Transitions Through Life

Surviving every stage of life.

Boomers Get a Life After Retirement

The good news--boomers have options.

"What's next" is the cry of many boomers as they think about their futures. One woman said that she was terrified of retirement. "What will I do?" Another man could not wait to retire. He was an investigative reporter but had always dreamed of turning his hobby, art, into something serious. But there are several themes:some are scared of the future, of money running out, of the possibility of becoming caretakers and not having a purpose any longer; others are excited about new opportunities and new plans.

The good news is that boomers have options. Do they want to continue what they were doing, try something novel, search for a new path, relax and let life emerge, stay involved but as a spectator, or retreat to the couch. There is no single path that fits all sizes, paths can be combined, and paths can and will change over time.

Based on my interviews and focus groups I discovered that boomers are creative as they chart new paths for themselves. I identified six main types of boomers as they go about getting a new life after retiring from their main career.

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CONTINUERS continue to use existing skills and interests, but modifying them to fit retirement. A retired professor continues to write books and give speeches.

ADVENTURERS see retirement as an opportunity to start new endeavors. A researcher for a congressional committee became a massage therapist.

SEARCHERS explore new options through trial and error. Joan went on several boards, volunteered for several organizations as she tried to figure out what to do with the rest of her life.

EASY GLIDERS enjoy unscheduled time letting each day unfold. As one retired bank teller said, "I worked all my life. It is now my time to just chill out."

INVOLVED SPECTATORS care deeply about the world, but engage in less active ways. A museum curator still follows the art world but no longer works in it.

RETREATERS take time out or disengage from life. For some, this is an opportunity to think quietly about the future; for others it is a retreat from life leading to depression.


Nancy K. Schlossberg
Author, Revitalizing Retirement: Reshaping Your Identity, Relationships, and Purpose
Copyright, 2011

 

Nancy Schlossberg, Ed.D., is a Professor Emerita at University of Maryland, College Park. She is the author of nine books.

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