If you are still in the world of gainful employment or in your own business, you probably think you are too busy to think about retirement – after all, it is 3-7 years out. Or, you feel that you can just figure it out when you retire because you will have all the time in the world then. Be careful, that thinking can unexpectedly create an identity crisis!
Case in Point: My friend, Karen, was planning on retiring in 2019 – 5 years from now and had not thought about what retirement would look and feel like or what she might do. Then, life just handed her a curve ball. Her company decided that it was “her time” to leave and offered her a package to go not in five years, but … now!
At first, Karen enjoyed sleeping in, loved her lunches with her already retired husband and enjoyed quick trips to see her children and grandchildren. After about three months, she became depressed and asked for my coaching help. She explained that when she was at work she knew exactly what to do every day and she felt fulfilled and happy. She missed so many things about work: a structured life, deadlines that kept her on task, wonderful camaraderie with co-workers, the boss she loved to hate, the business travel, her interaction with the outside world, etc. She just did not feel relevant anymore. She did not know who she was, what she wanted to do or how to get there. She was also still struggling with the emotions of being pushed out of her job. Even though, the “package” was decent – it still gnawed away at her. She ruminated over scenarios of why they picked her and she began to feel like a victim of circumstance.
Here are 10 tips to help you avoid this identity crisis: Whether you are pushed out like Karen or leave on your own accord and on your own terms, you will feel a sense of loss. The emotional turmoil can be overwhelming and begin to chip away at your identity. So, what do you do? Here is what Karen and I worked on together to help her manage this. First, we worked on her emotions and self worth. Then, we were able to work together which produced 10 ways to shift her mindset and shape what she wanted to do with her life:
- Accept that retirement is one of the biggest transitions in life.
- Take time to grieve for what has been lost and then move forward.
- Realize that you have the freedom of choice and time to do some long, overdue self reflection.
- Tap into your passions, interests, strengths and values to create an ideal encore career or life.
- View life as an opportunity.
- Appreciate that your life experiences provide more options.
- Capitalize on the skills you have learned over the last 35-40+ years and leverage them.
- Bask in the glory of your mature perspective and listen to and follow your inner voice.
- Enjoy the thrill of new horizons.
- Cry a little, laugh a lot.
So, what happened to Karen? Her new mantra became: It’s my time …It’s my time! … It’s my time! Your old job is not your identity – it does not define you as a person. You are unique and have many gifts to share with the world. This time in your life is an encore performance for you. You say to the yourself, “Watch out world, here I come.”
Moral of the story: Take the time in advance of retirement to plan your second life so that you will be able to step into your new identity quickly without all the drama. Break a leg!
If you are suffering from an Identity Crisis (retirement or not), please call me for a FREE Strategy Session.
To Your Career Success,