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?

Imagine

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.

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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