I lived it, I wrote about it, why can’t I remember it?

Twice in the past couple of weeks, I was talking to a recent retiree about the five needs full-time work, especially career focused work, provides that you will have to determine if you still need in retirement….and I could not list them!  As anyone who reads my blog regularly knows, I adore lists.  I live by lists.  How could I not recall this list?

So I went back to look it up. Because not only did I live it, I blogged about it many times, it’s covered in my book (Amazon link here), and I’ve given talks about it (Yes, part of my original marketing plan on the book was giving talks.).  Here’s the list of needs most probably met by working that you might need to replace in retirement:

  • Financial Compensation: Supplemental income and/or medical benefits; Money for lifestyle desired; Money as signal of accomplishment.
  • Status and Identity: Who am I? Perks replacement? Need for recognition? What is my place in the community?
  • Achievement and Utility: Feeling of accomplishment; Feeling of usefulness; Sense of purpose; Intellectual stimulation.
  • Socialization and Affiliation: Connection and interaction with others; Validators, thought stimulators, & accountability agents.
  • Time Management and Structure: Daily routines; Planning & goal setting.

As I worked through my retirement transition, I learned I need a lot of structure.  Not everyone does.  My lists give me structure, as does my planning and tracking. I even plan my quiet downtime! I recently blogged about a need for structure – see link here.

Connection (socialization) was a big focus from day one in my retirement transition.I lost 80% of my daily connections when I retired! I continue to work on connections because our Big Move to Florida disrupted the progress I made in this area. My focus on intentional connection is even part of my retirement lifestyle vision:

Active Body, Connected Heart, Creative Spirit, Contemplative Mind.

I luckily did not (do not) need to worry about a finances need gap, given our previous delayed-gratification, find-the-sale, savings-focused, DINK lifestyle. 

Fulfilling my need gaps on both identity and achievement has been an on-going journey. I am finally comfortable to say I am retired as part of my identity.  I still struggle with other aspects of my identity and achievement; I am constantly observing how others state theirs.  I wrote this identity/achievement statement recently after one of those observations: “I’m a designated planner for my friends, an amateur gardener & dabbling crafter, a wannabe adventurer, and a sometimes yogi. I love to try new foods, write with too many exclamation points, pick up romance novels for comfort reading, am overly judgmental, and hate to do things solo.” Maybe you can see why my identity and achievement space needs work still!

So, to the couple of new retirees who I blanked on this list… there it is.  And maybe this refresher will keep it in the forefront of my mind, as well as to reenergize me to work on some of my own need gaps.

Which aspect of work-related needs did you struggle with replacing in retirement, if any?

picture credit: mine – one of our amazing sunsets this week.

16 thoughts on “I lived it, I wrote about it, why can’t I remember it?

  1. I love your identity statement, Pat. I feel like I know you just a little better after having read that. As you know, I am newly retired and still very much enjoying the sense of freedom and lack of full-time responsibility. For the present, I wouldn’t change a thing. If there is one area that I will most need to work on when the honeymoon phase ends, it will probably be the Achievement and Utility. At least that’s what I’m anticipating.

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    1. Christie, Knowing which area(s) might need attention is half the battle. I believe awareness is always the first step. And I’m sure you already have ideas to fill the gap.

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  2. Covid brain fog — that’s why! As to how I see myself– I miss the part of me that played a key role in the operating room and absolutely love that I added Nan to my list of who I am. It fills my soul. Bernie

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    1. Bernie – Yeah on adding Nan. Lots of women I know love that aspect of this life stage. (Being child-free, that’s not going to be part of my identify.) Hmmm, I didn’t think it was brain fog. Someone said that I don’t recall the list anymore because I’ve moved on to another life stage – it’s no longer about a post-career fill. I quite liked that perspective!

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  3. For me it’s achievement and utility. I volunteer at our local senior learning center. That’s something. But I’m looking for more. Also, I’ve found that with utility comes all the other things needed in retirement — the socialization, structure, identity. Everything but financial. You don’t get that by volunteering. But I didn’t retire to make more money; I retired to treat myself better.

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    1. Tom, I know many who find accomplishment and utility a challenge…. some folks I know won’t retire because of that fear on that need gap. I am keeping my eyes and ears open to see if a volunteer opportunity that feels right surfaces. I believe one will when it’s right and that will help with that need gap for me.

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  4. Hi Pat, I’m in my 3rd month of early retirement and I think I’m still in the honeymoon stage! I’m really enjoying not having to be responsible to a company or manager. I do miss the sense of accomplishment and recognition that comes with a job well done at work…I’ll need to figure out how to replace that! I’m also starting to struggle with time management in the sense that I feel like I’m wasting my day. I don’t want a full schedule but there are days when I have nothing planned and at the end of that day I feel like I didn’t use my time well.

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    1. There is definitely a honeymoon stage – enjoy it! And yes, understanding your individual need gaps and then thinking how to fill them is something you can start. I read somewhere that if you make your bed in the morning, you’ve accomplished something. LOL. But I do look at my daily morning journal and my daily crossword as two accomplishments each day – small but there. Some days my accomplishment is finishing reading a book (I track books read!), catching up on blog reading and commenting, having a call with a friend, running errands, or making a new recipe for dinner (another area I track). I guess I’ve learned that for me accomplishments don’t need to be big… they need to fit my retirement lifestyle vision. I’ve also learned for me that I can be OK with a couple of days with nothing scheduled, but then I need plans. Hence my different exercise classes 4 times a week (new this past couple of months). You will figure out what feels like accomplishment for you.

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      1. Oooo, I really like how you count each activity as an accomplishment. I play Wordle and Heardle70’s everyday (so fun but it doesn’t take very long). I also check in on my fav blogs but I don’t always comment, I’ll have to start thinking about doing more of that. I also have a quilting hobby/addiction and it’s so satisfying to move through each stage of a project. I should consider each of these things an accomplishment even if I don’t get any outside recognition.

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  5. I struggled with socialization right at first, but that was because I retired in June of 2020 and activities and opportunities were still very guarded due to the pandemic. Fortunately, things are so much better. The second thing was time management since I was an elementary school teacher for 33 years and my workdays were all about the clock – reading at this time, math at that time, science at this time. I suddenly had all of this time on my hands and was struggling to fill it – again retiring during the pandemic factored into that as well. Now my days are as busy as I choose, and I am loving that

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    1. I love the “as busy as I choose”. I try not to even use the word busy anymore and instead say “full”. It feels much more positive to me. And yeah, the pandemic made many things more challenging…I returned to using many of the tools I started my retirement with – and am doing the same this summer as heat and Covid surge is making folks pull in again. I do think looking at each of these needs and determining if you have a gap is so helpful whenever there’s a life transition.

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  6. Hi Pat – I thought the financial issue would be the biggest one for me, but I think it ultimately came down to identity. I struggled for a while to see myself as a “retiree” because it was something that rich people were – or old pensioners. I didn’t really have much of an idea of what a middle class early retiree looked like. I’ve come to a better understanding of it all now and a good balance on all five of your points – and I am grateful every day for this lovely stage of life.

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    1. Leanne, isn’t it funny how the old stereotypes on retirees remain… there are lots of folks like you and me as retirees! Most of the women I now socialize with (not all, but most) are retired – active, engaged in life, enjoying this lovely stage of life. Most exercise regularly, some work part time, some travel extensively, but none are “rich” nor is any an “old pensioner”! How long will it take to change the perception of retiree?

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