How to Redefine Your Identity When You Retire

I was talking to a client recently about the fears she had with taking that big step to retirement.  We had it all planned to as much detail as possible but she was still hesitating making that call.  When I figured it out, it all made sense.

For all her life, she had defined herself as her job: “I’m an electrical engineer with Company ABC.”  And now she had no definition for herself.

She was a wife, mother, grandmother, aunt, sister and a whole lot of other relationships but she could not see any of those as having as much prestige as “an electrical engineer, graduate of Penn State, Class of ’70.”  When I talked with her about it, she realized that’s what was holding her back.

As we discussed this new phase of her life, surrounded by very different people, 24-hours of the day, she saw this retirement thing as a fresh start with new friends, new adventures and of course, a new definition of herself.  She had no fancy title, no career goals, no desire to find the next career challenge.

She found herself loving the freedom to define herself from the perspective of an emancipated soul looking for the next thing, and the next thing, and the next thing without any reference to her education or her job title.  She used to say she would be a “retired engineer” but now she realized that was so lame.  “Retired anything” was more a statement of the life she would be leaving behind and not a reflection of the life she was living and would live.

She deleted that term from her vocabulary and decided when people ask her what she does, she will say, “I’m looking for the next adventure” knowing she was very happy having the freedom to choose every day what she will do to fill those 16 hours. What a relief!  She told me she would submit her paperwork to the HR Department to “get on with her next adventure.”

Is this holding you back from “retiring?”  Time’s awastin’.  Get some help in planning for your retirement now.  Don’t let the loss of a title hold you back.


Photo Credit: Alexandra Wysocki 


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