Why do some people thrive after retirement, while others seem to fade away?
The difference is often between those who continue to seek self-improvement with a sense of purpose and those who fall into a state of basic routine. The deciding factor in each pathway is one’s sense of self, otherwise known as self-image.
Who are You?
According to the Cleveland Clinic, self-image is the personal view — the mental picture — that you have of yourself. Self-image is your collection of your characteristics, how you describe yourself: intelligent, beautiful, ugly, talented, selfish, kind. These represent your assets (strengths) and liabilities (weaknesses) as you see them.
Self-image changes over time, affected by early childhood influences plus accumulated experiences with teachers, coaches, friends, family, coworkers and even strangers.
These relationships reinforce what you think and feel about yourself, for better or worse. Your sense of self is entangled with your sense of purpose, and both are shaken when children leave the nest, you lose a loved one or you face retirement.
A Retirement Roadmap
Dr. Dudley Tower is a human and organizational systems expert from the Dynamic Aging Institute, a nationally recognized program based in South Carolina. Tower says we live in an era of age-defying opportunities created by longer lifespans and delayed physical and mental decline.
Despite the apparent advantages of a longer, healthier life, many retired older adults are not motivated to pursue purpose in self-actualization or try to reach their full potential. Instead, some people spend retirement in a state of “mindless routine and busyness,” he says.
The problem is that retirement is unnatural, Tower says. The type of work you do should simply change, not stop. A growing population of older adults has retired around age 65 and now faces another 20 to 25 years of life expectancy.