Here’s an aspect of retirement – and especially early retirement – that few of us address soon enough.
The numbers concerning depression and anxiety in retirement are not encouraging. Our golden years increase our chances of suffering from depression by 40%.
As ridiculous as it might seem, most of the causes are rooted in our titles. You know, those things we worked so hard to achieve: senior vice president, partner, chief of something or another, doctor, lawyer…
After 30, 40 or, in my case, 50 years of struggling to make it, even though we swore we’d never become workaholics, we slowly became our jobs. When we step down, we lose that identity.
Like it or not, we are our titles.
But it isn’t until after you retire that you’re asked, “What do you do?” (one of the most common questions when meeting new people), and your answer is, “Nothing.” That’s when we begin to realize how much of ourselves was tied up in our work.
Doctors get hit the hardest by this loss of self. Here’s a group that studied well into their 30s just to get started in their profession, and now in retirement they are not Dr. Anybody anymore.
In fact, the longer you studied or stayed in school, the more likely you are to feel the emptiness of no longer being who you were.
Strangely enough, the folks who feel the identity jolt the least are high school graduates.
We can’t undo who we are or were, but we can look ahead. I can plan for the time when I’m not the “Slap in the Face” Award guy but just another old guy hanging out at the tennis courts looking for a pick-up game.
This is a very real condition that has tons of research to back it up. Don’t take your loss of title lightly. Plan for more than just the monetary aspects of retirement.