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With Freedom Comes Responsibility: Reflections on Retirement

Adults 50+

By Elaine Guerrazzi | December 9, 2019

December 2017, after 35 years in higher education I retired.  I was lucky, every job I had from graduate assistant during my doctoral program to my last I felt challenged, fulfilled, and appreciated.  Midway through 2017 I decided it was time to move on to whatever would be my “after work life”. I spent the first 12-18 months of retirement relaxing and enjoying my hobbies but there was a gap to filled.  To me, retirement sounded a bit like an end rather than a beginning.  “After work life” was a way to express the idea that other doors would be opening and there was more to do.

Retirement is a blank sheet of paper.  It is a chance to redesign your life into something new and different.  Patrick Foley

Hmmmm, so what was I going to do?  What did I want to do?

I had to have a plan. I did not want to get bored AND I sure did not want to become boring.  I had a responsibility to myself to use my time wisely.  It was time for some reflection and creativity.  My life and my work brought me wisdom.  I now had the freedom to do what I wanted to do.  I needed to take responsibility to ensure my “after work life” was challenging, fulfilling, and in some way giving back to others.  The key to my plan was based on the concept of “know yourself”.  

**What do I want out of my “after work life?”
**What do I enjoy in my personal life?
**What do I enjoy in my work life?
**What new opportunities would appeal to me?

After considering the questions above, I discovered that the elements of a successful retirement and the elements of a successful life were the same.

**I needed to have a purpose.
**I needed to challenge my mind.
**I needed ongoing personal development.
**I needed to have fun.
**I needed a social network.

Retirement is a time to experience a fulfilling life derived from many enjoyable and rewarding activities.  Ernie J. Zelinski

Those who know me will say “yep, that sounds like Elaine” in the next couple paragraphs. Those who do not personally know me will gain some insight.  

Two factors were the guides toward my post work path.  First, the idea of an integrated life has always been important to me.  We have one life…how the pieces of life fit together has always intrigued me.  With this concept in mind I pursued work in higher education that allowed me to develop programs, conduct and guide research, design and teach academic courses to further the knowledge base that links life and learning. My About page and my prior blogs help tell this story.   

Second, I am inquisitive, I am an information gatherer. I welcome credible evidence to support ideas and plans.  What “data” did I have on myself that would provide a vision to my future.  In the past I completed two commonly used self-assessments.

**I completed the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.  
**I read the book Strengths Finder 2.0 (2007), a follow up to the 2001 Now, Discover Your Strengths.  I completed the online assessment…just because I was curious what the outcomes would be.

Earlier this year I completed the short version of Myer-Briggs because again I was curious about what the outcomes would reveal. I also wondered if I had “changed over time”.  

Summary of StrengthFinders
LearnerYou love to learn. You are energized by the steady and deliberate journey from ignorance to competence.
AchieverYou have a need for achievement. Every day is a new day to accomplish goals with tangible results.
StrategicYou are able to sort through the clutter and find the best route forward. This perspective allow you to see patterns.  You play out alternative scenarios, always asking, What if this happened? Okay, well, what if this happened?
InputYou are inquisitive. You collect information, words, facts, books, and quotations.  Yours is the kind of mind that finds a great many things interesting.  You read to add more information to your archives.
ArrangerYou are a juggler.  When faced with a complex situation involving many factors, you love to keep all these factors in the air, aligning and realigning them until you are sure that you have arranged them arranged in the most productive order possible.  You are simply trying to figure out the best way to get things done.
Summary of Myers-Briggs #1 – INTJ
Summary of Myers-Briggs #2 – ISTJ
Introversion (I); Intuition (N); Thinking (T); Judging (J)People with an INTJ personality type tend to be confident, analytical, and ambitious in their behavior. They love to pursue knowledge and tend to be very logically minded. They are independent thinkers focused on solving the world’s problems.Introversion (I); Sensing (S); Thinking (T); Judging (J)People with an ISTJ personality type tend to be reserved, orderly, and practical in their behavior. They are self-sufficient and work hard to meet their obligations. They prefer to be alone or in small groups of close friends and may be quiet and reserved in large group settings.
A review of these results informs my
“after work life” decision-making.

May 13, 2019, I published Blooms to Blossoms first blog, Next Steps for Me and What’s the Point for You? A new door opened and my “after work life” provides me freedom to choose my own path and the responsibility to be true to myself and share with others.

Writing my blog (my “hobby-job”), for me, fulfills my list of elements for successful retirement/life.

**I have a purpose.
**I challenge my mind.
**I continue lifelong learning & personal development.
**I have fun.
**I have a social network…that continues to grow.

Cherry (2019) article Reasons to Learn More About Your Personality Type discusses several benefits of knowing your personality type.  In addition, she shares insight on the limitations of personality tests.

Personality tests, including real psychological assessments and the just-for-fun quizzes you find online, can be thought-provoking, insightful, and even fun. The key this is to not get too hung up on your results. Remember that while researchers have found that our overall personalities are surprisingly stable over time, our lives are not static. We grow and change as we learn new things and have new experiences, and researchers have found that our personalities can change too.

You can take a free short Meyers Briggs to find out your “type”.  You might find it, as Cherry states, “informative, fun, and helpful.”  Self-awareness and self-discovery can spark insight and aid in living and learning.

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