This question comes up at many presentations I make on Victory Lap Retirement. A strong social network is key to our happiness and longevity. Friendships enrich our lives we should always look to build our social network and build relationships with people we care about.

The challenge for all of us is that we are so busy working and nurturing our family, we can sometimes underinvest in our friendships. Our relationships with friends can also suffer when we are stressed out and in some cases pull back from friends, after all who wants to be a “downer” to our friends.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is sacrificing your time with friends, just so you can work longer to save for your retirement. The risk is when you finally get there, you may end up wondering where all your friends have gone. We all have times in life where we have to invest time at work which means not spending time with friends and family. Don’t lose sight of your friends and make it a priority to invest time strengthening your friendships, especially as you get closer to retirement.

Everyone has two groups of friends, work friends, the group you spend a great deal of time with and your outside or real friends, people that know you warts and all, and accept you for who you really are.

Work Friends:

If you take an inventory of your relationships, you may be at risk of a lonely retirement if you find the majority of your social network is from work. It is not uncommon as we go through our lives to spend much more time working than at home. We mistakenly view work relationships as true friends but the majority of them are not.  Many of these relationships do not last, our connection is based on office politics, a common purpose at work and working in the culture of the corp. In many cases your work friends don’t know the real you, and your friendship won’t survive in retirement when the corporate glue that binds is gone.  If you feel there is a connection with some of your work friends invest the time to deepen relationship, or chances are they will disappear over time.

In many cases our work buddies keep working when we leave for our Victory Lap. Many of these friends will move on, out of sight out of mind, it is not malicious it’s just life.  Our pace of live will slow, and our connection to the corp. will be gone, while our working friends plow on unable to slow down. You may meet them on the street one day and it will feel like your watching a reality show that you were once in and thankfully you are no longer one of the cast.

Real Friends:

Real friends are special. They are the ones that you can call at 2 in the morning for help. They are the one who say – “I’m here for you no matter what.”

Real friends laugh with you, laugh at you, hug you and give you a kick in the pants when you need. They accept you as you are but challenge you when you are wrong, without judgment or condemnation. You know that no matter what happens they have your back. That is very comforting.

A Word of Advice:

When planning your Victory Lap make a list of your friends. Which ones make you smile, make you feel good about yourself and take an interest in you? Those are the ones that you want to develop and invest in. When you think of friends make sure you are being a good friend by showing an interest in what’s going on in their life and supporting them. Friendship is a two way street!

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