4 Ways to Avoid a Retirement Identity Crisis

by Joe Plemon on March 20, 2013

If you think of yourself as “Jim the carpenter” or “Fred the accountant” or “Mary the teacher,” you may be facing an identity crisis when you no longer are performing the vocation you identify with. According to a Consumer Reports National Research Center study, those who struggled with that loss of identity at retirement had only a 22 percent probability of being highly satisfied in retirement, whereas those without that struggle had a 76 percent likelihood for retirement satisfaction. If you are part of that 22 percent, don’t despair. These tips will help you avoid that identity crisis.

1. Prepare for the transition.

If your life is so wrapped up in your career that you think of little else, you are setting yourself up for a rocky transition. Preparation for retirement is more than making plans to pay for it; it is also making plans to enjoy it. Begin making those plans today. Even better, begin enjoying life outside the workplace today.

2. Evaluate your friendships.

If the majority of your friendships are work related, the cold reality is that some or many of those will fade after you retire. Be thinking of your interests away from the office and cultivate friendships which will transcend retirement.

3. Turn back the clock.

Has your career stifled the passions and dreams of your childhood? Just because they have lain dormant doesn’t mean they are no longer valid, so, by probing your past, you may well resurrect an enthusiasm you had long ago buried.

4. Think of others.

Whether you are still working or retired, a self-absorbed identity is unhealthy. Life isn’t all about you, so when you allow yourself to focus on others, your identity will begin to redefine itself without you even realizing it. Where can you volunteer? What causes are important to you? What needs do you see around you? Again, don’t wait until retirement to begin donating your time and energy . . . do it now to ensure a retirement filled with anticipation and purpose.

Now: Enjoy those retirement years . . . beginning today!

If you are already retired, was identity crisis an issue for you? How? If you are not yet retired, how do you plan to make sure identity crisis will not be an issue? Leave a comment!

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