The literal definition of retirement is “to withdraw.” Today, fewer and fewer retirees want to do that. They want to engage with others and in meaningful activities — not just withdraw. We are living longer. Retirees are living longer and realize a plan for a fulfilling lifestyle in addition to a financial plan is just as important.
Dr. Nancy K. Schlossberg has studied many issues relating to retirement, including the personal psychology of the retirement process. She identifies and defines six different lifestyles retirees can reference as they plan for a retirement that is meaningful and promotes longevity.
Six Retirement Lifestyle Paths
Continuers modify their activities to meet their new reality. They deploy their existing skills and interests to fit their retirement circumstances. They stay connected to their former work and identities while developing new initiatives on evolving fronts.
This group sees retirement as an opportunity to pursue an unrealized dream. They venture into the unknown, taking on a new job or activity they’ve never done before. Retirement is viewed as an opportunity to make daring changes and try new things. Adventurers often take regrets about things they wish they’d done during their working lives and funnel those into a new plan.
3. Involved Spectators
Caring deeply about their previous work, Involved Spectators are no longer players, but they receive satisfaction from staying involved — though at a controlled distance. They want to continue to be immersed in their former professional field, although not to the extent to make a full-time job of it.
Looking to explore new options through trial-and-error, Searchers might research various fields of interests and volunteer. If they don’t like one avenue, they’ll try another. If different paths “play out,” they may continue searching. A Searcher might become an Easy Glider, an Involved Spectator, or an Adventurer.
5. Easy Gliders
By enjoying and letting each day unfold without a fixed schedule, Easy Gliders have decided retirement is the time to relax. They take each day as it comes. While this may work well for some, others may find themselves lonely and become a Retreater.
The last group, Retreaters, take time to think and determine next steps before moving on. Some Retreaters become depressed because they no longer feel like they have a purpose and miss other things they enjoyed while working. They may get stuck and risk fading away as a couch potato, which can ultimately have negative impacts on their mental, emotional, and physical health, and their relationship with their spouse, partner, or other family members.
Do you identify with one of these six different retirement lifestyle paths? Or perhaps you’re creating your own. Whatever your path, choose one that brings you meaning, gives you reason to get out of bed in the morning, and focuses on what matters most to you.