Friday, July 7, 2017

Retirement options, you have to plan

After my own retirement as a teacher and a university professor at age 61—now 10 years ago—I decided that one of my projects would be to study my new phase of life. I wanted to understand more clearly what I was experiencing and then share this understanding with others in the by writing this blog. Some insights emerged that helped me adjust to this new life—and that I hope will help you.

1. Expect Several Evolutions
Sociologist Phyllis Moen draws a parallel between planning for a wedding and planning for retirement in her work Retirement Transitions, Gender, and Psychological  Well-Being:  A Life-Course, Ecological Model (pdf file). Young people plan their wedding but not life after the honeymoon. Seniors plan for our retirement as a date we leave work, but we don’t plan or think the years after we retire.

These transitions may actually take along time and could range from six months, a year, or even five years. These transitions are not easy, they are confusing and disrupting to our life. In retirement, this is the time that you begin to understand that you are no longer an important person that you were when you were in the structured world of work. The problem is you have not yet gotten into a new life without work.

Time is an important here, because over time you become used to your new life and the changes becomes integrated as you move toward your new role, relationships, routines, and assumptions about yourself and the world.

 Just like when you were younger, it will take courage, time and the understanding you will make mistakes, to find the right combination of activities for yourself. Understanding that moving toward retirement is not just planning a day to leave, but means planning to begin an new adventure can be one of the first steps in alleviate the confusing feelings that accompany big changes.

2. Make Sure You're Well Grounded
Being well grounded is not only about your finances, it is about you and your well being, emotionally. As a person, I have my own identity, I have my relationships and I have a purpose in life. We all have these three issues that we have to deal with as we retire. So, you will need to be emotionally and mentally grounded for your next steps.

Jung talks about the tasks of ageing, three of which are important to help you become well grounded and ready for the next phase of your life. The tasks which are important are:
·       Finding a New Rooting in the Self
·       Life Review
·       Determining the Meaning of One’s Life.
As you retire or face retirement, examining your identity, your relationships and purpose can keep you grounded and start you on the tasks of ageing.

·         Identity: You no longer are the very important person your job title gave you. It is time to realize that you are more than a job title, you have skills, attitudes and relationships that define you in a more powerful way. Over time as you develop new roles, relationships, and routines, your new identity will solidify.
·         Relationships: At work, we have many work acquaintances and we may think of these people as friends, but they are merely ships passing in the night for most of us. We are social beings and we need to replace our work relationships but this can take time and requires effort. Readjusting family relationships, especially adjusting to spending more time with your spouse or partner, can also be challenging.
·         Purpose: We need a reason to get up in the morning, the sooner you realize this the happier your retirement will become. Now that you are retired, you may need someone to help you figure out your mission.

Try volunteering, after retirement, one way to replace the lost social capital is to volunteer or to work part-time. I did and many of my new friends are centered around volunteer activities.

3. Determine the Type of Retirement You Want
As you start this adventure there are many paths that you can follow. Here are some that you may want to follow.

  • Conservationist This is a path where you conserve and even build the skills you have already gained. You use your skills while you modify when you use them, but you do not change your path For instance, a retired teacher occasionally teaches classes or gives workshops.
  • Speculator Retirement is full of opportunities to take advantage of life, to pursue an unrealized dream or try something new
  • Relaxation Specialist Retirement is a time to relax, and take each day as it comes.
  • Hangers on These people still care deeply about their previous work and receive satisfaction from following developments in their field.
  • Volunteer Junkies These retirees are looking for their place. I am one, I have retired, but I am still looking for the next adventure the next new path. When I am done with that path, I start to look for then next volunteer activity
  • Disengager These people have not planned for retirement life, they become depressed and often become couch potatoes. The lucky ones get through this phase quickly and use the time to figure out what's next
4. Dream a Little—or Dream Big
We all know the phrase "What do you want to do when you grow up?" This question looms large as one approaches retirement. If you are considering a complete reinvention, you'll need to consider if your dream is practical and if it is affordable. But this is your chance to think about what you have always wanted to do to create a life after retirement that is rich and rewarding.

One man I spoke with at one of my workshops, who had worked on a research project told me he was depressed when he lost his job at age 60. He and his wife had many discussions about whether her work could help support them during his adjustment. After much discussion she and he decided that he would change his life path, and he expanded his hobby as a cabinet maker and became a finishing carpenter doing contract work

The transition ended happily. The man found he enjoyed his new work in carpentry, even though it came with much less money and prestige. His wife became proud of him for following his dream.

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