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Friday, July 13, 2012

Personality and Retirement

Some Personality Factors and Retirement

         I was recently exploring the Internet looking for material related to retirement and personality. This is particularly interesting to me because during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s I worked as a registered industrial clinical psychologist helping both individuals and companies find the right person for work. Now I am retired and very interested helping others achieve satisfactory retirement.
           A key framework that I used while working for the company and then in private practice is the model developed by Alfred Adler.  Adler’s idea for personality explores the relationship between feelings and attitudes about personal superiority and social interest as key factors of our personalities. He defined his theory as Individual Psychology. I will now cite some of the material from a posting, which incidentally refers “individual psychology’s” influence on retirement. Within the book Social Interest[i][ii] Adler states “In trying to decide which single term social interest is the process by which each individual strives to behave or act in a mentally healthy way. Indeed social interest equates well with mental health…”
         “Retirement is about dreams and fears and changes, not just money and schedules. One’s personality therefore is central to preparing for retirement.  And while it is hard to find processes that put it there, and impossible to find ones that do it in a way that fully integrates with all the financial and non-financial facts and decisions to be made, there is hope for the future and there are positive steps we can take right now.” The authors go on to say:
         “Notice[iii]: We do not sell books, or have any financial stake in recommending them. The subtitle of this book is “The Personality-Based Guide to Your Best Retirement,” which is a very apt description. We find this to be a unique and important book – but it is also easy to read and understand, and can even be fun. The authors begin by discussing retirement in general, and help the reader determine whether s/he is ready for retirement.  Although their approach to this question is not detailed and sufficient from a financial point of view, it is well rounded and encourages consideration of what are widely considered to be the main social issues. Then the book settles into its main tasks: helping readers determine, understand, and cope with their “retirement style.”  By this the authors mean a general approach to life and making decisions, which in turn means a broad personality profile.  They break it down along seven scales:

·               Social style:          outgoing vs. contemplative
·               Stress style:          responsive vs. resilient
·               Activity style:         independent vs. inter-dependent
·               Information style:  practical vs. visionary
·               Outlook style:        optimistic vs. cautious
·               Decision style:       analytic vs. empathetic
·               Planning style:       structured vs. flexible

         Adler approached work and retirement in a somewhat different manner. He identified and developed the basic ideas expressed in this blog entry[iv].  I used his approach to the understanding of personality during the years I worked as an Industrial Clinical Psychologist. I still think of myself as an Individual Psychologist, which is what he called himself and those who used his model.
         During our lives we strive to achieve things, most of which are connected to our social relationships. In addition during the years of our employment a central focus is to do the very best job we can to seek perfection. In addition we generally live and work within various forms of community relationships.
.  All of my life I have sought to do my very best. I have also worked to help others.  I believe that I have had these goals since my younger brother Rodger was born and I started “helping” my mother. At first I did my best to please her. After a while I did my best because it felt good.
         Now approaching my second year of retirement I must respond to new challenges and adapt to the world as it changes. I expect that these adjustments will continue until the end of my life.  But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. I am a volunteer for several organizations; the local senior’s centre and TALK; Third Age Learning at Kwantlen and I canvas for the Canadian Cancer Society
           Also one of my key activities has the creation of this blog. All of the over 230 posts on my blogspot are dedicated to my goal of doing my very best to help others who have either retired or are planning to retire. I have had just fewer than 9500 visits and I intend to continue posting.
         The questions I have asked myself are below. Ask yourself and let me know it they are helpful:
       1. What goals would you like to achieve during your                                        retirement?
       2. What accomplishments are you most proud of during                            your work life?
       3. What social relationships are most important to you?

[i] Featured Website

[ii] Adler A. Social Interest: Adler’s key to the Meaning of Life
            ISBN 978-1-85168-669-8
[iii] My Next Phase, by Eric Sundstrom, Ph.d., Randy Burnham,
            Ph.D., and Michael Burnham $24.99 (Springboard Press, 2007)

[iv] Adler,A. (1979).Superiority and Social Interest. George C. McCloud Limited,                Toronto    ISBN  978-0-392-00910-1

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