When I told my primary physician that I was retiring from full-time teaching at 70+ she looked horrified. "But what will you do?" she asked. As I had spent my adult life variously as non-profit manager, retail stockbroker, corporate sales trainer and then corporate coach focusing on executive development, I had reinvented myself many times already. I thought my ability to reinvent was obvious to all who knew me and that figuring out what retirement would be for me would take no time at all. However, this particular reinvention seemed to worry my doctor for me.
I did retire from full-time university teaching at 70+ when my social security was fully vested. In the five years since then I have volunteered as a writing coach to high schoolers, been an avid member of two writing groups, begun to teach older adults like me the skills of practicing gratitude and mindfulness, and survived two rounds of chemotherapy. My marriage is healthy. My children and step-children have their own adult lives. I am happy--most of the time.
It has not been a straight shot. That's what I want to make sure I say to readers. I've spent some periods in utter boredom--too much time alone doing not much of anything except reading (which I love--but not all day every day). Some of my volunteer experiences have been not so nurturing to me or others. I'm not a high school tutor or an administrative board member. I've learned and relearned that my primary passion is--learning. I want to learn stuff myself and then share it as best I can with others.
I've had to find new friends, work ones having mostly fallen away. Since I don't have a church or children with playdates, my friends have come from my activities--writing, teaching, and exercise--and they have come slowly. It has been lovely to develop these new friends as long as I'm patient.
So, my advice for this time of your life is in the title--allow plenty of time to find what nurtures you and be patient with yourself. Eventually you will thrive!