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Do you dread Retirement? Many people view Retirement as the end of their careers and a loss of identity. Despite looking forward to it from a young age, it is often perceived as “jumping off a cliff,” inducing panic or a sense of loss. However, Retirement doesn’t have to be daunting. It is a significant opportunity for growth and fulfillment.

Research shows that by our 50s, 60s, and 70s, we are at our happiest (AARP, 2018). At this developmental stage, we are inclined to care for others without expecting anything in return (Ehlman, 2012). This means we have a wealth of experience and a strong desire to share it. Whether continuing in our field or exploring new passions, Retirement offers us the chance to make meaningful contributions through mentoring, volunteering, or Philanthropy.

To make the most of Retirement, it’s essential to understand the who, what, and why of this new phase.

Who Think of Retirement as an opportunity to develop your true inner identity, the person you’ve always been but didn’t have time to nurture while working. This is the time for self-discovery. Are you someone who loves adventure, enjoys helping others, or feels connected to changing the world? You might be a grandparent, traveler, artist, volunteer, mentor, philanthropist, or pickleball enthusiast. Retirement is the perfect time to explore or expand these aspects of yourself.

What Define what Retirement means to you. For many, it is a time free from work’s burdens and structured weeks. For others, the thought of unstructured days can be daunting. Clearly outlining what your Retirement will look like can reduce anxiety. What will you do daily? How will you manage financially? What will be your purpose? Planning ahead for these questions can make the transition smoother.

Why Retirement is the ideal time to discover your “why.” Your “why” is your legacy. It is the opportunity to define why your life, job, and connections mattered. Shaping your legacy to reflect your values, culture, and what you hold dear can lead to wisdom and a profound sense of purpose.

Retirement is not just a time to relax or slow down; it is a time to ramp up positive emotions, meaningful connections, and deeper self-understanding. In Retirement, you are working for yourself, becoming an entrepreneur of your future. Embrace this new chapter with enthusiasm and look forward to the opportunities it brings.

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ReferencesEhlman, K., & Ligon, M. (2012). The Application of a Generativity Model for Older Adults. The International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 74(4), 331–344. (2018, January 28). Get Happier As You Get Older – Stanford’s Dr. Laura Carstensen. YouTube. .


Originally Published on

Deborah Heiser, PhD The Right Side of 40

Deborah Heiser, PhD is an Applied Developmental Psychologist with a specialty in Aging. I'm a researcher, TEDx speaker, contributor for Psychology Today, Substack blogger, CEO of The Mentor Project, and adjunct professor of Psychology.

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