Imagine yourself at a cocktail party. A new acquaintance asks you what you do for a living. And the answer is, “Nothing.” You’ve recently retired and carefree days—along with a growing sense of idleness—have replaced the sense of purpose your career gave you. After decades of easily responding to that simple question, do you know your retirement identity?
Retirement represents a monumental life shift. Not only do you need to consider financial questions such as how you will replace your income or when to claim your Social Security benefit, you also need to consider the social, emotional, and even identity issues it raises.
Planning Beyond Finances – Finding Your Retirement Identity
In America, our workplaces are often a key component of our social lives, too. We spend just as many, if not more, waking hours with our coworkers each week than with family members. We count on seeing the same people every day, eating lunch at the same places, and catching up over a cup of coffee or a round of drinks.
When you retire, those sources of socialization, self-worth, and identity are suddenly removed, which can cause a major shift in self-perception. For some people, simply saying, “I’m retired” is enough. For others who identify strongly with what they do as well as who they are, being retired can feel limiting.
Your retirement plan often focuses on how you will structure your life: sources of income, health care coverage, providing for heirs, and charitable giving. However, little attention is typically paid to the concept of identity. That needs to change—and your financial advisor can help.
Preparing for the “Next Act”
The next time you sit down with your financial advisor to discuss your plan, in addition to discussing income in retirement, bring up the issue of identity in retirement. How will you spend your time and replace the sense of purpose and belonging that work once provided?
The answer to that question may come to you immediately. Alternatively, you may need to give it some thought. Either way, it’s an opportunity to allow yourself to daydream a bit about what your “next act” will look and feel like. Here are some questions to ask yourself to start the process:
- What have I always wanted to do that I may be able to finally do when I’m retired?
- If I need or want to work, what do I want to do and how can I begin laying the foundation for that new career now?
- What favorite hobbies, activities, or pastimes do I want to devote time to when I’m retired?
- What do I want to include in my daily life when I’m no longer working?
Each of these questions relates to how you will spend your time and resources in retirement. Let’s say you’ve always enjoyed golf or volunteer work. The way you structure your retirement, including the income you need and where you will live, will be important in allowing you to live the retirement you imagine.
Let’s say you’re not ready to stop working altogether. What will your new career be? Perhaps you will need to spend time starting a business to do some consulting work. Or maybe you want to change careers altogether. These actions, too, require thought, planning, and action in advance of your retirement. And your financial advisor can help guide you.
And, while this may seem removed from the financial part of the retirement planning process, the two really go hand-in-hand. Structuring your retirement plan and funding to help you take part in a new vocation or avocation can help you write a new and fulfilling new chapter in your life.
If you wish to discuss your retirement planning needs or make a plan that includes your retirement identity, we’re always happy to help.
Important disclosure information
Please remember that different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, including the loss of money invested. Past performance may not be indicative of future results. Therefore, it should not be assumed that future performance of any specific investment or investment strategy, including the investments or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by RegentAtlantic Capital, LLC (“RegentAtlantic”) will be profitable.
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This article is not a substitute for personalized advice from RegentAtlantic. This article is current only as of the date on which it was sent. The statements and opinions expressed are, however, subject to change without notice based on market and other conditions and may differ from opinions expressed in other businesses and activities of RegentAtlantic. Descriptions of RegentAtlantic’s process and strategies are based on general practice and we may make exceptions in specific cases.
RegentAtlantic does not provide legal or tax advice. Please consult with a legal and or tax professional of your choosing prior to implementing any of the strategies discussed in this article.