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I’m Retired: So Who Am I Now?

It may be challenging to figure out who you are without the trappings of a career, but it can be done

By Bob Lowry

Compass with needle pointing the word retirement, concept image to illustrate retirement planning

The end of a career and the beginning of retirement prompts major changes in your personal identity, use of time and relationships. If your retirement is not by choice, the stress can be even more disturbing, since losing a job can create an enormous hole in your sense of purpose and self worth.

For most of us, what we’ve done to earn a living defines us.

Struggling to Answer a Key Question

“What do you do?” is usually the first question you’re asked when you meet someone new. But if your answer is, “I’m retired,” that’s a description of your work status, not how you fit into society.

(MORE: When Type A Personalities Retire: It Isn’t Pretty)

Retirees, myself included, struggle to figure out how to validate ourselves without the link to a job. It’s easy to begin wondering: Who am I now?

For those lucky enough to have a compelling hobby or interest, retirement allows for a more complete enjoyment of that pursuit. You are now free to spend as much time as you like on what makes you happy.

But the sad truth is, most retirees do not know what to do without the structure that employment brings to a day. It’s not unusual for someone who has recently retired to go back to work — either part-time or by starting a business — simply to regain that missing sense of purpose.

The Stages of Retirement

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