"How we react to works of art depends on who we are, where we are standing and when we encounter them." -- Margaret MacMillan, "War: How Conflict Shaped Us"

Sunday, June 20, 2021

What's Your Retirement Type?

     When we're younger our identity is often defined by our career. We're a teacher, a doctor, a banker, a homemaker. But after we retire things change. We find a new identity or new profile . . . if for no other reason than having a way for people to remember us.

     So what's your retirement type? Are you . . . 

     1. The Grandparent. I myself would like to be more of a grandparent. But my grandkids live in three different states -- not one of them the state where I live. But I know several people -- mostly women, but a few men as well -- who live near their children and babysit the grandchildren several days a week, or live with their children and take care of the grands so the parents can work. This has now become their role in life, to take care of the kids. And I, for one, believe this is an honorable and meaningful role.

   2. The Sportsman. I belong to a golf group that plays every Wednesday from April through October. I like to play golf. But I'm not a fanatic. Some of these guys play three times a week, and continue through November and into December, as long as there's no snow on the ground. They are the true Golfers. I have a friend who's a Cyclist. He bikes 15 or 20 miles three or four days a week. Another is into sailing and canoeing. Some people have more exotic pastimes -- like my friend the pumpkin chucker. Yes, there's a sport called pumpkin chucking which involves hurling or chucking a pumpkin for distance by mechanical means. 

     3. The Volunteer. I was never much of a volunteer in my younger days. I was too busy going to work and earning a living and taking care of my kids. But in retirement I've found a lot of satisfaction in volunteering for several organizations. I tutored kids at our community college, I've helped adults with ESL, and I'm currently volunteering with a senior group. Maybe I'm a volunteer -- but with a small "v." I know people who volunteer like a fulltime job with their church, a veterans organization, a community center, an environmental group. Their true identity is Volunteer. 

     4. The Traveler. We focus our travel on the grandchildren -- since, as I mentioned, they live in three different states. But we have friends who, before Covid, would go on three or four cruises a year. They're already planning a cruise for the fall, and maybe another one next winter. Another couple we know has already been to the Maldives this spring. They're heading to the Caribbean in a couple of weeks; then a week in San Francisco; then a trip to Italy in the fall.

     5. The Homebody. Some people are more comfortable just staying home. They clean and decorate and make sure things are well ordered. Maybe they watch sports or news on TV, or like to read, or do jigsaw puzzles. After all, isn't this what retirement is all about -- relaxing and enjoying life without the pressures of making a living or trying to impress other people?

    6. The Gardener. We have one friend who studied to be a master gardener in retirement, and she now works part-time at a flower shop. She had an exhibit at the Philadelphia Flower Show. The show ended on Sunday, and by Wednesday she was spending the day viewing the flowers at nearby Longwood Gardens. Needless to say, she has a beautiful gardens in her backyard. Then there's my brother-in-law. No flowers for him. He raises an acre's worth of vegetables. We like to visit our family Gardener in August when the corn and tomatoes come in.

     7. The Professional. Some people retire -- and then go right back to work. The very idea of sitting around the house, or looking for things to keep them busy, drives them up the wall. They liked what they were doing when they were working, and so they keep going as a consultant, a freelancer, or with another firm. My doctor was forced to retire from his medical group at age 70. But it wasn't a week before he had set up his practice with another doctor the next town over. My own Uncle Tom somehow managed to keep going to his office, at least a couple of days a week, until they finally kicked him out at age 90. We joked that he was just afraid to stay home with his fierce and sometimes-dominating wife.

     8. The Financial Guru. I know a few guys -- they're mostly guys -- who spend a good portion of their day, every day, following the ups and downs of the stock market. They watch CNBC, follow Yahoo Finance, subscribe to The Wall Street Journal and Investor's Business Daily. They guys aren't necessarily rich. But they like the action, feeling that they're keyed into something important.

     9. The Culture Vulture. These retirees go to museums, belong to the arthouse cinema, travel to the city to see the theater and the galleries. They're members of PBS. Maybe they belong to a local writers' group or photography club. Whatever. This is what makes their lives interesting.

     Of course, few of us fit into just one category. I myself dabble in several of these types -- a little bit of the sportsman, a little volunteer . . . and I try to be a culture vulture, but I know I fall short. And then, I tried to come up with ten retirement types. But I only got nine. What did I miss?

23 comments:

RetirementCoffeeShop said...

I am mostly in the grandparent role to our only granddaughter who we keep daily while her parents work. It has been a joy! I also fall into the traveler role when time allows. Other roles include enjoying my metal detecting hobby, yardwork and house maintenance.

Rian said...

Tom, I think we cross over between the home-body and the grandparent since we don't do a lot of those other categories, but we do hang around the house doing our own thing and spending time with youngest granddaughter (oldest grandson lives with us). But possibly there is another category you missed... the amateur artist who now has time to write books, paint pictures, sculpt, play with photography, etc. Retirement finally gives you time to follow that dream - when life (raising kids and working) didn't. You may include this in the Culture Vulture... but it doesn't really fit (IMO).

Kathy @ SMART Living 365.com said...

Hi Tom! What a good breakdown of "roles" in retirement. I actually think I am a combination of most these--not counting the grandparent or the homebody. Of course I don't yet consider myself fully retired so what does that make me? In denial? Hahaha! I would like to claim that makes me more balanced but actually that just fits my personality. If anything, your list points out that we all need to find ways to fulfill ourselves and one isn't necessarily better than the others. Have a great Sunday! ~Kathy

grammyscraps said...

We are homebodies. Most of our working life was in California and Washington state. We had acreage in WA so besides work we had livestock to care for. Nearing retirement we bought a 5th wheel and spent 3-4 months in Montana each year. Seven years ago we sold the 5th wheel and moved to Arizona. We have taken one trip since...to Missouri for a month for me to do genealogy research.
Hubby is a retired Electronics Engineer and still likes to fiddle around with electronics....I love genealogy research. We are loving life. Travel...maybe some car trips in the future but probably not.

How do we know said...

My first time here and what a lovely post. I am at that stage where we start thinking of retirement, and am sure I won't fit into anything on this list. For our generation, grandparenthood is not a given. So few children marry and fewer still at an age where one can look after the grandkids. But this is a good list to keep handy for the next few years.

Arkansas Patti said...

I started out a sportswoman with kayaking and motorcycle riding. Then went full bore gardening, now a bit of a homebody. Kind of went where my fitness took me. But I have loved every stage.

gigi-hawaii said...

I am number 5.

ApacheDug said...

I disagree with Gigi-Hawaii, she's part homebody and part culture vulture ;^) I don't know where I fit in here, this was certainly a fun read of various character types; I guess I could say right now I'm a homebody with some agoraphobic & financial guru leanings, but if the right person came along... :^)

Linda Myers said...

Before covid I was mostly traveler and volunteer. For the next few months I'll be a homebody as husband and I both recover from surgeries. I always thought I ought to be a culture vulture, but didn't ever get around to it.

Great post, Tom!

Red said...

I think we end up being parts of some of these retirees. The one's I'm not, I'm decidedly not a sportsman. To make it more complicated , I think we go through stages and changes.

Tom said...

Amateur artist is a good 10th type ... I have a brother-in-law who's taken up painting in retirement, and several friends who are playing music. But interesting point brought up by the comments: we move from one type to another as our interests and opportunities change. Thanks for the input!

Anonymous said...

I agree that Amateur artist/Creative is the 10th type, especially out here in Tucson AZ. My husband has a woodworking shop and is always fixing things or creating something new. Maybe those retirees rediscovering musical talent could fit in the creative category, too. I'm a hybrid volunteer and culture vulture and most of my friends clearly fit in the categories provided - What a fun exercise!

Laurie Stone said...

Love this. I'm a strange hybrid of staying home and stock market maven, which I love. Have also travelled and volunteered, but mostly home (and the Nasdaq) beckon.

Mona McGinnis said...

No doubt, I'm a homebody/gardener and borderline culture vulture, always on the lookout for a good movie/play, book or festival. Prior to the pandemic, I was involved in some volunteer work with a local community association and Home Routes music. I concur with the creative category that encompasses the artisans, musicians, and even cooks.

Mage said...

I am still an artist.

Rebecca Olkowski said...

I would say I'm a traveler who doesn't always have the funds to travel, a culture vulture in that I like to take city tours, and an entrepreneur (not on your list) because I'm always flying by the seat of my pants.

priscilla said...

As more grandchildren are coming, we're home more & really loving it. The trips are no longer a big desire. We've done so much work at our home & yard, that we're actually quite content. Walking daily & hubby is back to the gym a few days a week. Hubby writes, I quilt, cook, etc & life has become very content for us!

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Tabor said...

That was a nice comprehensive list and I am a bit of all of them.

Celia said...

I'm a homebody, Grandparent and artist. I'll be a Great-grandmother by the end of summer.

mazy-michigan said...

Another type is The Newager - into yoga, meditation, spiritual pursuits.

Margaret said...

I'm probably a traveler for now since my daughters currently live in the East and I'm in the PacNW. My only grandchild, a one year old grandson, lives 2,800 miles away. :(

Mark said...

I'll go with Homebody though I do get out as some sort of human contact and the real world is necessary even when you're an introvert like me. I live in a rural area. When I get back to the house I turn the switch off to what goes on out there as I have no interest in the world as it is today and I don't read mainstream media as it's all gloom and fear mongering. Here I have my two cats, French bulldog and a house plant, a plant garden and an apple tree outside, my dvds of movies of the 1930s to the 1970s and my music of the same. Anyone who says I should be lonely with no children or grandchildren doesn't know the real story. Life and happiness is what you make of it and happiness doesn't revolve around a certain person or persons. It's what you do to make it happen. Life is good !!