Decade after decade, you have been known by your profession – Doctor, Lawyer, Teacher, Electrician, or whatever. We all identify with the career we work in – it is part of our DNA. What we have done has defined us – like it or not!
When we retire, there are so many life changes that occur from our identity, daily routines, and our relationships. Our identity takes the biggest hit. We lose our identity in an instant. It is something we built our lives around for many years whether we wanted to or not.
Anywhere you go or any function you attend, typically, the first question that you are asked is “What do you do?“ The problem with the “what do you do?” question is that it is not about you, but about your work status. When you answer “retired”, most people will give you a polite “that’s nice” and simply move on.
As a retiree, how do you validate yourself without a job? For so many years, your daily structure was given to you – Monday through Friday. You got up, went to work, came home, ate, went to bed – repeated for so many years. So how do you regain an identity and purpose in your life without employment? Why did your last job steal your identity from you? Or better yet, why did you let your last job define you?
First of all, don’t let your job define you. The best way to regain the identity you lost years ago is to discover the passion and interest in your life. This can be done with some exercises, deep reflection and exploration. You’ll get better results if you do a deep dive into what you’ve always wanted to do or to explore! So what makes your heart sing? Is this something that you always wanted to do, but had to put off? When you see your talents and skills in a positive way to do something that sparks your fire, life will be exciting and adventurous.
Your next chapter can be so much more satisfying than your present one. Develop your whole self now before retirement. Dive deep into your relationships with friends, family and most importantly your partner. Explore shared interests, needs and wants to find a balance in your life. Explore your relationships with your grown children and grandchildren and see how they can be woven into your life. Look at your life balance to see what is going well and what may need some tweaking. You can download my life balance exercise here to see where you are and areas to explore.
Retirement is not a time for hibernation. It’s a chance to live life and explore. Focus on things important to you and take time to find those passions and interests that will define your identity and get you your life back so you can start living the good life.
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Written by: Mark Danaher, Career Retirement Coach
CEO & Founder, Career Retirement Coach at Retire to the Good Life