Am I Different in Retirement?

Am I a “different me” in retirement?

A while back, a FIRE blogger (Ms ONL) contemplated if she would fundamentally change in retirement. I initially commented to her that you are the same person after you retire that you were before. I pointed out to her that I had the same core values, the same bad habits, and the same fears.

But recently I’ve come to the conclusion that I am not the same person I was 3 years ago.  I have changed.  And that’s a good thing.

J & L, two good friend who I worked with for years, both recently commented how much different I am, how I am much more positive. It was a conscious decision (and a continual work in progress) to become more positive. In the past I was a cynical, half-glass-empty, plan for the worst-case person.   I came to the point that I did not like that about myself; I wanted to be happier and to find joy in my life. I started to regularly practice positivity (using multiple tools) and I was pleased to hear that people who’ve known me a long time have noticed it! (And noticed in a positive way).

C, another recently retired friend, also commented how she was no longer who she used to be.   Between empty nesting, surviving cancer, and facing the end of her career, everything she was, was no longer. Everything from her identity to her body had changed.  And for a while she had no idea who she was becoming either! “I’m no longer blonde and skinny (after the cancer treatments and long term meds). I’m no longer needed (as a daily care mom). I’ve reached the end of a great career and have no desire to update my skills to keep doing that. It took awhile to figure out who I was becoming.” She was great before, and she is definitely a different person now. And she loves where she is right now.

So, am I a different person in retirement?  Yes I am.  Perhaps you will be also.   How did I change?

  • I clarified my core values and confirmed they are mine and are not just societal expectations.
  • I am working on breaking bad habits and actively trying to conquer old fears.
  • I am choosing to be positive about life.

I am different and it’s in a good way.  I’m becoming the Me I want to be.

Do you feel you are a different person in retirement?   How have you changed?

 

Picture Credit: Me!  African Safari Sunset 2017

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33 thoughts on “Am I Different in Retirement?

  1. Interesting topic. Thanks for writing about it. I’m into retirement one year now and still figuring stuff out. After my initial identity crisis, I realized I enjoyed doing a lot of things I didn’t have time for before. I’m definitely less stressed out and more patient.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Welcome Tracey. I’m into (early) retirement 3 years now and still figuring some things out! Like you I am doing things now I never did before and really enjoying them. I learning to enjoy the slower pace of life I’ve created too.

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  2. Thanks to you and all above for exploring this subject. If we have a healthy attitude to life we will be changing ALL the time. How often I have said ‘I wish I knew back then what I know now’. Some of my things are not being a people pleaser (in the bad sense). I guess I have more time now to change my lifestyle habits concerning eating and exercise. I look after my health better now and I feel so much better than at any other time in my life. I wish I had known how to do that decades ago.

    Kathleen

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    1. Kathleen, Yes, we probably should be changing some elements all the time. I’ve just been a bit surprised how much I’ve changed in “personality”.

      I’m still working on changing lifestyle habits as well – still have many unhealthy ones. I can say for myself… I knew a lot of this decades ago, but only in past few years have been able to really work on making those lifestyle changes. I like what the changes are bringing… but still have more habits to make/break!

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  3. I have been looking for this blog for a while now, you address the issues that swarm in my head.. as I prepare to retire in a few months. For years I became frustrated by those who cautioned me not to retire until I had a plan…they’d say your too active you won’t be able to sit still…you’ll be bored…etc… so I looked for something else to do until I figured out that I don’t want to leave one career for another job… I want to have the freedom to do the things that give me pleasure…Thanks for taking the time to give voice to the thoughts in my head….Fergy

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    1. Hey Fergy, Thanks for commenting. I left work (32-year career with one company, as a workaholic) without any plan for life. (The financial plan was fine.) Everyone told me to just start another career… I tried that – formed an LLC, got certification for a second career idea, and signed on with multiple consultant groups. And realized I like the weeks when I’m not working much better I took time to create a LIFE plan. And by time, I mean 1-2 years. But I’m not a fast planner. And I’ve refined it as well. Linking with other bloggers who are on similar life path (recent retirees, early retires) has been helpful.

      I can tell you, retirement has nothing to do with sitting still! I’ve become more physically active in retirement (and hope to continue to increase there). I can also say, I’ve been trying too many things on to be bored. Many retirees have different terms – their possibilities lists, their never-be-bored lists, their bucket lists – but if you don’t have one, start it now. That list of all the things you’d like to try, learn about, see, do, be. A great comeback to the naysayer … “how can I be bored when I have 150 things still on my list to try?”

      The “freedom to do the things that give you pleasure” is the perfect definition for retirement!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for the reply… I have started practicing retirement on my off days and have mulled over ways to express my goals for retirement… but so far have not quite captured it well enough… I love the idea of a Life Plan… I think it makes much more sense for me to focus on my plan vs a plan to explain the narrative for retirement. Again I love your Blog and appreciate that you have done so much work to capture the content. Fergy

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  4. This is such a positive post Pat with some great advice. I totally agree that we do change after we retire and it can be a good thing.. When I took early retirement to be with my husband (who is 9 years older than I), it was a novelty. We took a trip to Asia and the first few months were okay. Then I hit a brick wall and wondered if I had made a huge mistake. I had been defined by my career and now I didn’t have a purpose in my life. I hadn’t really planned what I would be doing after retirement, which was my mistake. It has certainly been a positive experience for you and now after starting my blog 3 years ago and finding my ‘place’ in life I’m happy and contented. I would love to have you as a guest writer on my blog for my Over 50 & Thriving series so if you could email me at sue@sizzlingtowardssixty.com.au if you are interested that would be great and I can provide more details. Looking forward to hearing from you.

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    1. Hi Sue – sending you a direct email for more details! Getting to the positive was work… I also felt a loss of place and identity … retirement came 2 years earlier than planned and I too had no retirement plan. So it’s nice to be able to look at the current and see I’m at a different place. Still working on it, but at a good place.

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  5. Many of my friends feel we are more impatient with everything but don’t have a reason why. It could be about getting older and hating to wait for things now that used to happen faster. It’s a more crowded world. This is not about us changing but the world changing around us…

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    1. Interesting observation! I think I am more patient on some things and less patient with others. More patient with just having a conversation spur of the moment… not feeling like I need to rush to the next thing. Less patient with bad service, traffic snarls, and toxic people. Life is too short to waste time on those things. But I guess we are used to immediate elements … like internet speeds. I’m at our cottage which gets bad reception and no WiFi….giving me a taste of slowing down!

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  6. I was just thinking about this idea the other day in my morning pages journal. I am profoundly different for one main reason, I’m not living in fear anymore. I think that is the only way to describe it. I was so wrapped up in my worry about what other people thought of me, I could never fully enjoy myself in anything to do with work. And once the smart phone came into my life, I was never truly not working. So I was in a state of chronic stress, (mostly of my own making) for about the last 10 years. I was always calculating a response for something I might get called out on. I had a shield at the ready, all the time.

    No matter how much I learned about how bad this was for me, I couldn’t stop. Even after I retired, I had terrible dreams about it as if I still worked. I’m 5 quarters into my new life and the dreams are finally fading away. Most nights I sleep well.

    Maybe it is some kind of post stress disorder? It certainly has not been fun to try and get over. Not at all what I had expected. I thought that once I left, all of my thoughts would be left there, like my keys to the building. Sigh, oh well, live and learn.

    Cheers,
    -CW at dailycreatives.com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, I totally understand the feelings of worrying about how others view you! I still scenario plan everything and then even re-write conversations after the fact…the “if only I had said this”. It didn’t stop with work ending. Nor did the fear of missing something… just last night, I was once again missing my flight (in my dreams). I woke up and had to tell myself – it’s NOT real.

      I think the change for me is being able to know that it’s not real (or that I’m over worrying again) as soon as I wake up and then do some yoga-breath techniques to resettle my heart rate and breathing. I never connected this to living in fear of the Imposter Syndrome.

      For me, awareness has made a significant change… the rest is a work in progress!

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  7. I’m definitely a different person than Career Joanne was – for all the same reasons that you mentioned. In hindsight, I was stressed all the time and seeing the world as a negative place. I thought I was a positive and happy person, but now I realize I wasn’t.
    I like this post-retirement version of me so much better.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I also like the post-retirement version of me. As I talk to folks still working at my MegaCorp, I can hear the negativity in so many of them. It was/is so prevalent. I have one woman who used to be so positive and now is almost always negative. Sad to see.

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  8. Good questions, Pat. I’m a positive person in general. When faced with something brand new with lots of unknowns, I think of positive outcomes, and not disasters. I’ve always been living my life differently than what society expects of me. Retirement doesn’t change this. The reality of aging and eventually death does make me focus even more on spending my time wisely.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Natalie, Wow. I have not gotten to the point of thinking about all the positive outcomes and not the disasters. (A new goal for my positivity?) At least now I can say, I see the disasters but don’t believe that will be the true outcome. Small steps, hmm?

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  9. I would say that I have definitely changed. For one thing, I now get 7-8 hours of sleep every night which makes me more calm and thoughtful than I was when I was getting 5-6 hours of sleep most nights over the course of my career.

    I agree that at my core, my values have not changed as a result of retirement per se, though maybe they are changing somewhat as a result of the fact that I have more time to be reflective and look at issues from all sides and ask the question, “does this really fit me?”

    As one of the other commenters stated, I do feel that the “me” you see now is closer to the authentic me than I was able to be in the past. I now have freedom to indulge my voracious ENFP interest in everything that crosses my path. I have been experimenting with all kinds of cooking techniques and exploring other aspects of my life that lay somewhat dormant as I was toiling through the daily grind for 30+ years and helping to raise four children.

    I try to be positive most of the time because I believe that is the best way to live and the best way to encourage others to live. Occasionally I hit a negative streak, especially regarding the national political situation, which I despise, but feel powerless to affect. However, that is usually very short-lived and I bounce back and I’m the good old positive me again.

    I can definitely feel physical changes too that are not the result of retirement, but are the result of being 60+ which correlates with retirement I suppose. Injuries seem more common and they take longer to overcome. However, mentally, I still feel like I’m 25 which is a good thing.

    So, fundamentally, I’m not sure that my essential make-up has changed, but I think the manifestation of that essence has changed with the advent of available time, freedom from required duties and restfulness.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gosh…. “the manifestation of that essence” … what a great phrase. Is this just the authentic me being allowed to emerge? Or a better me?

      I’ve had a couple of work folks tell me (after reading my post) that I was never as negative/critical as I said. But I do feel like I am more positive because as you said, I do believe it is the best way to live. I didn’t feel like I was living like that while working…. and even now, my connections with folks still working there, I can feel the negativity. Maybe in the culture of negativity, I wasn’t as bad as others? The tallest dwarf?

      It’s taken me work to become more positive. I’m still working on elements of it… like not comparing myself to others and coming out inferior. I like your “does this really fit me” reflection question. A simple one that I’m going to steal.

      I’m watching all your cooking techniques on FB… one of these days I’m going to jump in and try one of them!

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  10. A thought provoking post.

    I am definitely different in retirement, more relaxed and patient, certainly less grumpy! I enjoy just having myself (and my husband) to please. No deadlines, feeling forced to do something I don’t want to because of work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re the second person who’s commented about being more patient. I think I’ve just become more aware of my emotional state. I still have days that are frustrating or overwhelming with too many things to get done, but now I think I’m more mindful of my emotions… and kinder to myself. And those down-days do not seem to spiral into a full down week, which I recall did happen when working. So yeah, over the course of the week, I’m less grumpy too!

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  11. Hi, Pat – You pose a wonderful question. For me, my answer is that I am MORE me now than I ever have had the freedom to be before. At ever other stage of my life, society held out heaps of expectations, and my personality is one to try to meet those expectations to the best of my ability (Child, Student, Teacher, Administrator….). Somehow I find that retirement holds far less expectations….or perhaps I ignored the memo. Either way, I now feel more ‘me’ than I have since I was five! And it feels fantastic!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Love it… “I’m ignoring the memo” might be my new quote when someone “suggests” (tells me) what I should be doing in retirement. I recall when I got married, I often asked “if I don’t do that, will the wedding police come after me”? I guess there aren’t any retirement police either! Sometimes I’m a slow learner.

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  12. An interesting topic, and if I’m honest (always a laughable notion for me) I’ve probably privately considered it several occasions over the last 3.5 years since my own retirement. I think the main thing is that we are unshackled from the GRIND. That is no small thing! Without the discipline of a regular routine, I think we become different people whether we wish to acknowledge that or not. For me personally that’s been a benefit — I’m less agitated now, more able to see the horizon easier. I too hope for even more changes in the years to come. – Marty

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    1. I adore that term… unshackled. It really does explain the freedom that I feel in retirement. I’m actually quite surprised how much I’ve changed in retirement … as are some of my closest friends. Hopefully they continue to like the ever-changing Pat…. and your friends continue to like the ever-changing Marty!

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  13. Another terrific post, Pat.
    I do think I’m quite different in retirement. I’m more Zen, at least that’s what my former publisher tells me. I know I’m more patient. I’m far, far less stressed which, of course, leads to the more Zen and more patient.
    I’m also finally getting an opportunity to explore all kinds of things that I’ve never explored before so I think I’m more interesting to myself and to other people. I used to be a one-trick pony.
    I’m actually looking forward to changing quite a lot more in my retirement. Stay tuned!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Karen, I’ve always been pretty patient, not so much zen! Those who know me pretty well have said I’ve changed. People who knew me more peripherally actually have come back and said I was always pretty positive. I thought that was interesting. I do think I am changing and as you said, I look forward to changing a bit more. I’m working on giving up my Comparison Inferiority and Imposter Syndromes. I’m working on investing in friendships and choosing activities more closely linked to my values. Not sure if that makes me more interesting… but it makes me happier at the end of the day!

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  14. haven’t yet retired, but am already starting to change as I prepare for that phase of my life. For many years, I was focused on accomplishments, the kind that can be checked off a to-do list, things like earning my master’s degree, climbing the corporate ladder, running a marathon. I’m still pleased with all of those accomplishments, but now that I am not quite ready to leave the corporate world, but also no longer climbing, I am thinking more about the quality of my day-to-day life and the importance of being connected with the present moment. I suppose I will change further once I do retire. I hope to be an improved version of myself.

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    1. Christie, these days I do think about the quality of day-to-day life a lot more. It’s not just about getting through the work day. It’s about doing things in the day that bring me joy. Even if that’s sitting reading a novel on a rainy afternoon. Or reading comments on my blog and reflecting on them. Not nearly like the accomplishment of getting that big promotion at work (or running a marathon – OMG – congrats!), but a little accomplishment of connecting to someone. And a day filled with little moments of happiness is a successful day.

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  15. I, too, am becoming a much more positive person in retirement. Mellow & grateful. Retirement is a journey to knowing who you are and what you prefer. And constantly making adjustments as my body doesn’t always cooperate!

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    1. Faye, I had a LOL moment when you said your body is not cooperating. I’m beginning to learn that as well. Arthritis in my knee has surfaced recently. Hubby has it as well. So sometimes we look like two really old people limping along. But grateful that we’re still moving along!

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