Understanding your personality helps you plan your best retirement

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Image: JegasRa/ Bigstock.com

Know yourself’ (‘know thyself’, if you prefer) is an ancient Greek saying that rings true for those approaching retirement. Knowing yourself is important as you plan your retirement because it’s your retirement.

For instance, think of the qualities that define introverts and extroverts. No one is totally introverted or extroverted, and some are ambiverts (in the middle). But they can help you understand yourself.

The introvert-extrovert divide

In her book, Quiet, Susan Cain quotes Steve Wozniak, who helped create Apple computers. An introvert, he says, ‘Most inventors and engineers I’ve met are like me—they’re shy and they live in their heads’.

‘Living in their heads’ is a good way to describe an introvert.

On the other hand, she notes that ‘when extroverts show up at a party, everyone knows they are present’. We’ve all seen that—including other extroverts who are drawn to the excitement.

Michael Longhurst in Enjoying Retirement writes puts it this way: ‘Extroverts tend to prefer tasks involving interaction with people, and introverts will often prefer tasks where they can quietly focus.’

That doesn’t mean introverts and extroverts don’t act like they’re at the other end of the spectrum at times, but this is their natural tendency.

For retirement, he has suggestions for both groups to help them adjust.


  • Will need to ensure they’re involved in a sufficiently wide range of activities to provide them with variety.
  • Will need to make sure their activities allow opportunities to interact with groups of people.
  • Extroverts tend to act quickly, sometimes without thinking. They need to be careful that this doesn’t bring them undone, particularly when making important financial decisions.
  • And, related, because extroverts enjoy the cut and thrust of debate, this could make them vulnerable to the lively sales talk of entrepreneurs with get-rich-quick schemes.


  • Often enjoy being involved in projects that require prolonged, focused attention.
  • Prefer to communicate on a one-to-one basis, or in small groups of people they know well.
  • While they’re less likely to rush into making decisions, they need to make sure their tendency to think before they act doesn’t lead to inaction.

Again, keep in mind that no one is totally introverted or extroverted.

Putting yourself in the right lighting

Your best retirement is found in understanding who you are and creating a life around your strengths. Of course, being part of a couple means some give and take and working together.

Cain writes: ‘The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting. For some it’s a Broadway spotlight; for others, a lamplit desk’.

Understanding who you are helps you put yourself in the right lighting for your retirement. It’s important to know what that is.

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

Category: Attitude, Emotional Health, Learning, Planning

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