Reshaping Our Identity

Successfully reshaping our identity is at the very heart of Navigating Retirement. According to Hermina Ibarra our identity is made up of ‘many possibilities and defined by the things we do, the company we keep, and the stories we tell about our work and lives’. It therefore follows that transitioning from work to post work life involves changing, reshaping and rethinking who we are. This can be a very daunting process.

Many of us are filled with dread when we contemplate retirement or life post work. The quintessential question becomes: How or even if we will be able to find meaning, purpose and satisfaction at the end of our professional lives. It is precisely because as a society we have come ‘to the end of the retirement age’ (David Kennedy) and a new life stage has dawned—the Third Age, Third Stage, Encore Years or Unretirement—that we now need to re-imagine or redirect ourselves.

Reconstructing or reinventing ourselves is a process that takes time, patience and resilience. It also takes confidence, and preparation. Redeploying ourselves can take a few years because we might have to learn new skills, develop new networks and prepare financially.

It also requires us to: 

  become physically fit in order to have the strength and mental sharpness/agility to deal with stress and minor setbacks;

  become financially fit so that we have the confidence to set up our own business, pay for further study, or work in a job that we love even if it means less pay;

   reframe or thinking and believe in ourselves, in the transferability of our skills and past experiences to new endeavours;

  research opportunities that leverage our experiences, browse websites and check out ‘real-life’ jobs;

  be prepared to undertake additional education and training, ensuring the skills or certification required for a new role;

   network and extend our connections; and at times

  be prepared for setbacks.

Finally, the process of redefinition—becoming who we wish to be— is hard to achieve without support from our spouse or partner, family or friends, and in some cases expert professionals like retirement or transition coaches.

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