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  • Larry Gard

Has your retirement plan changed because of the pandemic?

I’m not referring to the financial aspects of your plan, although that too may have changed. I’m talking about the picture you have in your mind about what your next chapter will look like and feel like. We’ve all heard about the Great Resignation/Great Reshuffling, as Americans seek work that is more flexible, rewarding, and meaningful. I’m hearing from clients that because of the pandemic, they’re reassessing what they want out of retirement as well.

Perhaps you had planned to spend time taking classes, traveling, or tackling long-neglected projects around your home. Do those things feel as important and motivating as they once did, or do you seek to augment those activities with something more compelling?

Noted personality theorist Erik Erikson described 8 stages of development throughout the lifespan. According to Dr. Saul McLeod, during the seventh stage, called Generativity vs. Stagnation, “our task is to find a way to give back to society and develop a sense of being a part of the bigger picture. Success leads to feelings of usefulness and accomplishment, while failure results in shallow involvement in the world.”

The pandemic released a shockwave that tested us as individuals and as a society. Compounded by the war in Ukraine, political fissures, and fears of recession, the “new normal” still seems fluid and unsettled. Some of my pre-retirement clients question how they can remain useful and feel a sense of accomplishment in their next chapter when the landscape has changed so dramatically. They ask, “how do I impact the bigger picture when the problems around me seem insoluble?

Grand gestures are not required. Even modest contributions of time and effort may provide the impact you’re looking for. That said, organizations that rely on retired individuals as volunteers may need to adjust assignments so that they resonate and align more closely with people’s values and priorities.

I’ve long advocated that people plan for the psychological side of retirement. Doing so can help you avoid feeling aimless and ensure that your time is spent in fulfilling ways. That remains as true and important as ever, but the pandemic has led many to reevaluate exactly what fulfillment means. Be patient and don’t be surprised if it takes you a bit more time to identify how best to pursue your personal mission moving forward.

McLeod, S. A. (2018, May 03). Erik Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development. Simply Psychology.


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