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Retirement 101: Which of the 4 Rs of Retirement Sounds Easiest for a Mature Woman to Embrace?

By Marcia Smalley January 09, 2023 Lifestyle

Retirement takes a lot of us by surprise. After traveling a couple of years down the path of my own retirement – and having many conversations with other women – I’m more convinced than ever that retirement holds a lot of unknowns.

There’s no formula for a perfect retirement either.

However, there are some general tendencies that most of us lean into as we navigate life after our careers. These don’t come with tidy parameters and can blend together and overlap – but they’re easy to identify.

And since ‘retirement’ is not my favorite R-word to use for this life transition, I came up with four other Rs that describe how we embrace this time of life.

Most of Us Want to Relax

Everyone, who exits the life of demanding full-time work, dives into this R, Relaxing. Some of us do it with gusto, others with exhaustion.

We may stay in that relaxed mode for a month – or years. It’s been called the honeymoon phase of retirement.

Like all honeymoons, most of us want to maintain this blissful state forever. With fewer time constraints, we devote ourselves to travel, hobbies, friends and family. We excitedly check off the boxes of the things we’ve always wanted to do, the things we love to do and the people we love doing them with.

The upside of this R is that, if we can identify at least some of the things that make our life easier, Relaxing isn’t just about taking a break. We can learn to incorporate it into our retired lives on an ongoing basis.

Some of Us Choose to Retool

Retirement gurus are in a never-ending search for new ways to discuss this R, Retooling. It’s been called reinvention, redefining or re-emerging.

Whatever term we use, Retooling implies that we’re starting anew. We don’t want to quit working entirely – or we can’t afford to do so. We have gifts and talents still to share with the world. We just want to do that in new ways. There’s a greater purpose pulling at us, urging us to somehow give back.

When we Retool, we start fresh. We shape our lives differently, without the constraints of our former jobs. We give ourselves permission to think outside the box.

It Might Feel Right to Re-Engage

Some of us retire from a career only to discover that was a mistake. So, with this R we Re-engage in our former job.

We do this for various reasons. Our circumstances may have changed. We might miss the income we had or the camaraderie of our associates.

We may feel at loose ends and long for the structure our work life brought us.

Re-engaging after we retire doesn’t mean we’re regressing or that we’ve given up on having a happy retired life. It may just mean that our timing was wrong or that we miscalculated the benefits of leaving our careers behind.

We Feel the Pull to Reconnect

This R, Reconnecting, is one that we experience at many levels in retirement. It implies connecting more deeply with the important people in our lives, immersing ourselves in the activities that give our lives joy and meaning and developing into the person we’re becoming in this season of life.

With the demands of our work and a young family life behind us, we can delight in Me-Time without feeling like we’re borrowing it from somewhere (or someone) else.

We can awaken our creative selves and remember what makes us lose track of time.

We can devote our energy to the people we love most or to our community at large. We can forge new friendships.

Reconnecting with others wards off isolation. Reconnecting with those lost parts of ourselves – or discovering them for the first time – is life affirming.

Wherever we are with the concepts of Relaxing, Retooling, Re-engaging and Reconnecting, the retirement stage of life holds a lot of promise.

It’s comforting to know there’s no wrong way to do it. And no formula we have to follow.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

What does retirement mean to you? How has the concept of retirement changed your life? What do you think you gain or lose with retirement? Please share your thoughts in the comment box below.

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I retired at age 70. I choose to Relax for now as I have several physical issues.

Jan Cullinane

Put invites in their mailboxes and invite them to YOUR house for coffee and dessert. Very informal, and if you only get a few people, one may become a friend. Volunteer through your church or other organizations. I did Habitat for Humanity (two builds) and met people that way. See what else your library offers. I’m on the Board of Trustees of my library, and there are tons of activities every month – speakers, movies, cooking demos, film discussions, etc….along with book clubs. Google travel groups for single women – that can be easy, it’s organized for you, and a lot of people go without knowing anyone, and finish the trip with new friends. Re-connect with friends from highs school/college. That can be a way to rekindle old but wonderful relationships. It can be difficult, but it can be done. Good luck.

Jan Cullinane, The New Retirement, 3rd edition John Wiley and Sons, 2022.

Barbara Tuzzeo

How does a retired person find new friends after moving to a newer community? The senior clubs here are all clicky with their own & although profess friendly initial meeting they do not continue. So I need to find a group of 70 year olds that do enjoy meeting new people.

Marcia Smalley

I dealt with that challenge myself, Barbara. You might try looking on MeetUp or on your local Next Door app for existing groups. If all else fails you could start your own, maybe inviting women who are new residents like yourself. Remember, you don’t need a big group to begin making new contacts. Even 1 or 2 new people can introduce you to a network of acquaintances and friends. Good luck and thanks for reading!

Linda Kline-Lau

Try looking online at Meetups. Find what other people in your area are doing. Find some activities that you would like to participate in and join the group.


That is the million dollar question! I would love to find friends but I am a shy introvert. Attempting to join established groups sounds like a nightmare to me! Before our last move I eventually joined a library bookclub but, although the women were very cordial, I didn’t make an actual friend. In our new city now (and hopefully forever home) I plan to find another bookclub. And try to be more outgoing with neighbors. Best wishes!

Diana Eaid

I was a hospital social worker for almost 40 years. I went on disability for a year with neck issues. COVID took its toll and I made a decision to retire at age 60. I have embraced retirement and have spent the last year adjusting. I love the freedom retirement brings and time I have for all my projects. I maintain structure of getting up by nine lol and having breakfast. I make lists of projects and tasks each day. In this year I am going to do more to connect with family and friends, as well as focus on exercise. It’s been wonderful so far.

The Author

Marcia Smalley is a certified retirement coach and life coach, a writer and a teacher. She delights in helping mid-life women step confidently into their next act and design a joyous, expanded life. Marcia provides coaching support to women who are navigating retirement or other life transitions and writes a monthly e-newsletter to her entire online community. Please visit her website at

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