Q. I’m a baby boomer approaching retirement age and am conflicted about whether or not I should retire. Any suggestions?
Some baby boomers are anxiously awaiting retirement and others are dreading it. It sounds like you go back and forth between the two emotions.
Many baby boomers are not willing to give up the money, the power and the prestige their careers bring. Others are very willing to give up the stress that comes with their careers.
While people who are retiring generally take stock of their financial resources, they don't always take stock of their psychological resources.
Many people who regret retiring when they did say they didn't realize what was at stake when they left their jobs. They didn't think about things like how to structure their lives, their time, and how they might matter to others.
In an ideal world, we all should be thinking about our psychological as well as our financial portfolios. People don’t realize until they're in that situation what it's really like.
Identity is key. When someone can say, for example, “I'm a professor,” that's one thing, but when that identity is no longer there, it can be quite upsetting. It can take time to figure out a new identity.
Retirement is easier for some people than it is for others. You have to figure out what you want to do. A lot of people don't know exactly what they want to do, what they want to create.
There are many paths baby boomers can take, but no path is better than any other. If you take the perspective that there are still years to plan and do things, then that can be very exciting.
People need to see things not as an end, but as evolving life development. There are a multitude of volunteer opportunities, hobbies to pursue and educational opportunities.
We can look at our retirement years as an opportunity to say, “I haven't been able to do everything in life, so now is a good time to look at what I regret not doing, and see if I can't make it happen.” It's a new way of thinking about things.
NANCY TURNEY received a bachelor's degree in social work and a certificate in gerontology. If you have a specific question you would like answered in this column, email it to email@example.com or call Turney at the Crescenta-Cañada YMCA, (818) 790-0123, ext. 225.