Finding Your Life

We Are What We…Do? How to Answer an Inevitable Question.

We’ve all heard the cliché, “You are what you eat,” and to a large extent the phrase, “You are what you do,” applies as well.

When we meet someone new, one of the first questions we ask, or that is asked of us is,
“What do you  do?”

The answer which we give or receive provides information– inferences about our status, education, power, wealth, importance and prestige, along with a few dozen others. This evaluation and hypotheses from our job title may have correct and incorrect aspects but it serves to put us into a frame of reference or an orientation in the mind of the person asking the question.

Why is this important?


It provides us with an essential point of view for how we see ourselves –an identity of where and how we fit into society. When we retire, that primary identity is lost or at least, greatly reduced.

The more heavily we have been invested in our work the more uncomfortable and difficult it may be to step away from that long held view of ourselves. Difficult to shape and develop a new identity.

Dealing with Transition.

Of the 15 primary factors affecting our transition into retirement, Work Reorientation is one of the first and most salient issues we need to address. We can define Work Reorientation as the degree to which we have distanced ourselves emotionally from taking our personal identity from our work or job title.

This shift in perspective is not necessarily easy because the worldly culture in which we live constantly reminds us that we are “what we do” rather than “who we truly are.”


If we continue to define ourselves in a primarily material-achievement point of view, we may become stuck in a lackluster and empty condition of retirement living. A condition of noninvolvement, withdrawal, dependency and apathy.

George Eastman, the founder of Kodak, took his own life 18 months after retiring from the company he built because he couldn’t see that there was anything else than what he had been. He could not see that retirement was a tremendous opportunity to become

A New, Improved You.

In giving up our old occupational and work identity we can move toward fashioning a new definition of our self, recognizing our worth as an individual creating and growing into new areas of involvement and possibility for achieving in areas of fresh choice, perhaps for the first time in several decades of our lives. We can see that retirement is full of options for our continuing personal growth and development, providing us with the freedom to select a new meaning, purpose and mission in our lives.