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How to Stay Relevant in Retirement

We all know that in the work world, it is critical to stay “relevant” if you want to keep your job. In other words, you have to stay knowledgeable about current developments and trends in your industry and your skills have to keep up with technology or the latest thinking in your area of expertise. It’s how you continue to contribute. It’s how you remain someone who is valued.

One of the biggest fears of many people as they leave their chosen field is feeling irrelevant. But after you leave the career phase of your life, what does “being relevant” mean?

It does not mean the same thing it did in the work world unless you choose to continue to be involved in some way in the same industry. As your interests and activities shift, so does the meaning of being relevant.
There appear to be two aspects of being relevant that apply here: One is the feeling that you are significant in some way and the other is the dictionary definition that relevance means being “appropriate to the current time, period, or circumstances; of contemporary interest.”

First, let’s look at feeling significant. Knowing that you matter to those you love and care about is an important part of feeling significant. But often it goes beyond that, especially if you had a career where you impacted other people. Here are some suggestions for how to find something that will help you feel significant after your career.
• Think about what you enjoyed most about your work
• Reflect on what activities might have some of those elements
• Challenge yourself to see problems around you that you want to help solve
• Ask yourself which skills you are proudest of and how they can be used in a new way

The second aspect is staying current. To me, that means living mentally and emotionally in the present and being aware of and engaged in what is unfolding around you.  That requires being willing to:
• Accept change — Be open to new ideas even if that means you may have to look at some things from a different perspective.
• Establish your new brand — Know who are you today, what you stand for, and how you want to show up every day.
• Stay in touch with what is unfolding around you — It will make you much more interesting to talk to.
• Be connected to people of all ages – You all can learn for each other.
• Be a life-long learner – Learning new things will keep you mentally engaged and stimulated.

All of us need to feel that we are relevant because it tells us that we matter to others. Mattering is as fundamental a human need as food and water. Without it, we shrivel up and die emotionally and psychologically. It’s worth the effort to find ways to matter to others.

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