Is affirmation important in retirement?

Source: Wikipedia

As we get older we care less about what people think but does it ever completely go away? Maybe not.

The focus may change from people thinking about how we look (smart, sharp, go-getter) to thinking we are a good person or a talented person or someone worthy of taking up space. We still like people (at least most people) to think good things about us.

High school years were the worst. I always liked to be slightly different but not too different. I wanted to stick out but not too much. Just enough to get noticed. It could be for my math skills or my very egalitarian approach to being a basketball lead. (No, I couldn’t play worth a darn but I let the people who wanted to play get out there. When people want to do something it’s a recipe for success! First business lesson I learned.)

Then came the business years. Oy vay! Work hard, nose to the grindstone. You hope your good work gets noticed and opportunity knocks. I was lucky. It did.

Retirement is different. I don’t need to get ahead in a job nor do I care if peers find me skilled. I’m at the place where I just want people to think I am worthy of taking up space. (Believe me, there are people who are not! Yes, that’s sound judgmental but I never said I was perfect.)

Just as in the other stages of life, there are different paths. People label you by the path you pick. Active, interesting, on-the-go, travelers – those are adjectives you hear. You rarely hear that someone is very introspective. You can’t see that. It’s not a trip to the Galapagos Islands or running a bus trip to the casino or singing in a choir.

Compared to my previous life, my current one has a lot less chaos. There is less travel and less large groups of people. All are my choice. Yet, there are days when you get that question “what do you do with all of your time.” (It’s the tone that makes it annoying!)

The easy answer is “anything I want.” It’s different for different days, weeks, months, and seasons. I don’t know how I fit a full-time job in with my activities. (We all know how that works. Eliminate most of the ones you want to do to do the ones you need to do.)

I write a lot. It’s not something you see unless you look at my coffee table. I write for me so there is no money. Yet for someone who is action-oriented, they don’t understand the interest. (I, on the other hand, can’t understand the allure of an RV camping life when you have a beautiful home with a pond. Really, I try not to be judgmental about that.)

If there’s no money, award or monument, what’s the point?

Peace and happiness.

To answer my original question, you need to learn to affirm yourself. Your choices, no matter what they are, should make you happy, especially in retirement.

This is for all my retired friends – blogger and non-bloggers.

76 thoughts on “Is affirmation important in retirement?

    • Good point. Prior to retirement I didn’t realize how much of my identity was involved in my career. I enjoy the freedom but miss the accolades that come with a project well done.

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  1. An older cousin of mine is convinced that life continues to be high school no matter the setting. According to him, peer pressure never goes away. He’s using a walker now but he made sure to have the absolute best walker beyond even what Medicare would cover. “People notice,” he said. 🙂 Great post, Kate. – Marty

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  2. I remember the great feeling I would get when I received an affirmation at work (verbal or monetary: both felt really good). Now that I’m retired, I don’t get those types of ego-boosts, but I certainly wouldn’t trade my current situation for those moments of recognition. I love being retired… and doing whatever I want.

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  3. Great post! While I have a long way to go until retirement years (darn it!), I greatly enjoy my current life and have noticed that I definitely care less (more and more) what people think of me. I’m comfortable being “boring” as many people would consider my life. But it’s MY life and I love it!

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    • I loved my job and almost all of my work life. I would have worked a little longer except my husband is older and I wanted to ensure we have quality time together without health issues. I’ve seen too many people retire and either die or have issues that prevent them from doing what they want to do. We are a somewhat boring couple (by other’s standards) but we love it.

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  4. I’m reading this after a long kinda rough day at a friend’s memorial service. Many wonderful stories were shared and as I drove home (2 hours) I couldn’t help but wonder and think about what would be said at my memorial. I was seriously wondering. I’ve lost my networks post retirement and sometimes I feel a little afloat. Your words come at a good time! Purpose and affirmation come and go if we measure against what others have to say. Wise words, Kate. And for me, timely.

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    • There is that adrift period right afterward. At first it’s like extended vacation but then it goes on. Networks do change and the ones that were only business fall apart. The longer I’m retired the less interest I have in the old business. New interests come along and with it hopefully new networks. As an introvert, I takes me a while. In the meantime I try not to judge myself by accomplishments but by self satisfaction.

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    • First and foremost yes. I always thought my brother was crazy because it was impossible to schedule with him (he’s been retired since ’94). Now I get it. The other is that the business friendships go away. Without an outside common interest, the time spent together gets pretty boring.

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    • I would add that I would love year round moderate weather (which I don’t have). Each winter seems to get longer and more restrictive. I don’t like being cold so I don’t go out as often as I do in the summer.

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  5. Interesting point, Kate. I think we all are interested in what people think of us regardless of where we are in life. But there’s always a catch there. When we were working we seemed to be defined by the kind of work we did. That was one of the first questions people ask in conversation. In retirement, that same question is asked in the format you described. What do you do? How do you fill your days? People who aren’t retired don’t understand and those who have their own perspective on how their days, and sometimes yours, should be spent.
    But the question that I think matters most is the one we ask ourselves. What makes us most happy is how we answer it.
    Nice post.

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  6. Yes, the days do seem to be shorter and I don’t sleep in either (unless you include loafing and puttering)! I also believed I would spend my retirement years focused on world peace…but that’s a whole different post! ✌️

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  7. Being retired I too love doing what makes me happy, and doing it whenever I want, but I’ll admit I didn’t think we’d be so busy in retirement. Our days are usually booked well in advance. It’s still great though. 🙂

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  8. Love this post, Kate. I recently retired and I get the question “what are you going to do with your time?” I love unstructured time and doing what I want. I also want serenity and the peace of my home. I’m tired of explaining myself already:). Keep on writing!!

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  9. I don’t care anymore what they think about me, as long as I am kind to them. My retirement was early due to disability. I suffered through depression from not being able to work. So affirming that I had some worth took a while but I made it.

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    • There is an adjustment when you’ve worked your whole life. Part of my identity was in my work. That doesn’t just go away. I’m glad you worked through it. It comes out in different forms — sometimes over involvement in activities you don’t care about and sometimes depression as you’ve learned. That happy spot is ready for you when you get there.

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  10. I love this post Kate! Once again, we are mostly “on the same page.” I am still travelled out from a job that took me to many many out of town, out of country events. Why leave a peaceful country life now with mountain views and wildlife? And what do I do with my time? I seem to be busier than ever doing things I prefer. There are friends who travel incessantly and I admire their desire to learn more and more about the world. I just figure I may have learned enough and am happily content as is.

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    • You are so right. I had a job where I traveled by car 4 days out of 5. Done. I did a lot of traveling when I was young so I’m good. Seen one mountain, seen them all! Now I do have a desire to taste different foods but I can do that close to home.

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  11. I care less now about what people think of me but I do care. I care more about what certain people think of me and other people, I could care less what they think.
    Keep writing Kate, please! I so enjoy your words and thoughts and humor! Peace and happiness is good… 🙂 Retired since 2001!

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  12. Although I’m not retired yet, I do agree with you, Kate. As far as you not getting paid for your writing, you never know what opportunity might come along. I’ve always written for myself too and never imaged getting paid to do something that I love. Keep writing!

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    • I’ll keep writing to keep my brain active. I prefer that to puzzles or brain teasers. Opportunity for me has never announced it’s arrival. It’s just there all of a sudden and you jump on it. I keep my jumping shoes on! 🙂

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  13. One of the biggest challenges to retirement for me, was to evaluate what I had been getting from work over the past many years, and understanding that those needs will still be there immediately after retirement. The job satisfaction; recognition occasionally; general social aspects; specific social aspects; work challenges (the good sort) etc. etc. Having worked for 40 years + with specific schedules etc., it takes time to reprogram oneself to work with all the new freedoms that retirement allows. Relative to your Post, yes I would suggest that it is critical to use the retirement time such that self affirmation is a normal part of your “new” life.

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  14. When I retired, one of my students said “Congratulations on becoming the COO of your own life!” With that thought in mind, I completely understand the need to just affirm yourself and finally, yes finally, not care what others say or do!

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  15. Well said and an affirmation to us all to live authentically. That’s the only way I can think of to discover the essence of who we truly are (a time-consuming but worthwhile effort)…the very who that got us this far in spite of the obstacles. Great post.

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