How do you answer, "What do you do"?"
By Marianne Oehser, CPRC, MM, co-founder of Next Chapter Lifestyle Advisors.
It’s two weeks after your retirement party and you are at a friend’s party. You were just introduced to someone, and they ask the question you were dreading, “What do you do?”
For a lot of years, you probably enjoyed answering that question. You are proud of what you did for a living and it’s a good way to explore what you might have in common. But now you don’t do what ever you did any more. So, how do you answer that question now?
Responding, “I’m retired” feels like you are a nobody and don’t have anything interesting to say. Besides, that is merely a description of your employment status.
Lots of people who have left their careers answer that question by describing what they did before they retired – “I used to be a lawyer or veterinarian or owned a business, or I worked for XYZ.” The problem with that answer is it sounds a lot like you are a has-been and you certainly don’t want to feel that way. You knew who you were before you retired, but who you are now? What is your purpose in life now?
The other problem when people give that kind of answer is it usually means they are still clinging to an old image of themselves. Without any question, what you did professionally for the past 30 or 40 years is an important part of who you are. It is the foundation you are building on as you move into your next chapter. But holding on to that old image of who you are can block you from being open to a new image that is emerging.
This is a whole new chapter in your life, and so much is changing. As your new life unfolds, the things that make you happy, how you fit into the world, the ways you find meaning and purpose are all evolving into a new picture of who you are. Deciding what you want that picture to look like is a key to making this a wonderful time in your life.
Steve Rose, Ph.D. (https://steverosephd.com/) tells us that there are three facets of our identity:
- Self-identity: your personal values, beliefs, characteristics, interests, and talents that influence your behavior.
- Social-identity: your social groups including ethnicity, race, groups you belong to or socialize with, family, friends, and community.
- Role-identity: your role in society that gives your purpose, for example, parent, friend, daughter, your professional role – and now what your role in retirement is.
It’s your role-identity that people are curious about when they ask what you do. But it’s hard to answer that question if you have not consciously developed a plan for what kinds of people and activities you want to invest your new-found time on – in other words if you don’t have a retirement lifestyle plan. We call it your Happiness Portfolio®. It is your vision and action plan for each of eight non-financial aspects of your life.
Your Happiness Portfolio® will help you answer that dreaded question, “What do you do?” Here are some examples:
- “I’m retired from practicing law and now I love spending time in my woodworking shop creating beautiful things that I sell at artisan markets.”
- “I used to own a business and now I am really enjoying mentoring young entrepreneurs at our local chamber of commerce.”
- “I was a school guidance counsellor for 35 years, now I’m taking a break while I figure out what I want this chapter to look like.”
Ask your financial advisor how you can create your Happiness Portfolio®.