.
I like Gary’s list of ‘the fruits of traditional, leisure-based retirement’ – none of which are life-enhancing. To express them in my own words they are –
• Increased separation from stimulating company – a major life limiter.

• A more sedentary lifestyle – despite best intentions, most retirees fail to do the exercise needed to keep in good health.

• The risk of self-indulgence – though we are ‘wired to serve’ it’s easy to drift into ‘I’ve earned the right to put myself at the centre of my choices’.

• Losing work from our lifestyle – with meaningful and productive activity being a key factor in living longer.

3. Avoid drifting

Who would think of trying to travel in a strange country without some kind of road map and a plan? Yet that’s what vast numbers do when exiting full time work for a new territory where they could spend the next 20 to 40 years.
As a result, Gary asserts, many end up drifting. Even those who have a financial plan may have no clear roadmap that takes account of the mental, physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual sides of life in this unexplored land.
This can end up with people drifting without a clear and fulfilling purpose. With their circumstances and the expectations of others becoming the driving force – taking them on a path to accelerated deterioration.
Gary notes the view of the business coach Dan Sullivan who says, ‘People die early for three reasons: No money. No friends. No purpose’. On this basis, a healthy and fulfilling life in our 70s demands a plan, a sense of purpose, and a direction.
Without this, warns Gary, ‘we waste the talents, skills, experience, and energy that still resides in us as 70-year olds. And that’s close to being criminal’.

To see more from Gary Foster check out his website here.

How do these 3 things to avoid strike you? Do you have some of your own to contribute? Please tell all either here or on the AfterWorkNet Facebook community

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He’s using his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, and escapes to Spain when he can. He doesn’t have a garden.

Gardening – a secret to happiness?

Thanks to the impact of Corvid-19 on how we spend our time, our gardens have probably never been in better shape. And the good news is this is likely to also be true for us personally, as well.

That’s because the ‘health’ of our gardens has a direct link to our own health and well-being according to new evidence. Particularly regarding how happy with life we feel.

To put it simply, the fruit of our labours in the horticultural department can deliver very worthwhile fruit for our own lives.

We know this thanks to research from the US Princeton University. They ran a study in the Minneapolis-St Paul area with people using an app to report their emotional well-being while taking part in any of a selection of activities.

As a result, they discovered the level of emotional well-being – or happiness – generated by gardening matched that produced by cycling, eating out or walking.

When it comes to how meaningful and rewarding an activity felt while being engaged in, the researchers found home gardening was among the top five.

This is in line with research among populations with the greatest number living into their 90s and beyond. Known as the Blue Zones, these communities have certain ways of living in common that lead to longer, healthier lives. And gardening is one of them.

What’s the reason for this good news? Those behind the research and others identify a number of clear benefits from getting horticultural. These include that gardening –

Builds self-esteem. With people feeling good about the outcome of their labours.

Is good for the heart. The physical activity involved burns off calories and strengthens heart muscles.

Reduces stress. A focused and non-threatening task helps reduce depression and anxiety.

Can make you happy. Out there among the earth, breathing in mycobacterium vaccae – a healthy bacteria living in soil – increase levels of serotonin and reduces anxiety.

Boosts vitamin D. This gift from sunlight increases calcium levels benefiting bones and the immune system.

The Princetown research also suggests the benefit from gardening is equally experienced across all sectors of the population – with women and those with low income benefiting the most. At the same time, the advantages from generating a sense of happiness extended almost equally between races and urban and suburban communities.

It seems whether people gardened alone or work with others, the benefit is much the same. However, those reporting the higher levels of emotional well-being were those with a vegetable patch rather than a garden for display. So digging up the petunias and planting beans instead may be a step towards being even happier.

The research was designed to inform decisions on town planning and revealed the value of including gardens and community gardens. But in the process it has shown that those who dig, plant, water, and prune reap the benefits in more ways than one.

God really knew what he was doing when he put Adam in charge of a garden.

How does your garden grow? Do you recognise the benefits to how you feel? Please share your story here or on the AfterWorkNet Facebook community

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He’s using his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, and escapes to Spain when he can. He doesn’t have a garden.

Want to do better than just ‘survive’ the lockdown? Here’s some simple ways to actually flourish.

While in quarantine during the plague, Shakespeare wrote King Lear, Macbeth, and Anthony and Cleopatra. And while in isolation, Sir Isaac Newton he made some of his greatest discoveries including gravity.

You and I may not reach such great heights during the present lockdown. But we can use the time to do better than just survive. Yet it won’t ‘just happen’.

I like the approach of the author Guy Dauncey on keeping SANE during the crisis. With SANE standing for Strong, Active, Neighbourly and Energetic.

With that in mind, here’s some realistic suggestions that could lead you to coming out of the lockdown with something under your belt – and, hopefully, with it a notch or two tighter.

Establish some rules

Avoid the risk of just drifting, and letting things take their course, by establishing some rules to follow. I’m not suggesting mine should be yours. But here they are in the hope they give you something to think about.

  • Exercise 6 days a week
  • Be productive 5 days a week
  • No TV mid-morning or afternoons most weekdays
  • Make proactive phone/Facetime calls at least twice a week
  • Occasionally reward myself for good behaviour

Set yourself goals

Again, this is about not drifting. And having goals give you something to aim for and have a sense of achievement when you’ve ticked them off. Your goals will be personal to you. But, again, here are mine in the hope they inform your thinking.

When this season is over I want to –

  • Be fitter
  • Be more connected with family, friends and neighbours
  • Have a more rounded perspective on life
  • Have touched up lots of paintwork in the home
  • Have sorted our historic family photographs
  • Have learned to play the ukulele
  • Have sold some of our stuff on eBay

Keep the right focus

This is the spiritual bit. When walking on the water to Jesus, Peter began to sink because his eyes were on his circumstances. Perhaps this was in the mind of the writer to the Hebrews who encourages us to run ‘fixing our eyes on Jesus . . . so that you will not grow weary and lose heart’. Hebrews 12.2-3

At a time when the fierce storm of Covid 19 is raging I can think of no better place to fix my attention to see things in perspective. And, to help you do so, strongly recommend the free daily prayer app Lectio 365

Get sunlight and fresh air

Open those windows when inside and take every opportunity to get outside that the ‘rules’ allow. And fill your lungs – good deep breaths – when you do.

This is not just a good idea. Sunlight produces vitamin D which cheers us up. And fresh air is seen to improve blood pressure, reduce stress levels and improve the way we feel.

Keep active

Get things done – things that keep both your body and mind active and with thoughts other than on the crisis. Make a list and get to work. From those kitchen cupboards to disorganised drawers. A new project for the garden to a new hobby or learning experience.

Look after your appearance

When tucked away, with no need to be ‘presentable’, the temptation is to slob out. Perhaps not with full-on slobbery. But with a gentle drift to taking less care in the sprucing up department.

Taking care of our appearance increases our sense of well-being, helping keep us motivated.

Don’t keep looking at the same four walls

Cabin fever comes from the impact of being stuck in the same environment for days on end. A smart move is to change the ‘cabin’. Could you rearrange the furniture, redecorate, find a way not to spend all your time in the same room?

Even swapping some of the pictures or having a big declutter of ornaments and pictures can make a positive difference.

Maximise the opportunities for human engagements

People need people and there are many ways to engage in the lockdown era – including social media and online via Skype, Zoom, etc. Use them to the full. This is not the time to be shy or to leave the initiative to others.

One simple way is to hold a Come Dine With Me dinner party – inviting a few friends simultaneously share a meal while joined together on Zoom.

Enjoy the experience of eating well

In the old ‘normal’, life could be too busy to cook from scratch, right down to making our own sauces or using a range of herbs and spices. That’s no longer the case.

You can now enjoy the relaxation of creating a self-prepared meal and the benefit from eating less processed food. So dust off your cookbooks, search Google – BBC Food comes recommended. Better still see the great recipes in Rosemary Conley’s Stay Young Diet.

Develop a new skill or interest

Though stuck at home, it’s still easy to work at a new skill or hobby. For a mass of ideas see this list on Wikipedia. To help make it happen, Skillshare has hundreds of free classes led by those they say are ‘icons, experts, and industry rock stars excited to share their experience, wisdom, and trusted tools’.

Do something for others

Shift the focus from the virus and yourself by helping others – which is good for you and good for them. A simple way is to create a list of those you could cheer up with a phone call. But you could do something more substantial either through your church or some other way.

The charity Rest Less has some practical ideas including –

  • Good with languages? Then put this to good use by volunteering for Translators Without Borders (TWB)
  • Help those visually impaired. Use the Be My Eyes app to make life easier for people who are partially sighted around the world. Anything from helping them check food expiry dates to distinguishing colours or navigating surroundings.
  • Give practical support to overseas missionaries. Can you post a magazine? Search the internet? Audio type? Then MissionAssist will like your skills to urgent needs.
  • Be a grandparent to children on another continent. Though called Granny Cloud, it links male and female volunteers by Skype into remote locations to chat with, listen to, read with and play with underprivileged children in Colombia, Cambodia, Mexico, Greenland and Jamaica.
  • Contribute to peace and sustainable human development. As a United Nations Volunteer your time will impact the wellbeing of others by matching your skills to the opportunities. Everything from writing and editing to teaching and training. Art and design to research. Administration to event organisation.

Exercise at least a little each day

There’s a lot more benefit to moving around with some energy than you may imagine. Along with strengthening your body parts your brain gets a treat as well. This is because exercise causes the brain to release hormones- endorphins – that cheer you up and help you to sleep.

If this thought is new to you then start small and build up. A short sharp walk is good for starters. And check what is free on Google that you can do at home and do as much as you can. For more on this see the AfterWorkNet webpages on Keeping Fit.

Don’t be too driven

Finally, in these challenging and strange times cut yourself a little slack. You won’t hit all your goals or get everything done you’d hoped for. But celebrate what you can do and treat yourself when you at least get somewhere there.

If you think others will be helped by this please share using the links below.

Do you have a ‘rule’, ‘goal’ or insight on making the most of the lockdown? Please share it here or on the AfterWorkNet Facebook community

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director and presently under ‘house arrest’ and missing his grandchildren. He’s using his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, and dreams of escaping to Spain when travel permits.

How not to be bad news in the coronavirus crisis.

You’d imagine Christians, in their active years of retirement, would be nothing but good news in these troubled coronavirus times. I wish.

And I’m not making this up.

To be fair, most are heeding the official advice. Including limiting contact and putting church and volunteer activities on hold. Yet others, seemingly convinced they’re not vulnerable and God offers them some special protection, seem to think that life as it was is fine.

Over the past weeks, I’ve come across a surprising number of after-work boomers with an approach that puts them and others at risk. That may not be you, but perhaps you recognise the symptoms.

In which case, please take the following to heart – or use it to open the eyes of others.

Don’t behave as though you are invincible

Unlike the frailty of their parents when retirement came, boomers land on the shores of after-work with a spirit of ‘can do’ optimism.

Alongside that comes the fact that most of us don’t see ourselves as ‘old’ or ‘vulnerable’.

All of which can lead to seeing ourselves as invincible – and being tempted to behave as though it is true. Our parents came through the second World War and we’ll come through this one.

Recent research indicated 1 in 4 adults had yet to make any significant change to their behaviour since the outbreak began. This leaves me wondering how many of them were, in their own minds, ‘invincible boomers’.

Yet, in reality, our bodies are not all that they were. Nor are our immune systems. Should the virus strike us our invincibility would be out of the window. And, invincible or not, failing to make changes puts others at risk.

Perhaps you’ve heard it said or even said it yourself – ‘I’m not going to stop living’. But that’s not what is being asked. What’s needed is a different kind of living – one that demonstrates the reality of how things are and doesn’t risk your life or the lives of others.

Christians are not a special case

Multiply that invincibility with a sincere belief that ‘God is on my side and in control’.

Then add a sprinkling of ‘If God be for us who can be against us’. And it can be a toxic mix in the present circumstances.

As I read on Twitter recently –

I went to church today. I did not shake hands.

One friend actually became upset. One joked that he had more faith than me. One said we know God will protect us.

Don’t do this people.

He is so right – ‘don’t do it’. And if you don’t believe me believe Jesus.

‘God makes the sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust’, said Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount – Matthew 5.45.

In context Jesus was saying that everyone benefits from acts of nature – not just God’s special people. In the same way, it is clear that all natural phenomena is equally distributed.

When trouble comes the good guys and the bad guys are treated alike. There’s no supernatural shield round those who are on the inside track with God.

You may not fear catching the coronavirus. But loving our neighbour means we should fear spreading it. Bold acts of misplaced faith could bring suffering and even death to others.

In the midst of not being fearful we must also be responsible.

You may need to be brave

The social group each of us is part of has a huge impact on the way we behave. Standing out from the crowd is seldom comfortable.

That’s why, if your Christian environment is one where ‘life can go on because God will protect us’, it may take some courage. After all, who wants to be written off as a spiritual pigmy?!

But your survival, and the health and survival of others, may depend on you being willing to rock the boat.

If you think others will be helped by this please share using the links below.

Do you have an insight or experience about balancing faith and practical reality? Then do please share it here or on the AfterWorkNet Facebook community

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director and presently under ‘house arrest’ and missing his grandchildren. He’s using his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives with a dream of escaping to Spain when travel permits.

What might God’s plan be for the early months of retirement? Ready for a surprise?

There seem to be three very different approaches to life that people take during the months that follow the end of them working fulltime.

One is to aim at doing as little as possible –treating it as the start of an everlasting holiday.

The second is to set about all the things that were waiting for a time like this – effectively trading one kind of work for another. Though at a slower rate.

The third is simply a blend of both.

But there’s a fourth option – and, I suggest, a far better one. Yet it’s an approach that seems to have passed most people by.

It’s one that takes seriously the Biblical concept of Sabbatical. And has its roots in two Biblical commands –

  • For people to stop work on the seventh day, keeping it as ‘a Sabbath to the Lord your God’. Exodus 20.8-11.
  • For the land to rest every seventh year before resuming productivity. Leviticus 25.

When this concept is applied to retirement – the years that follow years of work – it means beginning with a period of deep Sabbath rest. And using it to end toil, renew and re-evaluate.

This much-neglected principle is at the heart of the excellent book ‘An Uncommon Guide to Retirement’ by Jeff Haanen. And well worth exploring and heeding.

Jeff, the Founder and Executive Director of Denver Institute for Faith and Work, urges us to grasp and employ the value of Sabbatical in retirement.

After all, it is the best way to live on a week by week basis. So why not apply the same wisdom to the grand scale of life – and thus to the period when fulltime work ends?

Jeff points out that not only did God observe the Sabbath but this is a pattern woven into the fabric of the universe. ‘To be like God – and to be fully human – we need both work and rest in proper proportion’.

But the benefit involves much more than having time to chill. Jeff stresses the value that comes from being reliant on on God. As he puts it, ‘Like children dependent on their parents, Sabbath makes us see that food, clothes, sunlight, friendship, air – are all gifts from the Creator, not mere products of our labour’.

What Jeff proposes is in contrast to a retirement based on an attitude of ‘the time is now mine’. One focused on our own comfort and desires. Rather, Sabbath points us to the God who sustains us and the spiritual renewal and refreshment he desires for us.

Does this all suggest endless weeks of thumb twiddling and introspection? That’s not the idea. Sabbath is as much about what we do as what we don’t do.

In his valuable book Jeff sets out 9 simple practices to consider for someone planning their post working life Sabbatical. They deserve you exploring them in full. But in essence they are to –

1. Prepare

It was possible for a Jewish person to keep the Sabbath only because of the preparation they’d done in the week before. In the same way, a Sabbatical during the months after work ends needs intentional preparation rather than to be stumbled into.

That’s why Jeff stresses the need to consider how you will shape your time. Even thinking about those – a friend or spouse – who could be part of your plans.

2. Feast

It seems to me that ‘Sabbath’ has had a bad press –sounding like an activity of ridged rules and maximum misery. Yet, for the Jews, Sabbath was one of the ‘festivals of the Lord’ Leviticus 23.

So think of your Sabbatical as having a lavish feast, encourages Jeff. Or even several – for those you’ve worked with, family and friends – to look back on your working years with gratitude.

3. Worship

As Jeff points out, worship is the centre of Sabbath which was ‘to the Lord your God’. This calls for more than the usual worship times – so periods of silence, prayer walks and engaging with the Bible.

4. Re-create

Try to make your times of recreation to be ‘re-creation’ is Jeff’s advice. This means sports, hobbies, music and theatre become more than ‘things to do’ but serve as ingredients in your renewal.

This is the opposite of them being a kind of work or time-fillers. Check by ‘listening to your heart’ encourages Jeff. Make sure, during your Sabbatical, such activities create ‘rest’ for you and that something more driven is not going on.

5. Remember

Use some time to make a record of God’s goodness and care over your working lifetime. Dig out past photographs, catch up with old friends to reminisce.

6. Love your neighbour

Unlike the Pharisees, Jeff points out, Jesus saw the Sabbath as a time to do good. And you can too – with lots of good waiting to be done. Whose lives can you touch? The lonely shut-ins? Friends in emotional pain? Others?

He wisely stresses, ‘Sabbatical is a time for seeing what you otherwise were too busy or distracted to see during your career’.

7. Simplicity

Many in their early post-work life set about decluttering – their home, garage, loft and more. Jeff would have us invoke the Christian practice of simplicity and so add a layer of spiritual restoration.

Indeed, in this time of after-work Sabbatical, it would be a good time to remember that the prayer ‘Give us today our daily bread’ is effectively a call to contentment.

8. Renew your mind

Here’s the opportunity to take time to ‘be transformed by the renewing of your mind’. Romans 12.1-2. That means far more than reading religious books. It could be a time to renew or discover areas of knowledge you’ve never had the time for.

9. Decide when to stop

Finally, Jeff advises that from the very start it’s important to have a date when your Sabbath will end. This creates focus and prevents drift.

Given the alternatives of endless holiday, getting the jobs done, and a blend of the two, doesn’t all this sound a wiser and richer way to go?

In which case, it’s worth putting the meat on the bones by enjoying Jeff Haanen’s book ‘An Uncommon Guide to Retirement’ – of which his thinking on Sabbatical is just a small part of its riches.

What thoughts or questions does this generate for you? Please share them here or on the AfterWorkNet Facebook community

If you think this blog would be helpful to others please share using the links below.

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He’s using his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his grandchildren, escape to Spain and to spend his kids’ inheritance.

We’ve got it so wrong about the impact of ageing on our brains. Ready for some great news?

There’s a picture of ageing that most people carry in their heads. It’s one of inevitably being increasingly forgetful, irrelevant, and with limited ability to learn. And it’s time to see things differently.

That’s the conviction of Daniel Levitin, an expert in how the brain works.

And the news is good. Because science is now revealing our older years to be very different from the accepted stereotypes. Very good indeed.

You are still a smarty pants.

Daniel Levitin’s been applying his discoveries to the brains and lives of those in their retirement years. Put simply, his message is –

                                       Though your pants might now be bigger, you are still a smarty-pants.

But what about those times you’ve lost your keys – again? Can’t remember thingamajig’s name – again? Walked into a room but can’t remember why – again?

Daniel, a neuroscientist, cognitive psychologist, and with five best-selling books on the science of the brain to his credit says ‘Don’t blame your age because you are just as smart as you were’.

Don’t believe the myth.

The myth is that with ageing comes a steepening loss of being able to remember. Yet, insists Daniel, the decline is far less than we have come to believe. More than that, the way we frame our expectations has a big impact on how we see things.

Daniel points out that having taught undergraduates for his entire career, he’s watched them make all kinds of short-term memory errors. He says, ‘They walk into the wrong classroom; turn up to exams without a pencil; forget something I taught two minutes ago.’

This, he asserts, is all similar to the kinds of things their elders do. But the difference is how we come to describe such events.

These error making students don’t think: ‘This has to be a sign of Alzheimer’s.’ Instead they put it down to being too busy, not having enough sleep, or for some other reason.

But for someone 50 years or so older the prevailing explanation is that some marbles have now gone missing – accompanied by a worry about the health of their brain.

More than that, there’s the fact that older adults have more memories to search through to find what they’re looking for. Our brain becomes crowded with memories and information. It’s not an inability to remember that’s the issue. But that there’s so much more information to sort through.

But don’t we start to forget words as the years go by?

According to one neuroscientist, Deborah Burke, of Pomona College’s Project on Cognition and Ageing, when older adults lose track of individual words it’s not the word itself that’s forgotten but just its sound.

Our brains are better than we realise

Daniel cites research showing our brains in later life actually have distinct advantages. He lists things like –

  • Being able to resist acting on impulse
  • Being able to deny gratification
  • Being able to more easily get on with others
  • Being able to make wise and thoughtful decisions.

For reasons like this, the brainy brain expert insists that those entering retirement are just reaching their prime.

Our thinking can even get better

In fact, insists Daniel, some aspects of memory get better as we age. For instance, our ability to extract patterns and to make accurate predictions improves because we’ve had more experience. For this reason, he argues, if you need an X-ray you want a 70-year-old radiologist reading it, not a 30-year-old one.

Daniel concedes that brains slow down and get smaller over time. It’s a decline starting from about our mid-30s. So with age comes a slowing down at answering quiz questions or retrieving names. But at other forms of mental processing we can get better — and faster.

For example, abstract thinking improves, reveals Daniel’s research. This is the kind of processing that enables mathematical ability, language and problem-solving.

So, too, does practical intelligence – or ‘wisdom’. It’s the ability to assess situations and make the best responses. With your brain’s ability to spot patterns where others don’t, and to understand what’s likely to happen next.

Discovery and learning are still possible

Nor are those older as stuck in their ways as popular myth suggests. Neuroscientists speak of ‘plasticity’ – the ability, or not, for the brain to adapt and learn.

A generation ago it was a ‘given’ among the scientific community that those over-60 had little hope of experiencing any significant remodelling of their brains. But new research tells a different story. It’s one where the brains of older adults are able to take great steps to adapt and learn. The only difference being that it simply takes a bit longer.

This means there’s the potential to keep learning and discovering into our 90s and beyond. We just need to expect it to involve a little more concentration and take a little longer.

All of which is perfectly summed up in the words of Daniel Levitin who says; ‘I’ve come to see ageing as not inevitably a period of decline and loss and irrelevance. But a period of potentially renewed engagement, energy and meaningful activities.’

So it is down to each of us to decide which story we will live by. The one that resigns us to imagined inevitable decay. Or the one that grabs each moment positively to make the rest of our lives the best of our lives. Living in the way God has made us with all the opportunities this offers.

Bestselling books by Daniel Levitin include Successful Ageing: A Neuroscientist Explores the Power and Potential of Our Lives and The Changing Mind: A Neuroscientist’s Guide to Ageing Well.

What insights, experiences or questions do you have about thinking and learning new things in your after-work years? Please share them here or on the AfterWorkNet Facebook community

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He’s using his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his grandchildren, escape to Spain and to spend his kids’ inheritance.

Retiring or retired? Here’s the 15 most important questions to ask yourself.

The better the preparation the better the outcome. Isn’t that our perceived wisdom – from travel to DIY? And it equally applies to the major transition from fulltime work to the new era of retirement.

That’s why asking yourself the right questions – and then finding the best answers – can transform the possibly 20 years or so of active life that will follow.

There’s much more to it than ‘will I have enough money’ or ‘where can we travel to’. Much more. And the following 15 questions give you the opportunity to steer your way to a rewarding new era.

Please don’t thrash through them in one sitting. It will blow your brains. And don’t just pick the ones you like. As some are intended to get under your skin a little to provoke the richest outcomes.

One way is to face them in batches of five at intervals – weekly, monthly or whatever. And you can make your own choice on which to tackle first if you see some as a priority. However you do it, don’t rush but give yourself time for some deep reflection.

You might also find it helpful and rewarding to do some of this thinking in the company of others. Perhaps with your nearest and dearest or with others making the same exciting transition.

It’s your call and your future. So here we go.


1.How and where will I find the space to reflect on what this new season can offer?

Investing quality time and thinking now will pay dividends over the years to come. Simply trying to make it up as you go along is like arriving at a country you have never visited without making the right preparations.

To explore the issues check out The 5 key transition steps.

2.What is my number 1 goal?

Above all else, what big thing do you want to achieve in this next season of your life with all its opportunities? It may take courage to name it and own it. But it will be worth it.

3.What do I believe God is calling me to do with my retirement?

It’s been said ‘God loves you and everyone else has a plan for your life’. And the danger is of letting ‘everyone else’ drive the agenda. This may be one of the hardest questions but it is by far the most important.

You might like to see God designed old age on purpose.

4.How will I meet my financial and practical responsibilities to those who depend on me?

If you need professional advice over money then be sure to get it. And check on what reasonable expectations others may have of your support.

There’s on this at Your money – 4 top tips.

5.What legacy do I want to leave and what will it take to make it happen?

There is one absolute certainty – it’s that our lives will not go on for ever. So what will it take over the next decade or so to leave something valuable behind for others?


1.How will I replace the two key losses that come when fulltime work ends – being needed and enjoying relationships?

Don’t underestimate the ‘bereavement’ the end of fulltime work can bring. For a fulfilling retirement you’ll need situations where you matter and where lost relationships can be replaced.

For more see What 1,000 retirees said about life after work. And also Surprising community opportunities.

2.What do I need to put in place for my retirement to be the best it can be? 

The best will not happen all by itself. Some positive planning and action is going to be needed to make it so.

For more on this see The 10 planning commandments for retiring.

3.How will I deepen my relationship with God now there’s more time to do so?

Here’s one of the great opportunities that comes when the daily commute has gone. And it points to the danger of filling the new time available with ‘stuff’ rather than the delight of knowing God even better.

4.What of my skills, knowledge, talents and relationships should I let flourish in this new season?

Nail down what is special and valuable about you that can enrich others – and in turn be rewarding for you.

There’s more about this issue at Don’t waste your life-skills and experience.

5.What new experiences do I want to have and what new skills do I want to learn?

As part of making the rest of your life the best of your life, be specific as to what you want to embrace.

For some inspiration see the AfterWorkNet web page on Opportunities.


1.What is my biggest fear as I look into the future and how will I confront it?

It’s tempting just to bury our fears – or even to pretend we have none. But transition into a whole new way of living can, quite reasonably, generate anxiety. It’s wise to name yours and how you will deal with it.

To understand the challenges ahead see Retirement is a foreign country.

2.Who are the three people I should contact who I neglected when I was working?

It can happen when a driven life pushes us away from what could be productive relationships. So don’t just make a list but reach out.

3.Who do I know who have lived well in their retirement and serve as role models?

Sometimes it can be valuable to see what has worked for others and how this might inform your own plans and decisions.

4.How will I create a balance so my mind, body, and spirit are all engaged?

Indeed, ‘balance’ is the name of the game. And it is not enough to hope it will happen naturally. If only. Rather, careful plans and more than a little discipline will be needed.

5.What would I say to myself in 20 years’ time about the decisions I’m making right now?

Listen to your inner voice. You’ll only get one shot at this. So aim to make decisions you’ll be proud of in the years to come.

Found this helpful? Then please share using the links below.

Is there a question missing? Please share here or on the AfterWorkNet Facebook community

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He’s using his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his grandchildren, escape to Spain and to spend his kids’ inheritance.

What if Mick Jagger checked out your church? Would boomers like him fit in? If not, now what?

It may seem odd to use Mick Jagger as an example of someone who might check out your church. But I need to pick on someone of his baby boomer era to make my point.

It could equally be a Michaela as a Mick. And any of old rubber lips’ fans would fit the bill. In fact, anyone in the age bracket between mid-60s and mid-70s. Who grew up in the 60s. Never waltzed. And feels more comfortable in denim than anything else.

Right now, picture one of them checking out churches, landing on the website of yours, and asking ‘where would I fit in?’ Their quest is not for a show, or a party or dry ice and lasers. But just for a setting where they’d feel comfortable.

Perhaps something you have flagged as being for ‘seniors’? But perhaps not. ‘Traditional’ is never going to float their boat. Attractive as it might be for those a decade older, it’s ‘thanks but no thanks’.

Perhaps the ‘all-age family worship’? Well your website visitor is ‘all-age’, and does have a family – but it’s long fled the nest. Should they put a toe in the water? But can you picture a Michaela or Mick – or anyone of their boomer culture – throwing themselves with relish into My Lighthouse together with all the actions?

Can you? Really?

But there’s still that evening event geared for youth – who else in their right mind would figure 6.30 on a Sunday as a suitable time to do anything other than get ready to eat?

But there it is. Casual, friendly, contemporary – and stacked out with teens and 20s and very few of M and M’s age they could relate to.

Does it really matter that nothing seems to fit? After all, aren’t the urgent needs to reach the young and care for those who can hardly remember when they were? Of course. But should this be at the expense of neglecting the over 9 million contemporaries of Michaela and Mick?

That’s right. Over 9 million. With few of them finding a home in our churches – perhaps including yours.

Yet ought not these boomers to be on the minds and hearts of our churches? This generation is the last to have heard the Bible’s stories in Sunday School, and to have experienced an act of Christian worship at school each morning.

This means they know the Bible’s stories in a way those coming up behind them simply don’t. No wonder it was this generation, and Mick’s mates Webber and Rice, that gave us Joseph’s Technicolour Dream Coat and Jesus Christ Superstar.

What can be done? What MUST be done?

Perhaps it was with this segment in mind that an American church turned their Christmas nativity into a Beatles rock opera. Their ‘Let it Be Christmas’ celebrated the Gospel ‘according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, George, and Ringo’.

Mixing well-known carols, Scripture and the music of the Beatles, it invited people to a ‘magical mystery tour through the Gospels to tell the greatest story of all time, with the greatest music of all time’.

The creators discovered the songs were a perfect fit with there being no need to mess with the lyrics. Ideal was Here Comes the Sun. And not least was the moment Joseph responded to Mary’s news with an upbeat ‘We Can Work it Out’.

What boomer Tom, Dick, Harry, Michaela or Mick would not be open to that? The answer is something of a no-brainer.

Yet there’s no need to go into that kind of overdrive in order to respond to the spiritual needs of such a neglected and underserved segment of your community.

All it takes is for a small group – even two or three – to start praying and looking for appropriate ways to engage with unchurched Boomers. And then to do something about it, however small.

Push the door and see if it opens. You will never know until you try. You may even find yourself to be a ground breaker – giving ideas and inspiration to others – because precious little on this front seems to be being done at the moment.

As you pray you might seek answers to questions like –

  • Who do we know already who belong to this group of people?
  • How could we get to know them better and build friendships?
  • What issues are they facing and how are they dealing with them? Meaning to life? Disappointment? Loss of status or health? The need for adventure? And many more.
  • What openings might recreation offer – walking football, badminton, tenpin bowling, etc?
  • Is there a way to do Alpha that matches their lifestyle?
  • How can we offer them the opposite of the fake news they have come to hate?

Whatever you come up with, aim to keep it small, friendly, and relevant. Even a small book group or a pub night is better than nothing. And everything has to start somewhere.

Of course, there is still the bigger picture – the limitations of what your church may offer at the moment in the context of its worship and teaching. I wonder if there is a clue in that the Let it Be Nativity had its genesis in an advent sermon series that used a different Beatles song title each week.

Whatever, any kind of response is going to take some courage. But at least the issue should be on the church leadership’s to-do list.

Want to explore this subject more? Then see the AfterWorkNet blog on How Come Everyone is Interested in the Saga Generation Other Than the Churches. And check out Chris Harrington’s book Reaching the Saga Generation, (Grove Books).

What insights or questions do you have about reaching those retired and active? Please share them here or on the AfterWorkNet Facebook community

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He’s using his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his eight grandchildren, escape to Spain and to spend his kids’ inheritance.

The 5 things you should know about those who live longest

The good news is that, on average, people are living longer than ever. The sad news is it’s not everyone and not everywhere.

Yet there are places across the world where people are thriving well into their 100s – healthy and free from the conditions we’ve come to expect with older age. And these communities have much to teach us about what it takes to add healthy years to our lives.

These remarkable ‘living longer’ communities were identified by a major research project from National Geographic. Its leader, Dan Buettner, discovered 5 communities – he calls them Blue Zones – from around the world where people are living some of the longest, healthiest, happiest lives.

Having identified them, Dan and his research team went on to study the lifestyles of those living there. What they discovered offers valuable lessons for the way we live – in community and individually.

But first a caveat. What the research picked up was that the people were not trying to live longer. It was all about the way they naturally lived. Which points to the need for social change generally.

However, that doesn’t stop each of us hearing, learning and acting. So here’s the essence of what each of the 5 Blue Zones communities reveal about adding years to the life God has given us.

1.They eat less meat

This was a discovery from Sardinia, Italy, which is the home to the Earth’s longest living men. Here the common diet is heavy on plants, fish and pulses. With meat not that often on the menu.

Along with what is eaten is the setting in which it happens – often in a family or social setting. Lots of friends and social engagement fights stress and so reduces heart disease, strengthens resistance to infection and keeps our minds sharp.

2.They exercise without thinking about it

This is a lesson from Ikaria, Greece. It revealed people living longest are not those who take time out to exercise full-on. Rather they live in a setting that nudges them into moving every 20 minutes or so without making decisions to do so.

That’s how it is for those on this small Grecian island. The lifestyle, even for the very oldest, involves days of gardening or often walking to meet friends.

3.They have less stress

This take out is from Nicoya, Costa Rica. Here those living into their hundreds have grown up with strong social connections, with lots of visitors. Again, it’s not about doing things; taking action to destress. It’s about a social environment generates less stress in the first place.

4.They have a sense of purpose

This one comes from the community of Loma Linda, California – where the 9,000-members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church there comprise its core. Like so many churches they serve those around them and offer many opportunities for people to volunteer.

This infuses the community with those who have a sense of purpose – a meaning for their lives – with all the life-extending benefits that come from it.

5.They are part of a ‘tribe’ that is healthy

Here it was Okinawa, Japan – where women live longer than anywhere else – which offered the revelation. The community is very united, made up of groups of friends dedicated to each other for life.

It happens because parents cluster their children in groups of five, and send them through life together. These ‘tribes’ commit to providing financial support to others if they are in need. This offers the emotional security that comes from knowing others are always there for you.

And a little more

What might the learnings from the Blue Zones mean for us – those in our active retirement years? I’d suggest, two things.

First, there are great benefits from living a life that matches, as closely as possible, the characteristics of these 5 Blue Zones. Eating more veggies and less meat, keeping active as part of our daily life, minimising stress, having a sense of purpose, and enjoying supportive ‘tribal’ relationships.

Actually, there is a little more to take on board. Researcher Dan Buettner, also notes these long-living communities share some other characteristics. Those who drink wine, are part of a faith community and invest heavily in family relationships – keeping their elderly relatives close and giving their children lots of time and attention – live longer than those who don’t.

Second, any part we can play – actively, politically, or socially – to encourage and enable the communities we are part of to adopt a Blue Zones way of living will reap benefits for those who come after us.

Of course, social change like that takes time. But it has to start at some time and somewhere. And what a great legacy to leave.

Want to explore this some more and add some years to your life? Then head for the website of Blue Zones. It’s full of helpful advice for you and your community – and even has a three-minute online test on your life expectancy.

If this blog has helped you please share it using the links below. Thank you.

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He’s still working part time in his 70s, helping churches and resourcing inter-church initiatives. This is alongside enjoying his eight grandchildren, escaping to Spain and spending his kids’ inheritance.


Happy Christmas? Here’s 10 ways for it to make you even happier.

In your active retirement, Christmas might be different from how it used to be. Maybe once your home served as the family’s ‘mothership’ where everyone gathered. But now you find your feet are under someone else’s table.

It will still be happy for sure. And be part of the story revealed by fact that men and women aged between 65 and 74 are happier than any other age group according to the National Office of Statistics.

Yet – you should love this – there are ways to make that happiness more intense and beneficial.

Of course, there are challenges to the level of happiness possible at Christmas. There’s the cost in terms of money, emotional energy and hard work. There’s the pressure of the expectations of others, not to mention those we put on ourselves. And stress is heightened by the seemingly never-ending torrent of advertising, which looks charming but actually yells ‘Spend!’

But if we can fight our way through all the commercialism and stress, there’s something very positive to be gained – well worth the time, expense and gravy on the carpet.

Primarily there’s the joy of this seasonal reminder of God stepping into our world; a tiny vulnerable bundle of life at the mercy of humankind. ‘He who was rich but became poor, so that we who are poor could become rich.’ as St Paul wrote.

Yet there’s something else too – as revealed by research from around the world. Because there’s evidence that those who celebrate something in the right way are generally even happier than those who don’t.

What’s that ‘right way’?

Author and social psychologist Fred Bryant believes that it’s all about ‘savouring the good stuff’. By relishing and celebrating our experiences of happiness – including those that Christmas brings, we can build a resilience that helps us manage the tensions and challenges the whole occasion can cause.

Bryant has been called the father of research on ‘savouring’ – the experience of being mindfully engaged and aware of our feelings during positive events. Doing so can create and increase happiness in the short and long run.

His work, along with that of others, identifies a myriad of benefits that come from savouring things like family holiday celebrations. These include stronger relationships, better mental and physical health, and being more able to solve problems creatively.

Using data from over 20,000 people, Matthew Killingsworth, another happiness researcher, identified happiness levels felt at randomly selected moments during daily life. And it turned out that people are happier than usual at times like Christmas.

He recommends ten ways to ‘savour’ these moments, to put them to work for our benefit. No matter how many Christmases you have under your belt, they’re all worth trying.

  1. Share your good feelings with others. Treat positive events like positive news. Tell someone when you feel particularly thankful.
  2. Take a mental photograph. Spend a moment being aware of things you want to remember later that have brought you pleasure.
  3. Pat yourself on the back. Acknowledge the blessings resulting from all your hard work and smart planning.
  4. Focus on your senses. Take time to concentrate on the sounds, smells, tastes, feelings and sights involved with what you are enjoying. One great way is simply to linger over meals.
  5. Be expressive. Demonstrate excitement when something good is happening – it reinforces the experience.
  6. Contrast it to the opposite outcome. Think what it would have been like if this had not happened.
  7. Get caught up in the experience. Focus and don’t let the moment pass, or be distracted from it. Children are much better than adults at this.
  8. Be thankful. Express your gratitude to those providing these experiences to savour. And pause to express thanks before you eat – to the cook and to God!
  9. Don’t be negative. When things go wrong or don’t turn out as well as you’d hoped, still find something positive in it all.
  10. Remember that time is fleeting. Be determined to relish the moments that bring you pleasure, knowing they pass more swiftly than we might wish.

Research shows that all these actions lead to greater feelings of happiness and satisfaction. And they don’t only apply to Christmas and other happy events. They will also deepen our appreciation for all that God has done for us. So give them a try.

Do you have a way to enhance your experiences of happiness? Please share it here or on our AfterWorkNet Facebook group. Thank you.

You can share this blog with others by using the links below.

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He’s still working part time in his 70s, helping churches and resourcing inter-church initiatives. This is alongside enjoying his eight grandchildren, escaping to Spain and spending his kids’ inheritance.

Flip-flops, peppermints and lollipops. Actively retired people are using them all to demonstrate God’s love.

At an hour when older people are likely to be safely tucked up in bed, a select number are roaming the streets, armed with flip-flops, peppermints, lollipops and love.

These Good Samaritans are ready, as clubs and pubs spill customers onto the streets of some 300 town and city centres on Friday and Saturday nights. They are Street Pastors and Street Angels – two similar initiatives fulfilling the motto ‘Caring, Listening, Helping’. Though teams are all-age, many volunteers are of retirement age.

This includes Sian Evans who retired looking for more than a weekly stint in the community village shop. Firmly believing ‘God wants us to enjoy what we do’ and eager to show his love practically beyond the church walls, she became a regular Street Angel. Now watching out for young adults in the early hours who may have painted the town of Carmarthen a bit redder than was wise!

Then there’s Andrew Miller, previously a hospital doctor. His workplace departure coincided with an increasing realisation that’ the Kingdom of God is very much about the present, not just the future’. So training as a Street Pastor seemed a great way of being salt and light in his city of Oxford.

Sian, Andrew and their teams go out well prepared. Space blankets for the shivering. Flip flops for previously high-heeled girls now barefoot and at risk from broken glass. Lollipops, remarkably effective in diffusing confrontations.

Plus peppermints. Because standard practice when someone throws up, Andrew explains, is to offer water to swill around and then a peppermint to suck.

They also help by pointing out the nearest cash point; spending time with distressed people; sometimes calling 999 for collapsed/drunk individuals – and recharging mobiles.

Typically, things hot up after midnight. Sian says, ‘My heart goes out to these people.’  She’s often dealt with minor injuries. ‘Once I had to clean a very drunk lady’s face. She’d been hit with a glass and was hurling abuse at passers-by.’

They never finish before 2.30am, often not until 4. But Sian points out, ‘when you’re retired you can lie in as long as you want.’ Each shift covers some ground. Two Oxford volunteers have apps that once recorded walking over seven miles, all at conversation-friendly ambling speed.

And the God-dimension in all this? Sian quotes the verse, ‘For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing’. She says, ‘It’s like the old advert. The savoury smell drifts by and people said ‘Ahh, Bisto’. I think we can be a bit like that.’

Interestingly, Andrew remembers a team member’s similar comment, ‘Tonight we may not have shared Christ’s words, but we spread His aroma’.

For Andrew it’s being like the Good Samaritan who helped someone totally different to himself without telling him what to believe.’ Street Pastors and Angels aren’t there to preach. ‘But we’re often asked who we are, what motivates us’, he says. ‘And how come we’re not paid?’

Is this recommended for others in active retirement? ‘Yes’, assures Sian, ‘It’s for anyone willing to try something a bit different that’s fun and rewarding. You can choose when to serve and being older is useful because when we’re bossy they don’t take offence’

With a smile she adds, ‘Where else are you going to learn how to Floss at 3 o’clock in the morning?’

As a measure of the difference such involvement makes, it’s estimated Street Pastors and Street Angels will save the NHS £13 million during the festive period by diverting drunks from A&E. And Wrexham police saw violent crime and anti-social behaviour halved since the volunteers have patrolled the town centre.

Check out Street Pastors and Street Angels. It could be for you.

Are you a Street Pastor or Street Angels with a story to share? Please do so here or on our AfterWorkNet Facebook group. Thank you.

You can share this blog with others using the links below.

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He’s still working part time in his 70s, helping churches and resourcing inter-church initiatives. This is alongside enjoying his eight grandchildren, escaping to Spain and spending his kids’ inheritance.

Each of these 8 transferable skills opens doors to rewarding work – paid or voluntary. Which is yours?


A key to flourishing in retirement is to keep active – in mind, body and spirit. One way is to find work – paid or voluntary. Though in a less demanding and time consuming role.

But what if the job you have done doesn’t have a part-time equivalent? Or you simply don’t want more of the same?

Don’t worry, as there’s hope. The secret, when looking, not to think ‘job role’ as there may not be a round hole waiting that matches the one you once had. Instead, focus on the ‘life skills’ you have developed – because they open doors.

Indeed, there are 8 distinct transferable skills that can lead to a rewarding role. That’s what RestLess, an organisation helping those who are ‘older’ find rewarding roles, have identified.

And here they come. Check out which are yours and explore the opportunities.

1. Communication skills

Being a good communicator tends to mean you are a good listener and able to express yourself clearly and concisely, verbally and in writing

If you’ve a track record in a role requiring that kind of ability you have something that’s much needed.

Opportunities include: Teaching English as a foreign language, Counselling, Teaching assistant, Receptionist, Customer service.

2. Planning, organisation and time management skills

Employers love organised people because they get things done. Such people are great at setting goals and planning the steps needed to complete them. Don’t that? Then you are on your way.

Opportunities include: Party planner, Project manager, Admin assistant, Personal assistant, Travel planner.

3. Creativity

A creative person uses their imagination to think outside the box and bring new light on old ideas. And there are plenty of roles that call for such skills.

Opportunities include: Florist, Art therapy, Photographer, Furniture restorer.

4. The ability to keep calm under pressure

Not everyone can keep calm in a high pressure environment. If you’ve previously held roles where you have been able to keep calm and carry on you may be an ideal candidate.

Opportunities include: Doula, Emergency call handler, Carer.

5. People skills

People with exceptional people skills tend to have high levels of emotional intelligence, empathy and compassion. They are able to put themselves in other people’s shoes, consider how they may be feeling, and produce a response that the receiver will be particularly receptive to.

Opportunities include: Counsellor, Customer service, Call centre, Tour guide, Personal shopper.

6. Leadership skills

A strong leader takes charge of situations and motivates and inspire others to achieve their goals. They are also problem solvers who delegate, plan and coordinate.

Opportunities include: Become your own boss, Franchise owner, Project manager, Youth worker, Volunteer team leader.

7. Technological skills

Whether you have skills in coding, databases or social media platforms, there are roles out there waiting for what you have learned over the years.

Opportunities include: IT consultant, Video editor, Social media officer, Digital marketer, Charity back office support.

8. Numeracy skills

Good with numbers and happy to keep crunching them? There are openings depending the level of responsibility you’d like to have and how sociable you wish to be.

Opportunities include: Book keeper, Maths teacher, Credit controller.

Now for some final words of wisdom from RestLess – who did this thinking and have lots more resources to help. They say, ‘Always remember employers are looking for talented individuals first and foremost. And many are happy to offer training for those with the right transferable skills and attributes’.

For links to a mass of opportunities and wisdom on working in later life see the website RestLess.

You’ll also find ideas and resources on the AfterWorkNet webpages under Opportunities and Serving.

If you have found this helpful do please share it using the links below.

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He’s still working part time in his 70s, helping churches and resourcing inter-church initiatives. This is alongside enjoying his eight grandchildren, escaping to Spain and spending his kids’ inheritance.

What 1,000 retirees said about their life after work may shock you.

The assumption is that life after full time work will be one of bliss. No longer needing to set the alarm. More time to travel, relax, socialise, and ‘get things done’.

But a survey of 1,000 UK retirees tells a very different story. Indeed, it’s a wakeup call for those heading for life after fulltime work or already drifting through it.

Above all, it highlights the dangers that come from not replacing the two key things that are lost when work ends – purpose and companionship. Otherwise, as the research shows, retirees can be left longing for the benefits that came from the career they left behind.

The eye-opening research, conducted for Home Instead Senior Care, speaks of those –

Retired to disappointment

Feelings of being deeply disappointed by their retirement were expressed by 1 in 5.

Prodding deeper, a quarter put this down to now having no real routine in their day-to-day life. And a third saying retirement had left them feeling they had lost their purpose in life.

Missing the workplace

Asked what they missed most about the world of work, almost half said this was spending time with their colleagues. With a third saying they missed the workplace banter.

For almost 4 out of 10, missed was the income their job had provided as they were no longer able to afford the things they wanted to do.

And, for almost a third, there was a yearning to have an active mind. In fact, well over half agreed with the statement that ‘work is good for mental health’.

The desire to still have work in one form or another was also highlighted. More than a third expressed the belief that it’s important to have something like part-time work or a hobby after retiring.

Missing the fun of work

Over half of those surveyed said they had found working fun and they missed it. With an almost equal number saying a problems with not working is they miss being around people.

Wished they had kept working longer

Perhaps the most revealing finding of all is that a quarter of the retirees surveyed believed they had quit work too soon. The average respondent said they would have happily continued some kind of work for another seven years.

That finding encouraged those behind the survey to launch a campaign encouraging people to UnRetire and so reap the benefits working life brings.

Lack of support for retirees

Also revealing was the perceived lack of support from employers to help people make the transition. Two in 4 said they had received too little. And a third saying they had received no support at all.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be that way. Wise retirees know that to flourish in their new era means doing more than making the most of their new freedom. It also involves actively seeking to replace the purpose and companionship they have left behind.

If that matters to you, check out the following AfterWorkNet web pages on Opportunities and Serving.

Do you an experience of how you replaced the purpose and companionship of your workplace in your retirement? Please share it here or with the AfterWorkNet Facebook group. Thank you.

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He’s still working part time in his 70s, helping churches and resourcing inter-church initiatives. This is alongside enjoying his eight grandchildren, escaping to Spain and spending his kids’ inheritance.


Having a dog could save your life. Here’s why and how.

When it comes to dogs that save lives you probably think of a St Bernard braving the snow. Or a sniffer dog finding those trapped under wreckage. But please think again.

Be they Crufts champions or the lowliest mutt, every dog is a potential lifesaver and life extender. That’s what researchers have discovered on analysing data from almost 4 million people.

To put it simply – they found those who own a dog likely to live longer than those who don’t. How much longer?

The review, bringing together ten studies and published for the American Heart Association, reveals dog owners were 24 per cent less likely to die over a ten year period than sans-pooch people.

Why does owning a dog have such a protective effect on our health – especially for people living alone or recovering from heart disease?

According to this research, published in the journal Circulation, dog owners are likely to benefit from lower blood pressure, healthier cholesterol and a lowered stress response.

Those behind the study point to three main reasons–

Exercise: People with dogs move about more – walking and playing with them. And, unlike non-dog owners, have a built in ‘nagger’ to make sure this activity happens.

For more on the value of exercise see the AfterWorkNet blog Do the washing up to live longer.

Fresh air: It seems the human body does better when able to fill its lungs with fresh air and let sunlight fall in its skin. And that’s what happens when people go ‘walkies’

Companionship: Loneliness is a killer, science has shown. It can do as much harm to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

As Dr Dhruv S Kazi said in a commentary on the research findings, ‘Dogs offer companionship, reduce anxiety and loneliness, increase self-esteem, and improve overall mood.’ All of which improve mental health and reduce stress-related wear and tear on our body and heart.

For more on the impact of loneliness see the AfterWorkNet web pages on The Lonely.

All of this points to the two great lifesaving outcomes a four legged friend can deliver. These being –

Better overall health

Dog ownership was associated with a 24 percent risk reduction in dying for any reason compared to those who don’t own a dog.

All that walking, fresh air and companionship adds years to life.

Better recovery

Another dog-related study, reported in the same issue of Circulation, looked at the impact of pet ownership on stroke and heart attack survivors. Using data from more than 300,000 Swedish patients together with that from the national dog registr, it showed –

  • Heart attack patients living alone and owning a dog were a third less likely to suffer another heart attack than those who were canine free.
  • Stroke patients living alone with a dog were more than a quarter less likely to suffer another one.

Dr Tove Fall of Uppsala University, who was behind the research said, ‘If this was a drug, it would make a pharmaceutical company very rich.’

Returning to the major study, the message is ‘don’t hang about – get a dog’. Its lead author Caroline Kramer points out, ‘The overall understanding of cardiovascular health is the earlier we implement healthier behaviours the better.’

To sum up. If you have a dog, be thankful for the extra years your companion is likely to bestow on you. Which is what ‘best friends’ do.

No dog? You have three options.

  1. Get one.
  2. Borrow one – offer to do the walking, or dog sit.
  3. Make sure you experience those things a dog would contribute to your life in some other way.

It may be a dog’s life. But there can be more life in the old dog yet – if you have a dog.

Have you an experience of your life being richer and more healthy thanks to having a dog? Please share it here or with the AfterWorkNet Facebook group. Thank you.

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He’s still working part time in his 70s, helping churches and resourcing inter-church initiatives. This is alongside enjoying his eight grandchildren, escaping to Spain and spending his kids’ inheritance. He doesn’t have a dog.

Over-busy in your retirement? Try these 4 litmus test questions.

Are you one of those who came to the end of fulltime work with a growing list of plans and projects? Who relished the gift of ‘free’ time opening up opportunities for volunteering, family, new hobbies, seeing the world, and more?

But, as time passes, perhaps reality has dawned. Through your mind, and maybe from your lips, run words like –

‘I seem to be busier now than I’ve ever been’.

‘Busy? Tell me about it!’

‘I just don’t know where the time goes. I never seem to stop’.

Somehow an overcrowded life has snuck up and ambushed you. Not exactly how you’d expected life to pan out once you’d packed up the daily grind. But here you are, and, sad to say, ‘busier’ is not necessarily ‘happier’. ‘Busier’ can all too easily lead to stress, burn out, ill health and simply take away the shine of these golden years.

So, what about eliminating some of the things that make our post-work lives over-busy? Or, at least, to consider seriously what that might look like?

Let me pose four questions every over-busy retiree would do well to reflect on.

What ‘must do’ things in your life don’t you enjoy?

Okay, so we have to live with the reality that not everything in life ‘sparks joy’! Like cleaning the oven. And if gardening and maintenance float your boat then fine.

However, what if too many ‘must do’ things are robbing you of precious time to bring enjoyment and meaning to you and to others?

Could you simplify the garden so it’s easier to manage? Be less ambitious about it?

Would downsizing your home crack it – especially if this meant less chores? And the money that’s released could give you a little extra to pay for others to do some of the things that take up your time.

This leads to a very big principle that needs evaluating at this stage of your life. It is the difference between ‘cost’ and ‘convenience’.

Like me, you have probably made ‘cost’ the priority. Chosen to save paying out even if it means having to do the joy yourself. But this might be the moment to look at this differently.

At this stage of life, time is precious and the need to keep costs to a minimum no matter what may be less of an issue. So are there chores you have always done that it would be more convenient and beneficial to pay someone else to do.

In this way, for a small expenditure, you might be able to have others do what you don’t enjoy and have time and energy to invest as a result.

What choices don’t enrich and fulfil your life?

Again, not everything in life can be wonderful. But you should try to make as much of it as possible enriching and fulfilling.

The enemy to this happening may come in the guise of the requests that come because others think you have time available. This all too easily leads to giving up time to serve on committees and rotas that were never on your wish list.

Surprisingly, this can even involve the level of care for grandchildren. Shock horror? Yet I’ve heard too many tales of grandparents feeling trapped because their children assume endless babysitting and day care is the order of the day.

Of course we love the little ones, if we have them. But we also have the right to our own choices regarding when enough is enough.

In which case, and you need an exit strategy to some of your current commitments read the next piece of advice.

What are you doing simply because you should have said ‘no’?

Now is the time to be honest – because none of us like to admit we bottled it when asked to do something we really should have said ‘no’ to.

The problem is that going back now is even harder than saying ‘no’ in the first place! But we’re talking about your over-busy life here. Time to be brave.

Remember, if someone feels they have the right to ask us to do something, we equally have the right to say ‘no’. And we can say no without feeling we need to make excuses, give some kind of justification and take on guilt.

When it comes to fending off initial requests you’ll find a ton of helpful advice on my past blog All You Need to Know About Saying ‘no’.

But what about these existing commitments you’ve already agreed to?

If you genuinely believe you need to carve out some more free time try this –

  • Take a deep breath and gather up inside you an absolute commitment not to fudge the issue.
  • Say something like, ‘I know you may not want to hear this but I’ve become over-committed and need free up some time. This means I’m no longer going to be able to . . . . .’
  • Agree a firm date to bring the commitment to an end.
  • Don’t get into a discussion and be clear that it’s not your responsibility to find someone to replace what you have been doing.
  • Change the conversation or end it. But don’t linger.

Who are the people who dampen your spirit?

One of the marks of a genuine Christian faith is to have a love for people – all people. The lovely and the not-so-lovely. Those who give and those who take. Those who enrich our lives and those capable of sucking us dry.

Nothing I’m about to say changes that. But such love doesn’t mean spending a disproportionate time with those who drag you down. Life is too precious and too short to major on people who have A Levels in whinging, gossiping and complaining.

It’s better to prioritise people with a positive attitude, who enrich your life and are fun to be with. In that way you’ll also have the inner strength, and be more valuable, to support those who are going through tough times.

There’s every reason why the years that lie ahead could be the best of your life. But for that to happen you need to make some wise choices and sometimes some hard decisions.

Have you an experience to share of pruning your after-work life? Please share it here or with the AfterWorkNet Facebook group. Thank you.

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He’s still working part time in his 70s, helping churches and resourcing inter-church initiatives. This is alongside enjoying his eight grandchildren, escaping to Spain and spending his kids’ inheritance.

Surprise. A little of your time could make a big difference for missionaries serving abroad. Here’s how.

We all know that missionaries serving abroad are making incredible sacrifices. But what if there was a simple way you could ease their load, make their work more fruitful, and their lives more liveable – from right where you are.

Well it’s possible. It’s already happening. And it offers a wonderful way to invest even a small amount of your time and talent.

Can you post a magazine? Drive? Search the internet? Have a spare bed for a night or two? Audio type?

These abilities – and more – are waiting to be used to bless those taking Jesus to the nations. It’s not time-consuming or complicated. But the impact can be significant.

Making this possible is a remarkable Christian charity, MissionAssist. For the past 30-years they have been coordinating home-based volunteers to provide free services for those sent by their church in some aspect of Christian mission.

Sarah J McQuay, MissionAssist’s Director of Services explains, ‘Now nearly 700 volunteers are using their abilities and skills to help those working abroad. Some are able to offer several hours a week and others only one or two. But all are vital in serving world mission and making Jesus known.’

What do you have to offer? The needs are amazingly varied. Everything from posting a magazine to keyboarding and audio typing. Short-term hospitality to researching. Airport pickups to translating. And more.

This even includes more than 100 volunteers keyboarding old and fragile scripture translations to serve a team producing modern digital files for correction and reprinting.

From all the many opportunities waiting for you, let me highlight just three – with some examples of the kind of impact they can make.

Magazine Service

Can you imagine the ‘lift’ a mission worker far from home gets when a copy of their favourite publication arrives by post? Or the joy of their children when a much-missed comic is unwrapped?

MissionAssist link the magazine requests of missionaries with volunteers who can help.

Do you subscribe to, or receive with a membership, any magazine or journal that goes into the paper recycling bin after you have read it?  Would you be willing to post that on instead?

Alternatively, could you take out a subscription specifically so a mission worker or family member could regularly receive what they would really appreciate?

Right now MissionAssist’s waiting list includes children in the Solomon Islands who would love to receive National Geographic Kids. A woman serving in Papua New Guinea who’d welcome Fibromyalgia Magazine. And a paragliding/hang gliding enthusiast in Papua New Guinea longing for Skywings and Cross Country magazines.

It may not seem like much but such gifts are deeply appreciated. Feedback includes –

‘This gift has become a double one. Having read the magazine I then pass them on to an English Language school so their students can enjoy and learn from them. Thank you.’

‘My mailbox was holding two issues of the RSPB magazine Nature’s Home sent by a volunteer. Such a welcome treat.’

Airport Transport

Providing returning mission personnel with transport from an airport is one of MissionAssist’s most valued services.

This is especially true in exceptional circumstances. For example, when a missionary family serving an African country failed to have their visas renewed they had to leave almost immediately.

However, instead of being stranded at Heathrow, a volunteer couple met them, briefly looked after them at home before driving them to friends to stay while arrangements for onward travel were made.

MissionAssist’s volunteer coordinator links advance requests from mission personnel to a volunteer driver in reach of the airport. And there’s an urgent need for more such volunteer drivers. The main demand is for Heathrow – with occasional requests for Gatwick, Luton, Birmingham and Bristol.

It is usual for volunteer drivers to receive a contribution towards their expenses.

The other help for traveling missionaries comes from volunteers providing a Meet and Greet service at airports and train stations. And, again, more are needed to smooth the way by helping with questions, luggage and locating the transport for their onward journey.

Sometimes it’s not just a lone traveller or family in need of help. MissionAssist recently coordinated the arrival of 70 mission conference delegates arriving at various times. Putting them at ease, find the railway station and buy a ticket for their onward journey.


Missionaries back in the UK for a spell sometimes need a place to lay their head for a short time. It might be overnight before a flight, for a few days during a training event, or as a whole family needing a place to stay.

MissionAssist links volunteers to those in need. And for missionaries on a limited income this can be a significant help. As one said, ‘This hospitality is a huge blessing to people like us who can’t afford to stay at a B&B.’’

Such is the demand that more volunteers are needed, especially for London and South East England where the need is greatest – even for those only able to offer a night or two.

But there’s a vision to be able to offer accommodation over the whole of the United Kingdom. So, wherever you live, they would love to hear from you.

Your next step?

There are far more opportunities to help than are listed here. Contact MissionAssist and they will match what you can offer to the needs and opportunities they have waiting.

This is no casual arrangement. MissionAssist volunteers sign an agreement concerning confidentiality and having their data stored. This means they can also be made aware of other opportunities to help as they arise.

If you have a heart for mission and some time and resources to spare this could be a great opportunity. And here’s the link you need – MissionAssist.

Is there a way you are supporting world mission by your actions? Please share it here or with the AfterWorkNet Facebook group. Thank you.

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He’s still working part time in his 70s, helping churches and resourcing inter-church initiatives. This is alongside enjoying his eight grandchildren, escaping to Spain and spending his kids’ inheritance.

Do the washing up to live longer – says a major new report.

You can forget the gym, jogging and workouts. Almost as good for your health is vacuuming or mowing the lawn. Even just an hour of chores a day cuts your risk of an early death in half.

That’s good news for those like me, who believe if God meant us to sweat he’d have put drainpipes under our arms.

Where does this life-giving and guilt reducing news come from? It’s a drum roll for a team of researchers in Norway’s School of Sport Sciences. They analysed 8 studies from the US, UK, and Scandinavia that covered 36,000 adults aged 40 and over.

I can’t resist giving you the study’s full title. It’s ‘Dose-response associations between accelerometry measured physical activity and sedentary tie and all cause mortality: systematic review and harmonised meta-analysis’.

You deserve an extra year of life just for reading that. But what can we learn f this major and authoritative study?

First, you don’t have to almost kill yourself to have a health benefit from exercise.

The researchers identified that 5 minutes of moderate activity a day halved the risk of adults dying over the next six years. Okay, so the study focused on those younger than the ‘after-work’ generation. But don’t knock the principle.

Indeed, the report says, ‘The observation that light intensity physical activity also provided substantial health benefits . . .  suggests older people and those not able to be physically active at higher intensities will still benefit from just moving around’.

Second, regular stuff – like housework – counts as ‘exercise’

Those volunteers taking part in the research wore devices to measure the intensity of their movements. When this was correlated to their health and lifespan the discovery was surprising.

It was that doing daily chores had unexpected benefits.

What could be defined as ‘moderate activity’ included vacuuming, mowing the lawn, cooking, cleaning and other such household tasks. And the researchers identified that an hour of light domestic activity added to someone’s lifespan.

The report has no mention of how much credit you get for crawling round the floor with grandchild. Or trying to strap them into a car seat. But they must surely be worth the equivalent of vacuuming a mansion or cutting the grass at Wimbledon.

A co-author of the report, Dr Charlotte Edwardson, of the University of Leicester was quoted by Mailonline saying the findings “show ‘physical activity of any intensity lowers the risk of death. Reinforcing the saying “Doing something is better than doing nothing”.’

She added, ‘‘If you’re someone who doesn’t achieve the recommended levels of moderate intensity physical activity, then doing more light activity, for example, pottering around more at work or at home and just generally being on your feet more, will still be beneficial.’

Third, get off your backside if you want to live longer.

Ready for this? Sitting down for 9.5 hours a day more than doubles the risk of an early death. And that ‘sitting down’ covers everything from being a couch potato to hunching over a computer.

Worse still, every hour of inactivity above the 9.5 hours threshold increases the danger of death even further.

So it’s not enough to literally sit back – for many hours – taking credit for some life-extending household activity you have done. Do that for too long and the benefits go steeply into reverse.

To quote from the NHS guidelines on activity, ‘All adults should break up long periods of sitting with light activity.’

I’d suggest the best response to this news is not to quip, ‘Now we know why women live longer’. Or ‘Does this mean the Queen must be good with a Hoover?’. But to sit up, stand up and do something.

As for me,  it’s time to remove myself from my laptop and head for the vacuum cleaner. It has to be done.

Meanwhile, for more on the value of exercise to your help and wellbeing, see the AfterWorkNet webpages on Keeping Fit. And catch up with what sport can do for you at our blog Add Years To Your Life While Having Fun And Making Friends.

Do you have something to add about keeping fit? Please share it here or with the AfterWorkNet Facebook group. Thank you.

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He’s still working part time in his 70s, helping churches and resourcing inter-church initiatives. This is alongside enjoying his eight grandchildren, escaping to Spain and spending his kids’ inheritance.

Want to keep working – at least some of the time? Here’s how and some smart ideas

There are good reasons many want to keep working – full or part time – beyond their official retirement age. For some, it’s about wanting income to top up their pension. For others, it’s all about keeping active and engaged with others.

Whichever it may be, there are lots of opportunities and even an organisation dedicated to helping people find the right one.

The organisation is Rest Less, with a mission to help those 50-plus make the most of the years ahead in the area of employment. That includes helping people identify suitable jobs, highlighting age-friendly employers, and campaigning to promote age diversity in the workplace.

In support of their mission is a comprehensive website and a regular email updates on thousands of vacancies and opportunities. For the big picture see their website Rest Less.

On offer too is a free career guide for those usually deemed to be towards the end of their working life – full of tips and resources. You can find it at career guide.

Meanwhile, if keeping going is on your agenda, here are some job opportunities you may never have thought of, which all come from Rest Less.


If you have an abundance of compassion and empathy then working as a Doula could be ideal – helping those facing either birth or death feel secure and supported.

It may involve holding the hand of a woman in labour, cooking and cleaning, offering words of support or sharing in someone’s favourite hobby as they make the most of their final months of life.

No academic qualifications are needed to get started. And training courses can teach you all you need. Doula’s tend to be self-employed and offer services in their area, charging a price per hour.

Interested in working with women and families during pregnancy, birth or just after? Here’s a link to training courses. Or interested in becoming an end of life Doula? Here’s a link to training courses.

Prison Officer

A prison officer has a part to play as a role model, negotiator and educator – including motivating prisoners to make good decisions for themselves and others. No previous qualifications or experience are needed. But you’ll need to be fit, with and have basic maths and English skills.

The application process involves tests online and in person. If successful, you get a prison tour and a 12-week paid training programme before commencing the role. Interested in finding out more? Then go to Prison Officers.

Film or TV Extra

Here’s a flexible way to get paid just for turning up. And, at the same time, seeing behind the scenes and meeting a wide variety of people.

As a Film or TV extra you are paid just to be an extra body in film and/or tv productions. Check out casting agencies like Extra PeoplePhoenix Casting and Mad Dog 2020 that recruit extras around the country.

Food Taster

Fancy getting paid to taste and give your opinion on different foods? Then you can. Waiting for your taste buds are chocolate for some of the world’s leading brands through to a supermarket’s own-brand product.

No experience is needed as sensory training is provided. But you’ll need to be allergy and intolerance-free. You’ll also need good communication skill. As the next step check out food taster.


Here’s a flexible role driving individuals or groups in a car, van or limousine, making sure their ride is as smooth and pleasant. Each day can be different and usually very interesting as you engage with clients leading a range of lifestyles.

Required are a clean full UK driving licence and calm and confidence behind the wheel. Training is also available through the British Chauffeurs Guild. To learn more go to chauffeurs.

However, if you would rather volunteer rather than take on a paid role, check out the AfterWorkNet web pages on Serving. The cover everything from volunteering and using your skills in your church, your community and internationally. The link is serving.

What’s your experience of working on after your expected expiry date? Or being marginalised for your age? Please share it here or with the AfterWorkNet Facebook group. Thank you.

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He’s still working part time in his 70s, helping churches and resourcing inter-church initiatives. This is alongside enjoying his eight grandchildren, escaping to Spain and spending his kids’ inheritance.

It’s time to get bolder about getting older

It was realising he was the oldest player at a hockey tournament that shook Carl Honoré to the core. And it caused a stream of questions.

Though playing well, Carl wondered –

‘Do I look out of place?

‘Are people laughing at me?’

‘Should I take up a more gentle pastime?

Above all, Carl recalls, ‘It got me thinking about how we often feel ashamed and afraid of growing older. And how we imagine it’s all about loss, decline, decrepitude and sadness.’

That was underlined when Carl discovered ‘age’ is the number one answer on a Google Search when you type in ‘I lie about my…’

The shock at that hockey tournament spurred Carl, an author of several best-selling books, to research and write. His motivation – to see if there was another, happier, story to tell about ageing.

The result was his book ‘Bolder – making the most of our longer lives’. Which, he confesses, ‘was really about helping me feel better about my own advancing years.’

What did Carl discover? That, ‘So many of my own downbeat assumptions about ageing turned out to be wrong. And because – and this is the really exciting bit – so many things can get better as we grow older.

What are some of the positives about aging that Carl identified? He would tell you –

People are generally more contented in later life.

Across the world happiness seems to follow a U-shaped curve, bottoming out in middle age and then rising again thereafter.

Carl points out even Pete Townshend confessed to feeling more cheerful in his 60s than he was when he wrote one of the most ageist lines in the pop music canon: ‘Hope I die before I get old.’

We becomes more comfortable in our own skin and less worried about what others think of us. We tend to form stronger, more fulfilling relationships as we age. Ageing also makes many of us more altruistic and eager to serve the common good.

The things that happen to our bodies and brains are not as bad as we may fear.

That’s because, these days, we have more and more levers to pull – nutrition, technology, medicine, exercise – to slow the physical decline. All of which opens the potential to go on doing amazing things with our bodies deep into later life.

The evidence that this is true seems to be in the media almost every day, with stories of those considered ‘well beyond it’ kitesurfing, climbing mountains, running marathons, cycling long distance, and swimming competitively.

Today, the average over-65-year-old is in better shape than ever before. And, as Carl notes in his book, Japan is even toying with moving the age when someone is deemed rojin, or old, from 65 to 75.

Our brains do a great job compensating when we lose some cognitive zip.

That’s why creativity can carry on right up to the end of our lives. Carl notes some experts think ageing alters the brain structure in ways that make us even more creative.

Older adults also tend to be better at seeing the big picture, embracing compromise, weighing multiple points of view and accepting that knowledge can only take you so far.

Carl enthuses, ‘When tackling problems in a familiar field, older brains are quicker to spot the patterns and details that open the door to finding a solution.

He also cites researchers at Harvard University who concluded that four key skills do not ripen fully until around the age of 50: arithmetic, vocabulary, general knowledge and a grasp of how the world works.

Social and emotional smarts often improve with age.

We get better at reading people. Our richer vocabulary helps us speak, write and communicate better and our capacity to co-operate and negotiate improves.

We also get better at putting ourselves in other people’s shoes, finding compromises and resolving conflicts. As we age, we become less prone to wild swings of emotion and better able to cope with negative feelings such as anger, fear and envy. In other words, as Carl puts it, ‘We find it easier to keep our heads while all about us are losing theirs.’

With Carl having said he wrote the book to meet his own needs, you may wonder if it has worked. Has it changed him? Carl’s answer is, ‘Yes, profoundly. It has made me feel so much more at ease with the idea of growing older.’

And what does he hope ‘Bolder’ will do for those who read it? Carl’s answer is, ‘To see ageing in a completely new light. To move from fear and dread to the kind of understanding and optimism that will help them make the most of their lives – at every age.’

To get the big picture read Carl Honoré’s book Bolder: Making The Most Of Our Longer Lives published by Simon & Schuster.

What makes you feel good about your advancing years? Please tell us here or share with the AfterWorkNet Facebook Group.

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He uses his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his eight grandchildren, escape to Spain and to spend his kids’ inheritance.

An army of grandparents are helping thousands of primary children discover the Bible’s stories. Amazing!

When a small group of mostly newly-retired people began reading and ‘performing’ Bible stories in their local schools they had no idea where it would lead.

But, from that small beginning, some 800,000 children are now regularly hearing the Bible’s stories in more than 3,000 schools. That’s 1 in 6 primary schools in England and Wales.

Those in at the start included a retired accountant and a retired head teacher, with others drawn from four local Bedford churches. They were brought together by a local outreach volunteer, Dave Todd, motivated by constantly meeting children ignorant of the Bible’s stories.

Finding Bob Hartman’s Lion Storyteller Bible, moved things into a new gear – leading to the use of props and costumes to help bring the stories to life.

Roll on about 20 years and now there’s an army of no-longer-working ‘Tims’, ‘Junes’, ‘Daves’ and ‘Brendas’ dressed in bedsheets and towels round their heads. All so children can hear and experience the Bible’s stories and the truths they contain.

The initiative is now called Open the Book, with a three year rolling programme telling the stories in chronological order. That means, each year, a child can hear 33 Old and New Testament stories.

And it’s fair to say the majority of the now more than 17,000 volunteers are using their after-work years to be involved.

What’s the reason for such success? Julie Jefferies, Head of Open the Book says, ‘It’s due to the simplicity of the storytelling, the high fun factor and the dedication and creativity of so many volunteers’.

It’s also true that schools love it. More than 95 per cent of those questioned said they believed Open the Book had a positive impact on the school’s life.

It makes a positive impact on the lives of the volunteers too. Talk to Open the Book volunteers and they frequently use the word ‘fun’. But there’s much more to it than that.

Typical is Ruth McGeown, a beard-wearing storyteller in a brown dressing gown to play Jesus who says, ‘This has given me a heart for children and families in the school and we’ve started a prayer group. I feel I’m invested in school in terms of faith and prayer.’

Others speak of coming to see the Bible through fresh eyes as they present it in its simplicity to children.

Open the Book has also proved to be a very strategic stepping stone. More than a quarter of the churches involved with have gone on to launch Messy Church.

Now, under the supportive and enabling wing of Bible Society, Open the Book is going from strength to strength. However, despite the success, there’s still a long way to go. And the barrier is the need for more volunteers.

Julie Jefferies has a dream. It is to bring the Bible to life for every child in every primary school in England and Wales – reaching over 18,000 schools with 4.5 million children.

More than that, schools are open and waiting to welcome Open the Book.

Holding things back is the shortage of volunteers. Julie reports, ‘Every week we receive requests from teachers who want a team to come to their school. But there simply are not enough people volunteering’.

Could this be you? Or someone you know? An initiative for your church? A strategic and significant way to use your available time and willingness to wear a bed sheet?

If so, Open the Book would love to hear from you – even if it is just to get more information. Contact them at Open the Book.

That’s a decision Bill Sanderson, a retired chemist, is delighted he made. Though busy, he says, ‘I thought I’d give it a try, and I’ve never looked back. This is about bringing the Bible to life for a generation that don’t get these stories at home’.

Bill adds, ‘I have never been part of a drama group or anything like that. But since doing Open the Book, I’ve played God, Peter, the devil and everything. It’s true what they say, that it’s easier to be a baddie’.

For more ideas to make your active retirement years fulfilling see the AfterWorkNet web pages on Serving and Volunteering in Your Community – which includes more on Open the Book including a great video.

Have you an experience of volunteering with Open the Book? Do please share it here or with the AfterWorkNet Facebook group. Thank you.

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He’s still working part time in his 70s, helping churches and resourcing inter-church initiatives. This is alongside enjoying his eight grandchildren, escaping to Spain and spending his kids’ inheritance.

What if you could live 7½ years longer without doing anything difficult or unpleasant? Well you can – and here’s how.

Imagine it. Living longer – 7½ years longer – by using a procedure that costs you nothing and is neither difficult nor unpleasant. Unbelievable? Not according to solid research into real lives.

All it involves is thinking positively about aging. Yes, it really is as simple as that. To begin seeing the experience of ‘aging’ as positive and not negative.

Does that all sound too simple and farfetched? Then trust the insight of neurologist Dr Joshua Kornbluth of the Global Brain Health Institute – captured in a brilliant video that’s a must watch –  and here’s the link.

To put Dr Josh’s message simply, things change for the better when we start thinking ‘good thoughts’ about being old. And he points to research showing that –

People with a positive attitude towards aging live, on average, seven and a half years longer than those with a negative attitude.

Such a positive attitude makes them feel younger as well – seeing themselves as younger than their actual age.

The research comes from the Ohio Longitudinal Study of Aging and Retirement led by Prof Becca Levy of Yale University. Among its findings was that ‘older individuals’ with ‘more positive self-perceptions of aging’ lived seven and a half years longer than ‘those with less positive self-perceptions of aging’.

However, such a positive attitude is not easy because an ‘enemy’ causes us to feel the opposite. That enemy is ‘ageism’, stresses Dr Josh. This is the prevailing mind-set in our society that discriminates against people just because of their age. He even calls this a ‘social sickness’.

As Prof Becca points out, we form our view of age as a stereotype long before becoming old. And so grow up accepting this negative view of aging without question.

The way Prof Josh puts it is that, as kids we heard the message that old age was ‘just awful’. So it’s hard to see aging as positive when, from our earliest years, we’ve seen it as the opposite.

And the negative reinforcement doesn’t stop there.

The time comes when our flush of youth has gone down the pan. From that moment on, powerful commercial forces spend billions telling us to buy their stuff to fend off the dreaded aging process.

In addition, the voices in our ears and the actions of society, carry the associations of ‘burden’, ‘scrap heap’, ‘sell-by date’ and more. The prevailing tide is to see those who are older as of less value, less importance, a burden rather than a blessing.

Put all that together and there’s no other way to say it – ageism is rife. Which makes it desperately hard for those who age to see it as positive and, thus, benefit from the added years such a mind-set can bring.

So how do we make the transition to seeing our advancing years as positive, with the potential to add years to our lifespan? Here’s some wisdom from Dr Josh and others.

Be positive about the happiness older age brings

Despite what they are told to expect, when people get to their older years they discover it is not bad at all. Indeed, studies show this may be the happiest time since their teenage years. See our blog The happiest of all.

A good dose of expecting to be happier, and then experiencing it, is a great fertiliser for a positive attitude.

Be positive about the enviable attributes older age brings

The outstanding attribute that comes with older years is ‘wisdom. Partly this is down to the experience that accumulates by having clocked up more years than those who are younger.

But this is multiplied by our new stage of life being far less cluttered and releasing us to see wood from the trees.

As Dr Kate Rankin says on the video, ‘One of the things that’s beautiful about wisdom is you are able to know what’s important and what’s not. You’re able to see what’s valuable, what’s central and what gets you to where you want to be.’

That, in itself, makes us incredibly valuable – to society as a whole and to those who are close to us.

Be positive about having a purpose in older age

Unlike past generations, who often entered retirement to do no more than hang about in God’s waiting room, today’s retirees have very different prospects. They tend to have the health, energy and resources for another totally fulfilling era – all be it in a very different setting.

There are valued and meaningful roles to play – in the context of family, neighbours, church, and society. Roles that take the wisdom, knowledge and availability only they have.

Should you doubt it, of needs some inspiration, see the AfterWorkNet web pages on New Opportunities.

In a nutshell, ignore the negative stereotype of aging and its insipid ageism – and celebrate the positives that only older age can bring. And live longer in the process.

Have you experienced ageism and how have you responded? Please do share here or on our Facebook Group. We’d love to hear.

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He’s still working part time in his 70s, helping churches and resourcing inter-church initiatives. This is alongside enjoying his eight grandchildren, escaping to Spain and spending his kids’ inheritance.


The number of over-70s still working has doubled – in just 10 years. What’s going on? And why does it matter?

A very significant change is happening in our society. And those still working in their 70s are at its heart.

What’s significant is how many more of them now work full or part time. And, with the numbers growing year on year, even if you have yet to hit 70 it points to what is likely to be ahead.

Why is this ‘significant’? I’ll get to that. And also what’s good and bad about it all.

But first, here come the facts.

The number of people aged 70 and over still working full or part-time has more than doubled over the past 10 years.

We know this thanks to new data from the Office for National Statistics. It highlights that 10 years ago only one in 22 of those 70 and over were working. But now it’s boomed to one in 12.

This means almost half a million of us who are, or will be, in our 70s earning a crust either full or part time.

But there’s more.

The research discovered more than 53,000 over 80s are still working in the UK, with a quarter doing so full-time. That’s something unheard of in previous generations.

Why is this happening?

Stuart Lewis, founder of Rest Less which commissioned the research and generates work opportunities for the over-50s, was quoted in The Guardian as giving two reasons. He said, ‘Many are looking to top up their pension savings while they still can. But there is also a growing understanding of the many health and social benefits that come with working into retirement.

Both of those reasons are worth exploring because of what they reveal.

Working to top up a pension

For many it is just a nice bonus to be able to add a little income in later years. However – for too many – doing so is an absolute necessity and is about much more than topping up pension savings.

According to Catherine Seymour, head of policy at Independent Age, ‘One in every six people – nearly two million – of pension age are now living in poverty and every day, another 226 people join that number.’

Sadly, this fact may have escaped the attention of affluent suburban retirees. However, Catherine notes, ‘Many now working in their late sixties and seventies are doing so out of necessity to pay the rent, heat their homes and afford their weekly shop.’

Should that not be a wakeup call to many, including Government?

And should it also add a perspective to those like me. Those able to top up our pensions through work because we can and not due to driven necessity.

If that extra income is important to you, check out some great ‘add to my income’ ideas at our recent blog 20 Ways to Earn More Money in Your Retirement.

Working because it’s good for us

Stuart Lewis, founder of Rest Less also speaks of ‘the many health and social benefits that come with working into retirement.’ He could not be more right.

Whatever the motivation for someone working beyond the official retirement date, there’s good news in it all. To put it simply, the longer you keep your body and brain active the longer you are likely to live.

With this in mind, work – paid or voluntary – has a major role. It’s a way to have a purpose, be socially connected, and keep the brain and body on the go. And its benefits are backed up by solid research including –

  • A study by the University of Exeter discovered helping others on a regular basis could reduce early death rates by 22 per cent.
  • Researchers at Oregon State University warn retiring early could be a risk factor for an early death – with working even one more year likely to extend life.
  • A fifteen-year study of 83,000 older adults published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease, suggested those working past 65 were about three times more likely to say they enjoyed good health and about half as likely to have serious health problems, such as cancer or heart disease.

For more on how keeping active contributes to the quality of life, see our blog The 6 keys to a longer and healthier life.

If you are interested in finding ways to keep working – either paid or as a volunteer – see the AfterWorkNet webpage on Opportunities.

There’s also help through the Rest Less initiative – the research sponsors. This helps retired people find a part time role and those over 50 change career.

They also list thousands of jobs from age-friendly employers including –

Metro Bank, looking for those with flexible hours to deliver their commitment to 7 days a week walk-in banking.

After-school nannies, an initiative of Koru Kids making it easier and more affordable for families to enjoy high quality childcare.

Now Teach, which creates a route for those with decades of experience to become teachers.

Financial Coaching, provided by Hatch and helping people manage their money more effectively.

A final warning

Beneath these new statistics on the multitude now working longer lurks is a very significant fact. It’s that men are twice as likely as women to be working in these later years.

Although the research doesn’t spell out why, it seems reasonable to make a simple and concerning assumption as to what’s going on.

The men are enjoying the benefits of ‘significance’ and ‘companionship’ that the workplace brings. Meanwhile, the women are most likely experiencing the very opposite – with their time taken up isolated and pressured delivering child care to their grandchildren.

We should not escape the stark difference that may be involved and the implications this has for the need to cherish the women involved.

What is your experience of working – full or part time, paid or voluntary – beyond the normal retirement date? Please share it here or with our Facebook Group.

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He’s still working part time in his 70s, helping churches and resourcing inter-church initiatives. This is alongside enjoying his eight grandchildren, escaping to Spain and spending his kids’ inheritance.

Want to make most of your transition to retirement? Here’s the 4 must-dos.

The biggest life-transition you will face, other than marriage, is probably retirement – with its huge psychological, emotional and practical challenges. But there’s no guarantee this will happen to your greatest potential.

Indeed, this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity offers possibilities for personal growth; through learning, retraining, sharing your life-skills and using them, travelling and friendship. Yet, like many others, you may struggle to adjust.

And there’s a reason.

When it comes to marriage – that other major life transition – there’s plenty of books, or preparation classes to help people make the best fist of it. But there’s much less on hand for those making the huge step to life after full time work.

So roll out the red carpet for an excellent resource on exactly that agenda. It’s a new five-star-rated book by Celia Dodd – Not Fade Away: How to Thrive in Retirement

It’s full of wise insight and practical advice, with Celia Dodd understanding fully why many find retirement surprisingly hard. ‘Part of the problem’, she said in an article for Mail on Line, ‘is the image of retirement feels out of sync in a world that places a high premium on being purposeful and busy – and where being stressed out is not only the norm, but a marker of success.

That means, for those heading for retirement, or already in that ‘promised land’, a new way of thinking is needed. To help people navigate it, Celia blends her own insights with that of experts in their fields.

For Celia that means 4 essential things at least and all set out in detail in her book. They are –

  1. Make the change at the best time and in best way.
  2. For past generations, the age of retirement was mostly set in stone. Now, due to new legislation, we are free to ‘carry on till we drop’. However, as Celia points out, this means retirement today offers a wide range of possibilities – from hitting the buffers to a gradual slowdown and everything in between.

    Celia notes the increasing popularity of ‘a mixture of part-time work, paid or unpaid consultancy and volunteering — which hopefully leaves time to have fun, too.’

    However, she believes some of the best retirement decisions are not entirely rational, saying, ‘With years of experience, we’re in a good position to trust our instincts.’

  3. Make plans in advance
  4. At a time of huge change, having a clear and realistic vision of what you want to get out of the next few years helps you be in control. And that involves nailing down expectations that include your health, relationships, leisure, well-being, voluntary work, possessions and more.

    This could be by shelling out for one of the ‘planning for retirement’ courses. Or taking a ‘do it yourself’ approach involving serious and focused conversations with those most impacted by what is going to happen next.

    Specific ideas are more useful than vague ambitions’, stresses Celia. Her challenge is to be clear as to where you’ll spend most of your time and what you’ll be doing, Who you’ll spend most time with and what new experiences are waiting for you.

  5. Manage the transition process
  6. In her book, Celia quotes the latest research which suggests the best way to cope is not to treat retirement as the end of the road. But as a transition on an equal standing to with leaving home or facing up experiencing an ‘empty nest’.

    This need not be overwhelming she stresses. Because, by this time of life, we should have learned lessons from past transitions. In her Mail on Line piece Celia quotes psychology lecturer Dr Oliver Robinson who says, ‘Many of the same issues come up in major life crises, such as identity, meaning, purpose. If you navigate through a crisis successfully and grow out of it, it should mean you’re well prepared for the next one.

  7. Create a new ‘you’
  8. For years you’ll have been defined by your role – book keeper, banker, builder, nurse, or whatever. With retirement, none of that fits. Gone is your role identity and the self-esteem and status that went with it.

    As someone Celia quotes in her book says, ‘Everything you’ve built up throughout your career disappears, and suddenly you’re just another old lady looking to do a bit of volunteering.’

    All of which means that finding a new and meaningful role and identity is key to keeping a smile on your retirement face. Celia even recommends that some need to start working on this well before the P45 is in their hands.

    As she says, ‘Playing in a band, taking an evening class, working on an allotment, being a member of a sports club or a book group can all form bridges between the old you and the new you.’

To be honest, what you’ve read here only skims the surface of a valuable book that runs to almost 300 pages. It’s wise advice for anyone determined to not fade away.

Celia Dodd’s book Not Fade Away: How to Thrive in Retirement is published by Green Tree at £12.99.

For more on the way the move from full-time employment can impact us see the AfterWorkNet website on Status.

What advice would you give to someone heading for the end of full-time work? Do share it here or with our Facebook group.

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He uses his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his eight grandchildren, escape to Spain and to spend his kids’ inheritance.

The happiest of all? Those aged 65 to 79. Here’s the surprising facts – and how to be even happier.

If you are between 65 and 79 then the words of the late Ken Dodd hit the nail on the head –

Happiness, happiness, the greatest gift that I possess
I thank the Lord that I’ve been blessed
With more than my share of happiness

Why? Because, as someone in that 65 to 79 age bracket, you truly do have more than your share of happiness. Its official – confirmed by a robust study from the Office for National Statistics.

The survey assed happiness for a sample of 300,000 people between 2012 and 2015, under four headings –

  • How satisfied they were with life
  • How worthwhile they felt their lives to be
  • How happy they felt
  • How anxious they were

Revealingly, in every one of these categories, the 65’s to 79s are streets ahead of every other age group with one very, very, small exception. This is what the research tells us –

Life satisfaction: This peaks between 65 and 79 with them being 400 per cent more satisfied with life than those in their mid-50s. The only other age group to match this – which is the very small exception – is those in their carefree teenage years. So there’s every reason for ‘oldies’ to be young at heart.

Life being worthwhile: It’s the same story here – with the 65s to 79s being almost a fifth more likely to feel life is worthwhile than those struggling through their mid-50s.

However – to flash a warning – the ‘life is worthwhile’ feeling nosedives for those 90 and older. Yet, even then, those 90+ reported greater life satisfaction and happiness than those in their middle years.

Life being happy: Once again it’s much the story. Those 65 to 79 see themselves as 300 per cent more happy than the miserable mid-50s.

Life creating anxiety: On this front too, the 65s to 69s feel half as anxious as those in their mid-50s.

Taking it all together, the average ratings for life satisfaction, a sense your life is worthwhile, and how happy you are, skyrockets in the 65 to 79 years. Of course, this is not true for everyone. That’s not how surveys work. But it is generally true of the UK population as a whole.

And there’s more. When the research was broken down in more detail, some interesting things popped up including –

  • Married people had the highest levels of happiness – higher than those co-habiting, single, widowed or divorced.
  • Those with jobs were happier – with part-time workers the happiest.
  • Northern Ireland was the happiest of the UK’s nations. But the most anxious and least happy people were in England, with the North East the unhappiest region.

So if you are between 65 and 79, married, with a part time job and living in Northern Ireland you must be an absolute bundle of fun.

But perhaps there’s a way for the rest of us to catch up. Because it’s possible to make ourselves happier. That’s according to global studies collated by Rotterdam’s World Happiness Database.

These studies show the strongest correlation with happiness is to lead an active life. As the project’s director Prof Ruut Veenhoven says, ‘In order to lead a happy life, a rewarding life, you need to be active.’

The project has also identified what is likely to be true of those who are happier than others. This reveals you tend to be happier if you –

  • Are in a long-term relationship
  • Are actively engaged in politics
  • Are active in work and in your free time
  • Go out for dinner
  • Have close friendships – though happiness doesn’t increase with the number you have
  • Are not too fixed on having goals

So if you are in the 65 to 79 bracket, be happy that you are happier than most. Be thankful for what is also true that can add to it. And think seriously about giving it a turbo boost by keeping active, building friendships and increasing your social relationships.

Oh, and raise a glass or two in memory of Ken Dodd who seems to have known some of this all along.

Looking to boost your happiness by being more active? See the AfterWorkNet web pages on New Opportunities and our blog on keeping active.

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He uses his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his eight grandchildren, escape to Spain and to spend his kids’ inheritance.

Getting older is not to be laughed at. It’s time to fight back at the prejudice involved.

How did I miss it? How did I get sucked in to happily regard those growing older as the subject for mirth at their expense?

After all, I joined the rush to end racist and sexist stereotypes. Off limits now are blonds, the Irish, mothers in law and more. Yet meanwhile it’s still fine for those in their later years to be mocked for being so.

Lines like ‘Jim was so old he’d signed up to Twitter to leave short, grumpy messages for people he didn’t like’. Funny on the surface. But all part of creating a negative image of those who are older.

But being the target for humour is a small part of a much bigger picture. It’s far from the only way those of advancing years are marginalised or demeaned.

Pointing to the constant stream of ageist advertising and workplace attitudes, author Marc Middleton, a champion of the US Growing Bolder movement says, ‘We have been programmed to believe that, beyond a certain age and by design, we lose strength, power, intellect and passion. But none of these things have nothing to do with age.’

Does this ageism matter? Oh yes! There are two distinct ways in which all this is ‘not funny’. Not funny at all.

First, ageism shapes the way society values – or not – those who are older.

My wake up call to this serious issue came from author Louise Morse in her important new book, What’s Age Got To Do With It (BRF). Here Louise does more than identify the evil of discrimination simply because someone is old. She also champions the need to restore and champion ‘elder hood’.

Elderhood, Louise explains, is one step up from adulthood. It is a season richer, more meaningful and with something distinct and positive to contribute. A time of ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’.

More than that, Louise challenges us to see the richness of God’s plan for those in their later years. As she puts it, ‘God has created a human lifecycle that the longer people live the more they learn and the more wisdom they gather. Living to old age creates the qualities that God intends to benefit the rest of society.’

Yet that’s not how we, the ‘older ones’, are seen or treated – with ageist ‘humour’ contributing to the misconception. And with prejudice and discrimination fanning the flames.

Second, ageism reduces our own view as to our value and ability to contribute.

Whatever our age, what we believe about ourselves impacts what we will do and achieve. If the noise in our ears keeps telling us we are ‘beyond it’, need to be ‘put out to pasture’, are over the ‘hill then’, and ‘past our ‘sell by date’ then that’s how we are most likely to behave.

We start to settle for the slippers, blanket, fireside and Werther’s Originals despite there being much more life to be lived.

When it comes to apportioning blame for the way things are, we need to take it on the chin. That’s because we have colluded in letting insipid ageism run rampant. We’ve bought the greetings cards, laughed at the jokes, sat on our hands, and held our tongues when we should have done none of those things.

What should we do?

Here are the top three ways I want to try to live by from now on and which I recommend to you –

Stand tall and refuse to believe the lie: Think how much more you know, how much more wisdom you have gathered and how your character has matured, since you were half your present age.

And, therefore, think how much more of those vital commodities – knowledge, wisdom and maturity – you have than those half you age at this very moment.

Added to this, take note of what you are contributing. To quote Louise again, those like you are ‘helping support their adult children, contributing to their communities and boosting the national Exchequer by billions of pounds each year. And many charities would collapse without their voluntary work – itself worth billions a year.’

So as you move from adulthood to elderhood, make a commitment to do so with a mind-set that says, ‘I’ve much to offer and they are lucky to have me!’

Refuse to play by ‘their’ rules: That means no longer laughing at jokes made at the expense of those in their later years – or, at least, trying hard not to. And no longer sending your peers birthday cards with negative messages like ‘I’m not saying you are old but you are starting to smell of wee’ – no matter how funny.

Even better, be subversive – launch a range of greetings cards with positive messages about the glory and value of the later years. If ever there was a gap in the market, this is a big one.

Speak out: It’s not easy to confront the unthinking words of others. But a quiet word in season may be called for. Those made in God’s image, and for whom he has plans, deserve to be defended.

Easier is to respond to media gatekeepers – praising examples of the positive portrayal of those who are older. And identifying when the opposite happens.

And in case you should think this is all rather trivial, from someone with a shallow sense of humour who needs to get a life, please think again. The widespread and sinister practice of ageism damages the health and wellbeing of older people. This can be seen in the way –

  • Age is increasingly becoming the deciding factor as to whether cancer treatment is worth the money.
  • The UN has encouraged nations to prioritise health care in favour of the young.
  • Ageism has been shown to cause cardiovascular stress, lowered levels of self-efficacy and decreased productivity.
  • Research shows older adults with a negative attitude about ageing may live 7.5 years less than those with a positive attitude.

This is why growing older is not to be laughed at. And why it’s time to fight back.

If this issue seems important to you, please share this blog by using the links below.

Louise Morse’s book can be bought through sellers like Amazon and Eden or use this link.

Have you seen ageism, or been on the receiving end? Do you have ways of responding, or other suggestions? Please do share them here or on our Facebook group.

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He uses his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his eight grandchildren, escape to Spain and to spend his kids’ inheritance.

What does age have to do with Easter? More than you might think.

It’s easy to imagine, as the ‘young’ Jesus bursts from the tomb bringing in a vibrant new era, that Easter is all about the active and brave ‘young’. And that those in later years, looking for examples to follow, can only watch from the side-lines.

Time to think again.

First consider the story of that long beyond the age of childbearing couple; the priest Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth. They were there right at the beginning of Jesus’ life on earth – as the parents of John the Baptist.

For years they’d been faithfully trusting God – praying on in the face of the impossibility of ever having the child they longed for. In his later years, despite his disappointment, the elderly Zechariah is faithfully carrying duties in the temple.

Though ‘faithful’, Zechariah was not perfect. He failed to believe God’s promise of a son even though the message came from an angel appearing in the holy place where no one other than a priest should be.

But, when the time comes, the couple obediently call the new-born son John as instructed. I love how the couple’s neighbours try to get them to change their minds about the baby’s name. And that the Gospel writer describes the outcome of the whole story as ‘all the neighbours were filled with awe’. (Luke 1.65).

This grey-haired couple is such a great example to us of faithful and believing prayer, of pressing on despite failure, being obedient to what God says and engaging with their community – all of which contributed to an outstanding impact on those around them.

Yet the journey doesn’t stop there. Come the time the infant Jesus is ceremonially presented at the Temple it’s the elderly God sends as witnesses. One ‘ordained’ and one ‘lay’ – and both awake to God’s leading to be where he wanted them to be and say what he wanted others to hear.

First there’s Simeon, an ‘ordinary’ run-of-the-mill Jewish adult described as ‘faithful and devout’ and with the Holy Spirit on him. For decades he’d patiently waited for the Messiah that God had assured him he would see.

Next, there’s the eighty-four-year-old prophetess, Anna, fervent in her faith. Both she and Simeon are in the Temple at exactly the right time to assure the new parents that their son truly is the Special One.

Fast forward to the events of the first Easter. The women who first meet the risen Jesus and rush to the disciples brimming over with their story include Mary, Jesus’ mother. Simple mathematics tell us she would be at least fifty years old. And, with the life expectancy then for those surviving childhood being about fifty-five, that puts her among the elderly.

Those who then share the message from Jerusalem, to Judea, to Samaria, and the ends of the earth may have launched out in their middle age. But as years go by – and hair turned grey – they continued to preach, to pray, to mentor others, to trust God.

These world-changers were still making waves well into the years we reserve for retirement. And, if them, why not us?

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He uses his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his eight grandchildren, escape to Spain and to spend his kids’ inheritance.

Four reasons why today’s retirees may live longer. And four great ways to respond.

Have you’ve reached your ‘after-work’ years, or are heading towards them? Then you have something to especially celebrate.

More than any previous generation you are likely to be healthier, fitter, and have more years of life ahead of you.

Who or what do we thank for this? I suggest you should give a big hand to the top 4 –

  1. Medical science: The latest drugs and surgical procedures mean far more conditions – chronic and otherwise – can be managed or treated. Meanwhile, new approaches to heart disease have lengthened lives and improved their quality.
  2. Workplace changes: Changing employment patterns have brought less manual work – with its toll on bodies and health – longer holidays and better working conditions. Health and safety legislation, although it can be a pain sometimes, has also played its part.
  3. Health education: Campaigns flagging ‘low fat’, ‘watch your cholesterol’ and ‘eat five a day’, ‘take some exercise’, have been streaming at us for a decade or more. And have made an impact.
  4. Wiser living: We now know that smoking doesn’t promote health and a belly-buster fry up is not necessarily the best way to start the day.

To get a bigger picture of why you may enjoy a longer and healthier life see the AfterWorkNet web page here.

Making the most of it

These four reasons show why your life in retirement is likely to offer far more than it did for our parents’ generation. Not always or for everyone. But more likely.

So what are the opportunities this opens up? A few extra years of self-centred indulgence? Or something more fulfilling.

Here are what I think are four great ways to respond –

  1. Enjoy without guilt: This new season ought to be enjoyed and not endured. However, for the spiritually inclined, it can be that ‘guilty pleasure’ and ‘simple common or garden pleasure’ are one and the same thing.

    Is it really okay to have this much enjoyment when it doesn’t involve something overtly God-centred? Thoughts like this, rumbling deep down in someone’s subconscious, can rob them of the riches on offer.

    Which is why we need to relish St Paul’s words to the young Timothy, about the need to put our hope in God who ‘richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment’. (1 Timothy 6:17).

    Fun, relaxation and pleasure are all part of the riches of God’s creation – to be embraced without guilt. So enjoy.
  2. Pace yourself: For those who can enter their retirement years with a soft and gradual landing this might not be so much of an issue. But there’s an extra challenge for those who reach their after-work moment in the same way a train can hit the crash barriers.

    For them it may be wise to see this new season as a series of mini-seasons. These could include an initial breather to enjoy the change. Then a period to ease into the new era. Next a ‘go for it’ season, to make the most of the time and health at hand. Then the slowing down as ‘young old’ becomes ‘old old’.
  3. Make a plan: These are precious years that deserve some thought as to what they can deliver and with a plan to make it so. And one of the great dangers of moving into an unstructured and ‘every day is a Saturday’ era is time can just slip by.

    Setting priorities, and defining what is hoped to be experienced and achieved, may not be the first thing to do. But it ought to be done at some point after settling in to life after work.

    No two plans will be the same. No two bucket lists will be identical. But do make sure you have yours – with some things you’d like to look back on in a few years’ time with gratitude and satisfaction.
  4. Explore opportunities: Unlike past generations, there’s the opportunity try new things, develop new interests and skills, and have new experiences. These can be for your own enrichment or for the good of others. Or, ideally, both.

    To explore 10 interesting and varied options, see the AfterWorkNet web page New Challenges.
  5. Keep God’s kingdom in focus: As the curtain goes up, and you become an ‘actor’ in the great drama of retirement, the prompters words from the wings are likely to be ‘this is your time now’, and ‘you are worth it’.

    But there’s a need to be listening to another voice. The one that we hope will one day say ‘Well done my good and faithful servant’.

    There may be a host of factors – medical and otherwise – that have ushered in a longer and heathier life. But ultimately, every year – indeed, every breath – is a gift from the God who made us and loves us.

    Whatever your plans, don’t miss the opportunity to line them up with being an answer to that prayer you so often pray, ‘Your kingdom come’.

    To explore what that means, explore the AfterWorkNet web pages under Serving.

Peter Meadows

What do you do for fun? Share it here or with the AfterWorkNet Facebook group.

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He’s using his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his eight grandchildren, escape to Spain and to spend his kids’ inheritance.

Your life-skills and experience. Here’s how not to waste them in your active retirement.

Do you remember the story Jesus told – about a servant who buried what had been trusted to him? And how his master reacted? How might that play out, I wonder, if applied to our time in active retirement?

Just think, for a moment, of the ‘talents’ you’ve accumulated during your many working years. Most likely they represent a treasure trove of valuable skills, knowledge and experience.

It was what kept you afloat back then. But what about ‘now’? Because the call to be faithful stewards of the talents we have doesn’t end with our last pay cheque.

Of course, not everything gained in your years of work may be directly relevant to serving God now. You might even be crying out for a change from what used to fill your days.

But that still leaves the challenge of ‘stewardship’ and what you have the opportunity to do with who what’s ‘in your hands’.

Brush yourself down and talk yourself up

It’s possible you are not even aware of the workplace skills and life experience that could so enrich your church.

So, with that story from Jesus in your mind, think of what you have brought from your working life into your retirement. Might it match any of these examples –

Customer service skills     Personnel management     Maintenance/building knowledge
Marketing     Team building and coaching     Research     Negotiation     Strategic planning
Commercial writing     IT and social media     Change management     Budgeting     Making things happen     Communication and presentations     Managing people     Conflict resolution Mentoring     Fundraising     Etc, etc, etc

But now what? You’ve identified your ‘talent’, but getting it used in the context of your church may not be that easy.

Help church leaders understand

Sometimes it can be hard work to help church leaders understand the way ‘non-spiritual’ gifts can be used to build up a church. Sometimes they may even feel threatened by the workplace skills and experience others have accumulated.

On the positive side, those who lead churches do tend to understand their church needs to use the spiritual gifts of all their members. But when it comes to engaging the practical skills, insights and expertise of those actively retired it can be a different story.

They are likely to see what ex-accountants can do as having a role. And then consider everyone else suitable for committees or rotas. Because of this you may well need to take action by –

  • Sharing with them the content on our web page What Church Leaders Should Know
  • Pointing out, in a one-to-one, the skills and knowledge you have, together with an example of where it could be used.
  • Being proactive and offering to contribute to an area of church life that would be enriched by using your workplace skills and experience.
  • Setting the pace by encouraging them to initiate a ‘Skills Directory’ or something similar. This involves those with time available – so not restricted to retired people – to identify the skills they could offer.

Walk humbly

Just a word of caution. Using what you have gathered in your past life in the context of your church can lead to ‘I know and you don’t’.

That may well be true – especially if you’ve had sound experience in commerce and your church leader did not much before ‘vicar school’. But the attitude behind it, and the way it is communicated, can do damage unless humility and a servant attitude are at its heart.

So keep the words of St Paul to the church in Ephesus in mind- ‘Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love’.

Remember too, that being a church leader is rather like herding cats. And may be being done by those lacking the same experience from the wider world as you. So cut them some slack.

At the same time, it is our talents that God has placed in our hands and our responsibility and opportunity to use them.

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He uses his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his eight grandchildren, escape to Spain and to spend his kids’ inheritance.

Do you have an experience of using your workplace skills to serve your church? Please share them here or with our Facebook group.

How come everyone is interested in the Saga generation – except the churches?

‘No church in Britain is specifically seeking to reach the retired and active generation.’ That’s the conviction of Church Army captain Chris Harrington – whose Grove booklet Reaching the Saga Generation is a must-read.

As Chris highlights, when churches reach out to older people the focus is almost always on those born before the last World War.

They do so by running everything from a Holiday at Home, to a regular drop-in coffee morning, to visiting those in residential care or nursing homes.

All good stuff. But it doesn’t touch those of a very different generation who are also no longer working fulltime, often dubbed the Saga Generation. Those brought up on Elvis rather than Doris Day. Who jived not quick-stepped. Who wore denim – and still do!  Who by no means regard themselves as ‘old’.

Some of the ways they are distinctly different from their older counterparts, Chris stresses, are –

  • They were the first ‘teenagers’ and have lived through the free-thinking era of the new pop-culture
  • They do not trust governments, multinationals, institutions or authority figures
  • They dislike being patronized, dictated to or treated condescendingly
  • They demand honesty, consistency, reliability, quality, value for money and good service.

What’s more, this segment of our society represents a huge sector of the population.

Official figures point to there being approaching 9 million people in the active retirement band, aged between 65 and 79. That’s almost three times as many as those in the ‘old-old’ band of 80 and above. Yet think where churches put their focus and what they are missing.

What an opportunity there is for churches to treat this Baby Boomer age-group in the same way they do for other age and interest groups – with events, services and programmes crafted for them. Maybe not every week. But sometimes. Or, at least, to run small groups and events that can embrace un-churched actively retired people.

Could it happen? Is it happening?

The Church of England’s report Mission Shaped Church (2004) encouraged fresh expressions of church for the vast numbers who are either un-churched or de-churched. Now, Chris Harrington and others are exploring what that could mean for what he calls Saga Church – those who’ve reached retirement age with years of opportunity ahead of them.

However, any response must relate to them as they are and not as they’re imagined to be. When reaching out to those retired and active Chris offers a check list to keep in mind. It involves the need to –

  • De-emphasise membership – Boomers are not ‘joiners’ but will attend for the experience
  • Accommodate their desire for experiences – Boomers are not passive ‘you talk and I’ll listen’ people
  • Emphasis ‘how to’ messages – Boomers are interested in what works and how to make it work for them
  • Recognise the need for equality in leadership, authority and responsibility – Boomers resist hierarchy
  • Accept and celebrate the contribution of singles – there’s likely to be a greater percentage of them than any other adult segment of your community
  • Respond to the relatively high level of dysfunctionality and emotional pain – there may be smiles on the outside but also a lot of pain and struggle behind the masks
  • Give prominence to innovation, diversity and options – Boomers resist one-size-fits-all approaches.
  • Encourage discussion and not dogma – they want to be spoken with and listened to, not talked at

What could be done?

In his book Chris has helpful examples of what events might be like. It also stresses there are other ways – and possibly better ways – than church services to engage with un-churched afterworkers. These include –

  • A ‘seeker service’ a la Willow Creek – with everything focused on the needs and interests of the visitor
  • A film and faith group – using a current film as a spring board for conversation
  • A book club – based on secular novels with spiritual themes
  • Rambling groups, retreats and pilgrimages – with moments for reflection

How come this isn’t happening already? My sense is we’ve sleepwalked into this situation. This new ‘actively retired’ group has gradually emerged as a new phenomenon. The travel industry spotted it – and now caters for 25 million people on cruises world-wide each year.

But now is the time – a time well overdue – for the churches to wake up too.

To explore this issue more, do read Chris Harrington’s book Reaching the Saga Generation, (Grove Books).

What insights or questions do you have about reaching those retired and active? Please share them here or on the AfterWorkNet Facebook community

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He’s using his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his eight grandchildren, escape to Spain and to spend his kids’ inheritance.


Retirement is hardest for a certain kind of person. Is this you? If so here’s 9 ways to flourish.

Old senior business man happy working in office

For some people, the years following full-time work fit like a glove. Yet others really struggle in their new skin. And the difference can have a lot to do with the way they’re made.

Those who are finding it hardest to adjust are what psychologists label Type A personality people. Unlike easy-going Type Bs, they are driven, competitive, organised, concerned to make things happen, ambitious, and desperate to use their time well.

Type As are easy to spot in the workplace – taking charge, aiming for perfection and getting wound up by the incompetence of others.

Of course, there are degrees to which this description is true. Not all Type Bs are so relaxed they’re horizontal. And not all Type As want to rule the world. But – and here’s the bad news –

Those with a tendency towards a Type A temperament face the greatest challenge in retirement.

Why? Because, when Type A people move on from fulltime work, the way they prefer to do life doesn’t change. And that can make for a very bad and highly frustrating fit for them and those around them.

On the personal front, retirement for a Type A means they’re now living in a world offering little challenge, responsibility or opportunity to ‘deliver’. That can result in feeling lost and abandoned due to the lack of a big reason to get up in the morning, a structure to their day and having responsibility on their shoulders.

This can show up as anything from a major attack of the grumps to frustration and even emotional illness. What’s more, Type As can be bad news for those close to them – particularly their spouses who may end up being treated as a surrogate employee.

I heard of one woman whose Type A husband was now demanding she folded the towels differently. He’d never cared about it for the past 50 years and this was not going to work!

So, if you’re a Type A personality what can you do to make your retirement years fulfilling rather than frustrating? Here are 9 positive actions to take.

  1. Build a new network: Social interaction and stimulation might be one of your biggest losses when exiting the workplace. Make sure the gap gets filled. Find stimulating, like-minded people to spend time with
  2. Identify new goals and challenges: Most Type A people have worked in settings where they thrived on having goals and achieving targets and matching performance metrics. If no longer having them leaves a hole then create new ones that fit into your new life.

    Perhaps it’s how far you’ll get down your domestic to-do list, how often you take a walk, the rate of progress in some new skill. For a mass of ideas regarding new challenges to face see the AfterWorkNet webpages on New Opportunities.
  3. Get out often. Fight boredom by doing things to burn off energy and reduce your stress levels. This is going to take more than endless rounds of golf.
  4. Volunteer: Countless worthwhile opportunities await your skills, experience and desire to make a difference in the lives of others. It may take some adjustment if you were once a top dog and now find yourself a small fish.

    Indeed, with that in mind, look for an opportunity that takes account of your Type A qualities. To consider the options and for wise advice see the AfterWorkNet webpages on Serving.
  5. Work at changing your behaviour: The fact is you will always be a Type A personality, but you can at least recognise what this means and try to make adjustments.

    Could you, for example, try to be more patient and less demanding? Could you try to take a back seat in the new circles you become part of rather than defaulting to an ‘I’ll do it’ approach?
  6. Be less time-driven: For someone used to having life dictated to by a schedule of appointments and meetings that can be a shock. Although time will always be precious for you, now it can be used differently. It’s no longer about how much you can cram in to the hours available.

    By all means put structure into your day. But give yourself permission to be more spontaneous and flexible. You could even write ‘time to chill’ in your day-planner and treat it as an appointment that has to be kept.
  7. Learn something new. Everyone who retires will benefit from learning a new skill or developing an old one. But this is especially important for Type A people. Studying, going to classes, joining an interest group, completing tasks and assignments, all have a positive role to play in making life more satisfying.
  8. See retirement as having a new job: You could even write yourself a job description – perhaps with a vision and mission statement. Define in words a role that has joy, relaxation, renewal, discovery and service. Then make plans to do it.
  9. Back pedal your competitiveness: A classic Type A person plays tiddlywinks with a four year old and cheats to win! When in competitive situations try to modify your behaviour by putting less emphasis on the score and outcome and more on simply enjoying the company.

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. Most definitely a Type A, he’s using his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his eight grandchildren, escape to Spain and to spend his kids’ inheritance.

Heading for the end of full-time work? You need the Ten Planning Commandments for Retirement.

Is retirement heading your way? If so, it’s far too big a transition to drift into. And, if that’s what you’ve already done, now’s the time to play catch up.

The way you normally ‘do life’ will impact the extent to which you’ll be ready in good time. If you’re a ‘lists’ person – who shops for Christmas at Easter – it will come naturally.

But, if you’re more of an ‘I’ll worry when it happens’ type, you’ll need what you are about to read more than most. So, whatever your style, here’s wisdom inspired by David Winter’s book The Highway Code for Retirement (CWR). In it he offers –

Ten Planning Commandments for Retirement

  1. Plan for it
  2. Check your pensions
  3. Thank about a part-time job or retraining
  4. Consider a pre-retirement course
  5. Consider the lifestyle in retirement that’s right for you and your loved ones – keeping in mind what God may have in store
  6. List those things to avoid
  7. Fight mental and spiritual rust
  8. Plan for the transition
  9. Consider a Gap Year or time out
  10. Use the final months of work to wind down rather than get wound up

That’s the bones. Now let’s add some flesh using David Winter’s thoughts from his book mixed with some of my own. And in no particular order.

With retirement on the way, make sure you –

Define the kind of life you seek: Ideally, make a written list of what would you love to achieve or experience. Learn a language, see the Northern Lights, take up a new hobby, explore your family history, or more?

This should include considering what God might have in mind for you. And this might involve using your time and talents in the service of others. Indeed, there are many voluntary roles crying out to be filled by those in their afterwork years.

The God-dimension could also encompass using your newly-released time for the kind of prayer, reflection and even theological study not possible in your past. Or see you pitching in on some short term church project.

What goes on your list may come readily to your mind. But for inspiration, look at the AfterWorkNet web pages on New Opportunities.

Identify the things to avoid: You are not the only one with plans for your retirement. In the wings will be those ready to ask you to run things and do things – from clubs to courses to rotas and more.

Some might fit your bill perfectly. However, saying ‘yes’ to one thing could mean having to say ‘no’ to something else. And that ‘something else’ may be on your treasured to-do list. Which means it’s wise, ahead of time, to set your priorities.

Plan to keep your mind active: As they say, ‘if you don’t use it you lose it’. So include a commitment to keeping the grey matter from freezing. There’s big stuff – like joining a chess or bridge club. And smaller stuff like doing a daily crossword, playing Scrabble against the iPad app, or reading a serious newspaper.

Take account of the reality: Leaving full-time work can be like a bereavement. And it’s as well to be aware of the emotional impact that may come your way. In particular, consider the issues of –

Loss of status – when the pass to the company door is no longer valid, and there is no one for you to give instructions to or take them from.

Stress – due to change of circumstances and leading to many finding themselves unwell either physically or emotionally.

Consider a Gap Year: Your kids may well have had a ‘year out’ between school and university eras. So what about a similar approach for those between the years of ‘work’ and ‘afterwork’?

There could be no better opportunity to take on a short term community project – including one overseas. To explore what this could mean see Serving.

Check where the money will come from: Hopefully you have not left the need to provide for your afterwork years until the last moment. But either way, it’s important to have everything in order for the sake of others as well as yourself.

For insight on getting it right check out Money.

Get the best help you can: It’s possible your employer will run or fund a Pre-retirement Course – covering the emotional, physiological and practical implications of retirement. If so, grab it. If not, ask them to arrange one.

Alternately, check out what’s available through organisations like LaterLife. As a result you’ll tap into specialist and wise advice that has already been the help to many.

Coming your way is the opportunity – and responsibility – to invest some precious years wisely. Plan now and enjoy the adventure when it comes.

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He uses his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his eight grandchildren, escape to Spain and to spend his kids’ inheritance.

Don’t fall for this ‘best before’ nonsense – about food or yourself.

Recently there’s been an outcry over how much food is wasted because of the unrealistic ‘best before’ labels on its packaging. Mountains of good food is being needlessly dumped – costing the UK some £600 million per year.

Scandalous. But so is another kind of waste that’s also down to unrealistic ‘best before’ labelling. It’s all about the equally false notion that people of a certain age are no longer fresh and valuable enough to have anything to offer.

This faulty labelling is also inflicting cost – in terms of missed opportunities, experiences, richness of life, contributions to society and more. So if we are to kill off ‘best-before’ on food, which is a plan of the government, let’s kill it off for people too.

Does such a label on people really exist? Indeed it does.

Mainly it’s down to how the past shapes our expectations of the present. Once, most people ending full time work expected little more than to hang around in God’s waiting room.

But today most come to their afterwork season with years of potential ahead, in better health than those in the past, and with a lifetime of experience to invest.

Yet the past keeps whispering in our ears. As a result, instead of feeling exhilarated about the bonus years, society – and ourselves – have the underlying fear that ‘age’ is not our friend. The risk is to settle rather than pioneer. To play safe rather than explore and discover.

A valuable response to this kind of thinking can be found in a new and insightful book by the Scottish-born journalist Carl Honore – Bolder: Making The Most Of Our Longer Lives. Its content can be neatly summed up as –

‘A call for society to become less ageist and for individuals to stop worrying about the process of ageing and wring every drop out of whatever time is allotted to us.’

In his book Carl highlights how much society would have missed if those like Michelangelo, Verdi and Frank Lloyd Wright had all removed themselves from the refrigerator of life on the date society expected.

That’s because, among the many other late achievers, as Carl points out – ‘Michelangelo finished painting the frescoes in the Pauline chapel at the age of 74; Verdi premiered his finest comic opera, Falstaff, at 79; architect Frank Lloyd Wright was 91 when he finished the Guggenheim Museum in New York. And Kant and Cato produced their finest philosophical work in old age.’

Yet today, Carl reminds us, if a young or middle-aged person forgets where they left something it is of no significance. But if it’s an older person then the assumption is ‘his memory is going’.

To rub it in, Carl notes, ‘since the Brexit referendum, some commentators have even suggested stripping the over-65s of the vote.’ That’s what some would wish to do with perfectly usable goods!

Okay, we’re not all Michelangelos or Frank Lloyd Wrights. But that’s no reason to get sucked into the lie that ‘you’re too old to be of any real use’. Indeed, as the first generation of the ‘young old’ it’s up to us to pioneer the way for those coming up behind us.

How can we do that? Carl Honore’s highly-readable book has a lot of practical advice. To pick out just three examples –

  1. Make the most of who you are: To quote Carl, ‘Stay physically active. Eat a healthy diet. Drink alcohol in moderation and don’t smoke. Form strong social bonds. Have a purpose in life that gets you up in the morning. Be less materialistic. Laugh a lot’.
    So nothing hard there then. And for some instant areas to explore see the AfterWorkNet web pages at Health and Fitness.
  2. Mix across generations: Don’t just engage in social connections within your own age group. Instead, keep tabs with those both younger and older. True, inter-generational contact may not be easy but it has benefits for us and society.
  3. Keep on learning: For sure, it’s harder to learn new things with the passing of the years. But, to quote Carl again, ‘The chief obstacle to learning in later life is not the ageing brain. It is the ageist stereotypes that erode our confidence and put us off trying new things’.

And to make his point, Carl reminds us Marie Curie learned to swim in her 50s, Tolstoy to ride a bicycle in his 60s and Jens Skou, a Nobel Laureate in chemistry, mastered computer programming in his 70s.

So don’t go claiming that learning the ukulele is beyond you – or anything comparable come to that. And for a large bundle of inspiration check out our webpages on New Opportunities.

To get the big picture do read Carl Honore’s book Bolder: Making The Most Of Our Longer Lives published by Simon & Schuster.

And from now on, each time you check those ‘best by’ dates, take them with a pinch of salt. And treat the way others may feel about your age in the same way. Remember, there’s lots of shelf-life left in you yet.

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He uses his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his eight grandchildren, escape to Spain and to spend his kids’ inheritance.

Busier than ever? Here’s all you need to know about saying ‘no’.

An older woman writes a day plan on a calendar. Next to it is a cup of tea. Business concept. Close up.

It’s probably the thing I’ve most heard from those no longer in full-time paid employment – ‘I’ve never been so busy’. But it is seldom said with relish and joy.

What’s going on? Why are so many of us saying ‘yes’ to demands on our time when the opposite is what we really have in mind? And what can we do about it?

Here come my six rules to help you say ‘no’ and the four big reasons why it’s so hard to do so.

Six simple rules to help you say ‘no’

A fresh request for your time or help can come in one of three different ways. So be on the lookout for the ‘ask’ the ‘nag’ and the ‘ambush. The ‘ask’ is simply a ‘please’. The ‘nag’ is a ‘please, please, please’, and the ambush is when you are totally distracted and they sneak it in while off guard.

Parents go through this with their children. It can also happen to us in our adult afterwork life – from family, friends, church and more. Which is why you need to be clear, no matter how the request comes, that –

  1. You have a life to live too: This means you have as much right to say ‘no’ as they have to ask. You are under no obligation. And that even extends to caring for grandchildren. Love them though you do, you did not choose to have them and have every right to make your own decisions about them.
  2. It’s okay to ask for time to think it over. If the delivery of an outright ‘no’ seems too much, take the heat out of the situation. Try a response something like ‘I don’t think that’s going to be possible but let me check and get back to you’.
  3. Offer a trial run. Sometimes a request for a seemingly never-ending commitment can leave you unsure – with a ‘no’ being too definite and a ‘yes’ the same. So, reply along the lines of ‘Can we give it a try for a few weeks and then review it on both our sides?’.
  4. Never fudge. If you know the answer should be ‘no’, have the courage to say so for the sake of all concerned. You don’t have to justify your decision and the more you try to the deeper entrenched you’ll get. All that’s needed is an ‘I’m sorry but much as I’d like to that’s not going to be possible’.
  5. Having said ‘no’, leave the area. When you deliver your answer then either change the subject or move away – fast. The longer the ask is part of the conversation the more confusing it is for both of you and more likely you’ll recant.
  6. Offer a compromise. Perhaps you can’t go the whole hog but could still do something and would wish to do so. Then try ‘Sorry, that’s not possible. But what I could do is . . . . ‘. However, be sure that’s really what you want to do.

Why is it so hard to say ‘no’?

Having read the above you may already be saying ‘if only’ it was that easy. I understand. There are solid reasons why saying ‘no’ can be daunting – and here are some of them.

We fear the reaction of the other person. By saying ‘no’, will the other person like us less or even feel we don’t like them? Will we come over as selfish, thoughtless or unkind? There’s no reason for any of this to be true. Saying ‘no’ is only refusing a request and nothing more.

We wrongly believe our value is in what we do. That could have been how it was in the past – in our workplace, whatever that may have been. And it’s easy to carry such wrong thinking into our new afterwork era.

Much of our busyness – and failure to say ‘no’ – can stem from a subconscious need to feel loved and valued. In the new ‘free-grazing’ world of afterwork this can be even more so. And that can have the outcome of us trying to fill the gaps by saying ‘yes’ too often.

That is why we need to discover a greater confidence we are cherished and appreciated by God and others. This would deliver us from the pressing need to ‘do’ in order to gain approval.

We fail to recognise saying ‘yes’ to ‘this’ means saying ‘no’ to ‘that’. Time does not expand to accommodate each new commitment we make. If only! But it’s a reality we too often deny – like good old King Canute trying to hold back the waves.

Each day remains twenty-four hours long, no matter how many extra promises tumble from our well-meaning lips. Time is one of the most precious resources at our disposal and every new ‘yes’ can mean having to say ‘no’ to something else.

We have not nailed down what we will say ‘yes’ to. Think of it this way – shouldn’t Jesus have been the most overworked person to have walked the planet? So many were in desperate need of what only he could deliver. Yet he never seemed to canter or break out into a sweat.

How come? After all, think of Jesus making his way steadfastly to Jerusalem. It takes little imagination to reconstruct the possible words of his disciples walking the same road. ‘Master, there is a village close by where many need to be healed.’ ‘There is a distraught family, Master, where you could bring such a change.’

Yet Jesus kept going to Jerusalem. How was that possible? Because he knew what he had already said ‘yes’ to. And the clearer we are about our own ‘Jerusalem’ the freer we will be to say ‘no’.

What do you do that helps you say no? Please share it – here and on our Facebook page. We’d love to hear from you.


Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He uses his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his eight grandchildren, escape to Spain and to spend his kids’ inheritance.

It’s time to capture your memories – for you and for others. Here’s 7 great ways to do it.

One thing every retired person has is memories – lots of them. And they are a precious resource to be treasured and passed on.

As David Winter says in his book The Highway Code to Retirement, ‘Without leaving your armchair you can travel back through time, to childhood and schooldays. You can recall old friends and glorious holidays. Relive the excitement of your first love, the amazing miracle of the birth of children, fulfilling spiritual experienced, happy times with loved ones.’

David adds, ‘Sitting there you can capture afresh the laughter of children, the tears of parting, weddings, baptisms, parties, and special moments. And so much more.’

But such memories are not just precious to us, they are important to others too – especially our children and, perhaps even more to our grandchildren. There will be a time when they want to know more about their own past which is, of course, wrapped up in ours.

And part of the privilege of retirement is having the time that’s needed to record all this for others. And it’s not hard.

More than that, if it’s a collaborative process – especially if you have grandkids old enough to be involved – this can be a very enriching project.

So here are some things you could do –

1.Scrapbooks and albums.

 This may be the simplest way forward. Without doubt you’ll have a bunch of old photographs gathering dust. But what about adding copies of birth and marriage certificates, old passports, school records, your Blue Peter badge and anything else you can get your hands on?

Any hobby shop will have what you need to put this all into a collection.

However, be aware that physical photos can fade over time. And there will be only one copy for others to fight over when you are gone.

2.Put it on your computer.

It may be more of a challenge and take longer to put everything into a computer file – with all the scanning and such. But it will mean everyone can share in what you create, at any time, wherever they may be in the world, and for generations to come.

Your old photographs or videos are probably not in the format you need. But slides can be copied digitally if you buy (new, probably £50 to £75) or borrow a slide copier. And those old Super 8 videos can be made into computer files. To find out how, just Google ‘super 8 conversion to digital’.

If this all sounds like a step too far and way beyond your skill-set, here’s a great opportunity to ask grandchildren for help. They are likely to easily take the process in their stride.

3.Record your story.

Sit in front of a microphone and record your memories. A way to involve your children and grandchildren is to have them ask you the questions about the past they’d like to know about.

Or work through a check list like this one –

  • Where you were born
  • What you remember of your parents and grandparents
  • Your first school and what you were good at
  • Your first house, how it was heated, what your bedroom was like
  • Your hobbies when you were young
  • Your parents and relations
  • Your first friends
  • When you were most afraid
  • Your proudest achievement
  • How you met your partner
  • Your first job
  • Your faith journey
  • What’s been important to you
  • What you wish you’d known sooner
  • One piece of advice you would pass on

4.Write an autobiography.

It doesn’t have to get published but it will be a great activity for you and a treasure for those following in your footsteps. Google ‘how to write an autobiography’ and you’ll be surprised how much excellent help is out there for you.

5.Create a blog.

This may seem complex but it’s no more than a journal on the internet that others can access. You’ll find examples at

6.Research and document your family tree.

There are ‘how to do it’ guides that Google can point you to which will show how to access census records and more. There are also ‘you pay for it’ resources like or free sites like

7.Dig deeper through your DNA.

For a reasonable price you can send a swab from your mouth and have your ancestors revealed as to which part of the world they came from and be matched with distant relatives alive today.

A final word – be sure to save your memories while you still have them. They are a precious resource for you and those who will one day be as old as you are. And they will thank you for it.

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He uses his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his eight grandchildren, escape to Spain and to spend his kids’ inheritance. His DNA ancestor test was very surprising.

Have you an insight on recording your memories of family history? Please share them here or with our Facebook group.

Do something remarkable for others overseas in your retirement – using these 4 key steps. 

Travel may well be among your plans during your years of active retirement. But what about combining it with doing something amazing – for others and for you?

Indeed, there are more opportunities to make a ‘hands-on’ difference overseas than ever before. So if you envy the many young adults doing mission trips, now’s the time for yours.

Interested? Then here’s your 4 key steps to getting it right and probably the adventure of a lifetime.

1.Asses what you have to offer

Making a short-term impact overseas is not all about having the stamina to build a school. Far from it.

During your working life you’ll have gathered skills and experience that, almost certainly, match what is in need – either by doing it yourself or sharing what you know.

To help you identify what you have that would fit, there’s a wide range of assessment tools here.

2.Decide how much time you want to commit

Opportunities overseas often split into –

  • Short-term – less than 3 months: This might be visits with a team, a short placement at a project or alongside a mission worker
  • Medium term – 3-12 months: This includes gap-year type placements or opportunities that fit within a year, like teaching in an international school
  • Long term -1 year +: term: This tends to be for open-ended opportunities. This doesn’t mean staying for a long time but that the commitment isn’t limited and may include a return to the UK every year for a break.

3.Find the best fit for you

Want to serve in a Christian context? Then your first stop would be OSCAR. It’s a specialist clearing house and advice centre with everything you need.

Use their website to –

Search for opportunities that match your criteria. To comply with discrimination laws they can’t specify an age range. So assume they are all open to receiving enquiries from someone actively retired.

Compile a list of possibilities. Even if not everything matches, if there’s something that interests you about the organisation/opportunity, include them too.

Contact those on your list. Tell them about you. They will be able to see if they have something matching what you’re after.

Be open to discovery. You may be surprised to find organisations catching your interest due to something they do or where they work. Keep them in your picture too.

Find something you believe in. If you are investing your time and talents you need to fully believe in what it does and how it does it.

Apply. Eventually you’ll decide which ones to apply to. This process is also a time for helping you select the right one. This isn’t like a normal job application, you are both trying to assess what God may have in mind.

Tap into help. Once you’ve nailed this down, use OSCAR for everything else you need to sort out like travel, insurance, and health checks.

There are also opportunities through non-church sources such as –

  • VSO – with opportunities for those up to 75 and including short-term assignments.
  • HelpX – an online listing of opportunities for short-term work in exchange for food and accommodation. In a typical arrangement a helper works an average of 4 hours per day in exchange for free accommodation and meals.

4.Go as a servant

Don’t go as a rescuer – the hero or heroine ready to end the plight of ‘the poor native’. Rather, go to server those who are the true heroes and heroines– bravely battling against the odds to make life better for themselves and others.

Poor communities need the dignity of deciding and managing their own future – a future in which God is already at work. Joining in is a privilege that calls for humility and a servant attitude.

But what an opportunity and privilege. It could beat a cruise hands down every time. And to explore in more depth see our webpages on serving internationally.

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He uses his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his eight grandchildren, escape to Spain and to spend his kids’ inheritance.

Do you have any experience – good or bad – about volunteering overseas? Or some wisdom to share? Then do please comment here or on our Facebook.


If only church leaders grasped 5 vital truths about those retiring today

This is not a knock at church leaders. They are flat out doing all they can in challenging and demanding circumstances.

Rather, it’s a wakeup call. Because something significant has changed in society, and there’s a whole section of the congregations that could be missed.

While they’ve been flat out meeting the needs of children, youth, families, singles, and golden oldies, a new social segment has emerged. It’s those now sometimes called the ‘young old’ – they’re no longer working fulltime but definitely still up for living life to the full.

This has huge implications for churches and their leaders. In particular, there’s a need to take account of these 5 vital truths:

1. Those retiring today are not like their parents

In the past, retirement meant looking to take life easy – with little thought of fresh experiences and opportunities. However, those now coming to retirement – or already there –

  • Do not see themselves as ‘old’ or want to be treated as such
  • Are still ‘young’ in mind, body, and body
  • May want to make the most of the knowledge, skills, and experience they gathered during their working years

2. Those retiring today are not ‘seniors’

If a church has a ministry to seniors – those unlikely to have ever worn denim – this will not cut it for those in the early years of retirement. They may be willing to serve in that setting – but it’s not ‘them’.

Indeed, most of today’s retirees would rather be anywhere other than counted among a group now designated as ‘old – whose memories are of Doris Day rather than Elvis or The Beatles.

3. Those retiring today are not ‘traditional’ worshipers

In terms of their worship experience and aspirations, they’re not ‘traditional’. Rather, they have grown older during the years of church renewal – and Spring Harvest worship and its kind. Indeed, they have been the ones who’ve encouraged it rather than resisted.

As a result, they may not have much taste for tradition and reflection and have outgrown all-age-worship’s action songs. So they may struggle to find a church experience that works for them and to which they could invite their peers.

4. Those retiring today are a great resource for your church

When a church leader hears of someone no longer working the word ‘rota’ may come quickly to mind. Or they rejoice that there’s perhaps another pair of hands to do some practical work.

Yet something much more is now on offer.

This generation of retirees is computer literate, internet savvy and has been immersed in the best workplace practice. That’s why websites are now offering them ways to put their past experience to use in the voluntary sector.

So why shouldn’t their church tap into their skills in management, IT, finance, communications, mentoring, customer service, fundraising, accountancy, marketing, HR and more?

Here’s a resource for churches, women, and men waiting to be engaged with. A grouping non-existent in the days when the end of paid work meant just putting your feet up.

5. Those retiring today need help to adjust and flourish

The journey to and through retirement will be unique for each church member. But almost all would benefit from the pastoral support, wisdom, and help of their church leaders.

Above all they need to be developed rather than ‘used’.

This can involve –

  • Identifying and helping those heading for their P45 to think and pray through what’s ahead
  • Treating them as a defined segment of church life alongside children, youth, seniors, etc
  • Creating activities, projects, and opportunities that relate to their needs and abilities

For a raft of practical suggestions on what a church can do for its retired and active members see our website under What a Church Leader can do.

Some of it is very simple. Some is very profound. And all is worth doing.

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He uses his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his eight grandchildren, escape to Spain and to spend his kids’ inheritance.

Do you have insights or questions relating to church leadership and those retired and active? Please tell join our FaceBook community and share them.


Probably the only book about retirement you’ll ever need to read.

Is the end of full-time work heading your way? Or are you already there – and wondering what kind of fist you are making of your new ‘freedom’.

Either way, there’s the perfect book to help you. An uplifting, positive and practical guide that’s right on the mark. An absolute gem.

Do you remember when you started to drive, all those years ago, and how important the Highway Code was? Well now, as you navigate the highways of life after fulltime work, there’s the equivalent.

It’s David Winter’s ‘The Highway Code for Retirement’. And there should be no surprise this book is so practical and easy to read.

First, it comes from someone who has retired three times, from different settings. So he knows a thing or three about what’s involved – including from his own mistakes on the way.

Added to that, the author is a first class and seasoned communicator. David was a regular contributor to Radio 4’s ‘Thought for the Day’ for more than 20 years.

At the heart of the book is a piece of good advice. ‘Retirement is something that is better planned for and looked forward to than an event that suddenly overtakes. Like adolescence, marriage, the arrival of children and grandchildren, and getting older, it’s simply a part of life for most people’.

With that in mind, David encourages a positive view of the future. And offers inspiration including that –

  • John Glenn flew into space aged 77
  • Winston Churchill was a war-time Prime Minister at 66
  • Mother Theresa was still leading her work among the poor in Calcutta at 68
  • Michelangelo was still designing churches at 88

Then it’s on to practical help that can lead to being better prepared for retirement financially, emotionally and spiritually. With content on Planning for Retirement, Making the transition, The impact on others, How to find extra income, Should you move home and more. Plus some case histories to add the cherry on top.

Throughout, the book is shaped by David’s own Christian perspective. And neatly summed up in his reference from the Psalms: ‘They will bear fruit in their old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming: “The Lord is upright, he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him”’. Psalm 92.14-15.

For an example of the charm and insights this book offers, try this for size –

The Ten Commandments for Growing Older Gracefully

  1. Face facts – your birth certificate doesn’t lie
  2. Be your age , not someone else’s
  3. Slow down but not too much
  4. Take regular exercise – minimum 30 minutes a day
  5. Try to do a word-based puzzle, like a crossword, every day
  6. Cultivate friends of all ages, including younger ones
  7. Live positively
  8. Consider the spiritual aspects of growing older: explore issues of faith if you never have
  9. Come to terms with the present – and the future
  10. Be grateful: count your blessings – your life is a precious gift

If you know someone heading for the end of their working days this is the ideal gift. Better still, buy two so there’s one for you.

The Highway Code for Retirement’ (CWR) by David Winter £6.99

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He uses his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his eight grandchildren, escape to Spain and to spend his kids’ inheritance.

Want to make the most of your extra after-work years? Then do explore our website and join our Facebook group. We’d love to hear from you.

Want to live longer? Then go to church. Here’s the facts.

Regular churchgoers tend to live longer. That’s what a deluge of recent research reveals.

So, if you are likely to be in church on a Sunday, expect to be attending more funerals than your non-churchgoing friends. Because, on average, you could outlive them by several years.

This is what research is telling us. And though it’s mainly from the US, there’s every reason believe it stacks up here too.

Take, for example, the analysis of over 1,600 newspapers obituaries – the basis of one US research initiative. It revealed those with a church or religious affiliation had lived on average over 6 years longer than those without.

Then there’s the study of over 1,000 obituaries from across the United States. This found a similar though slightly smaller effect. Those perceived to be religious had ‘only’ lived almost 4 years longer.

Even more impressive is a research project by the University of Iowa. By the end of the 12 year study:

  • 35 per cent of the non-church attenders had died
  • Only 14.5 percent of the church attenders had died

To put it simply, this research shows that if you are a weekly church attender you are 35 per cent more likely to live longer than those never darkening its doors.

Of course, you may wonder if these researchers naively made their comparison between a group of church goers who’d spent abstemious lives and some hedonistic smokers and drinkers. But, they insist, this was all factored in by examining a control group of equally healthy non-attenders.

The research also found churchgoers enjoyed a boost to their immune system and had less clogged arteries and high blood pressure. Though it made no reference to the impact a church can have on blood pressure no matter your age. Don’t go there!

Another piece of solid research, this time from Harvard, tracked 75,000 middle-age female nurses every four years between 1992 and 2012. How’s that for thorough?!

It revealed the more frequently the women attended church the longer their lives. Specifically, during the 20 year study, compared with those who said they never went to church –

  • Those attending more than weekly were at a 33 per cent lower risk of dying
  • Those attending weekly had 26 per cent lower risk of dying
  • Those attending less than weekly had a 13 per cent lower risk of dying

Why might churchgoers be likely to have a few extra years at their disposal?

This research from Harvard offered nothing conclusive to suggest it was religious activity – such as prayer and reading the Bible – that lengthened years. Rather they pointed to churchgoers finding it easier to maintain a healthy social network, especially in later life. With there being evidence that loneliness shortens life and friendships extend it.

Those behind the Iowa study equally admit they don’t know for sure. They accept those more frequently at church may have ‘better health behaviours’. Or it might be down to ‘the group interaction, the world view churchgoers have, or just the exercise to get out of the house.’

Be that as it may, what they are convinced about is ‘There’s something that seems to be beneficial.’ And even to the extent that one of the report’s co-authors suggested doctors could prescribe a course of church attendance to their benefit patients.

So there we have it. Just doing the right thing – spending time with God’s people on a regular basis – is likely to offer more years to enjoy and to serve. Let’s use them wisely and well.

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He uses his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his eight grandchildren, escape to Spain and to spend his kids’ inheritance.

Want to make the most of your extra after-work years? Then do explore our website and join our Facebook group. We’d love to hear from you.


There’s a secret to getting more from your after-work years. And this is it.

You know the words – ‘It’s better to give than to receive’. And that experience is waiting for everyone when fulltime work is over.

The ‘experience’ is to give away some of your time – by volunteering. It’s what almost half of those 60+ are doing. For some it’s a few hours here and there. For others it is almost like full time work but with no pay. For many it is something in between the two.

What do they get out of being on the giving end with their time and talents? What makes life for them richer, better and more rewarding?

Ask and you’ll hear a host of explanations as to why giving offers its own rewards. Things like –

‘To give my life a purpose’ – to have a reason for ‘being here’ and getting up in the morning

To enjoy company and a sense of belonging’ – and so replace one of the great benefits and experiences of full-time work

‘To give something back’ – having reaped the rewards of life, to do something worthwhile in return

So as not to let my skills and experience go to waste’ – to have the pleasure and joy that comes from using what you have learned

‘For the ‘sheer fun of doing it and the sense of achievement’ – getting a kick out of being of value to others and making things happen

Were you to ask a Christian the same ‘why’ question you could hear any or all of the above as an answer. But the response may also point to an added dimension – that of being a good steward of the time and talents God has provided.

Such voluntary work doesn’t have to be like ‘work’. Charities and clubs are looking for officers and committee members. Neighbourhood Watch Schemes need people – even to start them. There may be openings to be a school governor, a parish councillor or even a magistrate.

The opportunities to give your time and talents

Out there are organisations and agencies, needs and causes, all ready to gladly receive the time and skills you have to offer. These include –

Your church: Along with the routine tasks needing to be done, there ought to be ways your particular skills and experience can be used for the good of all. For ideas see our website at serving your church.

Your community: There’s a vast array of opportunities to contribute to your local social services and caring organisations. For ideas see our website at serving your community.

Internationally: From just a few months to a longer commitment, there are communities and individuals waiting enrich you by being enriched by what you have to offer. For ideas see our website at serving internationally.

Making the best choice

Before launching out to contribute your time and talents, here’s a checklist of things to be clear about –

Faith-based or not? Do you want to serve a specifically Christian cause? Or wanting to venture out into the wider world as part of being the salt and light Jesus spoke about?

With others or alone? Do you prefer company or are you happy to go it alone?

Managed of managing? Do you need to work to clear instructions or prefer a level of freedom to make your own decisions?

Corporate culture or not? Many larger charities have a culture and environment little different to a major company. In contrast, many smaller charities are ‘all hands on deck’. So think hard as to where you would most like to spend your time.

Flexible or not? Do you need to be able to respond to things like emergency grandchild care or grabbing a last minute holiday as a bargain?

But having thought it through, give it a go – for a richer and more fulfilled after-work life.


Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He uses his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his eight grandchildren, escape to Spain and to spend his kids’ inheritance.

What’s your experience of giving your time and talent away in your after-work years? Do share by joining our Facebook group. We’d love to hear from you.

Retirement is no longer ‘one-size-fits-all’. Of its 4 categories, which is you?

A generation ago, life after work was much the same for everyone. Job done. Perhaps a gold watch to mark the moment. But with little ahead other than a few years in God’s waiting room.

But how that has changed.

Today’s baby boomers meet retirement with perhaps 20 – or even 30 – years of life ahead. And, most likely, are in better health and with more money to spend than their parents’ generation could have dreamed of.

Unlike in the past, today there’s a lot of active years to make the most of. Research points to this longer, healthier and more affluent era as involving 4 distinct categories – according to American author and retirement specialist Cathy Severson.

These categories have been defined as –

The Clueless. They are the ones who have done the least planning for their big life change and make up towards half of those no longer in fulltime work. They are often bored with their free time choices, can experience loneliness, depression and feelings of being disconnected from those around them.

The Aimless They are still looking for a sense of satisfaction in retirement and make up about 1 in 5 of retirees. They express feeling neither positive nor negative about their new stage in life. But, like the Clueless, gave little thought as to what it might offer and are now trying to figure it out while in the midst of living it out.

The same research revealed less than 1 in 5 had made plans for hobbies post-work. And only 1 in 3 had worked out how much money they would be needing.

The Directionless. They are happy to adjust to a more relaxed and, hopefully, less stressed lifestyle – and make up about 1 in 5 of retirees. But their agenda has no place for learning or experiencing new things, finding meaningful part-time work either paid or voluntary.

Content to potter around home and engage with family and friends, they lack any great aspirations. But at least, as a result, don’t experience much  disappointment.

The Motivated Redirected are at the other end of the spectrum, having prepared for retirement both by way of their plans and how they can fund them. Surprisingly, they make up only 1 in 5 of those coming to retirement.

For them, this new period is one with fresh challenges, adventure and personal fulfilment. They are engaged in meaningful work that may be paid, or unpaid with challenging hobbies, or other leisure activities.

For them, there’s no ‘keeping busy’ for the sake of it or just letting their new diary space get swallowed up.

What separates the Clueless, Aimless and Motivated Redirected, points out Cathy Severson, is the time taken to think about the future and plan for the life you want.

So why does it seem so few plan ahead and think things through, including those who should be seeing these years as a gift from God – to be richly enjoyed and wisely invested?

Why? Let me suggest two possible reasons –

Our parents didn’t need to do this kind of planning and thinking because their options were so few. As a result, we’ve had no role models and no wise parents who had travelled this way and could help us do the same.

In the main, churches fail to see this as an issue. As a result they lack plans and programmes to help those who are approaching retirement get ready for new adventures and to seize new opportunities for service.

That being the case, each of us who is heading for retirement – or are already there – needs to take responsibility ourselves. This is not the time to be among the Clueless, the Aimless or the Directionless. After all, life after work is not a rehearsal but the real thing. We’ll only get to do it once.

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He uses his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his eight grandchildren, escape to Spain and spend his kids’ inheritance.

For more wisdom, ideas, and resources for your ‘after-work life go to

Your community needs people like you – and the opportunities may surprise you.

Now that every day is a Saturday – except Sundays – could you invest some of your new-found time into your community?

There are crying needs out there and a vast range of opportunities– from simply ‘helping out’ to using your professional skills.

Finding the right niche may take some searching, patience and a little trial and error. But the outcome will be more than worth it – for them and for you.

Where to find a volunteer role

A simple first step to finding a rewarding volunteer role is the website of your local authority – look under ‘volunteers’. It reveals what they have available and, most likely, has links to local charities seeking help.

You could also look around and keep your eyes open. Notice boards in your library, doctor’s surgery and so on my have something. Or one of the many charity shops.

There are also two goldmines for you to explore:

Donate your professional skills through Reach: This ‘clearing house’ links those with skills in management, IT, finance, communications, mentoring, fundraising, accountancy, marketing, HR and more to charities desperate to use them. This can be from a few hours a week to full time.

Search a register of volunteer roles at CharityJob: At almost any time there are up to 3,000 volunteer posts here, searchable on post code and the kind of activity you are interested in.

Examples of volunteer opportunities

From the myriad of possibilities, the following are illustrations of ways your time, talents and experience can be used to serve others:

Childline: This lifeline for children and young people needs volunteers 24 hours a day, every day of the year. And can take volunteers for as little as 4 hours a week. They even offer an email counselling role.

Good Neighbours: Organised by the Royal Voluntary Service, this gives practical help to elderly people. From small household tasks to running errands. It also offers a way to spend time with a lonely older person either face to face or on the phone.

The Samaritans: There are vacancies for volunteers to listen, support or fund-raise.

Support a school through Scripture Union: They have identified many ways a volunteer can serve schools including –

  • Supporting class trips, as a teacher assistant, in the library, setting up displays etc. And helping at a breakfast or homework club, or at an extra curriculum group – sports clubs, drama groups etc
  • Joining a parent-teacher association or ‘Friends of the School’ or become a Governor – and so becoming a vital link between parents and school
  • Mentoring students – with students needing good role models who are prepared to listen
  • Support the staff who often feel stressed – praying for them, listening, offering practical help and showing appreciation
  • Pray, and set up a prayer support group.

Share your story

Already ahead of the game by volunteering in your community? Please use our FaceBook page to share your story – good or bad – to inspire and help others.

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He uses his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his eight grandchildren, escape to Spain and spend his kids’ inheritance.

For more wisdom, ideas, and resources for your ‘after-work life go to 

The 6 keys to a longer and healthier life

Why may some of us live longer and heathier than others? Once we could have put it down to our genes. And, to some extent, it still is.

But it‘s also about the life-style choices we make, according to Dr Roger Landry, author of Live Long, Die Short.

The differences between older adults who are healthier in later years and those not, says Dr Landry, are physical and intellectual. With it boiling down to 6 key issues that determine how well and how long we will live.

Here they come. The headings and medical info are Dr Landry’s and the application and examples are mine –.

  1. Having a purpose: This is about choosing to do things that matter rather than vegetating or drifting. For many this means volunteering – something that’s associated with reducing risk of blood pressure and heart disease, improving memory and brain function, and slowing down physical disability.To explore your options, see our website on
  2. Being socially connected: Although mainly an issue for later years, the lack of interaction with others can impact even in the early after-work years. Loneliness can lead to depression, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and more. Taking steps to stay connected with family and friends, and finding new social connections is good for your health.For more on the issue see our website on Loneliness.
  3. Keeping the brain healthy: There’s evidence that maintaining a healthy brain contributes to overall good health. And this is not just about doing a daily crossword. Contributors to brain health include eating healthily, managing stress and regular exercise. But it also means keeping the brain active and challenged – perhaps through volunteering or taking up a new hobby or skill.For some brain-activity ideas see our website on New Challenges.
  4. Staying active: Being physically activity, even for less than an hour a day, has great health benefits – fighting off heart disease, strokes, Type 2 diabetes and more. Those who live longest often have daily lifestyles that include gardening, walking, swimming, hiking and biking.
  5. Feeding the spirit: This can be about more than having an active faith in God – though this is certainly part of it. It is also about feeding and nurturing our ‘inner-life’. Activities such as art, woodwork, gardening, journaling, listening to great music, and more can all nourish the spirit. This eases stress and the physical impact it can have on your health.
  6. Eating healthily: The right kind of food and good eating habits have a significant role to play at every stage of life. But even more so as the years advance. A poor diet can weaken the immune system – leading to a greater risk of illness and infection. In contrast, the right diet can fight off the impact of aging.For wise eating advice see The Stay Young Diet.

If these 6 keys are the way you are living then you are likely to live more healthily and for longer. And, if they are not? It’s never too late to make changes.

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He uses his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his eight grandchildren, escape to Spain and spend his kids’ inheritance.

For more wisdom, ideas, and resources for your ‘after-work life go to

If retirement today was a foreign country, it would be one no previous generation had ever visited.

Our parent’s generation would hardly believe what life after work offers today. Because, between then and now, it has changed so dramatically.

For a start, would your mum have shopped for the latest fashion, joined an aerobics class or had a ‘night out with the girls’? Would your dad, in his 60s, have jogged, gone to a music festival, or made plans for international travel?

Come retirement, would either have been anticipating fresh discoveries, challenges and experiences? A wider world beyond work and family?

The answer to these questions is almost certainly ‘no’. Because in just one generation, when paid work comes to an end, there have been incredible changes to how we live and how we approach things.

Wrap your mind round this:

Health and expectations: For most of us, our parents were already feeling old, and classed as old, by the time their pension beckoned. Not only old in body but old in mind-set too. After all, why have a bucket list if your knees are gone, your pension is minimal and the clock is ticking fast?

Yet in only a generation, 65 has become the new 55. And 70 the new 60. Even though we are now retiring several years later, we are still younger in mind, body and outlook.

Social conditioning: Unlike us, our parents’ generation lived through World War 2 and may well have fought in it. Their three score years and ten were mostly about survival. About having enough income to pay the rent or mortgage and put food on the table. About ‘getting by’.

Unlike us, many lived, worked and died in the town where they were born. For some it was even the same house. To travel far was rare. To travel often, even rarer.

Unlike us, education was all about listening, obeying, writing and remembering. While ours tended to be about discovering, questioning, reasoning and enquiring.

Unlike us, work was mostly graft and the long haul. Often with one trade, and even one employer, for the whole of a working life. While, for us, our working life may have been one of change and development.

Cultural influences: Unlike our parents, we – the ‘baby boomer’ generation – were the first to be raised with television in the home, a source of constant entertainment, fun, possibilities and a window on a different world.

Unlike our parents, for us the economy boomed and so did our opportunities in a world of growing change and choice. In great contrast, they had lived through post-war austerity and high levels of unemployment. Eating out? Forget it. Just be sure to eat everything that’s put on your plate.

Our generation were the rule breakers, the innovators and the protesters – be it The Beatles, Jasper Conran or Ban the Bomb. The sedate tea dance became the free-form disco. The three piece suit became smart casual or jeans and tee shirts.

We experienced a land of new opportunities. This included something called ‘leisure’ – time for ourselves. And travel – to places our parents had never gone and for longer than they would ever believe possible.

It is these life experiences that have shaped our retirement expectations. What else should we expect other than even more years of change, choice, experiences, and prospects?

We are privileged to have opportunities undreamed of in the past. And with privilege comes responsibility. First, we should never take for granted what we now have in view of the price paid by so many in the past to make it so.

Second, we should face the challenge to make the most of it. That will mean something different for each one of us. But it must mean something.

And if you’d like a simple rough guide to this new country that few have visited before you, do check out

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.

To share your own thoughts on how different your parent’s retirement was to yours, do join our FaceBook page and share.

Great news. You may be younger than you think.

There’s now a new way to calculate what counts as ‘middle age’ and ‘old age’ – and I think you’ll like it.

How does it sound to be told 60 is the new middle age? And that you should not be branded as ‘elderly’ until you are at least 70?

Please understand, this is not my wishful thinking but is based on serious research. And it’s something that matters to you and me for three big reasons – which I’ll get to.

But first the facts.

These experts tell us ‘old age’ should no longer be defined by how long someone has lived. Instead, it should depend on how many years someone has left to live – with people now living longer and healthier lives.

What does that mean for us in the UK?

The average clog-popping age is 79 for men and 83 for women. And when aging is seen in this way, ‘old’ becomes a word to only use of those with a life-expectancy of 10 to 15 years or less.

I can almost hear you doing the sums now – and hope you like what they add up to for you.

The expert behind all this is Dr Sergei Scherbov who says, ‘What we think of as old has changed over time and it will need to continue changing in the future, as people live longer, healthier lives.’

Dr Scherbov, of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria, used projections of Europe’s population until the year 2050 to look at how an increasing life expectancy changes the definition of “old. He highlights that two hundred years ago, a 60-year-old would be a very old person. But no longer.

Although healthy living, modern medicine, education, and more contribute to living longer, the research doesn’t suggest we are reaching middle age later. Rather, that middle age is simply going on for longer, with old age postponed to our last fifteen years of life.

And the three big issues in all this that matter to you and me?

  1. Government – national and local – must use this more accurate basis for their planning and provision. This is true of churches to too. Plans, projects and resources need to take account of the growing number of retired and active people – those who would once have been considered ‘old’ but not any longer.
  2. Churches must allocate resources and create programmes to cater for their new ‘middle-aged’. And must open their minds to the rich resource they offer to the life of the church. There’s more on this on the AfterWorkNet website under What Church Leaders Should Know.
  3. Those who are themselves the new ‘young-old’ must escape from the expectations of the past. They are not their parents or grandparents. And, with a more accurate understanding of themselves and their years ahead, they should grab their new season of life with all the passion it deserves. For ideas as to what this could mean see New Challenges.

To put it in a nutshell, if you are 65ish – or a bit more – then be sure to strut your stuff as a middle-ager. You may be moving into the slow lane, and have some joints that growl from time to time, but you are not ‘old’. So don’t live that way.


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.

For more wisdom, ideas, and resources for your ‘after-work life go to

What will you count as ‘success’ in your retirement?

Danger. Danger. Danger. Are you at risk of repeating the same mistake that you made in your working life?

What mistake? The one where how good you felt about yourself all depended on your professional achievements and how you were seen in the eyes of others.

Who, you? Strongly, probably, likely. Because it can happen to the best of us. Subtly and almost unknowingly. And it should be no surprise because that’s the way it is ‘out there’.

The society we are part of works with some very wrong assumptions about what’s ‘success’ and what makes you and me valuable. For example – that a university education means someone is smarter than those who didn’t go. That a stay-at-home parent is of less value than someone making a mint.

To navigate life based on such wrong assumptions can be damaging says the author Emily Esfahani Smith in her book “The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life that Matters.”

In her book, Emily shares stories of many who based their self-worth on their level of education and their career achievements. For them, she says, ‘When they succeeded, their lives felt meaningful, and they were happy. But when they failed or struggled, what gave their lives value was gone—and so they fell into despair, and became convinced they were worthless.’

Writing her book taught Emily that ‘being a successful person isn’t about career achievement or having the most toys. It’s about being a good, wise, and generous human being.’

In other words, it is not about conventional ‘success’ but about the kind of person we are or are becoming. This is the basis on which we should measure the success of our lives.

However, if we’ve used the wrong criteria as the basis for our self-worth during our working life, what’s to stop it rearing its ugly head in our after-work years? And if it does, the likelihood of doom ahead is great, because the level of conventional achievements open to us in this new stage of life offers little promise as a means to bosting our ego.

Which is why our only hope is to measure our value by what kind of person we are. And that offers the wonderfully unlimited potential to be good, wise and generous. Be that with our time, our relationships, our possessions and resources, and more.

There’s also another perspective. It’s what God thinks about you – which is always going to be more accurate than what you think about yourself.

Our sense of self-worth ought to be wrapped up in the God who had us in mind before anything existed, who 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 our achievements tell us that we do. But because God tells us so. It might help you to 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.

By living as though loved and valued by the God who made you, and seeking to be good, wise and generous will do more than just help you feel better about yourself. Think of the impact it could have on those closest to you – including the generation following in your footsteps.

To explore this subject more, take a look at the page on our website that looks at Status in more depth.

Peter Meadows

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

Do you have thoughts on what ‘success’ means in your after-work life? Please join the AfterWorkNet Facebook community and tell us.

Is Your Retirement Killing You?

Your retirement may be killing you. Here’s a survival plan.

You would expect the end of full-time work would bring a guarantee of inner health and happiness.

That saying ‘goodbye’ to the daily grind could only be a positive experience.

If only.

Instead, large numbers entering the joys of ‘after work’ find themselves unwell either physically or emotionally. The reason is stress.

And stress can be a killer.

Yet isn’t stress what we think we’ve escaped from? No longer being driven to do more with less, bombarded with constant information, while surrounded with life’s constant pressures.

Yet the very act of moving from work to after-work – with all the changes involved – can be a major stress inducer.

And the outcome for too many is an increase of everything from high blood pressure to heart disease, panic attacks to depression.

What is stress?

A useful definition of ‘stress’ is –

‘The changes that take place in your body and mind when a demand seems greater than your ability to cope’.

At the centre is what’s known as ‘fight or flight’. Faced with such a challenge, our bodies automatically spring into action. Muscles tense, the heart pumps blood to where it is more useful, and a wide range of hormones shoot into the bloodstream to give the added energy, strength and resources that may be needed.

Of itself, that’s good news. The bad news – when stress becomes distress – is when there is a constant stream of perceived threats to our wellbeing. And the result is an overload of reaction to ‘fight of flight’.

Believe it or not, this is what entering the world or retirement can do to some of us. Something that can lead to both physical and emotional illness.

Retirement and stress

Research shows the more ‘life-changes’ we have during a short period of time, the more likely stress will take its toll. Such life-changes include the bad – like the death of a loved one, divorce and financial difficulties. And the good – like marriage, a child leaving home and taking a holiday.

Up there with the rest of them is ‘retirement’. That’s because this major, and mostly welcome and happy, event presents a large number of threats to our perceived ability to cope.

The familiar has gone – replaced with the arrival of new routines, relationships and experiences. Together with the loss of many of those we enjoyed in the past. All inducing stress.

More than that, retirement can create a very real sense of bereavement.

The associated loss/death of purpose, friendships, routine, and reward can have an impact much like the death of someone we love.

In fact, though the impact of retirement may not be as great as being made redundant, it can come close. And if other life-change events are happening around it – children getting married, having babies, ill health, downsizing, etc – the life-changes are multiplied – and so is their impact.

How will you know you are a victim?

The symptoms of stress can be physical, emotional and behavioural. A few examples are –

Physical: Indigestion/heartburn, waking up tired, racing heartbeat, chronic constipation or diarrhoea, persistent headaches.

Emotional/mental: Feelings of futility or low self-worth, ‘blue’ moods, unreasonable fears, panic attacks, forgetfulness or confusion.

Behavioural: Insomnia, avoiding people, irritability, loss of sense of humour, irrational anger, difficulty in making decisions, misuse of alcohol/coffee, lack of concentration.

What can you do to fight back?

First, own up to stress as being an issue – either potentially or at the moment. Then pick from these few simple ideas and also check out health sites on the internet for a more comprehensive suggestions.

To keep stress at bay

  • Eat a well-balanced diet
  • Exercise regularly
  • Establish sensible sleep habits.
  • Do something enjoyable on a regular basis
  • Take time to be still each day

To combat stress when it comes

Do all the above, plus –

  • Practise deep relaxation
  • Watch TV that makes you laugh
  • Listen to music
  • Reduce clutter
  • Don’t let decisions hang over you
  • Don’t go it alone but be honest with those close to you

Finally, if things don’t get better, seek medical advice – and take it.


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.

For more wisdom, ideas, and resources for your after-work life go to


The ultimate dos and don’ts for a good night’s sleep

The struggle for a good night’s sleep is not age specific. But it often increases in later life.

Why can ageing make it harder to get to sleep and to stay that way?

One theory is it’s all in the brain. That neurons regulating our sleep slowly die as we get older. As a result, the brain fails to pick up the ‘time to sleep’ signals.

And it matters, because getting enough sleep is as vital as healthy eating and getting exercise. Here are just three things a lack of sleep can do to you –

  • Increase your appetite – and thus your waistline, damage your health – including causing pre-diabetes
  • Impair your immune function – more colds
  • Reduce your ability to interact socially – by making you irritable, lessening your ability to concentrate and think clearly

What can be done to help you get the zzzzzzzs you need? Here come 20 do’s and 10 don’ts to speed your journey to the land of nod.


20 ways to get a better night’s sleep

For the best results, work at the following over a period of time. You may need two to four weeks to see the best results.

  1. Go to bed only when sleepy.
  2. Use the bed only for sleeping — and that other thing.
  3. If you can’t sleep, move to another room. Stay up until you feel sleepy and then return to bed. If sleep does not come get out of bed again. The aim is to associate your bed with falling asleep easily. Repeat this as often as necessary throughout the night.
  4. Set the alarm and get up at the same time every morning, regardless of how much you have slept through the night.
  5. Take some exercise in the late afternoon or early evening.
  6. Drink herbal tea.
  7. Get a massage.
  8. Try consuming foods just before bed time that have tryptophan — like turkey, bananas, salmon, cherry juice, Cocoa.
  9. Sleep on a good firm bed.
  10. Don’t sleep in.
  11. Spend 20 minutes in a hot bath not long before going to bed.
  12. Keep the room temperature as constant as you can.
  13. Drink a glass of warm milk — as milk contains an amino acid that converts to a sleep-enhancing compound in the brain.
  14. Use simple relaxation and mind clearing exercises.
  15. Keep a note pad by the bed to write down things that come to mind that you worry you might forget.
  16. Go to bed at the same time each day.
  17. Get regular exercise each day.
  18. Keep the bedroom quiet when sleeping – and use a good make of ear plugs.
  19. Keep the bedroom dark enough. Use dark blinds or wear an eye mask if needed.
  20. When you go to bed, relax your muscles, beginning with your feet and working your way up to your head.

10 things not to do before going to bed

  1. Don’t exercise just before going to bed.
  2. Do not nap excessively during the daytime.
  3. Avoid ‘trying to sleep’.
  4. Avoid illuminated bedroom clocks.
  5. Don’t watch a computer or tablet screen for the period leading up to going to sleep
  6. Don’t stimulate your mind just before bedtime through things like playing a competitive game of cards or watching an exciting TV programme.
  7. Avoid caffeine. Remember caffeine is present in chocolate, as well as regular coffee or tea, and caffeinated soft drinks.
  8. Don’t read or watch television in bed.
  9. Don’t use alcohol to help you sleep.
  10. Don’t take another person’s sleeping pills.

For a bigger picture on the issue of sleep, including chronic insomnia, go to our web page on Sleep.

With the way life can be for some having an impact on sleep, check out our web page on Stress.

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.

Do you have a tip on how to get a better night’s sleep? Please join the AfterWorkNet Facebook community and tell us.



20 Great Quotes About Retirement!


For some people, retirement is so wonderful they have no words to describe it. But others have some smart things to say – and here’s some of the best of them:

1. ‘Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time’. – J Lubbock

2. ‘The best time to start thinking about your retirement is before the boss does.’  – Anon

3. ‘A retired husband is often a wife’s full-time job’. – Ella Harris

4. ‘Don’t think of retiring from the world until the world will be sorry that you retire. I hate a fellow whom pride or cowardice or laziness drive into a corner, and who does nothing when he is there but sit and growl. Let him come out as I do, and bark’. – Samuel Johnson

5. ‘There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.’ – Sophia Loren

6. ‘Retirement is when you stop living at work and begin working at living’. – Anon

7. ‘A thriving “New Beginning” can be and should be a time for amazing engagement, growth, connections, contributions and increased possibilities’. – Lee M Brower

8. ‘Maybe the word ‘retirement’ makes you think of old age, boredom and laziness, but I’d rather have you try think of it as freedom to do what you want, freedom to be as active as you’d like, and even freedom to work the job that you like – to be in a place where money doesn’t dictate your choices.’ – Rex Dalen

9. ‘Retire the word ‘retirement’ from your vocabulary. Look it up: it means to ‘withdraw’ or ‘retreat.’ Words can shape reality, and it’s time for this one to go. Doesn’t ‘renaissance’ or ‘graduation’ or ‘transition’ better describe your postcareer life?’ – Marika Stone

10. ‘I enjoy waking up and not having to go to work. So I do it three or four times a day.’ – Gene Perret

11. ‘Retire from work, but not from life.’ – M K Soni

12. ‘Retirement only means it is time for a new adventure.’ – Anon

13. ‘For many, retirement is a time for personal growth, which becomes the path to greater personal freedom.’ – Robert Delamontagne

14. Retirement does not mean that you are all through. It means that you have experienced a big break-through to a new freedom, with the time to do the things you’ve always wanted to do.’ – Wilfred Peterson

15. ‘Rather than fading into the sunset, we have time to rediscover our personal uniqueness, deepen relationships, and question the mysteries of life.’ – Douglas Fletcher

16. ‘Retirement is wonderful. It’s doing nothing without worrying about getting caught at it’. – Gene Perret

17. ‘Don’t simply retire from something; have something to retire to.’ – Harry Emerson Fosdick

18. ‘Retirement: the best job anyone could ever love.’ – Anon

19. ‘I see retirement as just another of these reinventions, another chance to do new things and be a new version of myself.’ – Walt Mossberg

20. ‘Retirement is not a time to sleep, but a time to awaken to the beauty of the world around you and the joy that comes when you cast out all the negative elements that cause confusion and turmoil in your mind and allow serenity to prevail.’ – Howard Salzman

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.

Do you know any other great quotes on retirement – or have any of your own? Please share them with our AfterWorkNet Facebook Group.

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.

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