How to Reinvent Yourself in Retirement

U.S.News & World Report

After what has hopefully been a successful career, you find yourself at the doorway to life's next chapter. Retirement offers the promise of living the life you have always wanted to. You now have the opportunity to take it easy or explore a brand new career. Or perhaps you want to travel or try your hand at some artistic pursuits that have intrigued you over the years.

With the majority of your life spent immersed in a career, it should not be surprising that your personality has been influenced by company life. Who you are has been significantly shaped by what you do. However, your successful career-driven persona is not necessarily the best vehicle to realize a fulfilling retirement. Behaviors that led to your success while employed may be out of place in a post-employment world. For example, if you think you are going to use your management skills to "improve" the way your wife runs the home you are sadly mistaken.

As you leave the working you behind it is important to discover who you want to be moving forward. When someone asks what you do, how will you describe yourself now that you are no longer working?

If you hope to realize a fulfilling retirement, it is important to separate the working you from the retired you. In your second act you have the rare opportunity to make adjustments that can improve upon who you want to be in retirement.

Don't expect to lean on your accomplishments from the job. In retirement you need to have a new story to spin. Tales of old victories won while working quickly lose their impact over time. But this challenge can be an opportunity. You no longer need to regale friends in topics that they do not understand or care about. Among retirees you now share a common thread, and you are likely to encounter similar situations and challenges. Victories realized are sweeter when those around you can appreciate them for what they are instead of struggling to understand them.

You need to reinvent who you are. It is important to accept that who you were on the job is not who you are now. Take time to reflect and better understand which on-the-job personality traits will fit in with and compliment your future, and what changes or improvements you would like to make. Now that you are no longer required to do whatever it takes to make a buck you can occupy yourself with what you enjoy.

Aim to redefine success. While working clear goals were laid before you, and you knew how success was measured. In retirement there are no such guidelines unless you make them. It could be as simple as setting a goal to get through the top three items on your to-do list. Or your success may be achieved when you can play a melody on the guitar with minimal mistakes. Having measures of success can help give you a feeling of achievement that is sometimes left behind on the work site.

Make friends beyond business acquaintances. Sometimes when you exit the working world the friends you thought you had move on with their lives. Without the shared bond of the job you may have little in common. But as life situations change so do our friends. How many people still keep in contact with best friends from high school or college? Now that you have the time, you might want to reach out to forgotten friends from days gone by or reestablish ties with family members who fell to the wayside over the years. As your activities change you will meet new people with similar interests to share your time.

Dave Bernard is the author of Are You Just Existing and Calling it a Life?, which offers guidelines to discover your personal passion and live a life of purpose. Not yet retired, Dave has begun his due diligence to plan for a fulfilling retirement. With a focus on the non-financial aspects of retiring, he shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement-Only the Beginning.

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