Retirement is scary.
Aside from the loss of steady income, you’re left worrying how to stay relevant after retirement.
We all want to stay relevant, regardless of our stage in life.
And it’s outright frightening to think being relevant will end the day you cease employment, or perhaps sell your business while losing your income at the very same time.
In this post I’ll share:
- Why it’s important to stay relevant in retirement
- A big question to help you stay relevant after retirement
- Why and how retirees become irrelevant
- Why staying relevant in retirement is easier than ever
- 6 ways to stay relevant after retirement
So, if you’re at all concerned about keeping relevant in retirement, keep reading; I’ve got great news:
Why It’s Important to Stay Relevant in Retirement
Look no further than Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to understand why staying relevant is so important for us humans.
Self-Actualization is at the very top of the pyramid as you can see from the chart below.
According to Maslow, Self Actualization includes creativity and problem solving, something most of us do in our work every day.
Just under Self Actualization is Esteem.
Esteem includes self esteem, achievement and respect by others.
All of the traits for the highest two levels of life fulfillment, Self Actualization and Esteem, are accomplished from work.
Research about fulfillment from psychologists Doris Baumann and Professor Willibald Ruch revealed that fulfillment is necessary for good mental health.
Feeling good about ourselves contributes to being healthy thereby increasing longevity in retirement.
It’s no wonder retirees worry about remaining relevant.
Here’s the Big Question
Despite Maslow’s guidelines, everyone is different.
Feeling relevant to you may stem from completely different activities than it does for someone else.
At this point, it’s important to define relevancy to you.
You can refer to Maslow’s traits above as you identify whether being relevant for you personally stems from:
- Serving others
- Making money
- Contributing to society
- Knowing you can support yourself
- Caring for others
Or is it something else?
Next, let’s see why staying relevant in retirement can be hard. Then we’ll see what to do about it.
Why People Become Irrelevant in Retirement
It’s easier than ever to feel irrelevant if you’re over 50, and this is compounded by the time you reach your 60’s.
Let’s address why this is the situation today because the answers are in the reasons that something happens.
Therefore, looking at why we might lose our relevancy shows us how to stay relevant in retirement.
Staying Relevant in a Technology Driven World
It’s common knowledge that earlier generations are more tech savvy than older generations.
The younger you are, the more comfortable you are with technology simply because the use of technology has increased over the past few decades as technology transitioned from work to school and home.
This means that being over 50 today automatically makes it harder for us to stay relevant in a tech savvy world.
Compound this with the fact that you’re no longer interacting daily with the technology used in your workplace and you can see how hard it can be to remain relevant after retirement, at least from a technology perspective.
But then, in our current society, being relevant with technology is being relevant, period.
This is a time when we need to be at least somewhat tech savvy to listen to music, take a picture, or simply make a phone call.
Yet the technology required for these simple tasks changes as soon as you master it.
Not being able to do these simple tasks makes us feel as though we’re no longer relevant.
As much as I hate to admit it, this is true to a certain extent.
And being out of the workforce removes us from many of the demands for constantly learning new technology making it hard to stay relevant after retirement.
Reduced Social Interaction in Retirement
Social interaction is greatly reduced for most people in retirement.
And when we’re isolated it’s simply harder to stay relevant because our social skills start to decline the less we use them.
Drive Is Lost in Retirement
Both career and financial goals must be met when we’re working. The drive to accomplish these goals keeps us mentally sharp.
It keeps us on our toes.
And when we must stay mentally sharp we’re more likely to stay relevant.
Most Careers Require Ongoing Education
As addressed previously, technology alone requires that we’re always learning.
But many jobs require continued education, certifications, and learning new processes and procedures in our rapidly changing world.
These requirements suddenly cease after retirement.
Now that we’ve addressed why people often don’t stay relevant in retirement, let’s examine ways to avoid that happening.
How to Stay Relevant in Retirement
Despite the above challenges, the great news is that it’s easier than ever to stay relevant in retirement.
Technology is a dual edged sword.
Lack of technology can lead to becoming irrelevant in retirement as addressed above.
It can, however, also provide many avenues to remain relevant in retirement as you’ll see.
1. Using Education to Stay Relevant after Retirement
It was addressed previously that the ceasing of knowledge accumulation leads to becoming irrelevant in retirement.
Now retirees can continue to learn on a grand scale, however.
I’ll compare now to the time my dad retired to illustrate how easy it is to stay relevant after retirement now vs previous decades.
When my father retired around 1980, television, books, and the rare local course were the only options to stay relevant by increasing your knowledge.
My dad loved investing.
And that was how he stayed relevant.
So the Wall Street Journal and Wall Street Week were the usual media in my childhood home.
And while these sources were fantastic, we must remember that information was scarce, and news was always at least a day old except by hourly news on the radio.
Dad also was an avid reader.
In fact, he loved advanced investing books but they were lacking at the local library and only bookstore in my hometown of Tupelo.
It’s hard to imagine Dad couldn’t log into Amazon and have a book delivered the next day but that was certainly the case.
Plus, books were more expensive than now, and a splurge purchase in our frugal home.
Now, however, we live in a time where we can learn anything we wish to learn within hours.
Credible information is also inexpensive if not free via both written content and videos.
This makes it easy to stay relevant in retirement from a knowledge perspective.
The ability to learn from an available extensive information database alleviates the potential problem of irrelevancy developing due to lack of mental stimulation or even loss of skills.
In fact, a retiree could go on to earn advanced degrees from highly prestigious universities via online programs.
There’s simply no reason for anyone to become irrelevant in retirement anymore if they have a desire to continue learning.
2. Online Socialization in Retirement
We can look to technology again to avoid one of the main reasons retirees become irrelevant: social isolation.
Online forums, Facebook, and even YouTube provide endless ways to connect with others who share your interests.
The retirement Facebook groups I’m in are among the most active and supportive groups.
I suspect the reason for this is retirees have more free time, but they also crave socialization.
I’ve noticed they’re also very eager to help one another by answering questions. This makes perfect sense in light of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs addressed previously.
It’s clear that millions of retirees are enjoying social interaction online, even older retirees.
And when we interact socially, even virtually, it helps us stay relevant in retirement.
And answering questions others ask makes us feel relevant.
3. Technology in Retirement
It can be a welcome relief after retirement to be offline vs online most of your day.
But learning new technology is one of the most important ways to stay relevant in retirement.
It’s also required because technology is necessary to accomplish the most basic tasks now, including bank transactions and booking medical appointments.
It’s safe to assume that even more will continue to be done online for the rest of our lives.
Therefore, we really have no choice other than to stay relevant after retiring from a technology perspective if we wish to function in society.
Even though it can be frustrating at times, the fact that retirees are forced to continue to learn and use technology can be helpful in remaining relevant during retirement.
4. Be Around Those Yet to Retire
Avoid developing a divide between retired friends and working friends.
I’ve noticed in my own life that those who have yet to retire can provide valuable insights into the working world that help us remain relevant.
5. Keep Marketable Skills
It’s easier than ever to keep marketable skills given the many opportunities available to do so online.
But marketable skills don’t have to be online.
Maybe you can finally become an exert in a lifestyle area that’s always interested you whether that’s becoming a dog trainer, chef, or master gardener.
6. Keep Your Income Up
One of the best ways to stay relevant in retirement is to develop one or more income streams.
Maybe you’d like to own a small business or real estate rental properties.
Or maybe you’d like to start an online business.
Perhaps becoming an advanced investor appeals to you like it did to me.
My own opportunity to become a more advanced investor stemmed from wanting to remain relevant after a very early retirement following a move overseas for my husband’s career. This led to how I currently invest ETF rotation strategies using Allocate Smartly as well as managing our alternative investments.
Financial endeavors can generate income while also keeping you relevant after retirement from a full time career.
So not only does developing retirement income streams keep you mentally stimulated and relevant, but they will also help you keep marketable skills during retirement should you need or want to work at least part time again.
Additionally, the income can greatly reduce the amount you need to withdraw from retirement savings thereby reducing the fear of outliving retirement savings.
We can all probably agree that feeling relevant helps us feel good about ourselves.
Most of us are already concerned with aging by the time we retire.
When we add becoming irrelevant to our concerns, it can be plain depressing.
Fortunately, the lines between semi-retirement and full employment have become increasingly blurred given the side gig economy in which we now live.
This development, along with technology, has made it easier than ever to stay relevant in retirement.
Research about fulfillment: World Economic Forum; Published in Frontiers in Psychology