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.

Could you be a more courageous grandparent? Here’s 5 ways.

Let’s face it, grandparenting is not an inexact science. If you are one, it’s something you know only too well. No grandchild conforms to a stereotype. Each is a unique and precious individual.

So where can we find help on how we can bless our grandchildren with our lives, our resources and our time?

Enter stage right Cavin Harper with his helpful book ‘Courageous Grandparenting’. It’s overflowing with wisdom to help us make the best of our role – especially from a Christian perspective.

To give you a taster and encourage you to dig deeper, let me walk you through 5 of Cavin’s key subject areas. If you are a grandparent he wants you to have the courage to –

1. Wake up to your responsibility

You may well identify with Cavin’s realisation that ‘My life was changed the day my first grandchild arrived’. In that context he speaks about realising being a grandparent is both a privilege and a responsibility.

He writes, ‘That day I determined to make sure my grandchildren knew the (Bible) story. Even more I wanted to do all I could to make sure my generation of emerging grandparents understood what was at stake if we did not wake up to our responsibility’.

He believes grandparents have a duty to do everything they can to help their grandchildren find faith. As he puts it, ‘we talk, we pray and we act in any way which points our grandchildren to faith in Christ.’

2. Don’t be a maybe boomer

Cavin points out that today’s active grandparents are the Boomer generation – born in the years after the last world war and growing up as teens in the 60s. This makes them the youngest grandparents in western civilisation.

That means we are likely to be active ourselves – with part time or even full time work that is either paid or voluntary, energy and health equipping us for ‘adventures’ of our own. All of which can distract us from seeing grandparenting as we should.

Cavin challenges us about our willingness to be less involved with ‘doing our own thing, protecting our own portfolios and pursuing personal comfort rather than being a conduit of blessing for the next generation’.

3. Be an ally and not adversary

Cavin is convinced ‘successful grandparents know it is not just about their grandkids and them’. Rather, it’s about parents and grandparents being on the same team – ‘as allies, not adversaries’.

Read his book and you will find helpful guidance about how we develop good relationships across the three – maybe even four – generations. This includes his assertion that ‘Effective grand parenting is a more achievable goal if you can maintain, as much as is in your power to do so, a strong and healthy relationship with your grandchildren’s parents’.

4. Take time to understand

Cavin notes that as grandkids move from being kids to teens they have a culture very different from their grandparents. And that this extends well beyond the way they dress, the music they listen to and the way they spend their time.

He suggests we can be negative to their culture because it doesn’t fit our own norms. Even critiquing youth culture with our mature wisdom may not cut much ice. Rather, we should try to understand so as to know better what to do or say to our grandchildren.

The child’s main concern is not if it’s true but does it work for me, the writer points out and argues, ‘I am convinced no amount of reason or carefully crafted persuasion will engage the world and cause it to change. It is the incarnation of truth by people of unshakable faith that will open the door for the Holy Spirit to convict the world’.

5. Untangle the technology web

Perhaps like me you’ve seen a 12-year-old send a text at the speed of light with their eyes closed. This, and everything online, is their natural habitat. With some seeming to spend more time in front of a screen than they do sleeping.

As Cavin points out, for many of those who are two generations above them this is all in great contrast to ‘the way we did things’. But whether you are ‘tech-savvy’ or not, your grandchildren are. If all they experience from us is a negative attitude to the world they live in then the opportunity for effective dialogue will shut down’.

Cavin’s book has many helpful suggestions about engaging technology to our advantage. Step by step he works through ‘God is the creator of technology, ‘Technology is not inherently evil, and Technology can be used for good’.

As a grandparent of 7, this book opened my eyes to some of my own mistakes – leaving me wishing I’d read it 20 years ago. It also encouraged me to keep going and to try some things I haven’t yet tried.

Furthermore, Cavin Harper’s book made me realise I am not the only one who could do a little better in the grandparenting stakes. Which is why I hope many others will read this very engaging and helpful book ‘Courageous Grandparenting: Building a legacy worth outliving you’.

Think this might be helpful to others? Then please share using the simple links below. Thank you.

Dave Fenton:

Dave is a retired clergyman spending his after-work time lecturing at Moorlands College, building relationships and sharing his faith at his local golf club, and escaping to a cliff-top caravan in Cornwall where his seven grandchildren enjoy the local surfing beach.

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.

Pick from these 12 great resources to spruce up your spiritual life during lockdown

With a little more time on your hands than normal, now’s the moment to dig a little deeper to refresh your spiritual life. And there’s lots out there to help you – some created especially with this season in mind.

Here come 12 valuable resources for you to choose from and in no particular order. Enjoy and be enriched.

Want to do better with the Bible?

Top of the tree has to be The Bible Course from Bible Society. This superb series of 8 videos gives an overview of the Bible’s ‘big story’ and particularly shows how the Old Testament points to Jesus. The small cost involved is well worth it.

Also from Bible Society is Lyfe, to help individuals and small groups discover a deeper life with God. It draws deeply on the Bible and spiritual practices that have inspired and sustained Christians throughout the centuries.

Or how about seriously adding to the Bible verses you have tucked away in your mind. Here the Bible Memory App could be exactly what you need. It even has tips to improve your memory.

Want to do better with prayer?

To discover prayer through fresh eyes – and explore everything from ‘Why Pray’ to ‘Adoration’ to ‘Unanswered Prayer – the Prayer Course has no equal. The 8 sessions each have a 20-minute video plus questions to explore further. Don’t keep it to yourself as this is also perfect for a ‘virtual’ small group.

When it comes to putting prayer into action, there’s a choice from two excellent Bible-based meditations. Both help you to ‘pray the Bible’ daily based on Lectio Divina. This dynamic way of reading the Scriptures follows the four-step approach of Reading, Meditation, Prayer and Contemplation.

One is from Bible Society with free downloads based on the three year lectionary cycle. The other is Lectio 365 an app from 24-7 prayer which tends to have a more topical approach and reflects the core values of the 24-7 prayer initiative.

Want a daily boost?

There’s a free phone line – 24 hours a day – with prayers, hymns and their story, a message from the Archbishop of Canterbury and more. Called Daily Hope, this is designed for those stranded by not being able to access an online church service – so be sure to share. But all are welcome. Check it out on 0800 804 8044.

For a short daily Bible-based audio message, CWR have Life Every Day Extra featuring Jeff Lucas. It has no shortage of wit, wisdom and practical application.

Want to enjoy a feast?

With the major Christian worship and teaching festivals not able to take place there is – or will be – some excellent online resources.

Right now there’s a huge archive of seminars, celebrations, fun and more from Spring Harvest at Home with every age group in mind.

On the way is a rich choice of Bible teaching, celebrations and lectures from the Keswick Convention which goes on line from July 13 to August 2 and, no doubt, will stay there for some time.

Want the joy of your grandkids getting closer to God?

With much grandkid contact happening through Zoom or Facetime there’s the opportunity to add a God dimension.

Scripture Union have developed excellent lockdown resources to ‘reach out while we can’t go out’. These include ‘Make and pray’ for children, with craft and loads of great ideas to inspire children and young people to engage with the Bible. ‘

Faith in Kids have materials to be used at home – useful for home schooling – and to help you teach children at a distance. They also have ideas on how to keep Junior Church children involved and well worth passing on to others.

Want to check your ‘spiritual balance’?

Now is the opportunity to take a longer look at how your spiritual life is going. From CWR, their self-diagnosis evaluation on Keeping Your Spiritual Balance offers a great opportunity to affirm what’s good and to take some steps forward where needed.

That’s my 12. Don’t try them all or you could blow a gasket. But please do start somewhere.

I confess the list is somewhat personal and reflects my own sphere of knowledge and interest. So do please make your own suggestions by adding them here or on the AfterWorkNet Facebook page.

Dave Fenton:

Dave is a retired clergyman spending his after-work time lecturing at Moorlands College, building relationships and sharing his faith at his local golf club. And looking forward to lifted restrictions letting him escape to a cliff-top caravan in Cornwall.

Think this might be helpful to others? Then do please share using the simple links below.

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.

Once every box under ‘God’ was ticked. But not now for some. How best to respond?

Those of us with 50 years of faith under our belts, and as stalwarts in the church, are assumed to have it all nailed in the ‘belief’ department. Done and dusted. Every question and issue sorted.

For many now old enough to be retired, that may be true. But not for all. And certainly not for me.

This can be unsettling for those of us who are finding our faith now has blurred edges. It can be even more unsettling for fellow Christians who struggle to come to terms with those rethinking some of the black and white convictions of our ‘oh so certain’ heritage.

They are the ones who have reached their after-work years with a faith that’s safe, secure and certain. But for some, as our bodies have changed with passing years, so has our perspective on the God who made us.

This might be for one or more of the following reasons –

  • The ‘promises’ of the past having never been fulfilled. In my case the assurance of revival round the next corner and our church stream being at its heart and in a leading role.
  • People they have served alongside in church now being hostile rather than supportive when God and ‘truth’ seem elusive. Or experiencing a church torn apart with internal strife while the leaders pretended it wasn’t happening.
  • The pain from spending time with a good friend whose marriage failed because of the unfaithfulness of their church leader abandoning her for a younger woman.
  • Seeing what the church has to say about same sex relationships – and how those involved are treated – doesn’t seem to chime with the lives of gracious and prayerful gay people close to them. Or with the words and actions of Jesus.
  • The more they look in depth at the Bible, the less God seems to be one who is ready to roast all who get it wrong about him. And are beginning to see God as far more welcoming and abundantly loving than they’d first been taught.

Much of the above is true of me. As I’ve discovered it’s also true of many others – whose deepening faith is now accompanied by some doubts, uncertainties and things they want and need to keep thinking about.

Within months of coming to faith in my Brethren Assembly I had everything settled. In place was a clear assurance of what was ‘sound’ and what was not; who was ‘in’ and who wouldn’t make the grade.

The years that followed have shown me how little I really know compared with God’s greater plans. In fact, some of those I would have said firmly were ‘out’ have contributed greatly to my spiritual growth.

With all that in mind, let me suggest 5 things for those working through the blurred edges of their faith. And then 5 for those who enjoy certainty and are more than a little concerned over those who don’t.

Five things for those with a blurred edge faith.

If you are revisiting those things that once seemed so absolute, I’d encourage you to keep the following in mind.

1. Focus on the things you can be sure about

Despite questioning many areas of what I have been taught, I’ve always been sure of two things: that God loves me, and that his amazing grace is always there for me.

In the same way, I’d encourage you to identify what you are sure of – seeing each certainty as a brick in a wall of faith to be built upon. You may only have one or two but that’s a starting point. Think of the friends who would stand with you no matter what – add them to the wall as more bricks.

2. Know it’s okay to question and doubt

I’ve yet to meet an honest Christian who has not wondered whether prayer was all in our minds, or thought some Bible passages are cruel, appear contradictory or are simply unbelievable.

But park those things until you can find someone safe to talk with or you have time to ponder them further. And be confident that God is not troubled over our doubts and doesn’t demand that we have our spiritual lives totally sorted. As a friend once said to me, ‘Build on the good bits.”

After all, even the first disciples of Jesus didn’t have it all sorted. Matthew’s Gospel tells us at the final resurrection appearance of Jesus ‘When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted’.

If it’s okay for those who went on to be world-changers to doubt, then surely it has to be so for us.

3. Try not to get cynical

This is a tough one, especially when you see huge inconsistencies in other people’s lives. We look across the Atlantic with bewilderment at how some Christians live in ways that seem starkly inconsistent with Jesus’ teaching – and it happens closer to home too.

But we are only responsible for ourselves and the choices WE make. Finding room for negative thoughts and cynicism is ultimately destructive and takes us no further along our spiritual journey.

4. Find others to travel with you

Don’t walk alone in your time of questioning. There are always others willing to walk with you. Just reassure them that you’re not attacking anything they hold dear or looking to them to answer your questions. You simply want a trusting friend to walk with you while you work things through.

5. Have realistic expectations

We have grown up conditioned to think everything about our faith should be cut and dried. And it’s some of those ‘certainties’ that are now under question. The reality is you won’t answer every question and that’s fine. It does not diminish your relationship with God.

Five things if you have it all nailed.

If you have all the boxes ticked and think those who haven’t are letting the side down, please –

1. Trust our integrity.

All that’s happening is we are committed to taking our faith seriously. And are making ourselves vulnerable by disclosing doubts and seeking to process them. That is an expression of honesty which deserves to be respected, even if you don’t understand it or even if you feel threatened by it.

2. Understand our pain.

The pain becomes more acute for those who have had an ‘untroubled’ Christian faith for many years. This is because we have lived with the expectations – of ourselves and others – that ‘knowing who we have believed in’ should mean we have certainties about everything else.

Dealing with doubts, and processing spiritual issues, takes time and needs freedom from outside pressure. Please give us space and time, while playing whatever part you can.

3. Don’t try to resolve our issues.

Please be sure we’ve already had our fill of instant answers, exhortations to ‘have more faith’, and being given a barrage of Bible verses, opinions and platitudes. Indeed, some of these have contributed to where we are and continue to be a total turn-off.

Feel free to pray for us, please. Listen with your ears and with your spirit. Make no assumptions and say nothing unless and until asked.

4. Don’t judge us

As you contemplate where we are spiritually, please don’t dismiss us as ‘backsliders’, being light on the Bible, or having sin that’s not been dealt with. Or for any other reason. Rather, please accept us as fellow travellers wanting to follow Jesus as closely as you do – but with some honest doubts about some of your certainties.

5. Be kind

This is the most important thing of all. The person with doubts and uncertainties – still a humble follower of Jesus – is bruised and vulnerable. Because of this, what they need most is kindness. And, as Jesus said –

‘Anyone who gives one of my most humble followers a cup of cool water, just because that person is my follower, will be rewarded.’

Doubts and uncertainties are part of the Christian life. And that’s fine as it in no way damages our relationship with God. What’s needed is for those in the happy position of being (fairly) sorted to walk with the pilgrims who are finding the terrain a little rocky.

Paul Dicken

What is your experience of fuzzy-edged faith – either yours or someone else’s? Please share it here or on the AfterWorkNet Facebook community Thank you .

Paul Dicken is a passionately Welsh social justice warrior, left-wing, historic transport geek, radio ham, unlicensed historian, lover of hiraeth (nostalgia), information junkie and happy grandpa to ‘four wonderful kids’.

Locked down? Take time for the 3 most important questions.

As an actively retired person in lockdown you are at risk. Not from the virus but from something hazardous in another way.

It’s the danger of doing no more than replacing one set of activities with another. For example, many cupboards are now tidier and gardens looking lovelier than they have ever been.

For my part, my garage door has been transformed from dirty grey to pristine white.

But, in all this, there’s the risk of simply filling our lockdown with things that keep us busy and our minds from thinking too deeply.

What if we have been given a massive opportunity to pause and reflect? To ask ourselves –

What is God saying in the midst of all this upheaval and absence of ‘normal’?

There seems to be no shortage of people telling us what they think God is saying to nations and his Church. That this is his judgement on a world that’s rejected him. That this is God’s last statement before Jesus returns. And more.

But we can never be sure we know the complete answer to any of them? Even then, what God may be saying to one culture could be very different to what he’s saying elsewhere.

More than that, speculating around these big questions can mean we avoid the one question we can address. It’s ‘What is God saying TO ME?

Indeed, in this season of my active retirement have I ever given God a chance to speak to ME about ME? Have I ever taken time in a quiet place – like Jesus – to reflect on what God might want me to hear?

To do this means creating space – sometimes hard but worth doing. Starting by waiting on God and finding it helpful to read a Psalm or other portion of scripture.

I’m not talking about a long period of introspection and self-criticism. That can be good but should be brief. Rather I suggest such a time should lead to facing these 3 important questions.

1. How is my relationship with God?

Be realistic about the direction you are travelling with him, your sense of him being with you and lining up your life with what you understand of his intentions for you.

Start from a position of believing God wants to speak to you – because he does. And that, because he is God and you are not, he has the authority to speak about you and to you.

Treat it as a privilege which busyness may have shut off. ‘Be still and know that I am God’ (Psalm 46.10) may never have had such significance.

Ask God for answers as to what could be done to make your relationship richer and even more valuable. And make a commitment to do them.

2. Who is my first date?

This is not an invitation to hit the town. But busyness can mean we flit from one person to another without spending meaningful time with anyone. As you listened to God, see if one name crops up. Someone you could develop a deep and lasting relationship with.

If so – and I hope so – this is your first date after lockdown. Or your next Zoom meeting – something as a low-order techie I’ve found surprisingly easy to use.

Your first date could involve you in establishing a mentoring or encouraging relationship. Or offer time and attention to someone you know to be lonely.

Whoever it is, make a date with one person and follow it through.

3. What’s your next project?

If you have not said it yourself you are likely to have heard if from one of your actively retired friends – ‘I’ve never been busier’ or ‘I’m busier than when I was working full time’.

It’s often spoken with great pride. At times even as if it’s an indication of living exactly the way God intends.

But is this the time to take stock? To step back from drivenness?

Take time to bring before God everything you do (bit by bit) and ask God to speak to you about that activity. Should it stay or should it go? Does it need either pruning or developing?

Is there one activity that should become more of a focus than the rest? Is it time to move on from the ‘I’m indispensable’ mode and do some pruning?

These times are giving us an all too rare opportunity to stop, think, and engage with the God who made us and loves us – to take stock and re-evaluate.

 Please don’t miss it.

Do you have another question that seems important? Please share it using the links below. And feel free to have your say either here or on our Facebook page.

Dave Fenton

Dave is a retired clergyman spending his after-work time lecturing at Moorlands College, building relationships and sharing his faith at his local golf club, and escaping to a cliff-top caravan in Cornwall where his seven grandchildren enjoy the local surfing beach.

Due to Covid-19, many are Googling ‘prayer’ and seeking comfort. Here’s a simple way to respond. 

When Google searches for ‘prayer’ skyrocket – as they have – you can be sure something is happening. And it is. Which calls for Christians to do more than sit on our hands and be thankful.

This increase in prayer has been revealed by extensive research in 75 countries by the University of Copenhagen. And is one of many examples of a fresh openness to God from among those who have tended to politely ignore him.

The good news is there’s a simple yet profound way each one of us can reach out to those becoming more open to considering God in the equation of life.

That simple thing is ACORN – of which more in a moment. But first let’s be aware of how the mood is changing due to the impact of Covid-19. Eyes have been opened to the reality that –

  • Life is not guaranteed.
  • We are not masters of our own destiny.
  • Life is fragile and death more real than we would wish.

This has not only generated a mass of Google searches for ‘prayer’. Also –

  • Politicians and celebrities have spoken more about ‘prayer’ during the past weeks than they have done in a lifetime.
  • The rainbow has become a symbol of hope – appearing in thousands of windows and other public places.
  • The NHS app for volunteers has been called GoodSam with a clear nod towards the Good Samaritan.
  • The Queen has spoken of the reality of the resurrection of Jesus and the hope this offers for all.

All this has led to many reaching out to a hither to ‘unknown God’ – seeking help, comfort and answers to questions they may have never had before.

We must take this missional opportunity

This all presents us with the opportunity to be ‘on mission’ by being active partners with God in this new situation. Doing so to touch lives and grow in faith ourselves.

This is something I and others have been doing with encouraging outcomes over the past weeks – using a simple approach I call ACORN. It’s a spiritual practice for such a time as this. And a way to reach out when physical contact is not possible.

It is something I’m encouraging you and your church to do also.

ACORN is a mnemonic with each letter standing for a step in the process. You’ll find it all set out on this short video – How to Keep a Locked-down Church on Mission. Please watch it and share it as widely as you can.

In essence, the following is what’s involved. This is what every church leader could encourage their members – young and old – to do each day during the lockdown. And please don’t miss that this is as much about helping Christians grow as disciples as it is about helping others come to faith.

A is for Ask: Each day simply and prayerfully ask God ‘is there somebody I’m being nudged to connect with – to reach out to – today?’

C is for Call: This is God’s response to our question. His ‘call’ is for us to respond to the name that may come immediately or later by way of a sense that this is his nudge to us.

O is for Obey: Our response may be through a phone call or any of the now well-recognised ways from Skype to Facetime to WhatsApp to SMS and more. The first step need be as simple as asking ‘How are you doing?’ and really listening to the answer.

And all the while remembering this conversation is as the result of what God has prompted to happen and being open to offering prayer either with them or for them.

R is for Report: Share with a Christian friend what God has done in this situation – even if it seems to be a very small step. Share what happened – much like the disciples reported back to Jesus when sent on mission.

N is for Notice God: Reflect on what God has done in and through us. In the past we may have been too busy to listen to God’s voice and respond. But now, with God having our full attention, we may notice that God has used us and helped us grow in obedience and faith.

There are two notable things about acorns. First, they need fertile soil to grow – and we now have this in our communities.

Second, though an acorn is small and seemingly insignificant, it can grow into something big and beautiful – with patience and care.

Michael Harvey

What is your experience of seeing God prompt you and use you to engage with others in this time of lockdown? Please share it here or on the AfterWorkNet Facebook community

Michael Harvey is a co-founder of Back to Church Sunday. He’s developed the concept of invitation as a mission tool across seventeen countries – helping churches adopt a culture of invitation.

When fear and anxiety rears its head, use these 8 ways to get back on track.

At this time of Coronavirus shutdown, don’t be surprised – or feel guilty – if you are anxious or fearful. There are sound reasons why this could be so – and ways to respond that will make all the difference.

Isolation is not natural for human beings – we are not designed for it. Our natural instinct is to group together. For us to experience and enjoy relationships – in our workplace, our community, and our family.

Yet here we are having to isolate ourselves, even from close family members. Worse still, at the same time, we are bombarded with horrifying headlines.

So it’s no surprise that many – possibly even you – experience emotions of anxiety and fear. However, the good news is it doesn’t have to be like this.

My experience as a cognitive behavioural therapist has taught me there are things we can do to meet this challenge. Though seemingly simple, they have powerful effects. More than that, they wonderfully reflect what we know to be true from the Bible.

Here I have brought the two together with 8 ways to help you have peace of mind while the seas of the pandemic rage.

1. Remember that God has not changed.

The Israelites put stones in the river Jordan as a reminder of the miraculous stopping of the river when they crossed. When we are anxious, we tend to forget the times God has intervened in our lives.

Our circumstances may have changed but God is the same yesterday, today and forever. So take time to reflect on – and even write down – the ways God has been good to you in the past. And remember that though your circumstances have changed, he hasn’t.

2. Make God’s promises your own

Let God speak to you through the promises he has made in the Bible. Put them on post-it notes and stick them where you will see them during the day – and stop to let them sink in. Verses like –

‘If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.’ Psalm 139: 9-10

‘When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.’ Isaiah 43: 2

‘God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.’ Psalm 46:1

‘Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.’  Isaiah 41:10

‘Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you’ 1 Peter 5:7

For other examples see Deuteronomy 31:8, Psalm 18:29, Psalm 138:8, and Isaiah 54:10.

3. Watch your thoughts.

Though thoughts of fear can come you don’t have to let them stay. That’s because we can choose to change what we are thinking about.

So deliberately decide to think of something else. Ideally, take St Paul’s words to heart – ‘Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.’  Philippians 4:8.

4. Encourage others.

Take the focus off yourself by finding ways to let others know how important they are to you – using the telephone, emails, or social media posts. You can begin by saying, ‘I was just remembering when …’ (about the time they said or did something) and how much it meant to me.’

You will have your own memories and words, so find the little ways to share them. Or simply say, ‘I’m thinking about you, and praying for you.’

5. Accept help from others.

We can be so used to being independent that we unwittingly pull up the drawbridge that lets people in to help us. When someone asks if there’s anything they can get you say ‘yes’. Even if it’s only a bar of soap. Though it might even be toilet rolls.

6. Spend time focusing on the small things.

Give yourself the time and space to admire – and wonder at – the beauty of simple things.

For example, notice how the sun’s rays coming through the windows light up the pattern in the carpet, or a picture – even if it’s dust you see rather than the sunshine itself.

7. Be grateful.

Being grateful has a hug therapeutic effect and there is so much we can be grateful for. Here’s where a notepad and pen can be handy. Make a list of things, big and small, for which you are grateful.

Keep writing, noting how often the little things had longer-lasting effects than the big ones. And put it somewhere prominent. So when those fearful or anxious moments come there is a powerful reminder that life is also good.

There are many ways to worship but doing so through great worship music will be good for your brain as well as for your soul. God’s gift of music helps us be more aware of his presence as he puts our fragmented, world-weary selves back together.

There’s no shortage of music that can do this for you, from Handel to Hillsong. And all are very easy to reach by way of your favourite CD, Premier Radio or UCB radio, Alexa, YouTube and Spotify.

Put these 8 responses to fear and anxiety to work and you’ll discover the difference they will make.

Think this might help someone else? Please share it using the easy links below.

What have you found works when you find worry and anxiety invading your life? Please share your insights here or on our Facebook Group.

Louise Morse

Louise Morse is a qualified Cognitive Behavioural Therapist and Christian counsellor. She is External Relations Manager for Pilgrims’ Friend Society, a Christian charity giving practical and spiritual support to older people.

Time on your hands? Create your life book with these 10 easy steps.

Are you old enough to be isolated by the coronavirus for some months? Then you’re old enough to have memories to enrich the lives of your children and their children and their children.

And, due to the ban on movement, you now have the time to capture it all.

Perhaps you’ve had the experience of sharing the odd anecdote from your past with a young family member. And seen their interest and even amazement. Now is the time to put it into one volume – with no need to pay to have it published.

Today’s youngsters – and those that follow – will love to know what you did at school, the games you played and the home you lived in. How you got your first job. What life was like before computers and when television had three channels in black and white.

That’s what I’ve just done. And here are the 10 easy steps for you to do the same.

1. Get an expanding file organiser – available online for about £12.

2. Identify the various chapters of your book – which may change as things progress. Perhaps start with ‘The early years’ – identifying your first memories and experiences. Move on to ‘schooldays. And my first job.’ From then on treat each decade as a chapter, unless you have an idea of what will work better.

3. Then enter the chapter title on each of the pockets of your folder. You could end up with a couple of dozen sections – perhaps more.

4. From then on it is just remembering – which doesn’t have to be in chronological order. Just jot down – ideally type up – your memories as they come flooding back, including your faith journey. And then put the sheet each is written on into the appropriate section of your file.

5. Eventually you’ll have a file packed with memories and all in the right order. If working on a computer make the pages A5 and copy and paste the contents of each document to make a continuous story with the chapters easily identified.

If you prefer to work on paper then merely collate them in order at this stage.

6. When you have them all together, read them through making notes of sections needing a little more attention.

7. Working on these sections, adding more details and instances from your life. Remember that stories are always more interesting than facts. And short sentences and short paragraphs are much easier to read.

If you are up to it you could also add pictures. But as you do so, try to put a caption on each one.

8. Create a cover based on what you decide to call it. I’ve called mine ‘A Hack’s Life’ because local journalists were called ‘hacks’ and I was that for many years. You may even want to add an index.

9. When you complete the contents, make sure the font is something like Calibri – and definitely not Comic Sans – and in 12 point for easy reading. And add numbers at the bottom of the pages.

10. Save the document as a pdf. To do that, click on ‘File’ at the top left of your screen, click on ‘Export’ and click on ‘Create PDF/XPS.

Now you have something that just like a book on Kindle or any of the other e-books. And all ready to be passed on to relatives, or even printed should you feel able.

The finished product will be treasured by your children and grandchildren and other generations for years to come. The impetus given by isolation will be a blessing to them and have provided an extra personal interest for you during a difficult time.

Have you taken steps to capture your past for the next generations to enjoy? Please share your insights here or on our Facebook Group.

David Hall

David Hall’s life as a journalist covered local newspapers, Christian magazines and being a press officer. Married with two adult children – one in Spain and the other close to his home near Burnley. In normal times Dave preaches and helps at Little Stars, the mums’ and toddlers’ group, and Messy Church at his village church.

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.

The A to Z of getting older – discover 26 priorities for a good retirement

Waiting for you are 26 priorities for a good retirement – one for each letter of the alphabet. Though you’ll only get a taster here. The full set are in Derek Prime’s excellent book ‘A Good Old Age’.

Don’t be put off by that word ‘old’. Derek’s book is all about living a fruitful retirement after years of hard work. With the subtitle – ‘An A to Z of loving and following the Lord Jesus in later years’.

With insight and wisdom, Pastor and Bible teacher Derek Prime, himself in his 80s takes you from A for Acceptance to Z for Zeal. On the way covering things like C for contentment, P for peaceable, V for victorious and X for X-factor.

Let me give you a few tasters.

C for Contentment: Derek writes, ‘Areas of my life bring both contentment and discontent. This can be seen in our family and friends. We can be proud of them, but it may be that we see too little of them, perhaps making us think they do not care much about us’.

Recognising we all have to deal with joys and sorrows he concludes ‘day by day the reading of the scriptures feeds our contentment’

H for Hope: Derek deals with the true meaning of Christian hope. He says, ‘‘Hope means rather than thinking wistfully about the past and what I am missing, I will be thinking with eager anticipation of what God promises me in the future’.

J for judgement: This includes Derek facing the folly of judgementalism. He writes ‘It puts up barriers and ruins relationships particularly between different age groups. It is better, by God’s grace, to be an instrument of his peace than a member of Satan’s fifth column’.

The book has a lovely balance. It does not minimise the new pressures faced by those in their retirement years and gives positive answers on how we can live as fulfilled followers of Christ during them.

The more I read the book, the more I wanted to say – ‘this is how I want to be’. It gave me things I can work on. Character traits that need healing – like tending to be a grumpy old man.

Each chapter concludes with a prayer. And I was humbled by the one at the end of ‘T for Talk’

‘Please help me, Lord, to so fill my heart with the good things of your word that my tongue may share and speak about them when the opportunity is present. May the talk that comes out of my mouth be always helpful and beneficial to others’.

The book has had a mass of 5 star reviews. So I encourage you to take a look. Ether read it straight through or a chapter a day over a longer period. It has also been used as study material for a small group.

The book is a gem. And written by someone with a deep love for God and willing to face the issues retirement brings with fresh insights from God’s word.

A Good Old Age by Derek Prime is published by the Good Book Company with discounts for bulk purchase.

Read something here that would encourage others. Please share it using the links below. And feel free to have your say either here or on our Facebook page.

Dave Fenton:
Dave is a retired clergyman spending his after-work time lecturing at Moorlands College, building relationships and sharing his faith at his local golf club, and escaping to a cliff-top caravan in Cornwall where his seven grandchildren enjoy the local surfing beach.

The 7 good habits of an actively retired disciple. How many are yours?

As the old proverb goes ‘Habits maketh the man – or woman’. But what habits will serve you best as a follower of Jesus in your years of active retirement? Here are my recommendations.

1.Aim to keep Jesus as the centre of all you are

Of course, this first habit is no different from the way Jesus calls us to live during the stages of life that have gone before. To ’Love the Lord your God with all your heart soul and mind’ Matthew 22:37.

2.Don’t quit the race

In this new season it is not a time to rest on our laurels and coast. But to keep engaging with God through Scripture, prayer, worship and joyful obedience at a time of fresh opportunities.

3.Cultivate an expectation of continued spiritual renewal

Keep looking to God for new spiritual growth and understanding. As Paul says, ‘We do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed’ 2 Corinthians 4:15. 

4.Deepen your trust in God for the future

We may wonder how you’ll manage. ‘Will we cope?’ ‘Will we have enough?’ But God has promised he will provide: ‘Even to your old age, I am he who will sustain you’.  Isaiah 46:4. That’s a promise to keep hold of from the very moment fulltime work ends.

5.Be prepared to be surprised by God and to see new things happen

This season can offer endless opportunities to have new experiences and explore new challenges. Be ready for what God may do for you, in you and through you. It may be different from the past but it will still be significant.

You may not be old yet, but if Scripture says ‘Your old men will dream, dreams (Joel 2:28) get some practice in before old age arrives.

6.Invest in others

Encourage and equip those coming up behind you by mentoring, supporting, inspiring and providing hospitality. Share the wisdom that God has given you with younger generations, pray for them, seek God’s best for them. As the Psalmist says, ‘I declare your power to the next generation’. Psalm 71:18.

7.Establish the right priorities

As an after-work disciple you are the target of all kinds of marketing. From holidays and finances, to hobbies, sports and funeral plans. There’s no shortage of those who would like your money and your time.

So make sure you listen also to God’s voice in all this. And take to heart St Paul’s encouragement to not ‘be conformed to the world’ but to be ‘transformed by the renewing of your mind’. Romans 12:2.

With these 7 habits at work you’ll be making each day count in serving God’s Kingdom. As Psalm 90:12 prays: Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Dianne Tidball

What insights, experiences or questions do you have about establishing godly habits in your after-work years? Please share them here or on the AfterWorkNet Facebook community

Dianne Tidball is a retired Baptist Regional Minister spending her after-work time Bible teaching in local churches, mentoring women leaders and helping churches house the homeless.  She loves being a grandma to Noah, travelling, reading novels and sharing coffee and social events with other women.

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.

Don’t let the Victor Meldrew’s get you. Here’s how.

Of course it could never happen to you, could it? The drift towards grumpiness that can characterise some in their after-work years.

But are you sure? After all, without the focus of employment to occupy us, there’s more time to bemoan the state of the world, our church, our relationships and such?

Is it possible that when we retire we may drift into thinking we deserve a bit of personal pampering? That it’s our right for things to be done our way? This is fuelled by the danger of attitudes hardening as we get older. Leading to us becoming more fixed and less open; more opinionated and less tolerant.

As a result, without realising, we are in danger of drifting towards negativity and a touch of the grumps. We may not go round screaming ‘I can’t believe it!!!’ at regular intervals, but we can too easily head in the direction of being a mini Victor Meldrew.

Yet the Bible says ‘Do everything without complaining’. (Philippians 2:14). And that instruction might be very apposite for those in their years of retirement.

So how can we guard our lives? Here’s some thoughts that may be in the best interest of those around you.

Why we might get it wrong

It is easy to forget that we are now living in the new world of retirement. Things are different. The daily routines have shifted. The security of working life has vanished.

As a result, it’s easy to turn in on ourselves in search of alternative securities. That can mean putting the focus on how we expect things to be done and how they should be.

With this in mind I found some inspiration from Thomas Rainer, founder and CEO of a US internet community. He lists the kind of things he tries to avoid as he becomes more senior as –

  • Having an entitled attitude because of my giving to the church
  • Saying I’ve done my time
  • Focusing more on recreation than on serving
  • Complaining
  • Being more concerned about my preferences than the needs of others

What is at the heart of our life?

Our life has been focussed on clearly defined objectivities. These lead us into all kinds of actions which fill up most of our waking hours. Retirement gives us the chance to re-calibrate our lives and to follow a fresh set of values. Paul defines his values in Romans 12:9 to 21).

They are simple – they don’t need explanation. They demand action

  • Love must be sincere
  • Hate what is evil, cling to what is good
  • Be devoted to one another in love
  • Honour one another above yourselves
  • Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord
  • Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer
  • Share with the Lord’s people who are in need
  • Practice hospitality
  • Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse
  • Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn
  • Live in harmony with one another

AND SO ON …….  There is more. It’s a long list. And if we could do half of it, it could transform our lives.

How easy it is to drift into introspection and change resistance. The essence of Paul’s list is looking to the needs of others as being more important than our own needs. Do that and there will be no room for complaining and the grumps.

Paul has defined how to live as a Christian. These things are easy to lose sight of in the after-work era of our lives.

So let us be people of God committed to his purposes and use both time and experience to grow the Kingdom and not a grumpy attitude. We have so much to give and fresh horizons await if only we look to THE SON.

In contrast to Mr Meldrew, you’d better believe it.

If you’ve found this helpful do share it using the links below. And if you have something to add to the conversation please respond to this blog or on our Facebook page.

Dave Fenton

Dave is a retired clergyman spending his after-work time lecturing at Moorlands College, building relationships and sharing his faith at his local golf club, and escaping to a cliff-top caravan in Cornwall where his seven grandchildren enjoy the local surfing beach.


Keep it or dump it? Here’s 10 valuable tips for decluttering your inner life.

The move from our three-storey home of 35 years to somewhere much smaller was always going to be a challenge. Over the many years much had been accumulated – some because we could not bear to part with it. Some just because that’s what happens.

And when that time came – and with Christmas just around the corner – I found myself singing to myself what was close to reality:

‘On the twelfth day of moving, these objects I did see…

12 torches shining; 

11 staplers stapling;

10 scissors snipping;

9 kitchen gadgets;

8 pairs of wellies;

7 extra duvets;

6 coffee tables;

5 IKEA Allen keys!

4 broken bikes;

3 doormats;

2 rusty woks;

and a fish taaaaank going for free!’

To be honest, some of the decisions were easy. After all, who needs five pairs of scissors? Just keeping the best ones made sense. But it was not all that simple.

Which got me thinking about how we can apply the principles of physically decluttering to our inner life – and the habits, thoughts, attitudes we’ve gathered over the years.

This is what I came up with – some simple questions to ask ourselves and some actions to take.

1.Is it time for an internal review?

How long is it since you sat quietly and took stock of what’s ‘cluttering’ your thoughts and emotions? Too long? Then make the commitment to do so, asking God to help you start and expecting him to be with you in the process.

2.Does such a thought fill you with dread?

Don’t be hard on yourself or charge off in the direction of feeling guilty – any more than you should about what may be cluttering your garage or attic. God wants to bless you as you ‘clean house’ and has plans for your future, for hope.

3.Are you aware of what’s in your life – emotionally and spiritually?

It’s easy to get in a rut and feel your inner life is ‘same old, same old’. But the best years may be ahead and some uncluttering could give you the space for it to unfold.

 4.What do you need to prioritise?

Looking after your health and wellbeing – physically and emotionally –is vital and not selfish. So think about rooting out activities and external demands that put this at risk.

5.Is there stuff you should dump?

Has the time come to lay down some of the past you are carrying? Hurts, resentments, disappointments, failures? Perhaps the spiritual equivalent of your local dump is The Cross – which is where you need to take them and leave them.

6.What’s good that you need to celebrate?

A physical declutter can often reveal some treasures that have been overlooked and deserve dusting down and giving pride of place. That can be true of our inner lives too. Look out for those gems that deserve being celebrated and made more of.

7.Are you taking time to enquire and listen to what God wants to say to you?

With a listening ear, ask God what he’d love you to leave go of and what he’d like you to make room for. Perhaps do so in the company of those closest to you. You may be surprised at the answers.

8.How are your spiritual disciplines?

Discipleship is lifelong learning and progress only comes through regularly practising spiritual habits like taking time with the Bible, praying and giving thanks, loving others.

9.Are there old hopes and dreams that God is stirring in you again – or could do?

The passing years might have dulled desires and aspirations you once had. So consider spending time remembering, perhaps reading old journals or sharing with long term friends. Maybe the time has now come to go for it.

 10.Is Jesus at the centre of your life or are other loves competing?

The first Commandment speaks about God’s loving jealousy for us to stay in a mutually committed relationship with him. One that places our trust in him alone to deliver and see us through. Is that where you are?

That’s my list. To be honest, it’s a lot more challenging than figuring out which pair of scissors to keep. But even more important.

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

Celia Bowring

Celia isn’t retired yet – although she’s recently changed from being office-based to working from home. Celia writes the CARE Prayer Diary along with many other resources. She also chairs Pray for Schools. And loves being a hands-on grandmother.

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.


Your words, wisdom and help could be more valuable than you imagine. Here’s how.

Have you ever thought how valuable your life experience could be to others – especially those coming up behind you? Or that part of God’s plan is to use what you have learned for the benefit and blessing of others?

Please don’t undervalue what you have to offer as the result of the years you have lived and the way God has shaped your life. And remember, one of the great blessings that comes with later years is the wisdom you have accumulated.

With the end of fulltime work, two things come into play. First there’s the knowledge, wisdom and experience you have gathered. Second, there’s the time to use it.

So, when reviewing your post retirement life, think about the new relationships now possible. And how you can enrich others through them.

The posh word is ‘mentoring’ meaning ‘a system of semi-structured guidance whereby one person shares their knowledge, skills and experience to assist others to progress in their own lives and careers.’

But it doesn’t need to be anywhere near as formal as that. Although if those involved understand what’s going on, and are fully committed to the process, it can be of great value.

The concept is not new.

There are many examples of mentoring in the Bible. Joshua served as Moses’ deputy from the Exodus in Egypt to the time of Moses’ death. There must have been a learning process for the young man until he assumed the leading role.

Elisha was coached by Elijah. And Paul was very deliberate in his preparation of Timothy for ministry. As a result, a man known to be timid became the leader of the large church at Ephesus.

It is about generation to generation

In Israel today you would see a clear role for senior members of a family to pass on their wisdom and experience to younger family members.

On a visit to Australia’s Uluru (Ayers Rock) two large slabs of rock were pointed out to me where the tribe’s senior women would gather the younger women to do ‘women’s business’. The men had a similar rock.

So, in many cultural settings like this there seems to be a need to pass on helpful wisdom to those who are younger. Yet I wonder if we have created generational tribes each having no expectation to learn from others or contribute to others. Yet that is not the picture the Bible gives us.

So how can we develop the way things should be in our church communities?

Where to start?

How God has shaped you makes you able to help shape another human being. So in your post retirement plan leave space for at least one new relationship.

You may not think you have anything much to offer but your mentee probably won’t see it that way. Just having someone to talk to outside of their immediate family and workplace can be a life-saver. And if crises come, they have somewhere to go.

So don’t be timid or backward. Trust God to inspire you and open opportunities. Here are 3 ways to get started.

  1. Pray for families you know who are trying to bring up their children with all the pressures of family and work.
  2. Look out for single people – those in work or not. Ask if there is anything you can pray for in their lives. Make sure you follow it up some time later.
  3. Use church social time, like coffee after a service, to start a conversation with someone outside of your age bracket – preferably someone younger. This conversation might be about work and/or family. Just take an interest.

Some of my mentoring relationships have begun simply with a question at the back of church like ‘how’s work going’ or ‘how are the family?’. Sometimes I get the classic Christian response ‘We’re fine’. But not always. And a simple follow up is ‘fancy a drink sometime?’. One word of caution – keep this single sex.

If that informal conversation is as far as it goes, that’s fine. You’ve shown an interest and that may lead to nothing more. But you have offered non-critical friendship to someone who may well come back at a future date. You have also made it known that you do not simply operate in your own age band but are prayerfully interested in younger people.

If the conversation develops into something more, these may be the best steps to take.

1. Offer to meet for a drink/coffee, either in a home in a pub/café, just to catch up from previous chats. Issues that came up in your informal conversations would be a good basis for your discussion.

Lines like these may be good starters

  • You told me about your 7-year-old – how’s she doing?
  • Are the pressures at work any easier?
  • Tell me about your job – it sounds really interesting / boring.

In other words, try to remember the things you were told and bring them up.

2. At the end of the first meeting get some feel as to how the relationship can proceed. Some may say an occasional chat would be good. Establish who will be the initiator – probably not you. Others may say it would be good to meet up on a more regular basis. Make sure the date is fixed.

3. If it is to be more regular then there needs to be something more structured. At this point you are getting close a to a genuine mentor/mentee relationship. You could suggest that next time you look at the Bible together, spend some time in prayer, talk about work, talk about family or any combination of the above.

4. Some would go a stage further and establish negotiated accountability structures. At this point you are probably asking more deep and personal questions. Your church leader should know about any regular meetings you are having.

5. As we are Christians, there should always be some mention of what it means to be a disciple of the Lord Jesus. We should not be afraid to look at helpful portions of the scriptures to point us to Christian values and behaviour.

6. The Bible clearly points us to older/younger relationships that are both healthy and helpful. As we reach retirement years, I would suggest many of us have time to develop this kind of relationship and ought to be doing so.

One final word of caution.

In any conversation, beware of becoming the wise old sage who’s seen it all before and knows the answers to every human problem. Don’t come over as an agony aunt who’s forgotten the question and loves to relate their full life history.

The primary discipline is ‘listening’. Hear what your friend is saying and help them to reflect on their own situation with helpful prompts. In doing all this you may well be helping a man or woman grow more like Jesus Christ – which can’t be bad way to invest your years of active retirement.

Do you have an experience of mentoring to share? Then please do so in response to this blog or on our Facebook page.

If you’ve found this blog helpful please share it using the links below. Thank you.

Dave Fenton is a retired clergyman spending his after-work time lecturing at Moorlands College, building relationships and sharing his faith at his local golf club, and escaping to a cliff-top caravan in Cornwall where his seven grandchildren enjoy the local surfing beach.

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.

How will you be remembered? What 5 things do you hope will be said at your funeral?

Hopefully, it will not be soon when you or I have people saying things about us at our funeral. But one day it will happen. And I wonder what they’ll say about us.

And, though such an occasion is some way ahead, it’s important to realise that what’s happening right now is going to shape such conversations.

This came home to me recently when marking the passing of a much loved 82-year-old friend. He was renowned for all he had quietly achieved for God’s kingdom and was also regarded as a wonderful ‘uncle’ to scores of young people.

Having never married, and with few family members of his own, this man was unfailingly interested in what the children of his many friends were doing. And was automatically invited to weddings, birthday celebrations, family lunches and the like.

He served on countless boards of Christian agencies and was a stalwart member of his local church. Most of all he was a faithful friend and huge fun to be with.

You and I may not have such a track record of achievement – just like the 400 people who came to his Thanksgiving Service. As I listened to the tributes to his life and character, I couldn’t help musing on what people will say when it’s my turn.

Like you, I hope to be presented in the best possible light – with any annoying characteristics quickly skated over. Perhaps with a gentle joke here and there!

However, this will also be an opportunity for others to assess the kind of person I’ve been and how faithfully I’ve tried to serve the Jesus I committed my life to.

I found myself reflecting about the attitudes and lifestyle needed while we’re still alive if we want positive things to be said when we’ve gone. And here’s my own wish list, which might get you thinking too.


This big word covers much more than how I use my money. Am I ready and willing to show hospitality, spend time and effort on behalf of others, give people the benefit of the doubt, forgive and forget.


Bible passages such as Ephesians 6 listing the fruit of the Holy Spirit, 2 Corinthians 13 describing love and Colossians 3 reminding us of how Christians should live show up the areas that need might need my attention.

Qualities like patience, self-control and humility are tough to keep centre-stage. We can’t develop them without confessing our weaknesses and asking God to help us. So am I doing that?


It’s very easy to be in default ‘complain’ mode, especially as we grow older and face fresh challenges. But thankfulness to God is part and parcel of a healthy prayer-life, with this attitude overflowing in our relationships with others.

It’s about me aiming to see the good in others and appreciate the blessings of each day – however small.


O God, please help me not to become a grumpy old woman!

5.Good company

Our friend had been great to be with because he was so interested other people’s lives. My lesson here is that as we grow older, and our world starts to contract, how vital it is to do whatever it takes to enjoy the company of others. And go out of our way if possible to make them feel special.

That’s my list. What’s yours?

You will never know what’s said when that day comes. But it does seem it’s well worth living as though we just might possibly do so.

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

Celia Bowring
Celia isn’t retired yet – although she’s recently changed from being office-based to working from home. Celia writes the CARE Prayer Diary along with many other resources. She also chairs Pray for Schools. And loves being a hands-on grandmother.

Want to do well in the transition out of fulltime work? Here’s the 5 key steps.

The transition from fulltime work is like moving to a country you have never visited. With the changes involved likely to be far greater than you could ever imagine.

In theory, every day becomes a Saturday. But such unstructured time, with seemingly endless opportunities, is not as easy to navigate as you might imagine.

So if you are heading towards the world of no longer working fulltime, or are already there, here are 5 key steps to keep in mind.

1.Take a breather

This is something I wish I’d done. It was so easy to slip from a demanding work environment into an almost equally busy existence – with not enough thought as to what was going on.

Like many others, I soon found myself thinking, ‘I’m busier now than when I was working’. But is that really a good thing to just drift into?

Perhaps the biblical idea of ‘Jubilee’ has something to teach us. One year in fifty is a fallow year (Leviticus 25:11). We may not all be farmers but we will have worked for close to fifty years. So taking a year out – or even a few months – would seem a sensible way to recharge, process the change and define what you are and what you do.

But this kind of Jubilee ought to involve much more than watching endless daytime TV? A good start may be to pray – to thank God for your working years, however hard they may have been. And asking him to guide you into and through the next phase of life.

2.Make an inventory

As the dust settles on the old start listing down –

  • The things you’ll miss from the past
  • Things you always wanted to do but work got in the way
  • Dreams you might now be able to fulfil
  • Your bucket list
  • The expectations others may have for you that will impact your decisions
  • The kind of legacy you want to leave behind
  • The abilities, expertise and wisdom you now have to offer

If you’ve never done some kind of gift analysis – exploring what you have to offer – this might be a good time to do one. An example is the Shape Test which will help you identify what your passions and gifts.

Sometimes this confirms what someone already knows. And sometimes it can produce a surprise or two.

3.See where you can be used

Without being presumptuous, it is likely that you will have some 10 years of active retirement to enjoy and invest. That will match around 20 per cent of what has been your working life. This may be longer than you ever spent in one particular job. So it is worth getting it right.”

Then it’s time begin exploring some opportunities that seem to match your gifts and passions. Keep in mind that you’ll be needing to replace the companionship you had in your fulltime working days. And also the fact that you had somewhere you were needed.

But commit to absolutely nothing until you’ve had a good look around. It’s easy to end up responding to every demand made of you. Now you have time there may be plenty of people who assume you now have time for what they have in mind. So, at the very least, make sure your passions and gifts are a good match for their requests.

For example, an accountant doesn’t now have to be either an auditor or a treasurer for every charity in their county. I had a friend who longed to dump many of his financial responsibilities. On the other hand you may want to use your professional skills in retirement years.

Don’t be too restrictive or humble about what you could do. Our church recently sent an 85 year old to visit an African hospital he had supported and prayed for over the years. He’d longed to visit but caring for his sick wife made it impossible.

However, when she died he was free to go and was so blessed by the new experience. So were we by his passion for mission when he returned.

4.Be available

Before your transition into ‘after-work’ your life was crowded and demanding – it had to be that way. But you now have space and time. Not least to be more available to God and to strengthen your relationship with him. Including, perhaps, reading books or listening to podcasts you never had time for.

Such availability need not be all God-centred. When a friend asked me what I was in to at the moment. I gave some good holy answers. But he challenged me to say something about an issue I was interested in. With my passion in military history I confessed I was looking into ‘luck’ in war. I’m still researching.

Being available, includes being available to others. If you have carved out time for reading and reflection then be prepared ‘sacrifice’ some of it for drop of the hat helping out moments. Your availability could be exactly what someone needs.

5.Consider your community

In the process of reviewing where your passions and abilities could be invested, do consider your community. Especially as so many social services have been cut, leaving many people vulnerable. It’s impossible for me to be prescriptive here but a look at the local Citizens Advice may show you something that needs doing and is a good match.

Or maybe, just call in on a lonely person down your street from time to time. To lift their spirits and remind them they are not forgotten.

Whatever you do, remember each of us – at work and in the years that follow – you Christ’s ambassador (2 Corinthians 5:20). And the words of Jesus remain true, ‘Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine you did it for me’ (Matthew 25:40).

Found this helpful? Then do please share it using the links below. And have your say here and on our Facebook page.

Dave Fenton

Dave is a retired clergyman spending his after-work time lecturing at Moorlands College, building relationships and sharing his faith at his local golf club, and escaping to a cliff-top caravan in Cornwall where his seven grandchildren enjoy the local surfing beach.

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.


Susan didn’t expect her retirement years would involve doing crafts with homeless women. This is her story.

When I retired, I knew I wanted to do some sort of voluntary work. Maybe something like tidying the countryside or signposting at a health centre. But three years ago, I went to a London City Mission supporters’ coffee morning.

There Lynne, one of the missionaries, spoke about her work with women living in hostels. Afterwards we talked and she invited me to a craft session at the women’s hostel. And I’ve been involved ever since.

The room we meet in has a toaster, kettle and fridge so we can provide drinks and snacks. Usually around half a dozen women join us – quite hungry it seems as all the food disappears.

On the women’s birthdays, we’ll sing happy birthday and give them a cake and a card. Then we move on to our craft activities.

We sometimes use adult colouring books – it’s relaxing, calming, and the women seem to enjoy doing that. Some particularly like making cards which is great as I like doing crafts and hand-making cards.

Recently we’ve been doing a lot of painting in different forms. They have really enjoyed this and have been encouraged and surprised at what they can do. Last year the women exhibited their work at a cafe and are hoping to do so again this year.

The women are in the hostel with a view to moving on to independent living, but some of them have been there for years.

Many don’t have much in their lives. They tend to keep things hidden and seem to find it difficult to build relationships and to trust people.

I’ve learned I need to be quite thick-skinned – quite a few women have been vicious with their tongue or in other ways. I once asked a lady something I thought was friendly, but the answer she gave was quite hurtful. But it wasn’t just me she was attacking, other people got the same treatment. I think she just couldn’t cope with kindness.

Lynne and her colleague have a bubbly, positive attitude – I wish I had more of that. But I know even the missionaries can be discouraged at times because seeing fruit takes a long time.

Many are happy to hear about Jesus and God’s love, and to look at scripture. We’d like to see results more quickly than we do. But the problems these women face have often been years in developing, so change will not happen overnight. They need lots of love and encouragement.

People’s stories are often surprising. Some of the women have run their own businesses, until something went wrong. One of the ladies recently told me how she’d given her life to the Lord. She said she was a new person and now had a reason to get out of bed each day. That is why my being there for them on a regular basis is so important.

Volunteering has helped me see people differently, especially people sleeping on the streets. Christians should be the quickest to give people a second chance, and to show love that others may never have been shown before.

It’s taken me out of my comfort zone, as I’m not a particularly outgoing person, usually happy quietly helping out in the background. But I’m learning that if God is behind you, you can do things you never thought you could.

If me, why not you? Step out in faith and have a go!

Susan McGowan

Susan’s story first appeared in Premier Christianity magazine. To read four testimonies from Christians who’ve proved you’re never too old for mission, request a free sample copy of the latest print issue at here.

To explore a host of volunteer opportunities, see the AfterWorkNet web pages on Serving. And if you have an experience to share please do so here or with our Facebook Group. Thank you.

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.

I’m 78 and refuse to retire—here are 7 things about happiness and money we’re often taught too late

I am 78 years old, have been married to the same woman for 50 years and am a proud parent of two daughters. My wife and I are also grandparents, of two children.

Of course, there have been ups and downs, including being diagnosed with two forms of cancer. But I look back on my life, and on my career as a publisher and writer, and feel reasonably successful and happy.

Now I’m nearly 80, I’ve learned 7 important lessons about success, money and happiness.

1.Remember to be kind to yourself

Kindness can be directed inward as well as outward. Being kind to yourself isn’t self-indulgence; it’s validating your own worth.

We are probably our own harshest critics, and we certainly know our limitations better than anyone else. So when things don’t turn out as you intended, it’s sometimes a kindness to remind yourself that your intentions were honourable.

Not everything that goes wrong is your fault. And while you might be good at taking the blame for the sake of a peaceful life, being kind to yourself means sharing the burden of guilt that, from time to time, cripples us all.

2.Money won’t make you happy

Money allows you to enjoy life if you have enough — and maybe a bit more than ‘enough.’ But it won’t significantly boost your happiness in life.

Your happiness and well-being comes from taking care of yourself, the good things you’ve experienced – like love and laughter –  and nurturing relationships with people who make a positive difference in your life.

3.You’re never too old – or too young – to make mistakes

Mistakes are signs of vitality, inventiveness and adventurous intelligence, at least when you’re the person making them.

You’ll never try or discover something new if you’re afraid of getting it wrong. Mistakes are an unavoidable part of progress, so don’t be afraid to make the leaps, no matter how frightening they may seem.

Of course, there are limits.

Incompetence or malpractice deserves punishment. But people – especially the younger ones – should be aware that generally when we make mistakes, it’s a sign that we prefer to experiment, rather than be cautious to the point of cowardice.

4.‘Retirement’ is a nonsensical term

I am self-employed and still working in my late-70s – and don’t plan or want to retire anytime soon. I’ve just finished writing a novel and even have another one planned. In a world where so many dream of early retirement, this must sound like a shocker.

But ‘retirement’ is a nonsensical term: to call yourself retired is a totally inaccurate description of all the activities and anxieties that fill your waking – and often your sleeping – hours. Just because you’re no longer in full-time employment doesn’t mean you have withdrawn from the world, or that you have nothing more to contribute.

Giving up your active work life just because you have reached an arbitrary age is ridiculous. If you’re still alive, active, capable and taking pride and pleasure in what you do, you should be encouraged to continue.

5.Keep your ambition engine running

Without something to aim for, you risk getting bored, and boredom can destroy you. An ambition should be just – but not too far – beyond your reach. At my age, I still have the ambition to do my daily walk a bit quicker or cook a dish I’ve never tried before to impress my wife.

Also, the greatest ambitions don’t always have to be career-related. They can be things you’ve never gotten around to doing, like playing jazz piano or mastering mahjong.

Then, once you’ve acquired the basics, you should play to win because you never really lost the competitive spirit that kept you going in the first place. Ambition means looking forward, and that’s always better than looking back.

6.There’s no point in trying to escape change

Change is difficult and uncomfortable, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid it. It can be forced upon us by unexpected circumstances: an accident, a job loss, an illness or malfunction in a machine we rely on.

The odd thing is, the older we get, the more we grumble about change. Yet so many of us have already faced the greatest change of all: going from independence to dependence, with little or no preparation at all.

I suppose it’s because it’s something we don’t want to think about too much, as we’re secretly confident we’ll cope when we have to.

7.You can be a hypocrite without even knowing it

Hypocrisy isn’t when you tell an actor they were wonderful when they were terrible. Or when you tell a friend they look terrific when they’re deathly ill. That’s being well-mannered for the sake of a quiet life and because we all want to be liked.

Hypocrisy is when you promise you’ll go see someone you have no desire or intention to visit; when you say you’d love to have lunch with someone you’ve successfully avoided for months; when you add to an email: ‘Please let me know if there’s anything more I can do,’ when you’ve plainly washed your hands of the matter.

Hypocrisy is lying, and you may be guilty of it without even realising it. And it’s nonetheless reprehensible when you do it at a distance. Don’t fall into the trap of getting so used it to that it no longer bothers you.

This blog first appeared on CNBC Make It. It has been adapted and is used with permission of the writer.

Do you have some wisdom to share about life after fulltime work? Please share it here or with the AfterWorkNet Facebook group. Thank you.

Peter Buckman

Peter has written books, plays and scripts for film, TV and radio. The first book he took on as a literary agent turned into Slumdog Millionaire. Peter’s eighth book, Still With It!, published by The Experiment, is a collection of life-changing lessons for readers of all ages.

Most people miss this big reason why volunteering can be so life-transforming.

There’s a value to being a volunteer that you may have never thought of. I certainly hadn’t – until I saw the impact of Philip, in his 80s, on Jack, a troubled 12 year old.

It was an eye-opener. And I hope it will open your eyes too.

Oasis, the charity I founded and lead, had become responsible for a secondary school on a tough housing estate. Tough enough to have had a long history of having to exclude some of its most troubled and even violent students. Of which Jack was one.

Meanwhile, the elderly Philip was a member of a Methodist church in the same local community; a church which had closed due to declining attendance. However, Oasis had negotiated to use the building as an ‘inclusion base’ from Monday to Friday.

It’s an approach we often use to help students like Jack. Those who have suffered the trauma of neglect; who can’t function in a regular classroom due to their unsocial and sometimes violent behaviour and mood swings.

On offer was ‘sanctuary’ – an alternative educational provision for a small group of the most troubled students needing a calm and soothing environment. Every morning, instead of attending the main school building, they showed up at our new inclusion space.

It was on one of these mornings I dropped in to see how things were going. Where an Oasis staff member introduced me to Jack – who wouldn’t look into my eyes.

Later I learned the young man had a very difficult and complex family background, struggled with sudden mood swings and with a chronic inability to maintain attention.

A few minutes later Philip, a volunteer in his mid-80s, arrived. He came for an hour or so a couple of times a week to help things run smoothly.

I watched intrigued as the anti-social and disruptive Jack sauntered over to meet Philip – someone from an entirely different planet. Philip smiled. The normally surly Jack smiled back. They shook hands and walked off together to the kitchen.

I watched amazed and intrigued as Philip made them both a cup of tea. They sat and chatted for a while. Then wandered to the pool table where Jack set the game out and Philip handed him a cue.

As they played, an Oasis staff member whispered into my ear. ‘Philip’s great player. He will win. The problem is Jack has a history of not being able to cope with defeat. He finds it humiliating. He’s quite capable of switching suddenly and lashing out. But, just you watch.’

And, so it was. Philip – the aged Methodist – potted ball after ball until all that remained was to sink the black for victory. I watched as he hit it perfectly and it gently rolled into a corner pocket.

I waited for the reaction from Jack that seemed inevitable. But it didn’t come.

Instead of flying into a temper, Jack smiled. ‘Well done’, I heard him mutter. Walking round the table, Philip put his arm around the lad’s shoulder and with a smile said, ‘You’re getting good at this – it won’t be long before it’s me having to congratulate you.’

Then, with more tea in hand, they heading for a computer to work on a ‘catch-up’ literacy programme for Jack.

‘It’s just amazing’, our staff member told me. ‘I just can’t believe how far Jack has come in such a short time. It is a miracle.’

But, of course, it wasn’t a miracle. The miracle was Philip together with the reason his interventions were so important and powerful for Jack. The secret was that Philip was a volunteer. An amateur rather than a professional who was there because it was their job.

Before my eyes the penny had dropped.

In Jack’s world the only ones ever to give him any attention were professionals; those who were paid to be with him. Teachers, social workers, youth workers, counsellors and therapists.

But Philip was different. Philip was there – and there consistently – simply because he chose to be. No one was paying him. And that was what had such a huge impact on Jack.

Someone wanted to be with him.

Someone wanted to spend time with him.

Someone had chosen to invest in him. Not for any gain – but just for the sake of it.

For Jack this was transformational. It was literally rewiring his brain; restructuring his thinking. And that’s what can make volunteering so powerful in the lives of those being served.

If you are already a volunteer, then I hope this opens your eyes to the surprising added impact of what you are doing. And, if you have yet to volunteer, here’s one more reason to do so.

Volunteerism is powerful. It is the key to building healthy communities.

The word ‘amateur’, of course, comes from the French and means literally ‘lover of’. It originally refers to someone who pursues an activity simply for to love of it; their motivation being nothing beyond the joy of involvement – and in Philip’s case that was to serve another. Our society desperately needs many more amateurs!

Here, however, is the final twist. As Jesus put it so famously: ‘When you do it for the least of these, you do it for me.’

As an old proverb says, ‘God’s appearance changes. Blessed are those who can recognise him in any disguise’. I know Philip would agree.

Steve Chalke MBE

For links to volunteering opportunities – and some inspiration – see the AfterWorkNet webpages on Volunteering in Your Community. And if you have experiences to contribute, do share them here or with our Facebook group. Thank you.

Steve is a British Baptist minister and the founder of Oasis Charitable Trust which works in 36 UK communities through partnerships, projects, services and initiatives. He enjoys the joy of running and the pain of supporting Crystal Palace football club.

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.

The 3 key ‘growing older’ lessons from the life of St Paul you won’t want to miss

Growing old in the best way can be a challenge – amid the changing circumstances, pressures and difficulties that can often go with it. This can be true for us. And it was also true of the Apostle Paul and has much to teach us.

Paul is one of the few people in the New Testament whose life journey we can trace. Through the record of Acts and Paul’s letters we can examine the life of someone who had journeyed with Christ and was growing older in Christ.

What we discover is, in his advancing years, Paul did three things we would be wise to take on board – all of which spring out of his letter to the church in Philippi.

1. Paul met changing circumstances head-on

Change is often a challenge as we make the transition from fulltime work into and through the retirement years. It may involve a new home, lower income, fresh responsibilities, the loss of old relationships and status. And also adjusting to a life that allegedly offers more time and greater choice.

Paul, too, had to respond to huge changes as his life progressed.

We meet him first as a zealous young Pharisee, standing by impassively at the stoning of Stephen. Then he met Jesus and his world was turned upside down.

What followed involved a variety of experiences as he travelled: violent opposition, shipwreck, imprisonment, disappointments and, surely, times of loneliness. But nothing shattered Paul’s resolve to follow his Lord by preaching the gospel, teaching young believers and praying for them day and night.

What was Paul’s secret to keep going no matter how dramatically his situation changed? It was this. He didn’t ask ‘God what are you doing to me?’ Instead, he responded with the question ‘God what are you doing in this situation?’

He expressed it to the church at Philippi like this; ‘I will rejoice, for I know through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as is my eager expectation and hope…’ Philippians 1.18 – 20.

To do the same, you will need to call upon the determination to trust that God is all-powerful, and truly cares about you. And, even if the present looks bleak, he is inviting you to play a part in building his kingdom in some way.

Note that Paul acknowledges the importance of others’ prayers and the help of the Holy Spirit. We need these too as we journey through life’s changes and the challenges they can bring.

2. Paul cultivated the right attitude

How do you find yourself responding when difficulties come into your life and things do not go your way? Paul knew he must practise what he preached.

And what he preached was the need for the kind of attitude Jesus had. He wrote of the way Jesus ‘made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.’ Philippians 2.8

More than that, at the time Paul was writing to the Philippian Christians, he knew death was not far from him. Perhaps you too are facing a major crisis that threatens your future.

Paul’s response was to submit himself to God, saying ‘If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labour for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far, but is more necessary for you that I remain in the body’. Philippians 2. 22 – 24

Now there’s an amazing attitude to be emulated – one of not seeking our own way but being humble seeking to serve others.

3. Paul resolved to do everything without complaining

Grumbling can all too easily become our default response to life. It can happen without us realising as we face situations and circumstances not of our choosing. Sadly, the accumulation of long years of experience doesn’t make complaining or arguing any less likely.

Paul’s words to the church in Philippi were not specifically aimed at its older members but they were included in his exhortation to ‘Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights…’ Philippians 2.14 -15

In our later years we are not called so much to be perfect as to be different. And Paul’s own experience is a shining example as to what that could look like for all of us.

These thoughts were inspired by insights from Rob Merchant, Director of Dispersed Learning at St Mellitus College, Chelmsford.

Are there other ways in which the life or words of St Paul are a guide to you in your days after fulltime work? Please share them here or with the AfterWorkNet Facebook Group. Thank you.

Celia Bowring
Celia isn’t retired yet – although she’s recently moved from office-based to working from home. She writes the CARE Prayer Diary along with many other resources. Celia also chairs Pray for Schools. And loves being a hands-on grandmother!


Sing? You? Here’s the 10 life-improving reasons why you should.

Singing is good for you. I know as I’ve seen it to be true in the lives of the more than 500 people in the choirs I have led – and also for me.

Now 70, I lead three community choirs with members of all ages singing pop, rock, gospel and soul. Time and again members tell me singing has been a life saver, especially in retirement years when life can have additional challenges.

This is my own story too, with music and singing playing a huge part in my own recovery from cancer four years ago.

That’s why I’d encourage you to think seriously about joining a choir. But before I share my top 10 reasons to sing, here’s a little more of my own story.

It started with a dream. I woke one night, sat bolt upright and started singing ‘Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer’ – much to the shock and surprise of my wife.

I’d been watching an inspiring arrangement of this great old hymn on Songs Of Praise, performed by a male voice choir. And couldn’t stop thinking about the huge potential for a community choir in our own area.

Within a couple of weeks, the choir was launched – some 9 years ago.

Even though I was nearing retirement age, my wife Sarah and I re-opened a derelict NHS Chapel on a decommissioned hospital site. It was to be the venue for our first choir rehearsal.

The word spread, people invited friends and, within 18 months, we had a choir with 200 members. What I’d discovered was a wonderful way to improve healthy, build relationships and a great missional opportunity for the church.

Singing is good for you in body, mind and spirit. Which all the latest research confirms. So here they come. My Top Ten list of the benefits of singing together.

1. Your immune system is strengthened and reinforced.

The University of Frankfurt got choir members to sing Mozart’s ‘Requiem’. After taking blood tests, their research showed the amount of proteins in the immune system that function as antibodies and so fight of infections were significantly higher.

2. Singing keeps you in good physical shape.

Singing can be an excellent form of exercise, especially in a day and age where many of us live quite sedentary lives. Our lungs get a good workout and circulation is improved. It is also very likely that singing can increase aerobic capacity and stamina.

3. Your posture is improved.

At our choir rehearsals we work on having a good body posture. This takes us into a stress-free zone and can help relieve tension and aches and pains.

4. You can end up sleeping better.

A clinical trial by Exeter University and the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, showed the singing exercises strengthen certain throat muscles. This also lessened symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, a condition common to many in which they stop breathing momentarily during deep sleep.

5. Singing has anti-depressant benefits which happen naturally.

As we sing endorphins – brain chemicals – are released .that make you feel uplifted and positive.

Also, scientists have identified a tiny organ in the ear called the sacculus, which responds to the frequencies created by singing. The response creates an immediate sense of pleasure, regardless of what the singing sounds like. Which is a great encouragement to those who think they can’t sing.

6. Singing gets those brain cells moving.

Mental alertness is improved when blood circulation and an oxygenated blood stream allows more oxygen to the brain. The result is mental alertness, concentration, and memory enhancement.

My own method of “Sing and Repeat” aids this process, as the brain focusses the mind on picking up harmonies and listening to instructions.

No surprise then that The Alzheimer’s Society has established a Singing for the Brain service to help people with dementia and Alzheimer’s maintain their memories.

7. Mind, body and spirit are rejuvenated.

Retirement need not be restrictive. Singing in a choir helps to release feelings of freedom and liberty. You can be yourself in the presence of like-minded people also on their own personal journey of self-discovery and liberation.

8. Community choirs build community.

In our choirs, we have people from different background. And because we have a common goal, we work together, make new friends and build on friendships of old, which often take on a new lease of life.

9. Singing boosts self-confidence.

Time and time again I’ve seen choir members come with personal hang-ups and anxieties and often with a very low self-esteem. But after a few months, confidence and an ‘I can do this’ attitude starts to grow.

10. Developing communication skills

Singing with others is great fun and builds community and communication skills.

So there you have it.

Singing is very good for you in so many ways and for those looking for new relationships when fulltime work is over, it is a new lease of life. We should embrace it, enjoy it and celebrate the benefits!

To know more about joining a choir, or setting one up, read my new eBook, ‘Sing Your Way To Health In Body, Mind And Spirit ’. It has all you need and even includes singing exercises and warm-ups. Click the link SteveFlashmanSing:

Steve Flashman

What are your experiences of singing? Please share it here or with the AfterWorkNet Facebook group. Thank you.

Steve Flashman was a professional singer for many years. Currently he’s a semi-retired Vicar looking after two parish churches in Buckinghamshire. Other than singing, for fun he rides a Triumph America 865, writes and records songs and is a published author.

Once – catching international drug runners. Now – using what God has put in his hands. Paul’s story.

I’d always assumed there would be ample time to plan for the moment my fulltime work ended. Instead, thanks to the austerity measures of the then Chancellor, I had only six weeks before my role in the Serious Organised Crime Agency came to an abrupt end.

My career – with its focus on covert intelligence – had been pressurised and, at times, stressful. Lots of long working days, time away from home, operational out-of-hours decisions, life-threatening risks and the rest.

I know many have similar working pressures of their own. And it’s only on leaving we realise there’s life outside the bubble we call work. Which, too often, defines us and is where we derive our self-esteem.

Early on in my career I adopted a favourite Bible verse of my Dad from Micah 6 v 8 – ‘What does God require of you, but to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God’, and this became my watchword. Of course, to be honest, I didn’t and couldn’t live up to it. But I strived to apply it in my work chasing the bad guys.

So, there I was at 57 – which I knew to be the new 47 – about to take an early bath. And knowing I needed ways to stimulate my grey matter if I was to retain my sanity, keep my marriage alive, and use the skills God has given me.

But first I did something I’d thoroughly recommend to anyone entering their after-work years. It was to take six months doing nothing.

In reality it was not actually ‘nothing’. Having always enjoyed whittling pieces of wood, I spent a stress-free and politics-free few months designing and building a bed from scratch. Be careful if your wife/husband asks you to make the bed.

It proved to be the perfect way to detox. Easing me away from the past pressures and free to contemplate the ‘what next’ issue – other than the plan to learn some proper woodworking skills over the years to come.

It was during that time Moses’ experience at the burning bush, recorded in Exodus chapter 4, came to mind. Here God asks Moses ‘what is that in your hand?’ referring to the staff or crook Moses used as a shepherd.

Moses’ staff was a fundamental tool in his work and helped to define him and identify him. The point for me – and perhaps for you – is God can use what each of has in our hands.  Our skills, knowledge, expertise, finance, influence, creativity, etc.

Over the coming months I was to discover how God would do that for me.

With the bed only just finished, I was asked to join an EU project bringing skills to countries along the maritime cocaine trafficking route. That’s Colombia to Europe via West Africa.

The aim was to help them understand how the bad guys operate and encourage them to share intelligence with ports along the route to. This was a perfect fit regarding what was already ‘in my hand’. And a challenging and satisfying – though at times frustrating – project.

In parallel, I had become coordinator of a £2m building project at my church. Though I lacked any experience of construction, this used my strengths at bridge-building and forging relationships.

And it was in this capacity I was later approached by a Canadian software company wanting to open doors in Europe – specifically in Spain. Having once spent four years working in Madrid, this put to use my fluency in Spanish. And earned some useful some pocket money along with the ‘hardship’ of many visits to Madrid!!

My passion for justice, forged during my years fighting drug crime, then led to me also becoming a trustee of East Surrey Domestic Abuse Service. Here I learn daily of the awfulness of the home-life some are forced to endure.

The same passion, together with my knowledge of intelligence-led investigation, took me to contribute to Stop the Traffik. This great organisation seeks to understand how modern slavery works – the routes, the hot-spots, the pinch-points, etc.

Then came my greatest surprise of all – the encouragement to accept the role of church warden at my Anglican church. ‘Not me’, was my first of several replies. But the God of Moses who asked those penetrating questions while the bush burned was also on my case.

And I finally realised my gifts and background had a part to play here as well. Like the reluctant Moses, I finally gave in.

That’s my story. What’s yours? How is God using what is in your hand? To put it another way, how are you going to use the rest of your life?

For inspiration on ways God can use what is in your hands see the AfterWorkNet webpages on New Opportunities.

How is God using what you have ‘in your hand’ in your days after fulltime work? Please share it here or with the AfterWorkNet Facebook group. Thank you.

Paul is a former senior manager in what is now-badged the National Crime Agency. Married to Alison (Ali) with three married children and heading for seven grandchildren. He co-ordinates a men’s ministry entitled MoMENtum at his church St Paul’s Church in Dorking. For fun it’s driving, F1, carpentry and anything to do with Spain.

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.

Heading for retirement? Here’s 4 wise first steps to doing it right.

No one should let retirement sneak up on them. To assume ‘it will all be alright on the night’ is not the wisest approach – especially as most who hit this major life-change know when it will happen.

Based on my own experience and that of others, there are some simple guidelines to help plan for the season when fulltime paid work ends.

Draw up an agenda

Take time to nail down the things you’d like to do and to avoid. And be sure to talk this through with your partner if you have one. It’s no good planning days on the Costa Brava if they have a priority to be with grandchildren in Birmingham

Of course, you may not even be free to make exactly the plans that you wish. Being needed to care for an elderly parent of sit grandchildren. But, even then, an agenda will help clarify what can and can’t be.

Be clear on the kind of life you want

When it comes to having an agenda, the more profound parts are what you might call ‘spiritual’ goals. Not so much about what kind of things you wish to do but what kind of life you desire to lead.

Given the opportunity, are there ambitions you would love to have the chance to fulfil? Things like –

  • Learning a language
  • Compiling your family archive
  • Signing up for voluntary work
  • Visiting the Holy Land
  • Taking up a new hobby
  • Finding old friends and renewing old contact

If you are someone with apprehensions about retirement, such a list can make it seem more appealing. And for some inspiration on the possibities ahead see the AfterWorkNet webpages on New Opportunities.

For many, what is of greater importance than all of this is to ask ‘what might God want from these precious years of retirement?’ The gift of extra time can offer space for prayer and reflection, space which we may well have missed in the busy-ness of pre-retirement life.

Freed from responsibilities, we can take on new ones – in church, in our community or among our own circle of friends and neighbours – a new kind of ‘calling’ or vocation in our later years.

There are so many opportunities for which age is not barrier. Again, for inspiration, see the AfterWorkNet webpages on Serving.

Things you may want to avoid

As you think ahead, it’s worth considering what you might want to plan to avoid. Are you happy to be drawn into running things – clubs, groups, courses. Because you can be sure the invitations will come.

Those newly parted from the daily grind are rightly seen as a marvellous resource of untapped energy. Ask yourself if you are ready for this and what your response should be if you are approached.

Fight mental rust

On my own agenda was the need to avoid boredom and mental stagnation. Having kept my brain pretty busy at work I didn’t want it to rust in my retirement.

Some people use a daily crossword or Sudoku, or learn how to explore the internet. For me it has been regular Bible reading, challenging radio programmes, books, the theatre, an interesting daily newspaper and enriching conversations.

Take these steps and you are on your way to a retirement that’s a positive and exciting new chapter in your life.

David Winter – adapted from his book The Highway Code for Retirement (CWR)

Found this blog helpful? Then please share it using the links below. And if you have suggestions for someone nearing the end of fulltime work please share then here or our Facebook group. Thank you..

David Winter has retired three times from different settings, including as a Parish Priest and as the BBC’s Head of Religious Broadcasting. He was a regular contributor to Radio 4’s ‘Thought for the Day’ for more than 20 years.

Plastics: You can help save the planet with these 7 can-do attitudes

When it comes to taking action to save our planet from the ravages of plastic, age is no barrier. Indeed, it was 93-year-old David Attenborough, who exposed the appalling effect of plastics on oceans so widely with his Blue Planet II episode.

This became the UK’s fourth most watched TV programme of all time. It was sold on to 30 other countries. And sent shock waves across the world.

One outcome was that Her Majesty the Queen – also 93 – banned plastic straws and bottles throughout the royal estate.

That has to be a compelling example to those of us who’ve lived long enough to have probably witnessed and contributed to much of the most damage inflicted by plastic pollution. How can we help save the planet before we finally leave it?

Younger people, for all their laudable green aspirations, have pressures on their wallets and their time, so they may lack the capacity to embrace this vital crusade. But the after-work generation can help to lead the way and encourage others to do the same.

What can we do as those who are stewards of God’s creation? As I’ve researched this I’ve discovered it’s a really complicated subject. Sometimes we might wonder what possible difference our reusable water bottle or humble hessian shopping bag can make to the fate of the world’s oceans.

But please don’t underestimate the importance of those five environmentally friendly strategies of ‘reduce, reuse, recycle, biodegrade, compost.’ And there’s more we can consider doing.

Here’s my top 7 ideas as far as plastic is concerned.

 1. Recognise not all plastic is bad!

I inherited my mother’s red plastic laundry basket in 1980 – which means it’s been in constant use for 50 years. I’m very attached to it even now it’s only held together with gaffer tape and cable ties.

Plastic has revolutionised our lives in so many life-enhancing ways and is a wondrous substance. But, when it comes to disposal and recycling, especially indestructible substances that cause such harm, we urgently need to handle this problem that’s polluting our planet.

2. Find out more

For a start we need to understand more to disentangle the confusion.

There are over 50 different types of plastics but the six most common often have numbers stamped on them to identify for recycling.

It works like this –

1 and 2 are on widely recycled items like clear drinks bottles, food packaging like fruit punnets, shampoo and cleaning product bottles.

4 and 5 are on items not yet able to be recycled everywhere but that should be within five years. Such as carrier bags, some bottles and containers, cling film, magazine wraps, lined or laminated cardboard containers.

6 is on stuff that’s not ever going to be recyclable and should be avoided. Like polystyrene cups, plastic straws and cutlery, and Styrofoam packaging

Another website to help you make sense of all this is: Which?

3. Be encouraged that inventors and entrepreneurs are finding solutions

A great example is the £15 million Ocean Cleanup floating boom – designed by 18-year-old Dutchman Boyan Slat. It’s now clearing the 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic floating in the massive Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Meanwhile people are hard at work designing robots to sort materials, picking up 80 items a minute for 24 hours a day. And the dream is to create a ‘circular plastic economy’ where products are 100% recyclable – and there are rays of hope that this will happen.

4. Join other consumers to influence supermarkets about their plastic use

The amount of packaging in an average supermarket shop is ridiculous. True, some action is being taken but we can help speed it up.

Someone I know removed the plastic packaging from every purchase that was shrouded in it and politely handed the unwanted pile to a rather startled check-out staff member before stashing it in his environmentally friendly bags.

What if more of us did the same?

We can also make our money talk by choosing to shop at environmentally-aware stores and-fruit-and-veg market stalls. And carefully thinking through what we buy – selecting loose potatoes instead of bagged ones for instance.

5. Find about what happens where you live

It’s a depressing thought that, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, only a fraction of plastic packaging that’s collected is properly recycled. This means, in some areas of the UK, carefully recycled household items end up in landfill along with everything else.

That’s because –

  • Plastic bags – leaving aside the green biodegradable or compostable bags – can be recycled. But so far less than 1 in 5 households have councils that accept them, according to waste charity Wrap.
  • Only 1 in 10 households are able to successfully recycle cling film and plant pots.
  • Only 1 in 100 households have a way to recycle expanded polystyrene packaging – commonly used for takeaway boxes.

To find out how your local council deals with recycling, see the website Recycle Now.  Perhaps you could start speaking out about it where you live.

6. Be part of ‘the starfish effect’

Maybe you’re familiar with the story of a child throwing stranded starfish one by one back into the sea despite there being so many he could not rescue them all. His attitude was, ‘I know, but I’m making a difference to this one.’

In the same way, we may not be able to change everything but we can at least do something.

7. Encourage your grandchildren

The great news is plastics and recycling is now high on the agenda in schools. So let’s add our own enthusiasm, interest and example to what they are learning.

As older people, our enthusiasm can speak volumes. As can our practical action.

And what better way to do so that joining with our grandchildren in local litter picking or beach-cleaning schemes.

Come to that, here’s a wonderful way for those of us for whom faith matters to show our concern for God’s great gift of creation.

What experience of helping save the planet do you have? Please share it here or with the AfterWorkNet Facebook Group. Thank you.

Celia Bowring
Celia isn’t retired yet – although she’s recently changed from being office-based to working from home, so working out her own use of time. Celia writes the CARE Prayer Diary along with many other resources. She also chairs Pray for Schools. And loves being a hands-on grandmother!

In sickness and in health –keep this in mind should you become your partner’s carer.

Life in later years can have its shocks. With one being to realise your partner’s declining health is moving you into the role of carer.

That’s not the plan but it can become the reality – whether all of a sudden or gradually.

Is there wisdom that might help us now or in the future? I’ve spoken to a few who have their own story to tell and able to share what they’ve learned. And hope their wisdom might help others – even you if that moment comes.

Understanding the issues

For example, I can tell you about Janet and Ray – not their real names of course – who had always worked harmoniously together. They’d been like ‘two wheels’ – raising their kids, running the family business and taking on various roles at church. Everyone agreed they complemented each other perfectly.

‘At first I didn’t notice,’ Janet told me, ‘but bit by bit Ray was losing ground and no longer the strong man he’d always been. Little things I had to do because he no longer could, his mind slowing down, me feeling anxiety I never had before.’

A year later came the blow of a Parkinson’s diagnosis. With Ray becoming increasingly dependent on Janet. How did she adjust and what helped?

She told me, ‘My emotions were hard to cope with. Part of me was – unreasonably – angry with him. I felt bereaved. I sometimes resented it all and then felt guilty.

‘My doctor was supportive, and I managed not to fall into depression as some do. Sometimes being allowed to escape for a while made a difference, to do something just for me. And the understanding of others was a huge help. Sometimes we could laugh about it all, which was a relief actually.’

Janet found having a daily routine essential but hard to achieve. On difficult days they just got through the jobs one by one and ate their meals until thankfully it came to bedtime and hopping the next day would be easier. Which, sometimes, it was.

She also found they needed things to look forward to. To break the monotony and trial of living with pain and disability – which, in their different ways, they both were. As Janet explained, ‘Ray loved Sundays; to go to church and enjoy the singing, hear the message, see his friends. And my weekly Zumba session saved my sanity sometimes.’

Practical action

From someone else I gathered this list of ‘Random notes to a friend whose spouse is terminally ill’. They are in not in order of importance and include both practical and personal thoughts. Only some will apply in any given situation and you may want to add your own.

  • Learn how the boiler works and find out about the many other tasks they have always done
  • Get copies off all their online passwords.
  • If you have separate bank accounts transfer any cash at the bank from the one who is soon to ‘be promoted to heaven’. Otherwise that money will be frozen until after probate.
  • Check they are content with their Will – any legacies to add? Talk about any personal items they would like to go to family members, friends, godchildren. Specified items mean so much to the recipient – ‘She wanted you specially to have this.’
  • Children and grandchildren. Are there things to be said, or letters to write while health permits? Say or write deep things, thanks, and reminiscences while you can.
  • Go through significant papers together, check you understand what is needed for the future.
  • Think ahead and avoid ‘if onlys’
  • Share your fears, sorrow and grief if given the time
  • In the later stages get the extra help you need – try to take breaks from being the carer.
  • Enjoy what you can together while you can. Spend time
  • ‘Just being there’ is a great comfort to the one who is coming to the end of their life. Give ‘permission’ to your loved one to let go, if need be.

Use the available help

The temptation is to soldier on – sometimes out of pride and sometimes because it seems easier than involving others. But that can be a recipe for disaster. It is vital that you look after your own health and wellbeing while being a carer for someone else.

That means, when offers of help come, take them – and don’t feel guilty.

Also, see what support is available through your church and your local care service. And grab it with both hands.

What experience of being your partner’s carer do you have that could help others? Please tell us here or on the AfterWorkNet Facebook Group. Thank you.

Celia Bowring
Celia isn’t retired yet – although she’s recently changed from being office-based to working from home, so working out her own use of time. Celia writes the CARE Prayer Diary along with many other resources. She also chairs Pray for Schools. And loves being a hands-on grandmother!

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.

God designed old age on purpose. Really!

Did you know God deliberately created old age? Such a thought comes as a surprise to many – because everything we hear about being old is negative.

Far from old age being recognised as part of the Divine plan, it’s wrongly seen as something to be feared, resisted and fought against. For example, the anti-ageing cosmetics industry spends £billions on conveying exactly that message.

So I’m never surprised, when speaking on this subject to a large group of Christians, to find some are not convinced. However the majority, when they see the truth in the Scriptures, see it and are delighted.

We should not be surprised by this failure to see old age being part of God’s plan.

That’s because we know God is opposed by an implacable enemy out to thwart his plan for human kind. And the weapon used to thwart his purpose for older people is ageism’ – with its hidden, subtle, and powerful messaging that diminishes the sense of self and warps expectations.

Ageism is not a jokey, trivial thing. It seeps into our souls silently, powerfully, and daily – in hundreds of different ways. Blinding us to our value, and leaving thousands feeling they are so worthless their lives are a waste of time.

That’s why it is important for old age to be seen from God’s perspective.

God positively wants us to grow old

When God created the universe, he set in motion times and seasons and the ageing process. When you realise the purpose God has in mind, you see how wonderful growing older is meant to be.

God sees old age as a reward and a blessing.  Consider these promises –

‘With a long life I will satisfy him and let him see my salvation.’ Psalm 91:16,

‘… if you walk in my ways, I will prolong your life. 1 Kings 13:14,

‘you shall go to your fathers in peace; you will be buried at a good old age.’ Genesis 15:15.

‘Honour your father and your mother, so you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.’ Exodus 20:12

The peak of the culture of Scriptural times was wisdom, and because it’s acquired with experience and age, older people were respected. ‘Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days,’ (Job 12:12) In contrast, in our culture, the peak of attainment is youth. 

God has a purpose for older people

There is no ‘use-before’ date in 2 Ephesians 10, where God makes clear he has equipped us for the good works that he has already planned for us.

God spends our whole lives honing us to develop the character that will bless others – being reflective, less impulsive, able to take the long view, with emotional balance and empathy, compassion and listening skills.

This long preparation is for seniors – the Bible regards older people as seniors, without actually using the word – to be an elderhood in society. Not lording it over others, but helping, listening, mentoring, encouraging and above all – telling of his faithfulness (Psalm 78).

Following a talk I’d given on this topic, a lady came to me with her face aglow. She said, ‘I’m 70, and a retired teacher. I thought there was nothing else for me now.’ Then, lifting her fists and punching the air, she added, ‘but God’s got more for me yet!

Following a talk I’d given on this topic, a lady came to me with her face aglow. She said, ‘I’m 70, and a retired teacher. I thought there was nothing else for me now.’ Then, lifting her fists and punching the air, she added, ‘but God’s got more for me yet!

Most people respond like this, both to my talks and my book, ‘What’s Age Got To Do With It?’ It is such a blessing to see people released into God’s purpose for them.

Imagine that happening with thousands and thousands of older Christians. Think of the energy that would be released for sharing the gospel and helping those with physical frailties.

However, so much more could be done to see older people released into God’s purposes if this same message was espoused in our churches, as are other biblical principles.

How have you seen God’s purpose for your later years worked out? Do please share here or on the AfterWorkNet Facebook Group.

Louise Morse

Louise Morse is a popular speaker and writer about old age, including dementia, and follows current research on the issues. She’s media and external affairs manager for the Pilgrims’ Friend Society, a Christian charity giving practical and spiritual support to older people.

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 epidemic of loneliness needs a Doctor’s prescription. And here it is.

As I’m a doctor, you’d probably expect me to use the word ‘epidemic’ in the context of a raging disease. But not so this time.

There’s an epidemic spoiling lives and even reducing their length with not a virus or a germ in sight. It’s the epidemic of loneliness.

More than that, there’s something we can all do to put this epidemic to flight because it doesn’t need special training or skill. In addition, those in their after-work years are the most able to respond.

The loneliness epidemic can be summed up with three simple statistics. In the UK–

  • Over 9 million people – that’s almost one in five of the population – say they are always or often lonely
  • There are 1.2 million chronically lonely older people
  • Half a million older people go at least five or six days a week without seeing or speaking to anyone

Of course, there’s a massive difference between being alone and being lonely. Also, it’s not just an issue for those too old to get out and about.

This came home to me in my surgery a while back when faced with a teenager asking for help with her low mood.

I discovered she had over 1,000 Facebook ‘friends’ yet nearly all her ‘home time’ was spent in her bedroom, on a tablet, keeping up with ‘friends’. When asked if she ever saw any face to face the answer was ‘hardly ever’.

My patient’s problem was loneliness. She was constantly ‘without company’ and felt ‘cut off from others’. My ‘prescription? That she should re-discover her dormant hobby of dancing – which would return her to a supportive community, with a shared interest.

This simple ‘prescription’ set her on the road to recovery – all without the need for counselling or medication.

This one incident throws up lessons important for all of us –

Loneliness does harm.

Recent research shows loneliness has health implications that go far beyond depression. There good evidence loneliness –

  • Contributes to the development of dementia
  • Increases the risk of physical illness to a greater extent than does raised blood pressure
  • Is a risk factor for heart disease and strokes – having the same impact as smoking 15 cigarettes a day
  • Increases the likelihood of someone dying by more than a quarter

In addition, lonely people visit their GPs more, take more medication, have a higher incidence of falls, and attend A+ E more. For those who are younger the impact on their health tells a similar story.

It is not just an ‘old person’s’ issue

Understandably, loneliness has come to be associated with those towards the end of their days, having lost a life-long spouse and peers, and now being house bound. Of course, this is mostly true.

However, loneliness is increasingly becoming a feature of our society and seen in all seasons of life, from school age, through to old age, and everything in between.

This ought to lead us to keeping our eyes open for loneliness where we would not expect it. As well as seeing the needs among those who are most at risk.

Something can be done

In the case of my young patient, the remedy was to get out there and engage socially. However, for those in later years that’s seldom an option – with the only solution being for caring people to visit.

This leads me to think of the huge benefits in store if more of us took time to seek out those who are lonely and visit from time to time.

This seems to be something that should be right up their street for those who are retired and still active. Be it a regular visit, to a car ride, to a lift to a social setting – including to one of the increasing number of activities being run by churches.

It is something individuals and couples can do. It is something every church should have in its radar and be responding to in a proactive and intentional way.

To explore this further, including for advice on how to become a visitor and befriender, see the AfterWorkNet web pages on The Lonely.

Take the medicine yourself

It seems unlikely that, at this moment, you fit the ‘lonely’ category. But make sure you keep it that way as it is easy to drift into it.

Whatever may happen to you over the coming years, be proactive and engage with others though an old hobby or interest, or by trying a new one. And keep linked, or make links, with a vibrant church and its supportive and loving community.

Richard Roope

Dr Richard Roope has been a GP for almost 30 years at the same Hampshire practice. He’s also the Lead for Cancer for the Royal College of GPs and Cancer Research UK. Married with three daughters – two also doctors – he’s a member of a lively C of E church in Winchester. Enjoying long distance cycling, Richard has just completed a 12-day 760 charity cycle through the length of Italy.

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.

Ever felt you are no longer on God’s agenda? Then here’s some wise advice.

So far as God is concerned, have you ever felt ‘forgotten’? As though the train has left the station and you are still on the platform?

Meanwhile, ‘on the train’, your fellow believers are achieving more than you. Are more successful than you. Have their prayers answered more than you. Live in the excitement of the moment while you drably plod on.

That can especially be the experience of those with their full-time working days behind them. And with what is supposed to be a new adventure of opportunity feeling more like a wet weekend in Scunthorpe.

Worse still, have you ever felt as if you’ve had your fair share of pain and suffering? That no matter how much you pray amidst your trials and tribulations, nothing seems to change?

Desperately and achingly it seems that God has forgotten you.

Yet, deep down, you know the creator who made you and loves you is still there. But why he is not pulling you out of the situation you’re in or change your circumstances? Why?

Please let me share my perspective on your circumstances, with some very important things to keep in mind.

Don’t go blaming yourself

It’s a trap to blame yourself, wondering if it’s all because you don’t have enough faith, or some previous and as yet undiscovered sin, or even an ancestral curse that’s come your way.

You would not even be asking the ‘where’s God got to?’ question if any of that were true. And no amount of faith has ever shielded any believer from the ‘Has God forgotten me?’ question.

Face up to the reality of life

When push comes to shove, the reality is that life is not fair. All of us are likely to experience challenges and difficulties on this journey called life. And we must face the fact that some have it much tougher than others.

For people of faith, pondering on this can bring about doubts on whether God really exists or, if he does, is he really good as we are told he is? But that is just how it is.

Don’t be surprised

If we are to take the words of Jesus seriously we should know that tough times are more likely than not. After all, didn’t he say, ‘I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’ John 16:33.

Be patient

A glance through the lives of Biblical heroes should remind us ‘to take heart’ or ‘to wait on the Lord’ or be encouraged to keep on keeping on.

Joseph was seventeen when sold into slavery by his brothers and it took thirteen more years before he arrived in the palace – having suffered a great deal of injustice in the meantime.

Consider too the patience and hope in God shown by the barren women of the Bible who eventually had a child. Those like Sarah, who gave birth to Isaac in her nineties. And Rebekah, who became the mother of twins Jacob and Esau after twenty years of marriage. Even they felt as if God had forgotten them, yet their faith was steadfast.

Embrace the mystery

Why God works in this way is a mystery. But God’s ways are not our ways and no one can fathom them. God rises above and beyond our human understanding and what our human mind can comprehend.

What is certain however, is human suffering is real and the mental distress it causes unescapable.

While on earth, Jesus himself went through tough times in the hours leading up to his humiliating and atrocious death – surpassing what most of us would feel bearable.

From Matthew’s Gospel we learn that, in the night before he died, ‘taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, Jesus began to be sorrowful and troubled.’ Matthew 26:37. If the Son of God could be sorrowful and troubled why would we expect to be spared from these emotions?

Then on the cross Jesus asked his father ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ Again, Jesus’s feeling of abandonment– left at the station when the train had gone – is another reminder that such feelings can be authentic for a Christian.

Put it to use

The Bible tells us God uses desert experiences and tough times to shape our character. That, though he doesn’t inflict them, he puts them to use – for our good.

In his letter to the churches James puts it this way, ‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.’  James 1: 2-4

Of course, though we may be able to recognise our bad times as character-building, it doesn’t make them easier to live through them. If we’re honest, we can’t wait to kiss goodbye to tough seasons in our lives.

Be patient

The concept of time in suffering is significant. When going through difficulties or tough seasons, no one knows how long they will last or if they will ever end. That’s where patience comes in.

Remarkably, Paul chose a Greek word closely related to ‘patience’ when listing the fruits of the spirit. We most often find it translated as ‘longsuffering’ or forbearance. But the literal translation would be ‘long-tempered’, emphasising the need to grow the attribute to stay cool when struggling or frustrated.

Longsuffering is a precious fruit of the spirit to possess and as beautiful as is joy or peace, and kindness or gentleness. How admirable is it to see someone hanging onto their faith in the most desolate places.

My niece recently lost her baby at 20 weeks into her pregnancy following a major struggle to conceive. When I contacted her to say how sorry her immediate reply was ‘God has not changed in my eyes, auntie’. My eyes filled up with tears.

God’s silence doesn’t mean God’s absence

Almost certainly you will know of the poem ‘Footprints’ – where two sets of footprints in the sand become one from time to time. And with God’s explanation being, ‘When you see only one set of footprints, it was then, that I carried you’. My precious, precious child I love you and I will never leave you.’

When you feel God has forgotten you, just remember he is there. In the midst of your trials, not only does he see your pain, he suffers in silence with you just like Jesus did on the cross.

The idea that God is present only when he is working things through for us, or when our prayers are answered or when he rescues us, is flawed. God is with us – with you – in hard times too.

As singer and speaker Sheila Walsh explains in ‘Loved back to Life’ it is undoubtedly in those moments, as we give all we have to draw closer to him, that we may be able to recognise that we exist for him and not him for us.

Ultimately, he doesn’t owe us anything, we owe him everything.

Ludivine Kadimba

Ludivine Kadimba is an Executive Assistant at Kintsugi Hope which provides safe and supportive spaces and resources for those experiencing mental and emotional health challenges. Check them out at Kintsugi Hope.

Ever wondered who may be hiding in the branches of your family tree? Here’s 8 top tips to find out.

I’ve found out that Formula One driver and former world champion Jenson Button is my second-cousin on my mother’s side. Of course, he doesn’t know it. And may not be very excited if he did.

However, the discovery made my day – as have many other others – when searching the depths of my family history. It’s an activity I enthusiastically recommend – especially for those no longer working full time and, supposedly, with time for new interests.

You may be surprised as to how easy it is to learn more about your roots and, in doing so, leave a legacy for those following on. And what a way to have conversations with grandchildren about where they have come from.

Fancy giving it a go? Then, based on my experience, here come my top 8 tips.

Perhaps you’ll find past relatives to match another of my own – Sir Philip Randle, internationally honoured for advancing scientific understanding of the causes of diabetes and who founded departments of biochemistry at Oxford and Bristol Universities.

Want to find your own ‘Sir Philip’? Then here we go –

  1. Get clued up on the subject
  2. To get you going, read a book or two on researching your genecology. Or have a good Google. Just put ‘all you need to know about researching ancestors’ into a search engine and you are on your way.

  3. First dip into the memories of older relatives
  4. This is the ideal way to get things rolling and establish a launch pad. You may be amazed at what they know about their own forebears.

    I discovered my mother was the one who knew everyone, had facts at her fingertips, and could recall things with great clarity – making it an ideal way to start.

  5. Use the internet
  6. The internet has pushed this type of research to new levels – delivering you from endless visits to trawl through parish records and survey gravestones.

    Specialist genealogy services like Ancestry, Find My Past, and The Genealogist now offer access to billions of records – and not just in the UK. They will absorb your time and are not cheap.

    However, all include a free trial. So you could work flat out for a short period of time. Or try your local library which may have one or more of them to access without charge.

  7. Use a genealogy programme on your computer
  8. This is a way to save hours of work. It completes all the links for you, draws a tree, and include pictures if you wish.

    The most widely used is Free Family Tree Builder from MyHeritage. Also recommended by the experts, and also free, is Legacy Family Tree Genealogy Standard.

  9. Access the census records
  10. Census forms list everyone in a house on a particular day, their ages, relationships, and their work. With there having been a census every ten years since 1801, other than 1941, you have access to great insight into the past.

    It was a special experience for me when examining the 1911 census – the first in which residents had to fill in the form themselves and the last released for public consumption. I was moved to see to see my grandfather’s writing, knowing he had actually penned the entry.

    However, it has not all been joy. I’ve discovered some of my relatives ended up in the poor house, and many worked down the mines in the Midland’s coal field.

    One of these, Albert Wilkinson, was a Main Checkweighman at Elsecar Main Colliery – chosen by workmates for his integrity because he checked the weight of the coal brought to the surface and, thus, the amount their earned.

  11. See what churches have to offer
  12. Churches have lists of their weddings and baptisms going back many years. Lancashire, for example, has many of the churches’ listings, including even including burials, at the Online Parish Clerks site – Other regions may have the same.

    This has made it possible for me follow my Hall tree back to 1808, when my great-great-great grandfather was born.

  13. Check and double check everything
  14. I’ve discovered it’s wise never to assume dates and places as being accurate. Wherever possible cross reference and check again to save you barking up the wrong tree (see what I did there!)

  15. Find others on the same quest
  16. Most areas have a group dedicated to family history and provide a meeting point to learn new tricks or make friends who can help guide your research. Often a local library runs sessions to introduce newcomers to such research.

There you go and who knows who or what you will find to delight you in the way that I have been delighted to discover –

  • My grandfather, Elijah Hall, was a local preacher in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, – and a miner under contract to deliver an agreed tonnage of coal to the pithead, hiring and paying his own labour.
  • An uncle who lost a leg in a mining accident when quite young and became a cobbler.
  • An uncle who became a county councillor on the West Riding of Yorkshire and was made an Alderman.

It is an enthralling and rewarding hobby which uncovers the past and opens up many avenues to discover your roots, skeletons in the cupboard, famous relatives, or even those who have emigrated and made it overseas.

So go get hunting. You won’t regret it.

For other ways to discover new challenges and activities in your after-work years see the AfterWorkNet pages on New Opportunities.

Have you made discoveries about your ancestors? Or have insights on how to find them? Please comment here or on our Facebook Group. 

David Hall

Dave Hall working life was as a journalist on local newspapers, Christian magazines, and as a press officer. Married with two adult children – one in Spain and the other close to his home near Burnley. Dave preaches and helps at Little Stars, the mums’ and toddlers’ group, and Messy Church at his village church.

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.

More time to pray? It’s not that easy. But here’s some encouragement and practical help.

Person praying

In these uncertain times, prayer seems more important than ever. And I guess it’s not unreasonable to expect that those of us who are no longer working full time with perhaps the added daily responsibilities for children to use our time and head and heart space to pray more.

To be honest, most of us feel we’d like to do better with our praying. After all, our life experiences have built much wisdom and faith into our hearts and minds that we can invest. And we know James in his letter says, ‘The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.’ James 5.16.

But let’s be realistic. It’s not that easy. What’s needed is some encouragement and some practical help. So let me offer you some of both.

First, the encouragement. To put it simply, prayer works.

At moments of impending peril during the Second World War, days of prayer were held – for the evacuation of Dunkirk for instance. The King and Parliament called the nation to pray and a series of miracles meant that 338,000 Allied soldiers trapped in Normandy – my father among them – were rescued in heroic circumstances.

The God to whom we bring this needy world does things like this when we pray. The circumstances now in 2019 may be different but we have the same prayer-answering God.

Now for the practical help.

  1. Decide when and how. God is always with us, so prayer is a moveable feast. But as with enjoying food and drink, there are different times and ways to do it. Does this new season in your life offer the opportunity to do things differently? Is there an alternative time or place to meet God by yourself? Are there new people who you could join to pray with? Or is what’s needed a fresh commitment to stick with what you’ve always done?
  2. Remember ‘ACTS’ I’m sure you know the well-worn acronym of Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication which serves as a helpful guide to the order of our prayers. Perhaps it’s time to dust it off and give it another go. If so, do work at getting a balance. Too much introspective repentance at the expense of remembering others’ needs isn’t good. How will you include worship in these prayer times?
  3. Find your focus. The reality is that we can’t pray for everything. So try to sense where your own focus should be. Family? Friends? Church life? Community? Nation? International? You’ll not want to go overboard by praying exclusively for just one area. But don’t take the whole world on your shoulders either. There are apps to help you organise your prayers in this way. Check out Prayer Mate or the new Inner Room from 24/7 Prayer.
  4. Get clued up. There are many helpful resources to give you up to date information for your prayers. My favourite – because I write it! – is CARE’s quarterly Prayer Diary with its wide range of topics. To receive it by post or online follow this link – CARE Prayer.
    With Brexit on the horizon as I write, you’ll find helpful information and opportunities to pray from the following –
    National Call 2 Prayer. This is encouraging informed prayer, especially on March 28th, Brexit Eve.
    Christians in Parliament is a cross-party organisation with a vision for bringing faith into the heart of politics.
    The Evangelical Alliance which has brought together some helpful prayer resources.
    24-7 Prayer is at the forefront of intercession around the world and this link is to their section on the UK.
    World Prayer Centre is a national hub for prayer throughout the UK.
  5. Don’t be downhearted. What a relief that prayer isn’t just down to fallible human effort. The Holy Spirit is the composer and conductor of this extraordinary global orchestra we’re in.

The needs are great. Our God is greater. What an opportunity we have to bring a broken and needy world to the only One who can truly make a difference.

What approach to prayer have you found helpful and what prayer resource would you recommend. Please share here or on the AfterWorkNet Facebook Group.

Celia Bowring

Celia isn’t retired yet – although she’s recently changed from being office-based to working from home, so working out her own use of time. Celia writes the CARE Prayer Diary along with many other resources. She also chairs Pray for Schools. And loves being a hands-on grandmother!

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.

Should death be on your ‘looking-forward-to-it list’? Or are there better things to do?

When it comes to upcoming events that I’m looking forward to, stopping breathing is not on my list. To put it simply – I don’t want to die. But please don’t judge me for it.

Some Christians apparently are thrilled about the prospect of their own funeral, even though they won’t care what’s in the sandwiches they serve afterwards.

Like me you may have heard them claiming we should all come to a place of ‘maturity’ in our Christian lives where we would rather die and be with Jesus than live here on earth. They give the impression death is something to be warmly welcomed, a wonderful carrier that will usher us into the presence of the Lord, which is far better than the struggles of life here.

But are we really expected to see life like that? As though life is just a waiting room for eternity? Please, ‘no’! But it’s easy to see where this ‘death wish’ thinking comes from.

Paul the faithful apostle was able to say he longed to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. For him to live was Christ, he said. And to die was gain. Life, nil points, death and eternity thereafter, ten points. Death scored much higher.

I’m glad Paul reached that place of peace in the face of his upcoming demise. But I’m not there, and for the next couple of decades at least, I hope I don’t arrive at that destination of happy resignation.

I don’t view death with the delirious delight of a five year old about to board an airplane flight for the first time. When it comes to expiry, I’ll be wanting to eek out every last breath. I remember the sinking feeling when, as a child riding a fairground ride, I saw the attendant place his hand on the lever that meant my fun was almost over. That’s how I feel about life.

So how do I square this with Paul’s enthusiasm for dying? It’s because of the context of his remarks.

Over an extended period, as a follower of Jesus, Paul had experienced terrible pain and persecution – and a series of unjust, kangaroo court trials that were corrupt to the core.

Though enjoying a measure of freedom at the end of his life, Paul was still under house arrest in Rome, and life was not what it had been. He could no longer embark on missionary travels. He could no longer visit the churches he founded.

So perhaps the exhaustion and frustration of it all made the glory of eternity shine all the brighter. Being with Christ would be a welcome relief under those circumstances. Little wonder he anticipated it with such joy.

But that’s not my experience, and so I have no desire to die just yet.

Surely we are designed and made to want to hold on to life for as long as we can – the resilience of the human body testifies to that truth. I’ve watched as impossibly fragile seniors, their bodies riddled with cancer, little more than skin and bones, fight on for weeks and months, clinging with vice like tenacity to the gift of living. Death, while it is a defeated enemy, is still an enemy.

A profound example of this can be found in the way Jesus prepared for his own death. At the last supper, he bids his friends goodbye in a poignant covenant meal. There will be wine shared again, he promises, but it will be the vintage reserved for the fullness of the Father’s Kingdom. There’s a parting. He carefully prepares for the worst – the cross.

But then a little later, in the shadows of Gethsemane, Jesus asks the Father if there is any other way the great rescue can be accomplished. Hopes for the best are expressed. They’re denied, for he must drink that cup of suffering to the full, but he asks repeatedly anyway for another way. Ask for the best. Prepare for the worst.

So when death finally makes an appearance in my life, I want to be able to face it down with courage, and be able to gather my family and friends and say goodbye.

In the meantime, I want to live to the full, for and with Christ, today, and hopefully tomorrow and for many days more too. Death, kindly take your hand off that lever, right now.

This is adapted from Jeff Lucas’ book If you Want to Walk on Water, Consider Staying in the Boat (CWR)

Jeff is still some way from his afterwork years. His passion is to equip the Church with practical bible teaching, marked by vulnerability and humour. And he does so as an international author, speaker and broadcaster. Check him out at Jeff Lucas.


After a life of deadlines how is a retired journalist still making headlines? Here’s how.

When my retirement came – after a lifetime as a journalist working on newspapers, magazines and public relations – it was something of a shock to wake each morning without any pressing deadlines.

Yet now, 14 years after hanging up my green-eyeshade and editorial responsibilities, I seem busier than ever. And, like many retirees I guess, happier for it.

My transition to life in my afterwork world revealed there are some things that just have to be done. For me this included a move to be near a daughter and her family – from Oxfordshire to Lancashire. This also involved changing churches.

But then there are the choices and mine was not to vegetate either in mind or body.

As a result, my writing skills, allied to an interest in photography, led to gaining space in local newspapers to make our new church more visible. On one occasion this led to worldwide publicity for the local Street Pastors.

This came after I wrote an article on an 87-year-old member of our church who was still out on the streets in the early hours of Friday night and Saturday mornings. Her picture graced most national newspapers. And she was later a recipient of the Queen’s Maundy money in nearby Blackburn Cathedral, and appeared on the New Years Honours list.

To extend my social circle I joined a weekly writer’s group meeting in a local pub. One member came when I was invited to speak at a local Baptist Church – and the following week entertained the group with a potted review of the sermon in glowing terms.

I also knew I needed to do something to retain some semblance of fitness. Though our move had taken us to walking country I’m not a keen walker. So I joined the walking football sessions run by Burnley in the Community, the charitable arm of the football club.

It has proved to be great fun – despite most of the guys having lots of football experience and me having little. This being despite covering most of the London Clubs as a journalist for a Sports Agency and getting to know legends like Bobby Moore and Glenn Hoddle.

At 79 I am the second oldest on our team and can still manage one hour sessions on Mondays and Fridays each week.

My eyes have also been open to new opportunities. For example, having enjoyed the full colour magazine – Northern Life – covering life in Yorkshire and Lancashire I now write a couple of features in most editions and do the book reviews.

This is a great way to be involved with local people, including some of whom come to our small church.

More recently I have had the great pleasure of joining forces with a former magazine colleague, Steve Goddard. Steve had been press officer for the Christian Resources Exhibition for many years and when it was about to close he and his wife bought it up.

I was persuaded to become the press officer and it has been great fun – meeting many faces from the Christian past and being able to publicise many Christian organisations doing a valuable work for God.

I can look back at a life that has included shaking hands with a Pope, having an audience with another, spending time with the late Billy Graham, and interviewing many sporting, political and literary personalities. I have even been sworn at by the Duke of Edinburgh

Yet what has been an exciting life has continued in my new phase of active retirement. Each day I wonder what God has in store and there is always something worthwhile.

And to think that I could have settled for just pruning the roses.

Dave Hall

Dave Hall spent his working life as a journalist on local newspapers, Christian magazines, and was the press officer who helped launch the Good News Bible. Married with two adult children – one living in Spain and the other close to his home near Burnley. At his village church Dave preaches and helps at Little Stars, the mums’ and toddlers’ group, and Messy Church.

Retired? It’s not just about growing older, it’s more about growing up!

Couple looking over the hill

I imagined the only way my life would change after I moved out of full-time employment would be that I would have extra time freedom to enjoy a more relaxed lifestyle!

And that, meanwhile, my values, beliefs and outlook would keep flowing in the direction they always had. In other words, though my circumstances would change that would not be true of me as a person.

I guess that’s an expectation shared by many. But should it be?

I ask because that’s not the way it’s been for me. Instead, my eyes – and my mind – have been opened to something very different. What I’ve discovered is that life can come in two very distinct phases and best expressed as –

Phase 1 – The earlier years, during which we establish our identity, build a structure of beliefs, education, relationships, career, values and so on. This has been designated as ‘climbing, achieving and performing’.

Phase 2 – The later years, which is when we allow the structures we’ve built in phase 1 to be shaped, changed and filled by new challenges, loss of control, failures, doubts, questions, brokenness, broader horizons.

This description of an upwards and expansive progression perfectly fits my pre and post retirement world.

In short, it’s an acknowledgement that the past – including its tough times – should shape us and equip us to be the kind of people who are useful in a totally different kind of way. By becoming more realistic, more accepting, more sensitive, more relational, more inclusive, more tolerant, more loving, more hopeful, more peace loving, having more time for people.

It is just as well that I made this discovery.

When I came to retirement it took me about 6 months to stop being pretty fed up. My wife’s assessment extends that timescale considerably. But what slowly dawned on me was the extent to which my values had insidiously developed to being mostly about ‘what I was doing’ and ‘how much others valued it – or didn’t’!

This was not what I’d taught others as a pastor and preacher. But it was what I found I’d tended to become and was in direct conflict with those now well-worn words ‘God made us human beings, not human doings’.

But now it’s time for confession. The penny did not totally drop as the result of my own grey matter. If only I were that bright!

Although I had begun to address what was increasingly a tension deep in my soul, the real revelation came from the writings of the Franciscan priest Richard Rohr. They’ve had a radical and refreshing impact on my thinking about life, holistic spirituality, God’s Grace and all things related.

And that’s where the main insight about two stages of life comes from. It’s wrapped up in Rohr’s book ‘Falling Upwards’. Here he encourages us to see there to be an upwards and expansive progression to our life – as set out in the two dimensions I’ve described.

Of course it can be somewhat unnerving to realise that change in our later years can – and perhaps should – involve more than our appearance and energy levels. Yet, rather than feeling threatened at such change, why not embrace it.

After all, isn’t this reflected in the words of St Paul – ‘But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely – Galatians 5v23,24 The Message.

Should it not be, as we travel through life, that we find different, and perhaps more age related values emerging? That we move from rigidity, through structure, and onwards to a more fluid and ever expansive way of doing life? To a maturity which tends towards a much more integrative, inclusive and holistic life. One that’s as generous towards others and ourselves as God is towards us.

So, here I am, in my 70’s, and knowing I can no longer ‘do’ all I did. Indeed, I have deliberately stepped away from a lot of my previous ‘doings’. But there are things I want to be focused on in all the situations I find myself in; and in truth I’m no less ‘busy’ than I ever was….which you’ll understand well I’m sure, especially if you are blessed with grandchildren!

I long to ‘be’ more loving, more joyful, more peaceful, more tolerant, more open to fresh thinking, more expansive in my theology, more gentle, more marked by humility, more disciplined in my ‘retirement’ than ever I was earlier in my career. And because of Gods outrageous grace, I find I can be! Which is fun, and fulfilling despite my well recognised flaws.

My invitation to you is ‘please join me if you are not here already’. And whatever, be blessed in your own journeys of discovery . . . . .

Stuart Pascall

Stuart has been a Christian communicator, trainer, pastor and more since his early career in the motor trade. His focus has been mostly to challenge churches to think creatively outside its ‘boxes’ and to get more involved in the wider community around them. He sees his expanding family as a joy and privilege. He loves classic cars, astronomy, coast walking and supports Man Utd with a renewed enthusiasm.

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.

Next year is like a new country – and these 5 wise ‘travel tips’ are not to be missed.

Going into a new year is a lot like taking a journey to another country. In both cases you don’t know exactly what’s ahead. And there are some wise things to keep in mind to make the very best of it.

So, as you voyage into 2019, here are 5 rather obvious ‘travel tips’ to make the journey as worthwhile as possible.

1.Be realistic about it.

When it comes to holidays, the brochures tend to make it all look far better than the real thing. After all, that’s their job. But we too can wrongly imagine the land of New Year will be significantly different to the one that’s gone before.

In reality, nothing magical happens when the clock strikes midnight on December 31st. There’s no Cinderella in reverse to be experienced. And this is one of the hard truths to learn about travel. That, wherever we go, we take ourselves with us.

If we’re tetchy, ungrateful, easily irritated, and self-centred, that side of us will still be with us as we journey on. A new country won’t fix it and nor will a New Year. Which means the need to take a realistic account of who we are and what we are like – and doing something about it.

2.Check your baggage weight.

I hate that awful moment at airports when the unsmiling check-in person tells me with unwelcome glee that I’m a little overweight. Sure, it’s a relief when I realise this is not personal and is about my luggage.

But what excess baggage might you be taking into the year ahead? Bitterness, hatred, shame, regret, jealousy? Or some other unhelpful emotions that will way us down when we are across the border of 2019?

These are the weights to leave behind – by forgiving others, forgiving yourself, by recognising that God loves us for who we are.

3.Choose the right travel companions.

There’s nothing worse than discovering that someone who’s great for an occasional coffee is a nightmare as a full-on travel companion. So who would we best have at our side in the New Year journey?

Will they enrich your life – and give you opportunities to enrich theirs? Will they speak the kind of truth you need to hear and be open for you to do the same for them? Will their positive outlook spur you on or their negativity drag you down?

Or think of it this way, who are those you can invest time in, celebrate with, and express love and appreciation for? And how can you make sure they are traveling with you and you with them.

4.Check your destination.

There’s the classic story of the airline passenger who ended up in Istanbul when they had bought a ticket to Torquay. (Think about it!) You’ll only have one opportunity to explore 2019 so make sure you get have a ticket for the right destination.

This is where having a few simple but clear goals come in. Not overwhelming ones that, in your heart of hearts, you know you’ll flunk in the first few weeks. But a fresh commitment or two on how to make the most of one more precious year in your afterwork stage of life.

For a little inspiration, here are three possible areas to explore –

Your new possibilities

Your health and fitness

Your service to others

5.Pack wisely.

To be honest, what you take with you may be the least of your worries. That’s because, over the years, you’ve accumulated a storehouse of knowledge, skills, know-how, experience and wisdom. As they say, ‘It’s in the bag’.

In which case, having packed it, don’t keep it all to yourself. You can make the coming year more rewarding for you and others by making sure what you’ve packed is put to good use.

Ahead is a new land waiting to be enjoyed, explored and enriched. Bon voyage.

Jeff Lucas

Jeff is still some way from his afterwork years. His passion is to equip the Church with practical bible teaching, marked by vulnerability and humour. And he does so as an international author, speaker and broadcaster. Check him out at Jeff Lucas.

Warning. Three things not to miss this Christmas.


Never mind the Twelve Days of Christmas, beware of the Twelve Daze of Christmas. Because that’s what it can all too easily become.

A blur of advertising messages, busyness, and meeting the expectations of others can swamp us. And ‘it’s all over before you know it.

This can be especially true for those of us who’ve been around long enough to now be active and retired. Automatic pilot kicks in. Been there. Done that. Bought the Christmas jumper.

So here’s a little check list of three things we ought not to miss. Or, to put it another way, here’s some opportunities to grab with both hands.

1.Don’t miss those who are lonely

You’ll be hearing it on the radio and in the shops –that big past Christmas hit –‘Do they know its Christmas time at all?’

One of the most evocative lines of any Christmas number one reminds us that far too many will be adrift from the joy and friendship that’s wrapped up in the Christmas season.

Indeed, Christmas is the time the reality of loneliness can be painfully magnified when, seemingly, everybody else is having the time of their lives.

All of which provokes the question, ‘What small part can you play to reduce the experience of loneliness for just one person?’ The answer will be different for each of us. But can we do something?

For my own family, some of the best times have been when we have had an unexpected visitor with us. Like the Moroccan student who understood little of the meaning of Christmas and was even more confused when we went outside and threw snow at each other.

2.Don’t miss those who are hurting

Christmas has a way of stirring up painful memories for those now missing someone they love. If a bereavement is recent then this is understandable and we’ll be taking account. But it can equally be true for anyone facing a stark reminder that someone dear to them is not round the table.

It takes older and wiser heads to look out for the signs of pain. And a caring heart to come alongside and ‘be there’ for them. Who better than an after-worker – with their eyes and listening ears open – to respond.

However, a loved-one’s absence is not the only possible cause for hurt during the Christmas season. My most poignant Christmas memory was at our Christmas market when a man in a wheelchair said ‘I’m here to buy my wife her last Christmas present I’ll ever buy’. Knowing he was terminally ill, he wanted his wife to have a memory.

We took time to talk and pray with him. And now we see him as a constant reminder of the people to look out for.

Of all the wonders of Christmas, the most important thing for me is the people. And it is surely a time to look beyond the comfort and security of our homes and realise there is still a huge world of need out there.

3.Don’t miss the meaning of the season

This brings me back to my ‘automatic pilot’ concern. Those in the early stages of retirement can often have more responsibilities to distract them rather than less – children, grandchildren and even their parents.

That makes it hard – but even more important – to find some space to reflect. What better way than to wrap our minds round that profound Charles Wesley carol which has a sermon in every line.

Here it comes –to mull on and enjoy for the wonderful truths it carries. I’ve made some suggestions as to thoughts and responses you might have.

Hark the herald angels sing

Glory to the new born king

Worship is due to the son of God

Peace on earth and mercy mild

God and sinners reconciled

Pray for peace and new life for those who do not know Jesus 

Christ by highest heaven adored

Christ the everlasting Lord

Late in time behold him come

Offspring of the virgin’s womb

A brilliant description of the real Jesus

Veiled in flesh the godhead see

Hail the incarnate deity

Jesus is both man and God

Pleased as man with man to dwell

Jesus our Emmanuel

The living Word came and dwelt among us

Mild he lays his glory by

Born that man no more may die

Born to raise the sons of earth

Born to give them second birth

            From glory he came to give us new life in him

Here’s to a happy, caring and Christ-centred Christmas.

Dave Fenton

Dave is a retired clergyman spending his after-work time lecturing at Moorlands College, building relationships and sharing his faith at his local golf club, and escaping to a cliff-top caravan in Cornwall where his seven grandchildren enjoy the local surfing beach.

What way have you found to make Christmas special for others? Please share here or with our Facebook group.

Think the personal pain from abortion is nothing to do with you? Think again.

One in 3 UK women will have had an abortion by the time they are 45 – experiencing the emotional impact that can go with it. But why should this concern those in their after-work years? After all, doesn’t abortion mainly impact those much younger?

If that’s in your mind, please think again.

The 1967 Abortion Act is now 50 years old. This means many now in their later years will have made this choice – and some will be in our churches, possibly including your church. And they may well still be carrying a deep sense of guilt, failure, grief.

Even worse, due to a fear of rejection and being judged, they may never have felt able to tell anyone and so receive the loving care they need.

It’s because of this I have a longing for every church. It’s that they should be where those who’ve faced an abortion or other baby loss, can receive grace and compassionate understanding.

This is why OPEN exists, as an initiative of CARE. It’s also why your own prayerful wisdom could have such a part to play.

Is the post-abortion experience something to mention in church?

Over the years, Christians have spoken out to protect unborn human life and challenge efforts to make abortion law ever more liberal. But this doesn’t mean we should not whole-heartedly support women who’ve had abortions.

Keeping the two in balance is not easy. But, for Christians, both baby and mother matter.

In our churches, some may have come to terms with their abortion experience. They have no need or desire to open up about it. But there may well be others still feeling deeply affected, and who resist being open for fear of the reaction of others.

This means they’re left dealing with the hurt and pain on their own. This can also be the painful experience of women who’ve had a miscarriage or still birth.

I know this to be true.

Almost without fail, when I’m speaking for OPEN in churches, people confide in me of experiences which often have taken place years before. And they tell me how they’ve never spoken about their abortions, especially not in the setting of their church – and how the pain was still very real.

I’ve learned that being open, non-judgemental, and truly caring can have an amazing and transforming impact on those living with the experience of abortion.

For example I think of the woman who said she was ‘free’ for the first time in 30 years. For all that time she’d carried silent grief and pain, and a sense of unworthiness. This burden was lifted when she heard God understood this grief, and he forgives.

Here’s what you can do

With some extra time on your hands and years of wisdom at your disposal, here’s 6 simple but valuable things you can do to support those who have experienced abortion.

  1. Be aware: Start with an understanding that there may well be those in your circle of friends and contacts who are carrying pain from a past experience of either abortion or miscarriage.
  2. Be open: Sensitively include this reality in conversations or in the context of preaching and teaching.
  3. Be alert: Look for signals and be open to caring and affirming conversations with those who might find it helpful.
  4. Be praying: Pray for good conversations with those for whom this might be an issue.
  5. Be proactive: Get the issue on the agenda of your church by having a speaker share how a compassionate response can be made in your church and community.
  6. Be practical: One of the most helpful things you can do is recommend one of the OPEN Healing Retreats.

To learn more, do visit the We Are Open website. It’s a rich resource for you and your church. Or email me at

Jenny Baines

Jenny’s background as the mother of a large family, her own miscarriages and being a Pastor’s wife, drew her to respond to the needs of those impacted by pregnancy loss. She’s now a consultant for OPEN, an initiative of CARE, helping churches create an environment where these sensitive issues can be shared with grace and compassionate understanding.

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.

Increase your health, energy and lifespan with Rosemary Conley’s ‘Three wisdoms’ for keeping fit.

We all have the opportunity to keep fit or to risk heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes, and some cancers. Recent research also identifies good health as one way to help prevent dementia.

Unquestionably, keeping fit can add years to our lives and help us enjoy living to the full.

That’s why my ‘three wisdoms for keeping fit’ are so worth taking on board. And here they come.

Wisdom One: Eat healthily

I believe there’s more to watching what you eat than keeping your weight under control. A healthy diet also promotes good health.

  • Try to reduce the artery-clogging impact of cholesterol with a diet low in fat and try to include more fibre–rich foods such as fruit and vegetables, porridge oats, lentils, beans and nuts. But go easy on the nuts if you’re trying to lose weight!
  • Studies show a Mediterranean diet, rich in green leafy vegetables, oily fish and the occasional glass of red wine, can lower our chances of developing dementia by up to 40 per cent.

Wisdom Two: Strengthen your bones

Bones are a living organ and from around age 40 our bone mass gradually reduces unless we work hard to strengthen it. If we don’t, this can lead to osteoporosis – when our bones lose their density and when they can break more easily. The good news is we can do a lot to strengthening our bones and consequently protect our health.

For example –

  • Weight bearing exercise like brisk walking, jogging, dancing and aerobics, skipping or jumping on a small trampoline can significantly help boost our bone strength. However, if you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, it is best to avoid activities where both feet are off the ground at the same time. To strengthen your bones it is really helpful to exercise with light weights or a latex resistance band.
  • Exercise like swimming, cycling and rowing can reduce our levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol and increases our ‘good’ cholesterol.
  • Calcium and vitamins D and K are important for bone health. Calcium is found in dairy products and the level does not reduce in low fat versions. Try to consume 450ml (3/4 pint) of milk every day. Green leafy vegetables and canned fish, particularly sardines are also rich sources of calcium. Try to eat one or two portions of oily fish each week for heart health too. For lots more on healthy eating ideas see my Stay Young Diet – that has lots of healthy recipes.

Dealing with joints

When we’re younger, our joints move easily because the synovial fluid that ‘oils’ them is plentiful. With age, that fluid can lessen and joint movement may become more difficult. In some cases the degeneration of the cartilage between joints can lead to significant pain when bone rubs against bone.

So, what can we do to help prevent this happening?

Lose weight – excess pounds puts enormous strain on joints.

Exercise – Regular exercise can significantly strengthen our muscles and ligaments which hold our skeleton together. The gym, a fitness class, exercising to a fitness DVD or playing sport will all help maintain muscle strength and keep bones and joints fitter and stronger for longer.

Eat wisely:  Choosing a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D and K for the benefit of our joints and bones can make a big difference to our overall healt. Also, try to make sure you spend time in the sunshine to boost your vitamin D consumption.

Omega 3 oils can help if you suffer from inflammation in the joints – eat foods rich in them or take a supplement. Litozin is the latest in nutritional supplements to help joints.

You can find more in-depth ideas and advice on my web pages for AfterWorkNet at Health and Fitness – do pay me a visit.

Rosemary Conley CBE DL

What tip experience do you have to share on keeping healthy and fit? Please comment here or on our Facebook community

Rosemary Conley CBE DL

Rosemary has helped tens of thousands to achieve and maintain a healthy life, through her diet and exercise programmes. At 65, she took up skating for ITV’s ‘Dancing on Ice’ and still skates 7 years later.

Me, my mobile and God. Ten (suggested) Commandments for using a mobile

They say our smartphones are more powerful than the massive NASA computers that sent Apollo missions to the moon in the 1970’s.  In the UK, 85 per cent of us use our mobiles daily and some find it hard to resist regularly checking them – apparently every twelve minutes on average  – to text a message, catch up on FaceBook, play music or ask Siri or Alexa for help. Nothing wrong with any of it but let’s keep technology in its place. Particularly as we consider the habits of our children and grandchildren.

Here’s a very practical place to start that thinking! And food for thought for families we know

Ten (suggested) Commandments for using a mobile

  1. Never at a shared meal table. Including breakfast!
  2. Never sneak – under the table; in the loo…
  3. Make sure your privacy settings, especially on Facebook, protect you. It’s incredible how much information about you is out there. It could easily be exploited.
  4. Be secure and take passwords seriously. That means thinking about the process. Try Googling ‘how to set strong passwords’ and note them safely.
  5. Adults need to monitor teenagers’ mobile and other screen use. For those in our care, have a policy on where, when and for what they use their devices. Stick to it. (Katherine Hill’s book ‘Left to their own devices’ published by Care for the Family is excellent on this)
  6. Small children’s use of devices and online experience is in our hands. Parents and others looking after them need to how to limit their use appropriately.
  7. Wherever you find yourself – home, work, church – if you can, speak to someone face-to-face rather than text or call.
  8. Don’t allow your devices to interfere with your concentration. When you have work to do, fun to enjoy, people to spend time with, turn them off and put them out of sight.
  9. Never use when driving. Even on hands-free it’s very easy to be distracted. Silence it – like you do in church – and leave it screen down, in the glove compartment, or on the back seat. And if you need to use your phone, pull off the road safely and stop to do it.
  10. Try taking a mobile-free Sabbath. Perhaps on Sunday, dawn till dusk. Let others know so they don’t get worried because you don’t respond, and enjoy the experience!

How many of these do you agree with? Perhaps you would add to them. We’d love to know!

Do let us know what you think, and visit  AfterWorkNet’s Facebook page to see what others are saying.

If you would like to read in deep you can find Nigel Cameron book here

Celia Bowring
Celia isn’t retired yet – although she’s recently changed from being office-based to working from home, so working out her own use of time. Celia writes the CARE Prayer Diary along with many other resources. She also chairs Pray for Schools. And loves being a hands-on grandmother!

Sex in your 70’s – really? Perhaps, with these 6 things in mind.

Even if we’ve hit a certain age and stage in life, sexual intimacy can still happen for many married couples. It need not be just be something to look back on with a nostalgic smile.

If that sounds like a challenge or even offers some hope, here are six encouragements about having a fulfilling sex life into our seventies… and beyond!

1.It doesn’t have to be like it was.

A woman asked her husband to come upstairs and make love. With a sigh, he replied, ‘Darling these days I can do one or the other, not both!’

Now you’re no longer in the fresh flush of youth and sexual intimacy, think about focusing on gentle affection rather than passion and incredible physical and emotional experience. Romantic words, touching, kissing, and other intimate contact can be fulfilling and rewarding.

2.Physical affection is good for your health

Apparently, an active sex life can increase life expectancy. It’s good exercise, releases endorphins and reduces anxiety. If it involves emotional wellbeing and closeness that’s good too. Touch is very important to our sense of wellbeing and hugs make us all feel better.

3.If one of you used to be keener on sex than the other, have the courage to gently raise this issue

It’s not unusual – perhaps for women more than men – to quite honestly feel relieved if their spouse is winding down on wanting to make love, for one reason or another. But sex in later life could be a whole new departure, maybe less focused on needs and more about appreciation and enjoyment of each other’s love.

4.It’s OK if parts of you no longer work as well as they used to. Enjoying sexual intimacy doesn’t have to include intercourse

Feelings of inadequacy and not believing we’re sexy any more should be thought through and openly shared – with as much humour as possible.  Aging means our bodies change in many ways – both men and women may find physical intimacy and climax a challenge.  Talk about it!

There may be remedies to discomfort and disfunction. Or alternative ways to express your physical love to one another.

5.Making love well ideally starts way before you get to the bedroom

Two songs from the past: The Beatles ‘Will you still need me when I’m 64?’ They thought 64 was impossibly old in those days! And ‘You don’t bring me flowers any more’. Why not? It is such a sure way of making your wife feel good and there are plenty of male equivalents too, if your husband’s not that bothered about flowers. And there will are so many expressions of affection and tenderness whether its simply holding handsor some other gesture to make the one we love feel cherished.

6.There’s loads of confidential, understanding help out there if you need it.

The good news is that there’s ample help available for both men and women who have issues about sexual activity, physical or emotional . Google is often the first resort.

A good GP also knows what can be done about a whole range of difficulties; illness, disability, the effect of medicines, too much alcohol, anxiety over ‘performance’, surgery, low self-esteem and concerns about body image. But the first step is an honest acceptance of need and some equally honest conversations with each other.

In a nutshell

The key to resolving or at least finding a level of intimacy you can both live with is to talk about it – first with each other and if necessary with a qualified counsellor. It can be a difficult subject to broach, even after many years of marriage. But it is nothing like as difficult as living with an increasing sense of distance and even resentment.

Be kind – if things are not the way one of you would like, remember that ‘for better for worse’ line. A little understanding and TLC can go a long way.

Get help if there is a problem in this area. Sex is an important part of marriage and we need to try to understand how our partner is feeling. And there are many couples who have rediscovered a sexual relationship that they assumed was gone forever.

And perhaps the best bit of advice is something that’s relevant whatever age we are and however long we have been married. It is that that love-making starts with expressions of affection a long way from the bedroom.

For more on marriage in your active years of retirement do see AfterWorkNet’s webpages on the subject. Just go here.

Dianne Parsons – Care for the Family

Dianne has been an integral part of Care for the Family’s ministry over many years, alongside husband Rob, and speaking and writing with great empathy for women about marriage and family life.

Do you have something to share on this sensitive subject? Do share it here.


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.

So what’s wrong with acting your age?

We almost certainly said it to our children – maybe not always helpfully, ‘Act your age’ perhaps adding ‘not your shoe size!’ But at times I feel the need to give a similar message to some active retired people.

In my days in youth ministry, it was sad when my 50-year-old colleagues were dressing like teenagers. They may have felt they looked cool but the reality was they looked more than slightly strange.

In much the same way, I now meet those in their 70s who claim they are far too young to rock up to anything for designed for retired people or even to hang out with them.

True, age can be as much to do with your attitude and state of mind as it is the level of your body’s decay. But, it seems to me, there are those who cannot bear to be designated ‘old’.

My message is ‘face up to reality and embrace the age you are. Put your birth certificate above your mantelpiece and reflect what it says in your choices and attitude’.

God brought me into the world in 1943 – definitely a vintage year! Where’s the problem with living with that reality? This is who I am – how God made me and the best thing I can do is to serve Him as I am, not how I wish or imagine myself to be.

For our parents’ generation retirement meant resting after years of working. But now people are asking what to do with their lives. Their answer is sometimes limited to golf, short tennis, walking football, line dancing or Saga cruises.

There’s nothing wrong with any of those. It’s great that the retired and active have the health and income to engage in a great variety of activities for many more years than those retiring in the past. Bit this means there’ll be a peer group around to share their lives for the next few decades, including sharing the relevance of Jesus.

In which case, as the old fashioned Wayside Pulpit asks, ‘What on earth are you doing for heaven’s sake?’ Act your age – join up with your fellow retirees and do something that grows God’s kingdom. What is wrong with being 74 and hanging out with other 74 year olds?

Those who are retired and active are one of a church’s greatest resources. But that’s only true if they make themselves available – as those committed to being part of God’s plan for themselves and for others.

We really can’t say ‘I’ve done my bit’. Retirement – what’s been called ‘my time to be selfish’ is a social construct not a biblical norm. No! Let’s accept the challenge ahead – rejoicing in the opportunities.

This is no time to sit in an armchair wishing you were young again but it is your moment to ask God to shape your new world as you work with others in your church and community.

When I watch cricket I get itchy fingers, wishing I was on the field again. I can still hit a ball but the challenge of a quick single over 18 yards is beyond me. But that’s no reason to retire from activity completely. So I’ve turned to golf and am enjoying accepting my limitations and re-adjusting my expectations. I hope you’re doing something of the same – by joining in with the glorious band of your fellow retirees and serving God together.

So if you are up for acting your age and need some ideas there’s a huge amount of ideas and resources waiting for you on our website at here.

Dave Fenton:

Dave is a retired clergyman spending his after-work time lecturing at Moorlands College, building relationships and sharing his faith at his local golf club, and escaping to a cliff-top caravan in Cornwall where his seven grandchildren enjoy the local surfing beach.

Do you have a ‘now I’m acting my age story’ to share? Then please do so in response to this blog or on our Facebook page.

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.


Would a little extra money help your retirement? Here’s 20 simple ideas.

For most people, the end of fulltime work means running a tighter ship where the purse strings are concerned. Which means a little extra income would go down well – to get by, spoil yourself or spoil others.

That’s why you might want to check out ways to add some income to your pension that don’t take you back to fulltime employment. And it’s worth keeping in mind that keeping active is likely to contribute to your health and wellbeing too.

Of course, what you can do depends on your age and state of health. But here are a few ideas to get you going, most of which come from the experience of those known to me.

  1. Delivering the local free paper
  2. Dog walking for those at work all day
  3. Light gardening maintenance
  4. Ironing – friends tell me this is in great demand
  5. Childminding – which will need complying with regulations so check with your council’s Child Care Officer
  6. Shifts at a supermarket or DIY store
  7. Catering for parties and events
  8. Book-keeping and/or tax returns
  9. Home tuition
  10. Music lessons
  11. Secretary to the parish council or local charity
  12. School lunchtime supervisor
  13. Take in a lodger
  14. Make money on eBay – clear your own ‘junk’ or unwanted items or pick them up at car boot sales
  15. Mind pets for those going on holiday
  16. Become a mystery shopper – check out the Mystery Shopper Providers Association
  17. Be a television or movie extra
  18. Teach English as a second language
  19. Be a doula – ladies only of course
  20. Self-publish a book

To explore any of the above just head for Google and search. There’s lots of help out there and also excellent advice from those who are already doing what you are thinking about.

If these seem a bit lightweight to you, you might explore something more demanding. Something like becoming a consultant or mentor, sharing your skills and experience with a new generation or to train as a life coach or counsellor.

You could even start your own online business. There’s lots of good advice out there and the tools to build your own website with automatic order taking and processing.

Remember, if you earn extra income it is likely to have tax implications. So keep not of the money you receive and any expenses involved. Possibly you many need to register as self-employed – to check with HMRC. And the Tax Office can make sure you receive the right tax-free allowance.

David Winter – adapted from his book The Highway Code for Retirement (CWR)

David Winter

David has retired three times from different settings, including as a Parish Priest and as the BBC’s Head of Religious Broadcasting. He was a regular contributor to Radio 4’s ‘Thought for the Day’ for more than 20 years.

Do you have your own experience of adding to your income? Then please share it here or our Facebook group. We’d love to hear from you.

Once – a Company Director.  Now – supporting a prison chaplain. Steve’s story.

First, I need to come clean. ‘Steve’ is not my real name – which I can’t reveal for reasons of security. It’s a funny world.

As to ‘my story’ I didn’t see it coming. That, in my days after work, I’d be looking to do what I can to support a prison chaplain at a time when we seem to hear about the ever-increasing pressures on prison life almost weekly.

Yet, perhaps I should not have been so surprised.

For a dozen years or so I’d been ‘in prison’ four or five times a year as part of a team helping at chapel services. This was all during my very busy days as Director of a modest-size engineering business.

Then came the time when this period of my life was now coming to an end, with a younger and very able colleague ready to take the reins.

However, I could see it would be a bad idea to completely stop dead. I’d heard of those who had done so and not fared well. More than that, I could see the value of a planned a gradual withdrawal, initially with one or two days off in the week, plus some weekend days that were less crowded. But how should this extra time be spent?

Looking back at what I’d enjoyed and was good at, those occasional visits into some of Her Majesty’s Prisons came to mind. More than that, they had given me an insight into how pressured a prison chaplain’s role can be, and how much value an extra pair of hands would be from time to time.

Because of this I made contact with the chaplain at the prison near me, making the offer to do ‘whatever was needed’.

A few weeks later found me simply helping out in the chapel services – handing out hymn sheets, switching on the lights, plugging in the microphones, praying with a couple of prisoners at the end. A couple of times, when they were short of a musician I stood in on that as well.

It has been fulfilling, rewarding and worthwhile – leaving me with a sense that the more I could offer, the more opportunity I would have to do something really meaningful and appreciated.

And so has come the next possible step. I don’t have to wind down activities – I can step up a gear!

God has used my past to show what I can do in the present to make retirement more fulfilling for me and more valuable to others.


‘Steve’ has to be anonymous due to security issues relating to HM Prisons.

Do you have a story to share about using your past skills and experience in your after-work years? Do share it here or on our Facebook group.

The inside story: How our body changes with age – and how to fight back.

Retirement isn’t the only thing that happens when you reach a certain age. Our body also undergoes some interesting – and not always helpful – changes too.

And, as these changes impact our health and the length of time we’ll live, they are not to be ignored.

First the bad news!

As we age our skin gets looser and drier, muscles become smaller and weaker, the speed at which our body burns calories slows down so we more easily gain weight, hearing may fade, and eyesight becomes less sharp.

On top of that, memory might fail us in a variety of ways. And sleep can become more elusive.

This natural process can’t really be avoided, but there are ways to slow it down if we make lifestyle changes and adopt healthy habits. Even if we should have taken action sooner, it’s never too late to begin.

Here are three ways to keep the impact of aging at bay and so make the most of your after-work years.

1. Fighting back through exercise

When we were younger we were more physically active, even without thinking about it. Just keeping life and a family going gave your muscles a great workout without going near a gym. If we played sport, even better.

However, age has changed all that. We are now less likely to have reasons to be physically active and maybe less able to be sporty.

What can we do?

 Getting fitter through a regular activity – ideally one we enjoy – is the most effective, youth-giving, medicine we could ever have.

Even just 15 to 20 minutes of activity each day helps stave off a multitude of health conditions as well as aches and pains, gives us more energy and makes our body and mind more efficient. And it will do wonder for our heart, the engine room of our body.

There are so many ways to exercise: walking, cycling, swimming, jogging, dancing, fitness videos and classes. Many offer clubs especially for those no longer in the flush of youth and working out with others is proven to be good for us mentally.

Even choosing to walk and not ride, and use stairs instead of the escalator or lift, can play its part. Every little helps!

2. Fighting back through weight loss:

We may not be eating very differently in our retirement but our body now burns fewer calories and we are moving about less. That’s why putting on pounds is almost inevitable unless we take action.

Indeed, right now you may be walking around carrying extra weight that’s the equivalent to a holiday suitcase. Lose it and you’ll feel years younger very quickly. You’ll also be healthier by taking pressure off your joints and vital organs – especially your heart.

What can you do?

There’s no shortage of weight-loss plans out there. Find a method that suits you as an individual but go for one from a reputable source – nothing gimmicky – and stick to it.

Why not have a look at my The Stay Young Diet created especially for those beyond middle-age. Check it out on the AfterWorkNet website at The Stay Young Diet.

This eating plan is distinctive because of the foods it’s based on – those rich in antioxidants which is key to fighting the ageing process. Antioxidants are found in those fruit and vegetables that are bright in colour and are bursting with life-enhancing vitamins and minerals.

3. Fighting back by being accountable

There’s evidence to show those setting out to make lifestyle changes do better if someone else is watching out for them in some way.

That’s a major key to the effectiveness of weight loss clubs – someone else will know how it is going. The thought of applause at weigh-in spurs you on. The reality of falling short is an encouragement not to say ‘just one more’!

Being accountable doesn’t have to involve joining in with others. One way is just to tell one or more of those closest to you what you are going for.

Even better is also to have a fitness or dieting buddy. Someone who’s as committed as you are to living healthier and longer.

Go for it.

Rosemary Conley CBE

Rosemary has helped tens of thousands to achieve and maintain a healthy life, through her diet and exercise programmes. At 65, she took up skating for ITV’s ‘Dancing on Ice’ and still skates 6 years later.

Have you found an approach to health and fitness that works for you? Do share it by commenting on this blot or by joining our Facebook group

Once – in the oil industry. Now – running Alpha for retired people. Chris’s story.

It started with a simple prayer, ‘Lord, what do you want me to do?’ Where it ended has taken me completely by surprise.

Several months before that simple prayer my paid employment had ended.

I’d been CEO of two London-based, jointly administered, charities. Before that, a bursar – looking after the business side of a school. Before that, had been many years in the oil industry.

The first months of after-work saw me catching up with jobs around the house and garden, visiting family and going to places of interest with my wife Linda. But I knew retirement had to be about more than ‘me’.

That was the reason for the prayer. And God answered – within a week. Doing so through the Vicar of my Egham, Surrey, church who said ‘Chris we have been praying and we want you and Linda to run an Alpha course for retired people’.

Though never having been on an Alpha course, I realised my past business and church experience made leading one something I could do. More importantly, this seemed to be something God wanted me to do.

Of the team I pulled together, almost half were also in retirement’s early and active years – as were about half of the 20 who attended.

What surprised me was not just how many retired people wanted to attend. It was also the number of questions and issues people raised. Some were wanting to know what Christianity was all about. Others admitted their faith had grown cold and needed to re-examine the basics.

All this proved something very important to be true. That God could wonderfully use my experience from the past in my new era of life.

This past experience had included selecting the right people for a job, building teams, planning events and a lot public speaking. My church life had involved leading Bible Studies and some preaching. And the Alpha course brought all this into play.

Indeed, this has proved to be one of my life’s most fulfilling and rewarding experiences. It was truly amazing to see God changing lives, watch faith being rejuvenated and see people’s questions answered.

Equally wonderful was what this meant for those at the same stage of life as me and serving as discussion group leaders and helpers. They too had the awesome experience of seeing God at work.

When the request came for the team to run a second course, our ‘yes’ was without hesitation. We called it Daytime Alpha – making it available to anyone free during the day.

Again, we saw people coming to faith and others whose faith came alive again.

In particular, I think of John and Joyce. This lovely couple in their late 60’s were steadily moving through retirement with no live relationship with Jesus. And their daughter had long been praying for them.

God opened their spiritual eyes and their lives were transformed. Soon after they moved to the South Coast and now have their own ministry among retired people in their new church.

This is how, in the first year of my retirement, I discovered what great blessings God gives us when we make available the past experience and abilities he has placed in our hands.

That is also the way it has continued and – ‘please Lord’ – may it do so for many years to come.

Chris Matthews

For more on using your own workplace skills and experience in your retirement visit our web page – Serving

And to share your own experience join our Facebook group. We’d love to hear from you.


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.

5 Encouragements to finish well spiritually

The aspirations of those competing in the World Cup and Wimbledon are fresh in my mind. All those hours of gruelling preparation put to the test. The aspirations of those competing in the World Cup and Wimbledon are fresh in my mind. All those hours of gruelling preparation put to the test.

As we cheer on athletes and competitors like them, what of our own aspirations to finish the race of faith well?

What will it take for us to receive the trophy of God’s ‘Well done!’ at the end of life’s tournament? Here are 5 encouragements to take you on your way.

1. Don’t quite the race 

There’s a certain temptation to regard the afterwork years as more of a time to hang up your spiritual tennis shoes than lace them back up. Or, in cycling terms, to coast downhill rather than keep pushing the peddles.

Yet our after-work stage of life has plenty going for it when it comes to becoming more like Jesus. Of course you’ll hopefully have the time for a whole host of activities. But the encouragement to ‘Seek first the kingdom of heaven’ still holds as we get older.

2. Remember the winners of the past

We must never forget we’re part of God’s ageless kingdom. Those who have gone before us and finished well – the should be an encouragement for us to do the same.

Thankfully it’s not all down to us – because the Holy Spirit equips and empowers us when we ask. But it takes our own commitment to stick at the Christian life with the finishing line in sight.

‘Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in.’ Hebrews 12;1 The Message

3. Finish well

It’s a sad day when we hear of someone who’s followed Jesus all their lives letting it all slip at the end. And we are all at risk here.

We may not fall to one of the big 3 – money, sex and power. But there’s also the more subtle traps of resentment, envy, laziness, indifference and self-indulgence and the like.

The Apostle Paul urges us; ‘being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.’ Philippians 1: 6.  God won’t fail us but the trials of later life might make it a struggle for us not to fail him.

So ‘be wise and watchful and’ keep on keeping on’.

4. Please the coach

Top seeds, with a tennis racquet in hand, love just to bask in the cheers of the crowd. But they are wise to which of the spectators matter the most. It’s their coach.

In the same way, it is natural to seek the approval of family and friends for the way we do life. But no one matters more than our Great Coach and his approval. So keep the words from Hebrews 13 v 16 in mind – – ‘Do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.’

5. Keep your eye on the prize

It’s an epic Wimbledon moment when, with all the ball girls and boys lined up, the Duke of Kent shakes the winners’ hands and presents their trophies – along with a nice fat cheque.

There’s a day coming for all of us who have followed Jesus when something very similar happens in the courts of heaven. You might picture it as a great stadium with angels doing the Mexican Wave as you receive your victory crown and hear the ‘well done’.

The Apostle Paul had a similar picture in mind, taken from the athletic events of his day when he said, ‘athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable garland, but we an imperishable one’.1 Corinthians 9.25.

That’s right. We press on because our reward will never fade – or be stolen or sold on eBay. The race we run has a prize that is for ever. So keep on running.

A certain Mr MacEnroe – turning 60 soon – once yelled at the umpire ‘You can’t be serious!’ But we can be serioius – and should be serious – about running the spiritual race and finishing well. Let’s do it.


Celia Bowring

Celia isn’t retired yet – although she’s recently changed from being office-based to working from home, so working out her own use of time. Celia writes the CARE Prayer Diary along with many other resources. She also chairs Pray for Schools. And loves being a hands-on grandmother!

Have you joined our Facebook group yet? It’s a great way to share the journey with other after-workers.

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.


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

Decluttering your spiritual life

Do you sometimes feel in a bit of rut spiritually? Same Bible reading plan for more years than you can remember? Rather an effort to slot in a daily time alone with God? And frankly overwhelmed by all the stuff you feel guilty you’re not praying about?

Even if that’s not you, carrying out a kind of audit of your spiritual life may be helpful.

Asking a few questions to assess how well you’re in touch with what the Holy Spirit wants to do in you could be inspiring. Here’s some ideas to get started.

  • Begin with the Bible – perhaps with this nugget from Psalm 119.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (verse 105)                                                                        

Ask God to show you the way He sees you’re walking right now and to reveal His will for the way ahead. How can you make the Bible the central source of hearing from God? Research study plans and notes.

  • Ask the Holy Spirit to help – He longs for us to experience the incredible richness of knowing Christ and has more to give us than we can imagine. We are unable to find the truth, wisdom, fulfilment and love we seek without God’s grace.

Ephesians 4;12, 19 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.  My God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.  

  • Ditch feeling guilty – even though the devil would prefer you not to! It’s important to acknowledge our need for God’s forgiveness and recognise where we fail but then to seek after the vision and strength to move forward.

Psalms again – this time 139;23,24. Search me O God and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me. And lead me to life everlasting. 

  • Plan how you pray – the ACTS pattern works well as a framework. Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. Do you enjoy listening or singing along to Christian music, or finding other stimuli to focus on the awesomeness of God? is there stuff you know you should say sorry about? Thanking God for what He’s done – whether that’s over many years or yesterday is a great faith lifter.  Then there’s asking prayers which Jesus strongly encouraged again and again.

Matthew 7;7. Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you shall find; knock and it will be opened to you.

  • Give to others – If we believe praying results in God’s will being done, standing with others is a wonderful thing to do. You can’t pray about everything but why not decide on half a dozen people or ministries to invest in – specific requests you can follow up. Work out the best way to make that happen. A list in your Bible? A prayer app like Prayermate? Booklets or prayer letters you receive?

1 Thessalonians 1;2 We give thanks to God for you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labour of love and steadfast hope…

The subject of prayer is unfathomable and this little blog just scratches the surface. But I hope even one thing might act as an encouraging catalyst to revitalise your walk with God.

Celia Bowring
Celia isn’t retired yet – although she’s recently changed from being office-based to working from home, so working out her own use of time. Celia writes the CARE Prayer Diary along with many other resources. She also chairs Pray for Schools. And loves being a hands-on grandmother!


The 6 signs you need help with your hearing – and what to do

It may be that those nearest and dearest to you have started to mumble. Or, more realistically if you are saying ‘pardon’ more often, that your hearing has taken a down-turn with age.

Indeed, it’s not only your body can start to show signs of wear and tear, It can also happen to your hearing. In fact, that’s true for most people by the time they reach 70 – even if their hearing has been pin-sharp in the past.

What can especially go missing is the ability to hear high-pitched sounds such as whistles, most bird song and some speech sounds.

How can you know if this is true of you? There are 6 simple signs that point the way.

  1. You need the television or car radio volume on a louder level than other people than those you are with
  2. You miss that the sound of your car indicator is still on – though may be able to hear loud and clear the honking of those letting you know.
  3. You are saying ‘what?’ or ‘pardon’ more often – or trying to guess what people say
  4. Have you missed callers at the front door and it’s not just a delivery driver who’s dumped a package and scooted off
  5. You notice that other people are starting to mumble – or, at least, that’s how it seems
  6. It’s hard to hear conversation when there’s a lot of background noise or when you are with a group of people?

If any of these apply to you, it’s very likely you’ve reached the point of needing some help with your hearing.

And the good news is that there’s lots of help at hand.

Devices to help you hear better, or to alert you to sounds you might otherwise miss include:

  • Hearing aids, TV listeners, phone amplifiers,
  • Alerting devices for the doorbell, alarm clock, smoke alarm, phone

Hearing aids don’t give you perfect hearing but you will almost certainly benefit from them. And they are provided free on the NHS and can also be bought privately.

My advice is to try the NHS hearing aids first, as privately bought ones are expensive and NHS aids are suitable for most types of hearing loss.

It’s much easier to get used to a hearing aid when you first discover that you have a hearing loss, so don’t wait until you’re struggling.

Other devices such as TV listeners and alerting equipment may be supplied by your local Social Services. In addition, all these devices can be purchased from suppliers of equipment for people with hearing needs.

If things are serious, consider a lip reading class. Here you will meet others who also have a hearing loss, as well as learning strategies to help you in social situations.

Special opportunities for service

If your hearing loss is significant, you are ideally placed to serve others in the same situation. Because deafness is invisible it is a largely misunderstood disability. Many deaf people feel isolated and upset that nobody seems to understand why they are retreating from social situations.

You can offer:

  • Advice on how to get the most from their hearing aid and other devices
  • Encouragement to return to social situations and relieve isolation
  • Prayer and understanding of the challenges of hearing loss

Where to find fellowship

A great resource for Christians with hearing loss is Open Ears – an organisation specifically for those who have hearing loss.

Open Ears runs a weekend or short holiday event every year which has full communication support. They also produce Hearing Eye, a quarterly magazine written by and for people with hearing loss. And membership is free.

Marylin Kilsby

Marylin Kilsby is severely to profoundly deaf and Chair of Open Ears. She’s a keen musician, playing clarinet and recorder in local groups. And is part of her church’s deaf group.

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

How to balance church and life when full-time work has gone – 4 key steps

They say there’s a similarity between a helicopter and a church – get too close to either and you’ll be sucked into the rotas.

This danger – so far as church is concerned – is even greater when fulltime work ends. You have the time. The church has the need. Before you know it you are busier than when on a pay roll.

That may be a good thing, and it may not be.

So here’s 4 key things to help you make the most of your church commitment in your after-work years.

1. Be realistic. Don’t let your mind or your church tell you that all your new ‘free time’ belongs to them. Just because you can do it does not mean you should do it.

In the same way you once aimed for a work/life balance, you may well now need a church/life balance. And in your new world of ‘freedom’ you may also have growing family pressures to take account of – grandchildren, frail parents and more.

Also, don’t be afraid to leave some space – for you and for others. A full diary is not a measure of godliness. And one great advantage of life after work is it can leave you free to step in when something unexpected comes up.

2. Be wise. OK, there is the potential to use your time, energy and abilities for, and through, your church in a way was not possible before. But your precious, God-given, time can only be spent once.

Before you put your name down for everything – or have it put down for you – make sure your time is being used for what you are best at rather than just filling a gap.

Think about what your past experience and present abilities equip you for in the service of your church. For inspiration, check out Using Your Life Skills

3. Don’t do ‘jobs’ do ‘ministry’. It is too easy to think ‘ministry’ is about church leadership and doing spiritual things – speaking, leading worship, praying and the like. But everything done in God’s service is ministry and can often be a ministry.
For example –

  • You can choose to be a Welcomer – or someone doing so while praying inwardly for those you greet and wanting them to see something of Jesus in you.
  • You can choose to serve coffee – or be someone doing so while looking out for new-comers and seeking to remember names and make contacts.
  • You can be on the crèche rota – or be someone doing so while actively engaging with new parents and welcoming and praying for the children and families in your care.

4. Have a servant heart. Along with the ‘nice’ jobs that might take your fancy are some grunge tasks that every church needs to have covered. This is all part of what St Paul speaks of as to ‘serve one another with love’.
To keep going, churches need unglamorous tasks to be undertaken by servants. To quote St Francis of Assisi, God calls us ‘to serve and not to count cost’. Life after work may offer you opportunities to do exactly that.

Dave Fenton

Dave is a retired clergyman spending his after-work time lecturing at Moorlands College, building relationships and sharing his faith at his local golf club, and escaping to a cliff-top caravan in Cornwall where his seven grandchildren enjoy the local surfing beach.

For more wisdom, ideas, and resources for your ‘after-work life go to

Your money – 4 top tips for life after work

Along with the certainty of ‘death and taxes’ comes the other one – that our lives after full-time work are likely to mean having less to spend than in the past.
The best way to allay those fears is to take control of our finances, rather than just hope for the best.
More than that, we should also remember the words often used in church when the offering is presented, ‘All things come from you O Lord’. And the Bible’s wisdom that, ‘Whoever trusts in his riches will fall’ (Proverbs 11.28). Whatever financial resources we have, they are not primarily ours.
With that in mind, here are my four top tips when it comes to your money and your life after work.

1. Maximise your income: Have you had several employers during your working life. Then be sure to track down all your pension entitlements. Also, use the advice of an Independent Financial Adviser about consolidating your pensions – there’s admin costs and fees to save here – and making the most of them.
Recent changes allow the flexible drawdown of pensions. However, this is a complex and specialist area that calls for qualified and independent advice.
If you have little private pension income, investigate the benefits and help that may be available to you. Citizens Advice is a useful source of information on things like:

  • Council Tax Reduction, and Housing Benefit.
  • Utility companies that may offer special rates to those on a low income.
  • Disability benefit.

2. Think it through: With the help of your spouse or partner, if that is relevant, work through:

  • Where your income and savings should be kept, how they are accessed (sole joint accounts and passwords) and what the survivor’s financial position will be.
  • How long you may stay in your current home. Will it be easy to run as you get older? Will it always offer easy access shops and services? Will there be a time when you need some of the capital from your property?
  • Do you need the car or cars you have at the moment or are there savings to be made?
  • Splashing out or penny pinching – your early after-work years are when you are likely to be fittest and able to get reasonably priced travel insurance. So is now is the time to take adventurous trips or visit distant relatives.

3. Look for savings: Check out the concessions available to all ‘seniors’. Things like:

  • Free bus pass and reduced travel on Network Rail and via Senior Coach cards
  • Entrance to theatres, cinemas, sporting events and other attractions – it never hurts to ask
  • Retailer’s special discounts such as B&Q Diamond and High Street Opticians

4. Pay off debts: Take all possible steps to pay off any high interest rate credit cards, store cards, overdrafts, and personal loans.If your debts become seriously out of hand, seek the help of specialist Christian charities such as Christians Against Poverty , Community Money Advice or the charity I work with Frontline Debt Advice. All offer wise advice and practical help in circumstances like these.

Of course there’s more to money issues in your after-work life than these four key issues. To explore more see the AfterWorkNet web pages on money.
And if you’ve found a way to be wise with money please join our Facebook community and share.

Malcolm Lemon
Malcolm worked for 40 years in local and community banking. He has been Treasurer of a large church and for 6 years was Chairman of Trustees for Frontline Debt Advice, where he continues as a trustee and adviser. He enjoys baking cakes with his granddaughter, and eating them even more.

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


Recently retired? 5 Smart ways to be wise with your time


Do you ever find yourself saying, ‘Now I’m retired I’m busier than ever’?’ If so, perhaps you could do with some help to make the most of your after-work life.

Here are five simple and smart suggestions on how to be wise with your time.

1. Start right – or retrace your steps if you need to

Managing transitions – like moving away from full time work – are rarely straightforward. That’s what Michael Watson says in his book ‘Your First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter.’

In it, Michael stresses how important it is to nail down your expectations, goals and dreams as soon as you can. And he recommends some kind of timetable as to when you hope to see them happen. Its all too easy for your time to just be taken over with other people’s expectations.

2. Decide what’s most important

Be specific on your priorities. For example –

  • Nurturing your relationships
  • Keeping healthy and fit
  • Financial security
  • Fun
  • Helping others
  • Starting something new or rekindling an old hobby

If you are stuck for inspiration, there’s lots of suggestions for you on our New challenges webpage.

3. Create habits that’ll result in these things actually happening

Moving from one way of life to another calls for working out some new routines to replace the old. Perhaps things like –

  • Adding regular dates to your diary to spend with your partner and planning time with friends
  • Starting a realistic regular exercise plan
  • Keeping track of money and working out your budget
  • Having an adventure once a week
  • Committing yourself to activities at your church or some local volunteering opportunity
  • Joining a choir, signing up to a course, learning a language…

If that might mean doing something fulfilling as a volunteer check out the AfterWorkNet webpage on Serving.

4. Manage your time rather than letting your time manage you

If time management is second nature to you then skip this one. But if you are like most of us it is worth heeding the wisdom of the ‘retirement analysist; Bob Lowry.

Bob tells how he first started his retirement by making extensive ‘to do’ lists. He’d programme 15-30-minute time blocks for various tasks and activities, including his afternoon nap. But the pressure to deliver on his made-up schedule was too much and was he found he was doing most of it just to tick it off the list!

When he tried the opposite – just going with the flow and planning nothing – there was no structure and he didn’t know what to do.

Finally, Bob found a happy medium, using schedules and lists when that helped but feeling free to change his plans – because now his time was his own.

5. Keep things under review

Consider putting a time limit both on those things other people ask you to commit to and the ones you decide yourself to give a go.

Situations change. You may find you don’t like what you’ve got into. You may prefer to do something else with your time. There could be new responsibilities, health challenges and opportunities that face you.

That’s why agreeing on a specific date to review the situation when making a commitment is a wise move.

And think about a personal six-month review of how your time is being spent – maybe with the input from someone close to you.


Celia Bowring

Celia isn’t retired yet – although she’s recently changed from being office-based to working from home, so working out her own use of time. Celia writes the CARE Prayer Diary along with many other resources. She also chairs Pray for Schools. And loves being a hands-on grandmother!

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.



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