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Identity – You Are More Than Your Work

Over the past few weeks, we’ve had several conversations that made us realize something – retirement and identity are inextricably linked. What we do is so much a part of who we are, so retirement is a big deal. It is a big shift in identity.

In our conversations these past few weeks, we talked with a couple of people who had worked for the same company for nearly 40 years and loved what they did. Both had circumstances at home that were drawing them out of the workforce and both had plenty of money to retire.

So why not jump into retirement with both feet? If the money is there and there is a need outside of work, what was the holdup? The holdup was that their identity was tied to the role they played at work. Their identity in terms of their job title was built, tested, and lived out over decades. In their work, they felt needed, valued, appreciated, compensated, and part of a community.

Now that it is time to build a new identity, it’s hard for people to imagine and step into that new identity, trusting that it’s going to be okay. This is not a simple process.

So, how does one bolster their new identity in retirement? Invest in yourself.

When it comes to the stage that you will enter when you are not punching a clock or not heading to that office you’ve been going to for years, the only answer is to invest. Not in the stock market or bonds, but in yourself.

What does that look like? You probably know the answer or the people who love you the most have been encouraging you towards the answer for a while.  Buy that set of kitchen gadgets you want, so you can cook more. Invest in flamenco/golf/flight or whatever lessons that you have always wanted to take. Get a group of friends to meet for breakfast once a week. Schedule that trip you always wanted to take.

Beyond the bucket list is a new mindset. We see it with entrepreneurs all the time. When you chart a new course you’ve got to cultivate a mindset of investment in yourself, and sometimes that feels awkward. We have been taught to defer and save. As that identity changes, we have to invest in a mindset to support our new reality or it will not go well.

How do you cultivate this new mindset? Cast a vision and set goals.

Lots of times people who are successful at work look at enjoying time freedom or retirement and they forget what made them feel all those warm fuzzies I mentioned above. At work you set goals, you cast a vision for what you can accomplish, you work together as a team, and you hold yourself accountable. You have developed a routine over time to accomplish those goals.

Retirement can use those same tactics. Set a big hairy audacious goal for yourself now. Run that half marathon, travel to all 50 states in a camper. Volunteer and help 10 kids learn to read. Vision combined with investment helps reshape your identity and mindset.

Lastly, let’s talk about what identity is and is not. Your identity is not your 401(k) account. Your identity is not how much money you leave your loved ones. Your identity, your legacy, is how you spend your time with those loved ones; it’s how you finish the race of life.

Are you running the race all the way to the finish line or are you letting up? Your identity is comprised of what you believe, your values, and your character. It’s your experiences good and bad. It’s the way you contribute back to society. It’s how you use your money to invest in those three things.

Oftentimes we ask people if you could only transfer three things to your kids, what would those three things be? I have a hint for you, it never includes the money. If you want to learn more about what it means to leave a legacy, click here.

If you are struggling with a new identity, we are here to help. Schedule a 15 min complimentary call with us to talk about it.