We will all face the question of how to introduce ourselves after retirement. Are we more than the sum of a long professional reputation? The Baby Boomers are the first generation to face this test, as we will live longer and most women had careers. If we have twenty years or more to live after “retiring”, how will we define ourselves?
It is common that recent retirees still define themselves by their work role; i.e..”I am a retired. _______. “ However, a recent study by the aging research firm Age Wave found that fewer than 10% of people over 75 still do so. Most have made the transition, and are no longer a “former” doctor/lawyer/teacher/social worker/ or administrative assistant. Most have shifted to define themselves in relationship to other people or activities; i.e. “I am a grandmother or grandfather of ______ #” , or a “volunteer for ___________.”
Those who truly thrive shift even further, defining themselves as a lifelong learner”, an “ explorer of the grand vistas”, a “love spreader” or other intriguing personal titles that create independence from their support group and partner.
Who do YOU want to be as you retire and age? It can become a time of freedom to explore places and things you never had time to get to while working. If you have either protected your health or worked to correct the chronic pain and chronic illness issues of middle age, you will have carte blanche. It is not about how much money you have saved. Success can happen by applying your imagination and expanding your definitions of worthy time.
I hope each of you gives some thought to the question of who you want to be both now and in the next 15 years. Do you have a BHAG? (Big, hairy, auspicious goal) It will take deep reflection and perhaps some supportive conversation to shift from merely looking back, or surviving it all, into thriving through the last quarter of life.