Just a stage we all go through ...

Maureen Kennedy
Maureen Kennedy

A friend of mine spent his career doing work that was a closely guarded secret.

Imagine my surprise when I recently heard him tell a complete stranger what he did. When I challenged him, he said it didn’t really matter any more as he was retired, the person had no idea who he was and he had given nothing away.

I thought about this and realised that in fact he was suffering from loss of status and he felt the need to impress someone.

Whether your working life ends through retirement, redundancy or choice, it’s inevitable that there is a sense of loss. An occupation, that has been your purpose in life for many years, has ended, you don’t have the need to rise early and go to work every day, people don’t look up to you any more and your status definitely takes a dip.

Some people, mostly men I am sorry to say, deal with this by taking over the reins at home. They focus on tasks previously done by their wives and, without any discussion, they take over. They cook, do the washing, shopping, cleaning, anything to keep themselves busy. They might even decide that they don’t need their second car. Suddenly another person (the wife) has become 
redundant and lost their independence as the husband decides they will go everywhere together. He is clinging to authority, albeit only over one person who may not have it in her to hold her ground.

Like my friend, he regales anyone he meets of his former status, just in case they have forgotten that he was once ‘somebody’. But are people really impressed? He has defined himself by his job and, rather than reflect with satisfaction that he has worked hard and now deserves his leisure time, he finds it hard to let go.

Retirement is the start of a new adventure. Time to do all those things you didn’t have time for previously. Take up a sport, go to the gym, do charity work. And know that you can spend as much time as you like going on holiday or visiting friends and family because you are not restricted to 28 days annual leave.

Make your retirement as fulfilling and fun as possible. Your working life was and is just a stage between education and retirement. If you are lucky, you will have many years left and there is every reason to thrive on it.