“Too many people are thinking about security instead of opportunity, they seem more afraid of life more than death.”
– James F Byrnes
I recently retired from a thirty-five year fulfilling career in health care! It took me five years to carefully plan and prepare for this life-altering transition as I contemplated what was important to me. I knew I would have to prepare not only myself for this change in lifestyle but also my partner and family. Some of the questions that were forefront in my mind were:
- How was I going to build a sense of community for myself without the convenient social structure of work?
- How was I going to navigate living fulltime with my partner who was already retired and at home most of the day.
- How was I going to find fulfillment and that deep sense of purpose and passion in my life without my valued worker role?
Retirement Can Produce a Full-blown Identity Crisis
Many of us contemplate retiring and wonder “can I afford to retire”, with little thought of anything else. We dream about having the time to do the things we want but rarely figure out what that is beyond the proverbial “I’m going to play golf all day, every day!” Retirement is a huge transition, we have spent the majority of our waking time in this worker role and our identity is wrapped up in it: whether we enjoyed our work or not, whether we embraced this identity or whether we rejected it.
The loss of this role can lead us into a full-blown identity crisis, searching for meaning within the space of all this time on our hands. Retirement is an opportunity to discover yourself anew, to step into this stage of your life with passion. You have much to offer the world and this is the time where you can uniquely give your greatest gifts in the form of finding out what is most important to you.
Building a Full, Happy and Rewarding Retirement
Finding out what is most important to us can be elusive. For many of us, the combination of working, commuting, caring for our family, homes, and perhaps elderly parents, has taken a lot of juggling and energy, leaving us with little thought to our own needs. Our leisure and recreation needs have taken second place as these demands of life pull at us. We fantasize about filling our day with the one leisure activity “I love to do”, or “I’m simply going to enjoy doing nothing”, or “I will now have time to tackle all the big jobs around the house”, but we forget to think about the other needs that were automatically provided by work such as:
- A social network
- A sense of community
- Being valued
- Intellectual stimulation
- A sense of accomplishment and contribution
After awhile, filling our retirement time with the big jobs or doing nothing becomes empty drudgery as we neglect to realize the other needs inside of us. Paying attention to our needs is usually unfamiliar territory as we have a history of putting our focus elsewhere. Finding out what is most important and what we value can be equally unfamiliar. We believe it should be easy to figure out on our own but I know it was not easy for me.
Building a full, happy and rewarding retirement takes effort and I am here to tell you that it is possible. This is a time in your life to step into your dreams, to realize things that you never thought possible, to build relationships and friendships founded on what is important to you, to take risks and expand your interests, to uncover the YOU that is waiting to be expressed, to establish your goals and visions for your future, to share your wisdom and gifts with others, to redefine who you are beyond the worker role and to live a life based on this new found freedom.
Receiving help with this life changing transition is the best thing I have ever done. Asking for help was probably the hardest step I took, as a recreation therapist I thought retirement should be a piece of cake. This exciting time in your life is worth the help. I am looking forward to assisting you in discovering a life of purpose and passion that matches you perfectly. Join me – it is never too late.
Lana Gowler, Registered and Master Therapeutic Counsellor
James Motherwell, Associate Counsellor, Registered Therapeutic Counsellor