Keep Those Neurons Firing in Retirement

Guest Post by Lisa Lozeau

It may not be something you’ve considered, but many people facing retirement or just entering that phase of life worry that they may become bored. You may be one of them, or you may have a long bucket list to keep you busy. Either way, experts agree that staying active is the key to an enjoyable retirement.

That means being active both physically and mentally. You made millions of neural connections and kept them sharp throughout your career by facing challenges, learning new skills, and calling upon knowledge and experience. It’s important to keep stimulating your brain to make new connections on a continual basis.

Suddenly stopping a routine you’ve followed for many years—going to work, interacting with people, solving problems and being needed—can leave you feeling a little adrift mentally. The lack of mental stimulation can become a very real problem if you become too bored or unmotivated to pursue your retirement dreams. According to a study by the Families and Work Institute, increasing numbers of retirees are embracing a work “encore” or “bridge employment” to strike the balance of wanting to retire and wanting to stay mentally engaged.

What is “bridge employment?” It’s a way to stay engaged with work while also enjoying retirement. It could be consulting part-time at the company you used to work for, starting a business based on a hobby, or trying something completely new. One great example is to retire and then work from home on a more flexible schedule.

There are a variety of work-from-home opportunities out there that can keep those neurons firing. It’s best to do your research to find an opportunity that is right for you. Consider your skill set, how much you want to work, and what you want to do. Beware of opportunities that seem too good to be true—they probably are. You’ll want to look for opportunities on established sites such as FlexJobs and Indeed. Double-check with the Better Business Bureau if you are unsure—you’ll be able to see complaints and resolutions. And make sure you carefully review all the details to make sure the work, schedule and company are the right fit for you.

One opportunity that is a great fit for many retirees is helping people as a home-based call center agent. All you need is a phone, computer with Internet connection, and a quiet location to get started. Companies of all sizes, in all industries, in all locations are looking for people to put the human touch back in customer service and other customer interactions. There are so many benefits to working from home as a call center agent, including:

  • Setting your own schedule, so you can still make time for that bucket list in addition to work.
  • Building on your prior work experience and even expanding your horizons with new skills to keep your mind sharp.
  • Connecting with people in a meaningful way and making a difference in someone’s day.
  • Continuing to bring in some income, so you can retire more comfortably.

If you’re already retired and feeling bored or unmotivated, now is the time to fire up those neurons and reengage in the workforce – even if it’s just part-time. If you’re not sure what you want to do in retirement, now is a great time to explore your options. Maybe you can even retire early if your work encore provides enough income. Best wishes in finding your work encore and making your retirement everything you want it to be!

Lisa Lozeau works on the Acquisition and Onboarding team at LiveOps. She helps connect talented individuals with independent contractor opportunities that allow them to work from home and provide professional call center services to LiveOps’ diverse client base. As a work-from-home mom herself, Lisa understands the value and importance of flexible work. She is passionate about helping people find greater work-life balance through professional work-from-home opportunities. For more information about LiveOps, please visit:

How Do You Really Feel?

I think I am by nature an optimist. I tend to see the positive side of things where others may not be so inclined. I try to smile rather than frown as the ever present smile lines bear witness to. I guess I figure things could be worse so why dwell on the bad? Living these past decades has proved time and time again worrying does not resolve ones problems. Why imagine the worst? I am sure on occasion my positiveness might have proved annoying to friends and family who pursue a more realistic outlook. But who doesn’t benefit from a smile?

When someone asks “how are you doing?” what they are likely looking for is a short response, to the point so the conversation can move on toward whatever destination. They are being polite with their inquiry. Should your answer extend too long you risk breaking their rhythm. Delving into the actual state of affairs at that given moment may cause the inquirer to feel momentarily overwhelmed, unexpectedly getting more than they asked for. A “fine, thank you” is more in line with what they expect.

Let’s say you are feeling a bit under the weather – maybe a cold or allergy tickles your nose or a touch of something has you off. A friend asks how you are doing. How often do you find you telling a story slightly more upbeat than reality? Rather than risk being perceived as a downer you sugar coat your real situation. Should we feel the need to portray ourselves in a positive way if we do not in fact feel so?

When asked to respond to “how are you doing?” I invariably find myself wanting to answer in the positive. Even if I am not feeling 100 percent I find myself hedging my answer leaning toward the good rather than disclosing any bad. I figure no one really wants to hear my problems – they are being polite. As I get older I feel even more the burden of projecting a positive me. I don’t want to be known as that old guy who complains about everything.

Maybe we seek to be perpetually positive because we want to be liked. We know the type of people we prefer to interact with – positive, happy, energized – so perhaps we hope to exude similar characteristics. If we do people will want to hang around with us. Unfortunately this can be wishful thinking on those occasions when we feel subpar.

My wife was recently battling an illness. I know she was feeling poorly and having a difficult time of it. Yet when friends and family inquired about her status I found myself painting a picture sunnier than reality. “She is feeling better” was my tried and true response. Better than what? I explained her difficulties in detail but always tried to end with an upbeat note. I wanted things to be better so maybe I was convincing myself they in fact were.

As we continue adding candles to our birthday cake we will find ourselves forced to deal with challenges we never faced while younger. It should be okay to say how we really feel, to share genuine life moments rather than gloss over problems and focus myopically on the good.

I think we sometimes put too much pressure on ourselves trying to be positive when inside we might feel anything but. It should be okay to share the truth rather than dress it up. No one expects you to be upbeat all the time – why should you expect it of yourself?

So next time you run into a friend and venture forth a friendly “how are you doing?” don’t necessarily let them off with a whimsical “just fine.” Maybe they are fine and if so wonderful for them. But maybe they are not. A little prodding, perhaps some genuine interest and curiosity might enable them to open up a bit and let you into their real world. None of us feel like smiling all the time even if life is glorious for the moment. Sharing how you really feel is easier when you have a genuinely interested fellow human willing to hear you out.

And when an acquaintance crosses your path and inquires as to your well being, feel free to speak your mind. How else can anyone know how you really are?