‘Identity-based retirement’ is catching on

It is safe to say that many people yearn for a day when they are free from the day-to-day shackles of work and want to retire because it conjures up visions of a permanent vacation where people choose what they want to do, Channel News Asia reported. 

But, is it enough to be on a permanent vacation?

It is not uncommon for executives — or any employee, for that matter — who have put decades into a career to suddenly feel they are in an emotional, mental or financial vacuum when they stop working, the article explained.

With an average life expectancy of 81 years for men and 85 years for women, people are looking at an active retirement that stretches at least 15 years, the publication noted.

While some people will continue working as long as possible, a new trend is emerging. Researchers Lan Wang, Douglas T Hall and Lea Waters identified a third view of retirement or “identity-based retirement”, which is a psychosocial process of identity transition and search for meaning.

“People need to ‘interrupt’ their lives by reigniting the fire so to speak and this can mean setting aside time to develop hobbies or skills while working,” the article explained. “So long as we embrace the ‘re-fired’ mindset, life can still be meaningful.”

For example, after a heart attack forced 62-year-old Won Tzyy-Ya to slow down and give up his career at a global trading company, he jumped into an opportunity to focus on his physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual health. Won started brisk walking and became an active volunteer to promote brisk walking interest groups. 

It is possible to take proactive steps based on a person’s unique circumstances to adopt new identities and find meaning in life beyond the corporate rat race. But these transitions require flexibility, adaptability, and an open mind, the article explained.

The full story is available at Channel News Asia.