The Importance of Making New Connections in Retirement


Cary Sweeney
September 2021

One of the best parts of traveling is the people you meet along the way. I find this especially true with motorcycle traveling. On my last stop before heading home from a 3,600 mile round trip solo motorcycle ride from San Francisco to Baja Mexico, I found myself reflecting on all of the great people who had entered my life for brief moments on the trip, and the stories they had shared. Motorcycling breaks down barriers between people - maybe it’s the great adventure of it all - but all types of people, young and old, find it easy to connect with me when I’m on a motorcycle. They are genuinely excited to meet me and hear about my story and I am excited to learn more about them and the community where they live.

These opportunities to tell one's story or hear the stories of others are not so readily available to all people. This becomes especially true when a person retires and their social network can decline as much as half. During the pandemic, this became glaringly true as many employees were forced to stay home from work and no longer had the impromptu “water cooler” talk with co-workers to ask how their kids and family were doing.

In the “Life in Retirement” seminar I lead, we coach those planning for retirement to consider spending time building their “social” portfolio as much as they consider their “financial” portfolio. Studies have found that people who have a good social network are more satisfied with life and they keep their minds and their bodies more active. I encourage participants to get out of their comfort zone and create more opportunities to share their story. Sharing our stories provides new insight to ourselves and listening to others’ stories builds community.

While the average retiree may not start a new life of motorcycle adventures in retirement, they may need to get out of their comfort zone, break down barriers and make connections to learn about who they are. Finding new ways to make connections will be important in finding satisfaction and happiness.

Publication date: 
October 29, 2021
Publication type: 
Journal Article