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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Retirement Self-Actualization[i]
         Since I retired August 31, 2011 I have been keeping up with activities inside and out of Kwantlen Polytechnic University.  I have joined Third Age Learning At Kwantlen (TALK) and am on their program committee. I remain on the Board of Directors at the LSRS Langley Senior’s Resource Society. I have also strengthened my relationship with Alexandra House; a community program for persons of all ages and last but not least I am continuing to canvas for the Canadian Cancer Society. 
         In a way I am more active now than over the past 6 years when I taught only two courses per term at Kwantlen.  I recently came across an article on the Internet (see at the bottom of this post) and it got me thinking.  According to the authors “…retirement is a life stage full of challenges and that adjustment to these is a pre-requisite for self-actualization which is described as “motivation to realize one's own maximum potential and possibilities.”
         So the first thing I did after deciding to construct this blog entry was to review the theories about retirement.  One of the key theorists in this area is Abraham Maslow who says that self-actualization “…may loosely be described as the full use and exploitation of talents, capacities, potentialities etc.  Further: “People who are self actualizing seem to be fulfilling themselves and to be doing the best they are capable of doing.
         The theory that I find most useful is referred to as Continuity Theory created by Robert Atchley who has identified eight phases in the retirement process.  I will review them here relating them to my own retirement where possible.
1.   Pre-retirement.  My experience with retirement began seven years ago when I fought mandatory retirement.  Fortunately, there were many forces focusing on the issue at the time and I was able to stay at work.  During that time I was labeled as a “special part-time regular” and was permitted to teach only two courses per semester.  After the battle was over I had gotten used to teaching two instead of four courses per term continued doing so.  During that time I was also able to travel to Europe where I presented my ageism research at International Sociological Association Conference held in Spain.
2.    Honeymoon phase in which retirees may feel free to do new things, lasting from a few weeks to several years.  This you can see from my current volunteering activities described above.  One of the challenges my volunteering now is that meetings and activities are called up at different times.  This is compared to teaching schedules that are organized and the beginning of each semester letting academics plan way ahead and know exactly when things are happening.
3.    Retirement Routine This will be interesting as I become more familiar with volunteer activities.  I also like to schedule meetings with two of my sons who live in downtown Vancouver.
  1. Rest and Relaxation.  When retirees go through a period of lowered activity levels.  I find myself thinking of that I may slow down on some activities, including my workshops and seminars’ next year.
  2. Disenchantment.  When the retirement is disrupted by some difficulty, for example the death of a spouse.  I have been thinking a lot about this lately and have created a Grief and Bereavement Seminar that I am beginning to market
  3. Reorientation the act of changing the direction in which something is oriented.  Right now that is too far ahead for me to have much to say about it   Stay with this blog for a couple of years and I’ll probably have more to say.
  4. Routine The only thing I can say about this that I imagine that it will be a life much like my last few years at Kwantlen
  5. TerminationIntellectually I can see that toward the end of this decade as I move into my eighties and nineties.  I think termination may mean the end of everything.  Well as they used to sing in the Highlander television series. “Who wants to live forever?”

[i]  Kerr, P.P. & Schulze, S, (2004). Factors that influence Retirement Self-Actualization, HEALTH SA GESONDHEID Vol. 9, N0. 4

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