Most people dream of a retirement in which they get to play, pursue hobbies and develop new interests. Finally, they get to be the master of their own fate. And when they reach retirement they do in fact thrive in their new environment.

For others, their new-found sense of freedom is overwhelming and having to fill it with meaningful things to do can be an emotionally daunting task. In fact, some of my clients have even described retirement as a trauma. One woman, Debbie, expressed that retirement felt like an amputation which left her feeling hollow and empty.

What will you miss most when you leave work?

Many pre-retirees assume that what they will miss most in retirement is a steady income, when in fact retirees report that they long most for social connection.

  • Consider how much time you spend at work.

  • How many hours do you spend with colleagues?

  • Are your co-workers the biggest part of your social circle, or do you have friends and hobbies external to the workplace?

If you do, pat yourself on the back. Retirement will give you an opportunity to develop closer bonds with these people.

If you don’t, consider how you will be of service to others and with whom you are going to spend time. Results from a recent Merrill Lynch survey (2015) indicate that,

85% of retirees who volunteer report that they have developed important new friendships through their service, and have met and connected with others with similar interests, values, and passions.

According to science, being of service to others and giving of one’s time or resources, provides the same benefits that many of us derive from work.

It turns out that helping others makes us feel good!  

It also increases positive emotions, self-esteem, and our overall level of happiness. Not to mention it decreases feelings of helplessness and depression.

Who wouldn’t want more of all that good stuff?!

Want to know what else science has to say about helping others? Join our free webinar on

The Helper’s High, Monday April 30 @ 7:00 pm with Dr. Gill

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