The place of reflection in retirement planning

Portrait of mature smiling woman looking away while sending phone message. Middle aged writer sitting in modern cafe. Cheerful mid woman writing in book and using phone at cafeteria while daydreaming.

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It’s important to think about your retirement and your plans, but it’s also important to reflect on the most important element of your retirement—you!

This is something Marc E Agronin in his book The End of Old Age emphasises, saying ‘There is an imperative . . . to view ourselves in our totality’.

And to do that, he suggests three questions we need to ask ourselves: Who was I? Who am I? and, Who will I be? It’s about reflecting on our past, our present, and the ideal for our future.

As you reflect, it’s worth recording your thoughts so you can review them.

Who was I?

What have I learned, accomplished, and experienced in my past? What are my essential skills and expertise? The answer represents your reserves of wisdom’.

The suggestion here is that we take stock of what we have done and who we have been. Our past has provided the building blocks for now and can be helpful as we plan for our future.

Who am I?

What do I spend most of my time doing or who do I spend most of my time with? What are my current activities and passions? The answers show you what your purpose in life is’?

These are good questions about our current identity. We could also ask what we find most satisfying in our life now.

Who will I be?

What do I want to do, see, and experience in the future? With whom do I want to spend my time? What do I want to leave behind for others? The answers will tell you how you can renew or reinvent yourself’.

Who will I be? And who will I become? Retirement gives us greater freedom to be the person we want to be. And this question is not only about reinventing ourselves for retirement, but most of us will spend a couple of decades in retirement. That’s time enough to develop new life plans and emphases and re-reinvent ourselves again.

The point about what we leave behind—our legacy—is also important. That needs thought.

Of course, for any of this to work, you need to be realistic. If you enjoyed being a long-distant runner in your earlier years, but can no longer do that because of injury, that won’t be part of your future. But there will be other things you can do.

Reflecting on these three questions is an excellent way to work out your best life now and for your retirement.

Bruce Manners: the author of Retirement Ready?, Refusing to Retire, and founder of

Category: Attitude, Learning, Legacy, Planning

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