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How to Make Use of the 6 Retirement Types

By Ardith Bowman March 08, 2023 Lifestyle

Are you in the “one plan and done” retirement trap? Living into your 60s and beyond is a phase of life with many transitions. Sadly, one aspect of ageism is that retirement is seen as a static life phase with decline over time. It is time to disrupt this view, and we are the ones to do it!

When we plan for retirement, we often create just one vision for what we believe will bring contentment and satisfaction. Many of us have already learned that this phase of life is much richer and varied than that.

Think about it: If you retire at 65-ish and are blessed to be healthy and active, your retirement years may last as long as your professional ones! What provides satisfaction today may not in another 10 years.

It might be satisfying for you to decide on one path and then follow it over the retirement decades. Or you can make it an adventure and learn about what brings you joy, continue to grow, and adapt to the different transitions encountered in the years ahead.

Would you choose to live one year 20 times or fully live each of the next 20 years?

Types of Retirees

Through her research, Nancy K Schlossberg, Ph.D., describes six types of retirees:

  • The Adventurer – Embracing a new job or activity that you have never done.
  • The Continuer – Doing something related to what you have done before.
  • The Easy glider – Emergent with no plan.
  • The Searcher – Figure out what is next.
  • The Retreater – Taking some down time.
  • The Involved spectator –Being involved in a specific field outside of being employed.

You can learn more about Schlossberg’s work in her book Revitalizing Retirement: Reshaping Your Identity, Relationships and Purpose (American Psychological Association, 2017) and on her website. She is one of my heroines.

Rather than decide on which retirement type you currently relate to, my question to you is this: Which types do you want to explore in the years of life that lie ahead?


When I first retired, I definitely was The Searcher, then I moved into The Adventurer. As I consider the retirement types, I know I will cycle back through being The Searcher and what an adventure comprises may change.

Right now I have launched a business and have taken up Dragon Boating. Maybe in five years I will publish or turn into a world traveler. I might even try being The Retreater!

What do you see in your future? Use these types to set your imagination free. What would you love? Here are some ways to experiment:

  • Maybe you want to try out each type for a few days or a week. How does each feel?
  • Identify your current retirement type and commit to adding a new approach or making a change.
  • If you are feeling discontent or long for something different in your life, consider which type might bring you vitality.
  • If a life event impacts how you are living, then use the types to discover what you can do.

Fully Explore Your Life

The retirement types simply provide a way for us to assess and expand our approach to creating our lives. As we move through the retirement years, every now and then take stock. Listen to any longing or discontent that may be trying to be heard.

Journaling and/or having a good friend to talk with can help you stay in touch with what you want. I use my hiking time and mediation to stay in touch with the inner wisdom.

Next, is to believe you can create a life that addresses your longings and that you love living. You can. We can.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

How can you use the retirement types to help you continue to create a life that is satisfying, vital and brings you joy? If there’s just one thing that you’d change about your life today, what would it be? Why that particular thing?

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I have been enjoying retirement for 8 years on a very frugal retirement income. I watch and track my spending to ensure I can live long into old age and have managed to go on the odd trip. My heirs can only dream of receiving $3 million when I die. Not in their’s or my wildest dreams. Be grateful for what you have and choose to be happy.

Thank you for this perspective on retirement, I’ll definitely be using it to add to how I think about and plan the coming years. Life is truly short. Enjoy the little things and let go of disappointment and resentment.

Ardith Bowman

Hi Jerilynn,
Many of us don’t have enough saved for the years we will live. One positive is that the workplace is getting more open to our contribution. I just read an article that we are helping to fill the “elder care” roles that are essential for the well-being of many seniors.
In the end, the most important thing in life is our relationships. Not everything has to be expensive. Plus, if you really want something, keep your positive intention in mind…and look for opportunity. Often, there are more than you realized!
Love your outlook!

Maxine Hillary

I never planned to retire because I liked working. But as I tried to move around in my field the ageism in the workforce made it harder to get anything worth my time. Until that is tackled and older workers get real protections, our retirement options are limited. Also Medicare is expensive—I pay more in healthcare than any time in my life and I don’t need it. Social security and pensions are taxed, so a lot of people have to work past 65. The options for retirement are only for the well-heeled. Getting older in the US is an exercise in discrimination, exclusion, being fleeced by the government for whatever they can bleed off you, and every huckster from health insurance to your financial planner trying to get what they can. I’m told I’ll die with 3 million dollars to leave to my heirs, while I watch every penny I spend now. Nobody is more disadvantaged in America than our seniors. It’s worse if you are single, Types of retirees? Please…

Jean Hoffmann

Since my hubby & I retired in 2016, we’ve been Adventurers; traveling Internationally, locally (he has his pilot’s license) & around the U. S. (with our fifth-wheel trailer). We also enjoy time with our kids and grandkids.
I volunteer at the local historical society, and we both volunteer at our church. In our 60s, we are relatively healthy and enjoy doing what we like best, each other’s company!

Ardith Bowman

Staying engaged is so important, Jean! It sounds like you are making the most of this phase of life….it is delightful to hear from someone loving time with their love, too! Rock on. Ardith

The Author

Dr. Ardith Bowman is a woman-centered coach, advancing the positive aging movement. Her mission is to empower women aged 60 and beyond to live with fulfillment throughout life. She will walk beside you, providing unwavering support and guidance as you navigate your path into more fulfillment and vitality. Find her at Becoming You After 60.

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