It’s essential for retirees to understand their identity. When working, many folks have an identity tied to their work and the family responsibilities that consume their time.
Even though these two important roles in life came with many activities and a great deal of stress that made the thought of retirement inviting, they often provided meaning and purpose. Many people step out of these obligations into a retirement focused around being busy, having fun and doing all the things they never had time to fit in before. They fill their unlimited discretionary time with recreation. As enjoyable as retirement can be, when recreation becomes the primary focus for retirees on a daily basis, it can leave them feeling disconnected with who they are and what’s important to them.
It’s helpful for retirees to consider their identity as a way to strategically move a step closer to a fulfilling retirement. By reflecting on their identity, including categories ranging from family and community to faith and wealth, retirees can consider who they truly are and what drives them. Identity largely propels what interests individuals, especially those things they’re passionate about and what they really want to focus on doing with their time. To practically assess who they really are and what is therefore most important to them, retirees should reflect on the activities they engage in.
Retirees can categorize what they do into three types of activities. Category one tasks are essential, such as sleeping, eating, doing chores and taking care of their health. The next two categories are discretionary-time activities that do not have to be undertaken. Category 2 includes have-to-dos that retirees choose, such as exercising, caring for pets, helping others, watching grandchildren, and caring for their home and yard. Whether these meaningful activities are taken on out of a sense of obligation or willingly, they are obligations retirees have chosen to assume and may even enjoy, but they could also choose to discontinue them. Category 3 contains optional things people spend their time routinely or sporadically doing, like reading the newspaper, doing activities on the computer, engaging in hobbies, watching TV and socializing.
Once retirees categorize their activities, they should consider the amount of time they spend on them, weighed against each activity’s importance and value. The second and third categories are potential time wasters and fall into the category of things they don’t really have to do. They may feel necessary but are often done out of habit, so they might not add measurably to quality of life. It’s beneficial to recognize which activities are neither necessary nor meaningful, as well as not particularly enjoyable. This exercise helps retirees answer the questions, “Where does all my time go?” and “What did I get out of it?” This can be the start of making better use of time.
The more closely activities are connected to one’s Identity, the more important and rewarding they are. It’s vital that life pursuits align with what retirees want in their lives from two standpoints. First come the activities that are truly essential or meaningful because they are tied to one’s identity. Second is examining how engaging in various activities will impact who retirees become, as their interests and habits influence their personal development.
By intentionally choosing what they involve themselves in, retirees can live out their identities. In the process, they can enjoy a better retirement and live a better version of themselves.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED in the CAPE GAZETTE: https://www.capegazette.com/article/retirees-underestimate-importance-identity/262941