In a society where so many of us consider who we are to be based upon what we do, it’s not surprise that many feel a little less whole after retirement. And the more firmly we believe this notion, the harder it can be.
Days that were once filled from sun up to way past sun down with activities like household chores on top of a 9-5 commitment are now quiet and filled with what seems like endless options, and having that many options can be overwhelming.
But the way in which we retire can also have an effect about how we feel about the decision afterward.
Not All Retirements Are Equal
In a recent Huffington Post article, Susan Krauss Whitbourne, professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, notes that a study “identified 6 career-ending narratives that varied in how they impacted the individual’s sense of self.”
The study, conducted by University of Cincinnati’s Healthy Vough and colleagues in 2015 was based off if the teams interviews with 48 Canadian Baby Boomers, all previously employed in the private sector.
From those interviews, the team was able to draw conclusion about how the 6 career-ending narratives affected the retire-ees afterward.
Here are the six common situations they identified:
The article reports that people who retired due to scenarios 1 and 2 maintained a strong sense of self-esteem, whereas situations 5 and 6 caused a much larger change in one’s overall sense of self.
Clearly, this proves that having some sort of control over your retirement makes us feel more comfortable with the retirement process, and pretty much any process for that matter. But keep in mind that, when you have a healthy well developed Sense of your Self, any big life change, whether it was your choice or not, goes smoother as it brings about less upheaval causing less emotional pain.
Whitbourne concludes her article by explain it beautifully:
“With the ending in the past, you have the opportunity to find fulfillment in those openings that yet await you. Retirement may be the best thing that’s ever happened to you, and the transition that stimulated you the most to redefining your values, sense of self, and purpose in life.”
While everything that happens to us certainly isn’t in our control, it IS within our power to find and focus on the positive aspects of every situation.