Retirement ‘types’ – which one are you?

In his four years as a retirement coach, after five years as chief investment officer at Media Super, Jon Glass has been helping older Australians navigate the emotional facets of retirement. He says one of the first things he learnt as a coach is that there are four ‘types’ of people moving towards or in retirement.

He outlines these ‘types’ to help you understand the challenges of retirement.


I can’t fully retire (ICFR)
The ICFR has recently retired but the boss calls him or her back as a consultant – when it suits the boss – because that is good for the company. The sort of ‘self-talk’ inside an ICFR might be, “The company can’t do without my unique skills”. However, that explanation might mask a deep needto remain relevant, that is avoid RDS – relevance deprivation syndrome. Identification of a deep need such as this leads to a better understanding of the challenges of retired life.

I’ve been made redundant (IBMR)
These ‘types’ carry the heavy load of their sad story. Strong emotionsof rejection, humiliation and betrayal may emerge and these may erupt into negative patterns of behaviour. Self-talk is likely to centre on a lack of fairness. There may be an underlying need for recognition that had been satisfied when they worked. This person needs to develop meaning in retirement. That may involve charitable work, learning or simply connecting socially. Everyone is different.

Will I, won’t I (WIWI)
This person will probably be in the final lap of a highly successful career. He/she will have the choice of when to enter retirement; yet the door to retirement seems locked to them. Work is their anchor point as it gives them a sense of importance. So work pulls and retirement recedes. Whereas the ICFR we met before may never have heard de Gaulle’s aphorism “The cemetery is full of indispensible people”, the WIWI has thought about passing on the baton but won’t. Just not now please.

The WIWI has thought of lots of activities to fill their retired days but often suffers from too much choice. We can all feel that sense when shopping in the supermarket.

The challenge is to locate true meaning in retirement, which will then form the basis for the choices they can make.

I’m scared to jump (ISTJ)
There are many reasons why retirement can look like a scary place. Unfortunately, in our society, retirement has a negative stripe on it. It’s the place where you worry that you may no longer be valued or useful. This is wrong. But to an ISTJ who is contemplating retirement, and who has only known a life of work, this is the future they fear.

Their self-talk may display a fear of a retired life that is too quiet in contrast to work life. It may display as a fear to take risks, try new things, fail, and finally succeed. In their basic need to connect to the world around them and derive acceptance and recognition, they might think that their identity is too strongly connected to work. Then they will conclude that their self-worth will evaporate at retirement.

Do you recognise yourself in any of these ‘types’? Are you an entirely different ‘type’?

Jon Glass is a retirement coach with 64Plus.

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