Lifelong Learning for a Higher Engagement in Retirement

Very few people stop learning once their formal education is over. Whether you took a few classes to burnish your professional credentials or collaborated with coworkers to bring projects across the finish line, learning was probably essential to your career success. Your family and social connections also probably taught you new things about yourself and the world around you as those relationships evolved over the years.

Retirees often have to be a bit more intentional about their learning habits. Your personal and professional connections are likely going through some major changes as you transition away from full-time work.

And there are lots of blank spaces on your calendar where responsibilities used to be. Filling those blocks with intentional learning opportunities can be one of the most powerful investments you can make in your retirement and your Return on Life.

1. Improve Your Health
When we learn something new, we literally rewire connections in our brain, or strengthen existing connections. These changes can keep your mind sharp and reduce your risk of dementia. Learning can also boost our mental health by improving our confidence, drive, and sense of self. That mental health boost, in turn, could reduce feelings of anxiety and stress that plague many seniors, which is good for your physical health as well. And learning new activities like dancing, yoga, or tai chi can give you another reason to get off the couch and get moving, improving your balance, coordination, and heart health as well as your mind.

2. Broaden Your Social Connections
Taking classes, attending lectures, or becoming a member at local cultural institutions are all great ways to learn something new or deepen your understanding of a subject you love. You’ll also have opportunities to connect with people who share your passions and who might introduce you to new topics of interest as well.

3. Prepare for Your Second or Third Act
As retirees’ lifespans and healthspans continue to improve, many will cycle in and out of the workforce, not unlike their “gig economy” children and grandchildren. Retirees will also have the benefit of decades of experience and financial planning. Leverage those resources to study and develop the business idea that’s been percolating in the back of your mind. Start taking online classes and work towards a degree that will help you make a career pivot. Or devote more learning time to a skill or craft that you can turn into a new professional venture.

4. Stay Ahead of the Curve
The world is changing so fast that folks who aren’t active learners risk getting left behind. But if you are willing to cultivate your curiosity and make learning a cornerstone of your retirement schedule, the resources available to you are nearly endless. AI will seem a lot less scary if you just sign up for a free ChatGPT account and play around with it. Make weekly trips to your local library to browse periodicals or subscribe to new magazines and newspapers. Try a new streaming service and catch up on the shows and movies your friends are raving about. Walk down to your local senior center and see what kinds of activities are planned for the month ahead. Spend a long weekend with your grandkids and talk about the issues and ideas that are important to their generation. Attend a lecture about something you know nothing about or a concert whose music you’ve never heard before.

The combination of devoting more time to things that interest you and stepping outside of your comfort zone can make learning one of the most meaningful things you do in retirement. Let’s talk about how our Life Centered Planning process can encourage more adventures of the mind, body, and soul.

Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC, Advisory services may be offered through LPL Financial, a registered investment advisor, or IFG Advisory, LLC., a registered investment advisor. Integrated Financial Group and IFG Advisory, LLC. are separate entities from LPL Financial. This article was prepared for Paul Peeler’s use.