Identity after retirement.

 

When we retire, who do we become ? How do we describe ourselves when our ‘working’ lives are over? No longer labelled by a profession, or an institutional association, or a corporate title, how do I introduce myself at a party, or any social event after I say my name ? What part of my life do I choose to focus on in conversation? What sartorial choices am I going to make when I get up in the morning to reflect my changed way of life?

What’s going on ? Am I at last free , all other things being equal, to make different choices about how I spend my time ? Is it about giving back – using some of that time to volunteer in my own community or in the wider world? Is it about new learning – reviving dusty holiday French, for instance, or taking an online course in ‘Strategies for successful ageing ‘ through a learning platform like http://www.futurelearn.com  ? Is it about paying more attention to my health and well being, for some of us on the principle of ‘better late than never ‘? For a while, perhaps it’s about travelling – a couple of big trips,  South Africa, Costa Rica, India – and then it’s about settling, or is it? And always it comes back to the new identity – who am I ? After retirement what choices will I make ? Where will I decide to be ? With whom will I want to be ?

Money, the only currency that seemed to matter during the salaried or earning life, while still important, now seems much less important than time .Perhaps for that reason, experiences -the good ones ! seem to be all the more intense and to be more important.

So many questions, so many options, a little less time. As I sat in the garden in the sun this week after a pleasurable long lunch with old friends the talk turned to retirement and someone said , “It’s all about identity now. I am an old man who gardens.” I looked at the vegetables he has grown, the roses and lavender that have flourished under his care this year and thought, ” Yes , that’s true, that’s partly who you are now. And there’s so much more. ”

So I think what I am trying to say is that after retirement life becomes at least as interesting and challenging as it was before ; that getting to know a person means taking a different approach – perhaps through a shared interest, for example. Like decluttering , it’s about letting go and making room for a  new or at least reshaped identity.

What do you think ?

 

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Positively Ageing-my top ten

For the week that’s in it, National Positive Ageing Week, I thought  I’d write about the top ten things that positively ageing means for me, so here goes

  • free from work now – and grateful for the pension !
  • being active – and new opportunities are popping up locally all the time. I’ll never be a ‘gym bunny’ but enjoy walking, aqua aerobics, Pilates, especially as there’s a good deal of social contact involved.
  • a chance to create each day as I want it to be
  • new interests such as art (seeing and doing), getting back to writing, engaging with voluntary work.
  • new friendships developing
  • travel to new places (Turkey, Madrid,Cuba, Vienna, Sweden) for example
  • finding out how to make the changes I want to see in my own life
  • feeling more alive and open to new experiences
  • spending time at home and away with Ed
  • and above all for as long as it lasts TIME a wonderful gift,to enjoy, to experiment,to learn, to relax , to let go of the things that really don’t matter and to cherish the things that do.