When we’re younger our identity is often defined by our career. We’re a teacher, a doctor, a banker, a homemaker. But after we retire things change. We find a new identity or new profile… if for no other reason than having a way for people to remember us.
So What’s Your Retirement Type?
1. The Grandparent
I myself would like to be more of a grandparent. But my grandkids live in three different states — not one of them the state where I live. But I know several people — mostly women, but a few men as well — who live near their children and babysit the grandchildren several days a week, or live with their children and take care of the grands so the parents can work. This has now become their role in life, to take care of the kids. And I, for one, believe this is an honorable and meaningful role.
2. The Sportsman
I belong to a golf group that plays every Wednesday from April through October. I like to play golf. But I’m not a fanatic. Some of these guys play three times a week, and continue through November and into December, as long as there’s no snow on the ground.
They are the true Golfers. I have a friend who’s a Cyclist. He bikes 15 or 20 miles three or four days a week. Another is into sailing and canoeing. Some people have more exotic pastimes — like my friend the pumpkin chucker. Yes, there’s a sport called pumpkin chucking which involves hurling or chucking a pumpkin for distance by mechanical means.
3. The Volunteer
I was never much of a volunteer in my younger days. I was too busy going to work and earning a living and taking care of my kids. But in retirement I’ve found a lot of satisfaction in volunteering for several organizations. I tutored kids at our community college, I’ve helped adults with ESL, and I’m currently volunteering with a senior group. Maybe I’m a volunteer — but with a small “v.” I know people who volunteer like a fulltime job with their church, a veterans organization, a community center, an environmental group. Their true identity is Volunteer.
4. The Traveler
We focus our travel on the grandchildren — since, as I mentioned, they live in three different states. But we have friends who, before Covid, would go on three or four cruises a year. They’re already planning a cruise for the fall, and maybe another one next winter. Another couple we know has already been to the Maldives this spring. They’re heading to the Caribbean in a couple of weeks; then a week in San Francisco; then a trip to Italy in the fall.
5. The Homebody
Some people are more comfortable just staying home. They clean and decorate and make sure things are well ordered. Maybe they watch sports or news on TV, or like to read, or do jigsaw puzzles. After all, isn’t this what retirement is all about — relaxing and enjoying life without the pressures of making a living or trying to impress other people?
6. The Gardener
We have one friend who studied to be a master gardener in retirement, and she now works part-time at a flower shop. She had an exhibit at the Philadelphia Flower Show. The show ended on Sunday, and by Wednesday she was spending the day viewing the flowers at nearby Longwood Gardens. Needless to say, she has a beautiful gardens in her backyard. Then there’s my brother-in-law. No flowers for him. He raises an acre’s worth of vegetables. We like to visit our family Gardener in August when the corn and tomatoes come in.
7. The Professional
Some people retire — and then go right back to work. The very idea of sitting around the house, or looking for things to keep them busy, drives them up the wall. They liked what they were doing when they were working, and so they keep going as a consultant, a freelancer, or with another firm.
My doctor was forced to retire from his medical group at age 70. But it wasn’t a week before he had set up his practice with another doctor the next town over. My own Uncle Tom somehow managed to keep going to his office, at least a couple of days a week, until they finally kicked him out at age 90. We joked that he was just afraid to stay home with his fierce and sometimes-dominating wife.
8. The Financial Guru
I know a few guys — they’re mostly guys — who spend a good portion of their day, every day, following the ups and downs of the stock market. They watch CNBC, follow Yahoo Finance, subscribe to The Wall Street Journal and Investor’s Business Daily. They guys aren’t necessarily rich. But they like the action, feeling that they’re keyed into something important.
9. The Culture Vulture
These retirees go to museums, belong to the arthouse cinema, travel to the city to see the theater and the galleries. They’re members of PBS. Maybe they belong to a local writers’ group or photography club. Whatever. This is what makes their lives interesting.
Of course, few of us fit into just one category. I myself dabble in several of these types — a little bit of the sportsman, a little volunteer… and I try to be a culture vulture, but I know I fall short. And then, I tried to come up with ten retirement types. But I only got nine. What did I miss?