In my last posting about retirement success factors, I talked about how that success depends upon no longer taking our personal identity from work, from thinking of ourselves in terms of what we “do” to focus on the “being” part of ourselves. Even developing a new career in retirement or part-time work, shouldn’t distract us from this opportunity.
What images of retirement do we hold in our mind? The way we think, or our retirement attitudes, shapes how we approach this change. For those who haven’t spent a lot of time in self-reflection, or in learning who they are “underneath” the work, retirement thoughts can generate personal tumult and anxiety. Part of the problem is that the traditional view of retirement as a permanent vacation, or filled with activities just to keep busy, is changing. There may be those for whom this is the desired retirment. But many retirees today are looking for answers about life purpose, direction, and meaning.
If you feel you have no real purpose in retirement, mindless activity, boredom, and depression could result. There are studies showing an increase in excessive drinking in those over 65, a result of boredom and lack of focus. Thirty-five years ago, when I was working with a program for senior volunteers, I met men (mostly) who were wasting away because they felt useless and several committed suicide.
To deal with this anxiety there are two things you could do. The first is to find a role model, a retired person who is a model of healthy and fulfilled retirement. The other is to explore the options available for expressing your true self. Retirement coaching offers the time, the space and the insight to help accomplish this.
So here’s the assignment: Think about your parents’ retirement experiences. What can be learned from them? Is that what you want? Do you have better role models for retirement? Take quiet time to listen to your heart for clues to what’s next for you.