Retaining Relevancy – How to Manage Your Sense of Identity in Retirement

February 23, 2016   |   NO COMMENTS

Retirement, often considered to be the ‘encore’ stage of life, requires careful and thoughtful strategic planning in order to ensure optimal comfort, happiness, and stability. While we all have diverse methods and means regarding how to think, learn, make decisions, and accept change, several different actions can help ease the transition process: before and during retirement.

Identity in Retirement

The sentiments and reactions that accompany retirement are as emotional as they are rational. Not everyone is able to make a smooth transition, as change is inherently difficult and anxiety inducing. This life stage is regularly precipitated by intense feelings of angst, depression, and identity loss. Thoughts frequently include fear and trepidation concerning the loss of positional power when leaving professional careers.


Nevertheless, while the anticipation of change can comprise negative psychological effects, the process by which we retain relevancy and transformation has the potential to help shape a fresh perception and awareness of identity—one that is rewarding and exhilarating. This new type of freedom involves recapturing feelings of control, particularly a sense of choice and discretion about time and availability to others. Embracing this excitement is an integral piece of transformation and change, and will ultimately help spur forward momentum. By Investing in your social and psychological portfolio, coupled with working on financial and monetary readiness, you can start to replace what you were doing then with new ideas and innovative possibilities. As stress eventually decreases, you will begin to experience a successful and productive ‘encore’ chapter of life.


Additionally, by seeking out activities in order to maintain well-being—including altruism/volunteering; investing in friendships before retirement; forming support groups with other retirees; and talking openly with family about goals—you can create unique identities for yourself that are not limited by rules, protocols, or limited choices. Reflection and introspection are critical developmental benefits of transitioning, and expedite prospects to pursue individuation in less restrictive ways. Without the constraints of the workplace, you can engage in interests and pursuits that foster various forms of self-actualization, which can eventually become new and stimulating layers of identity formation.


Moreover, diversifying your recreational activities and hobbies, and finding venues that afford opportunities for building relationships and friendships, will enable you to find purposeful work that holds meaning and value for you. Ideally, this work will leverage professional and/or life experience, entail a significant commitment, and ultimately generate personal satisfaction and fulfillment.

Finally, tapping into more formal and structured resources in order to navigate your way into new roles without clearly defined tasks and functions, and facilitate transformation and self-discovery, can be highly beneficial and constructive. Financial planning services, peer support groups, and coaching programs collectively provide valuable information about part-time work and volunteer opportunities, and potential involvement in advocacy and activism. With advanced preparation through strategic and rational planning, in addition to sustaining and reinforcing a system of strong, supportive networks and relationships, you can undergo a fulfilling and fruitful retirement planning process—one that enables you to maintain your sense of identity, and retain your feelings of relevancy and purpose.

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