Retirement – It’s a Marmite word

Geraldine Locke – Transition Coach

Retirement – It’s a Marmite word. Some people embrace it, and some people hate it: “I’m not retired you know…”

Why is it that some of us fear this little word so much?

Marmite blog

Many of us define ourselves as who we are by what we do. Our whole identity depends on our work. Arthur C. Brooks1 talks about the need to kick our “success addiction” which is closely tied up with how we label ourselves through our work. The problem then is that when we leave our work, we become bereft, and feel we are forgotten by others. We lose status and become less distinctive.

We know that if we finish our careers suddenly, we can fall off the cliff.

But if we can gradually come to the end of our professional careers, whilst at the same time planning for the next phase of our lives we can experience a far more comfortable journey, and gradually come to terms with the fact that who we are is not necessarily defined by our work.

The key question is not so much “what am I retiring FROM?” as “what am I retiring TO?” – or the Career Pivot, as we call it at Longhurst.

The answer to that can be buried deep within you, but with some time, help and patience we can help you to build the portfolio approach to pivot to your own retirement.

That portfolio may still include some element of work, paid or voluntary. You might want to give back by taking on a trustee role, but still using your professional skills.

You may choose to invest in your health and fitness to ensure that you are well and flexible as you age.

You may wish to spend time with family and friends, or you may choose to take the opportunity to learn new skills and exercise new parts of your brain.

Brooks recommends that we stop looking at the “what” of our lives and start looking at the “why”. He and others suggest we start to look at those things which will give us meaning and purpose in our lives.

Not easy things to contemplate, or conversations to have, but with some key tools in place it can be done, and you can build a balanced portfolio of why you want to do what you want to do as you move into this next phase of a fulfilled life.

If you’d like to have a no obligation informal conversation with one of the Longhurst team about how we can help get in touch at , or for more details see

[1]  Brooks, Arthur C. (2022) From Strength to Strength: Finding Success, happiness and deep purpose in the second half of life Dublin: Green Tree, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.