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Monday, September 13, 2010

Thoughts About The Retirement Process

For the majority of my adult life, with the exception of five years as an Industrial Psychologist, I have been a Post Secondary Psychology Professor and next August 2011 I intend to retire.  Retirement is the most widely shared transition for older adults and looked at the right way, can be considered as liberation. Looked at the wrong way it is a major step toward decline and death.
I intend to be successful in my retirement and this will require me to be productively engaged in life. Research has confirmed that in order to be successful we have to find or create a new path and realize that we cannot simply land on the beach and face a broad ocean with a storm on the horizon. One of the aspects of the storm is self-stereotyping which  holds that to be “old” is to decline.  And, from a financial standpoint, we must also understand that our self-worth is not measured by our net worth.
Erik Erikson, an esteemed Developmental Psychologist, tells us that those who retire and are closely identified with work face the threat of losing their sense of identity.  He argues that our major task during the retirement process is to seek new sources of identity, replacing those lost in retirement.
Robert Atchley has suggested five typical phases to retirement:
1. honeymoon—freedom of time and space
2. discenchantment—facing the reality of everyday life in retirement
3. reorientation—develop a realistic view of financial and social    opportunities as well as limitations of retirement
4. stability—accommodation to retirement
5. termination—eventual loss of independence
Do any of them ring a bell for you ?
Gene Cohen in his book The Mature Mind: The Positive Power of the Aging Brain urges us to reinvent retirement. He suggests that we should not let other people push as around.  Indeed, the differences between work and retirement are becoming less distinct. Cohen conducted some research and  found many people had not done any planning for retirement.  Less than 10% had done anything beyond financial planning.  He also asked “What gives you a sense of meaning or purpose in life.”   Almost everybody said that if was making a contribution and helping others. Sounds like a good clue to me. So, I think I’ll stop now and would appreciate any comments you may  have.

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