Moving from Career Success to Retirement Success

You’re anticipating your retirement–sometime in the next year or so. You’ve attended several sessions about the financial issues around retirement planning, have met with financial advisors, and decided that you’re ready and you can afford it. All set!

Until you wake up one morning with questions like: What will I do each day when I’m no longer working? How will I introduce myself if I don’t have a title? Who will carry on my research? Does this mean I’m old?!

Retirement used to be seen as a men’s issue, and most of the research regarding retirement focused on men. But as women who entered the workforce in droves in the 1970s now began leaving, CEW recognized that this, too, represents a transition point in women’s lives. So in the Spring of 2012, we designed a six-week retirement series to focus on the personal, emotional, identity and relationship aspects of moving into retirement. The sessions incorporate informa- tion about transitions and retirement “success” with group discussion, individual reflection on anticipated changes, between-session homework, and use of artistic media to explore possi- bilities for life after retirement.

The series, led by Senior Manager of Student Programs Doreen Murasky, has been a popular offering, with University staff and faculty comprising most of the participants. According to Murasky, “Each group brings a new dimension to the series. For example, one group spent time discussing how family members react to their retirement decisions. Another group focused more on developing new relationships and a non-institutional identity.“ In one exercise, group members begin to explore new possibilities that will be available to them in retirement and to outline a “typical” week post-retire- ment. In another, they transform their business cards into collages filled with images of their retirement wishes. And in the final session, members write down 2-3 goals or next steps in retirement planning that are placed in a self-addressed, sealed envelope that is mailed to them six months later. 



This is an example of a collage created by a group member. A popular exercise, each person transforms their business card into a possible vision of post retirement, by collecting appealing images and gluing them on the card. The creative process is fun and often leads to new discoveries.



Exploring retirement with others in a supportive atmosphere is powerful. A recent member commented on an evaluation, “ Excellent. We are a diverse group brought together by our common goal—to retire successfully. It’s been enlightening.”