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Jan. 16, 2021, 7:09 p.m. EST

There are six types of retirees — which are you?

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Alessandra Malito

New retirees are like recent college graduates — they’re on their own after years of the same routine, and they have to find a new path to follow. 

That’s how Nancy K. Schlossberg, an author and former counseling professor, sees it. And she should know, having written about the transition to retirement for decades and switching paths a few times herself in the last couple of decades. Now at 91 , she’s starting an entirely new journey, acting as a consultant for Zoom programs about transitions in life.

She came across the six types of retirees, as she identifies them, when she herself retired more than 20 years ago. “I was a little bit at sea when I retired,” she said. “My field was transitions and counseling. I expected it to be easy and it was not.” After searching, she decided to write about retiring, adjusting to a new lifestyle and making the most of this next phase. She began interviewing retirees about the avenues they took to where they are today. 

These are the six types of retirees, and what defines them: 

See: You’re probably not ready to retire — psychologically

The Adventurer 

This type of retiree ventures into the unknown, taking on a new job they’ve never done before. 

One man she spoke with was the head of a research group for Congress in his 60s when he lost his job. He took a sailing trip and reflected, and remembered when his wife and child died years ago, massage therapy helped him heal. He came home and told his wife he planned to go into massage therapy. Another woman Schlossberg interviewed was a homemaker — the chief executive officer of a small family business, as she describes women who stay home to help raise a family — and in the middle of transitioning to retirement because her children were grown and moved out. She loved art museums, so she applied to be a docent.

Anyone can experiment with a new hobby or job based on their interests. One way to break into the field is to become an intern, Schlossberg said. 

The Continuer 

“Then there were people like me, who continued doing some of what I had done but in a modified way,” she said. Schlossberg was no longer a professor, or had a job with a salary, but she was walking a path she was familiar with — conducting interviews and research in a field she had been in for decades. 

The Easy Glider 

One man told her he was going to “sloth,” as in do nothing and see where life takes him. “An easy glider is a person who has no agenda, who just wakes up in the morning and asks ‘what should I do?’ and lets each day emerge,” Schlossberg said.  

This path doesn’t work for everyone. Some people may feel stir crazy if they don’t have a new routine or purpose in retirement. But for others, especially those in physically demanding jobs, it’s a way to enjoy the little moments of the day with relief. 

The Involved Spectator 

This is the type of person who wants to be immersed in a field, although not make a full-time job of it. For example, a retired museum director who goes to art exhibits all the time, or a retired political consultant who is still very involved in political events, like voter registration. “They’re really involved, not as workers but as spectators,” Schlossberg said. 

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