Passages of Retirement: Personal Histories of Struggle and Success

By Richard S. Prentis | Go to book overview

12
The Meaning of Work and
Retirement

What has your work meant to you? What satisfactions did your work provide? Was your social identity established by your work role? These questions are addressed because they bear directly on how some people make the adjustment to retirement.

Most of us do not consciously think on a daily basis of the meaning of work while we are employed. Such matters as income, whether or not the work is interesting, our relationships with others on the job, and the satisfactions we receive are often taken for granted. But with the event of retirement, either voluntary or mandatory, the change from the work to the retired role may produce contrasting feelings of relief and regret, anticipation and anxiety. The structure that work offers, as well as the identity of the job role, provides a foundation from which a person functions and views himself or herself.

The impact of retirement for the men and women in this section provides some insight into the influence of work on their patterns of retirement.

Three patterns are presented. The first, satisfaction with total retirement . . . a high school principal who accepted the fact that it was time for a change and who made the required effort to remain involved in a life-style similar to his career . . . a social worker who accepted the role of retiree as but another step in her life.

The second pattern, a combination of available options combined with some part-time work . . . a librarian who found balance in her life by returning to part-time work . . . a minister who realized pleasure in retirement on the basis of part-time activity in his chosen field.

-55-

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