Life Before and After Retirement: Same Same But Different

I have a confession to make. I love blogging. I seriously do. I love everything about it (well…almost everything)! I love reading the thoughts of others who are in similar stages of life as I am. I love reflecting on what they have to say. I love having the freedom to send my voice into the blogosphere to be read and perhaps reflected upon by others.

A couple of weeks ago, I read a post by Kate (Views and Mews). In it, she discussed her changing outlook in retirement that was often polar opposite to how she felt during her career life (e.g. “Friday yay, Monday blah” suddenly morphed into “Friday blah, Monday yay!”).

When reflecting on Kate’s post, I had the sudden realization that I am the exact same person in retirement that I was in my work life. This shocked me. Somehow, I was expecting someone totally different!! Okay, so I do get more sleep, am more relaxed, have less stress (and fewer emails). But deep down, I’m the same ol’ Donna. You’d recognize me! Same values, same beliefs, same attitudes, same distinct habits (like my love of detail, my tendency to attack small tasks immediately and my ability to post pictures of an event on Facebook…even before everyone has arrived home from said event!)

While mulling this all over in my mind, I wrote last week’s post, A Retiree’s Job Description. I was overwhelmed by the thoughtful and insightful comments that I received from readers. You guys are good!! I was especially struck by Joanne (My Life Lived Full) who wrote that she “is not the same person today that she was six years ago.” Then Janis (ReitrementallyChallenged) suggested that maybe in retirement we “discover someone who has been inside of us waiting for permission to come out.”

So who am I now? The exact same person? Not the same at all? Or someone who was inside me all along…waiting for permission to be herself?

And then I realized that Janis was on to something! These bloggers were all on to something! Upon this reflection (which was A LOT OF INTROSPECTION even for me) I suddenly knew. It wasn’t that I am now the exact same me. Rather, I am more ‘me’ than I have ever been before. My career robes have been removed taking with them many expectations that had been placed upon me (a large number of them self-imposed)! I no longer need to be so acutely focused on a specific area. I’m less worried about disappointing others. This, in turn, has allowed me to be more open, less guarded and has given me additional time and freedom to…well…be ‘me’!

My work life (which I LOVED and for which I am eternally grateful) also helped to nurture and shape the ‘evolved me.’ (Seriously, where do you think I developed my hyper-focus on detail and my tendency to multi-task?!) But like a benevolent parent, work has released me to spread my wings and reconnect with areas of myself that sat dormant during my career.

In preparation for this post, I browsed through a pile of work photos to compare to my most recent shots. Definitely still me…but even more so!

“Same Same But Different”: Something that is substantially the same as something else but differs in the details.

48 Replies to “Life Before and After Retirement: Same Same But Different”

  1. “more open, less guarded “

    Yep, I get what you’re saying here. I’m much more relaxed about being who I am now, but still live my life with the same values I had when working full-time. My personalities has stayed the same, that is I’m introverted and conscientious, but the way in which those traits manifest now is different.

    It’s great to figure out who you really are, isn’t it?
    Ally Bean recently posted…Out For A Walk: “Love You, Annie”My Profile

    1. Hi, Ally – I totally agree. Figuring out who we really are is a life-long journey. Blogging has been an amazing way to help deepen my reflections upon this.

  2. The line “I am more ‘me’ than I have ever been before” rather sums it up 🙂

    Janis’ comment was so insightful that retirement – combined with all our experiences that came before – releases a part of us that is less restrained.

    It would be very interesting to compare notes again in a few years to see how these reflections have either changed or become even more ingrained.
    Joanne Sisco recently posted…I’m Late! I’m Late!My Profile

    1. Hi, Joanne – You’re on! I would love to compare notes again and see what our reflections are like in a couple of years from now. While I am writing, I am often aware that these are the thoughts of a ‘relatively’ young, still transitioning (even ‘honeymooning’) retiree. It will be interesting to see how our thinking continues to develop later in our retirement years.

  3. For sure your wardrobe changed! People tell me I look younger. I don’t think that is true. (Seriously, who doesn’t wish something would make them look younger?) I think I am less stressed and smile more, less tense and more spontaneous. My job carried with it high impact conflicts every day. Sure don’t miss that although when I was working I didn’t mind it. You are right. We are more us! Thanks for the link!
    Kate recently posted…A different kind of spring cleaningMy Profile

    1. Hi, Kate – Too funny about the clothing comment. When writing, I had considered closing with, “Definitely still me…but in more comfortable clothes!” Thank you for being one of the catalysts for my last two posts.

    1. Congratulations on your upcoming retirement, Gail! I believe that you will love it and will continue to connect with parts of you that you had less time to focus upon while working.
      Thank you for following and commenting. I greatly appreciate keeping in touch.

  4. Oh my word, can I relate to these lines:

    ” …my tendency to attack small tasks immediately and my ability to post pictures of an event on Facebook…even before everyone has arrived home from said event!)”

    That describes me to a tee – get the small easy tasks done and out of the way.

    I am also one year officially retired. I’ve moved eight hours north of Southern Ontario and am still adjusting/recovering from that whirlwind adventure. Am I still the same?

    I am – the same me with gobs and GOBS of time on my hands now that we have very long winters to contend. That might sound like a complaint – it’s not. It’s a statement of fact. But there’s an adjustment to be made, and I think I’m making it – slowly, but we’re getting there.

    1. Hi, Anabel – I hadn’t heard that expression before. I LOVE it and may need to steal borrow it! I agree – increased relaxation is a big perk of retirement – even for those who remain very active!

  5. Very insightful, Donna. I think at the core, you stay the same, but when circumstances and focuses shift, you allow yourself to grow in different ways and to expand your horizons further than you though possible because of previous restrictions. You have more time and less responsibilities now, which amounts to more freedom. Enjoy it and take advantage of it! I really liked the description Janis came up with.
    Liesbet recently posted…Two Full Days in Yosemite NPMy Profile

    1. Thanks, Liesbet. You are very wise. Allowing ourselves to expand and grow in different ways is a true gift in retirement. How much of this gift we accept remains up to the individual.

  6. Another great post, Donna. Thanks for including the Then and Now photos. I must say you look much more relaxed in the Now photos, especially the one in the lower right corner cuddling the baby. It is the photos like the ones you titled Now that should remind one that now is the time to spend time relaxing, exploring subjects you are passionate about and spending time with loved ones that the busy work-a-day world denied you time to do.

    1. Hi, Susan – I’m glad that you enjoyed the ‘Then and Now’ photos. They were fun to put together and were incredibly helpful in my reflection. You are correct – cuddling a sleeping grandchild is very relaxing indeed!

  7. Your retirement pictures look wonderful. You look healthy and content. I can hardly wait to join you in the land of no work!

    1. Hi, Fran – Thank you again for your kind words. I am very excited about your upcoming retirement. I look forward to reading about your imminent adventures!

  8. What a great “Then and Now” contrast! I have a post half-written in response to your back-and-forth with Joanne about how I’m pretty much the same too (but, as I shared with Joanne, I’m still a Pro-crastinator so I haven’t finished it yet 🙂 ). I love how you got all of us thinking – I love blogging too, and this is why!
    Janis recently posted…GratiTuesday: A Reunion of FriendsMy Profile

    1. Thanks, Janis – There were many minds at work that directly contributed to my thinking behind this post. Your comments were critical to helping me realize that I am still me…but even more so! I’m looking forward to reading your post on this topic (no pressure of course)!

  9. An interesting post, Donna. I’m now over two years retired, but as you might recall back working in my profession on a part-time basis (about six hours a week). Curiously, just last night I had the most intense work anxiety dream (about deadlines) in which people from my former career job made appearances. This literally hasn’t happened in about two years, and it was surprising to me when I woke up thinking about it. While I thought I was different, I guess I’m still the same boy I was — insecurities and all. 😉

    1. Hi, Marty – Thanks so much for sharing this. That sounds like some dream!! I bet you were glad when you woke up and realized that the world of full-time work is behind you (…it is, isn’t it?) I wouldn’t think that it was caused by insecurities…just left over “stuff” with no place else to go.

      1. Hi, Donna. I leave dream interpretation to my wife since it’s part of her own job description. But suffice to say I think it had more to do with seeing my former co-workers on Facebook earlier in the day than anything else. Yes, absolutely my days of full time work are thankfully over. I do enjoy the few shekels I’m able to make now, but it’s so nice not being tied to anything more than just an hourly wage and knowing I can stop doing it whenever I can.

        1. Sounds like the perfect retirement/part-time job arrangement. Also great to have a dream-interpreter in the family…that could make for interesting conversations!

  10. Since I’m not completely retired and hubby still works (at my former organization), I still hear about work and hear about good and bad decisions still being made. My old self tries to solve the problem or give hubby advice, but my new educator self just says “Oh , I can teach this in class (about what not to do perhaps).” I’m only on campus two mornings per week and work from home Mon, Tues and Thurs. So I still get to sleep til 7am 3 weekdays. I have created a good structure but there are days when I linger longer over coffee in my PJs. I’m grateful to work part-time and my role as an educator continues to define me. I love having almost all of January off and most of the summers! Can’t complain. Love this post and thanks for sharing your lovely photos and insights! You demonstrate remarkably how leisure has re-defined you in those photos!

    1. Hi, Terri – Thank you again for your kind words. I agree that it is important to find the lifestyle that works best for us at each particular stage of our lives. Sounds like you work arrangement allows you to continue to do what you love while still have good flexibility. Thanks for sharing this!

  11. Hi Donna! While I am not yet retired (more like semi-retired) I think that the aging process is part of that becoming more of the real me thing that you mention. Regardless of whether we are still working or not, I think we begin letting go of and dropping things that no longer serve us as they years go by. The more I get to know myself and the less I care what others think of me, the easier it gets. And as you’ve noticed, blogging helps us do that as well. Can you imagine where we will be in 5 or 10 more years? I’m looking forward to it! ~Kathy
    Kathy @ SMART Living recently posted…10 Reasons Why We Need To Disrupt Aging And RetirementMy Profile

    1. Hi, Kathy – This is an excellent point! Thanks so much for including this. I agree that it is not only retirement, but ‘maturity’ that helps us to let go and drop things that no longer matter. Like you, I am looking forward to the next ten years+. I am trying to keep myself mindful so that I can fully experience and appreciate the journey.

  12. Hi Donna,
    What an interesting post.
    I love all of the photos, but you definitely look more relaxed and comfortable in the afters.
    Your post really made me think about whether or not I’ve changed in the last two years. I’d say that I have, quite significantly, and that I hope to change even more as the years go by. I was so incredibly driven during my career years. Working at work 18 hours a day, 365 days a year made me feel like a character in Robertson Davies’ Fifth Business trilogy. I can’t remember his name but he was “burned on one side, raw on the other.”
    Now I’m much calmer, happier, easier to be around. I’m also more interesting to myself and to others I hope. I can have a conversation now that has absolutely nothing to do with K-12 or teacher education.
    I’d like to say that these aren’t real changes but just more of who I used to be. Unfortunately I don’t think that’s true. I think I’ve made a sea change difference and none too soon.
    Thanks for the opportunity to reflect, Donna.

    1. Great reflection, Karen. I too share a driven work past (in education) with 18-hour work days being quite common. I loved the career that I had. I am also grateful for the current opportunities to embrace a gentler pace in retirement.

  13. I always love reading your posts Donna and can relate so much to this one. I’m still in that early days phase of retirement and can honestly say I am busier than ever! I am more me, more relaxed, happier, less concerned about the little issues and I’m enjoying not dealing with the awful toxic people that make work a misery at times. I’m dealing with friends, spending the days as I choose and travelling to see family without the need to apply for leave! It’s blissful 🙂 Thanks again for writing such an interesting post.
    Debbie Harris recently posted…A Wanderlusting traveller – Weekly Photo ChallengeMy Profile

    1. Hi, Debbie. My list of what I love about retirement is also very long. What I love the absolute most is my new found ability to spend my time with friends/family/activities/causes that I choose. This helps me to stay focused on the positive and on what is most important. As you say, it also helps me to avoid the toxic. Thanks for sharing this.

  14. I loved your job description post! I kind of retired…after 21 years of working, I left to be a freelance writer. I keep my own schedule and write for a bunch of different clients. But I was writing in my spare time when I worked full-time, so it feels like retirement, especially since this is what I planned to do when I retired. And yeah, I definitely feel like the same person. I think we feel like as we get older, we’re going to change somehow!
    Stephanie Faris recently posted…The Claw vs. The GrannyMy Profile

    1. Hi, Stephanie – Sounds like you are living the famous Confucius quote “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” I was one of the ones who thought that I would be different in retirement. Still me…but even more so!
      Thanks for sharing this.

  15. I think retirement has allowed me to identify the real me, versus the “should” me . Your know – the person who should do what’s expected. I still fight the should…most recently coming to the awareness of the expectation of many that I should continue to work (part time). Yeah, it’s a should and I’m doing it. The real me loves structure, is more of a homebody than the “should expect”, and is learning to love the freedom and relaxation that retirement life provides. I have been told by many that I look years younger, and I am healthier now than I was 3 years ago – yoga, Zumba, regular sleep, eating better. So am I the same or different? Different and I like it.
    Pat recently posted…A Path Not Taken?My Profile

    1. Hi, Pat – Thanks for sharing your changes in retirement. I was very interested to read them. From what you have mentioned are you a “different Pat” or the “real Pat” who has been released from many of the imposed shoulds?

  16. I don’t think I needed retirement to wake me up – I had a few upheavals in my early 50’s and some of the retirement epiphanies hit me early. I know a lot more about who I am and what is important to me – I know how much time I want to spend working and how much I want to be at home. There are things that still bug me and I haven’t become mellow, but the worry bug has definitely eased these days. I’m glad you’re discovering similar things – this is such a great stage of life isn’t it?
    Leanne | cresting the hill
    Leanne | crestingthehill recently posted…Midlife Monday ~ What’s Your Superpower?My Profile

    1. Hi, Leeann – I am glad that the worry bug has eased for you. I agree – knowing what is important to you and figuring out your preferred work-home balance makes a huge difference. Thank you for stopping by and sharing this.

  17. I can relate to much of what you say, Donna. I do sometimes sit down and wonder how on earth I managed working full time and did most of the things I still do. Certainly, weekends and bank holidays are different now to what they were like when I was working. However, at around 5 pm every Friday I still get a little bit of that Friday feeling I all so enjoyed gettering during my working days.

    I also tend to stay away from the popular spots other people visit on weekends and bank holidays, preferring instead the calm those places bring during the week. Have I changed? Yes, but as a human, I’m always changing, aren’t I?
    Hugh Roberts recently posted…Book Of The Month – What’s in a Name – by Sally Cronin @sgc58My Profile

    1. Good point, Hugh. It’s human nature to grow and evolve. And retirement offers us a great opportunity to do so. Thanks for stopping by, I greatly appreciate it.

  18. Hi Donna, I have been thinking about your question for a while now-here is what I arrived at…..I think you were “me” in both situations and from my point of view it is because you were doing something that you love(d). I think when you are not “me” is when you are in a situation that does not feel comfortable or in line with your values. In Steven Covey’s words “when your ladder is up against the wrong wall” comes to mind. Thanks for the chance to do some reflection.

    1. Hi, Fran – Thank you for taking the time to think about my question and share your reflection. You are right. I was very fortunate to have a job that I loved and a retirement that I am also loving. Being able to retire TO something as opposed to FROM something is a real blessing. I agree that I was ‘me’ in both situations. It is simply that the current me is older, hopefully wiser and has fewer demands of others to satisfy…so possibly is “me unplugged”! Thank you for your wise thoughts, I appreciate them greatly.

  19. Great “think” question! When I was 20, I did the typical backpacking trip around Europe. While travelling there, I had an insight: I was still “me” wherever I went and whatever I did. I didn’t suddenly become more cool, or change my beliefs, or become more patient, or lose my worries. I think the same thing will hold in retirement, except that I will be a less grumpy version of me because I will have enough sleep!

    Dr Sock recently posted…Cute Shoes and a Shopping BanMy Profile

    1. Dang, I was definitely hoping to become ‘more cool!’
      I do agree that ‘more sleep’ is a true gift of retirement.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Jude. I love your ‘visits’.

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