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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Adapting to Retirement and Self-Image Management

    Over the last five months, after ending 40 years as a university professor I have been slowly adjusting to my life in retirement.  Since September I have been working on a number of activities including expanding my blog entries, volunteering, and marketing my retirement workshop.
         On a number of times I have still “visited” both the Langely and Surrey campuses, mostly having to do with my wife’s activity as a student in the Fine Arts dept.  She will be graduating this spring as the first Fine Arts undergraduate student.
         Especially as we drive toward the Surrey campus I feel warm and tingly inside as we pass by buildings and roadways that I have driven by hundreds if not thousands of times before.  To explore these feelings I “naturally” did what I have also done frequently; I investigated to find out what research has been done about this experience. I found an article by Ursina Teuscher about identity diversity.  It has helped widen my understanding of retirement [i]
         Her research investigated 792 Swiss persons.  Men and women as well as retirees and non-retirees were about equally represented.
         She found that the “…professional domain remains important for self description even after retirement.”  Surprisingly, “The loss of the professional role after retirement apparently did not lead to loss of professional identity.”   “The best predictors of the importance of retirement status for self definition were a positive attitude toward aging and long job duration.”
How might we explain these findings?  “ is therefore plausible that identity diversity may have acted as a buffer…which would explain the correlation with high identity diversity and life satisfaction, but also the moderating effect of job deprivation….   “Thus, higher diversity is more likely to be beneficial than costly in narrative identity and “…the fact that professional identity is maintained after retirement should not be viewed as lacking adaptation to the new circumstances of retirement, but as a way of maintaining positive past identities as part of an ever richer and more diverse self-image.
I will close now as I am awaiting a call from the Seniors Centre for a discussion about my upcoming retirement workshop

Teuscher, Ursina (2010).  Identity Development and Retirement, INT’L Journal Aging   and Human Development, 70(1) 89-106.

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