Who Am I Without My Business Card?

pile business cards

VOCATIONAL WELLNESS – Working keeps us engaged and growing. If you’re not working, volunteer to help others, get involved in an avocation.

SOCIAL WELLNESS – Stay connected! Volunteer in the community, take classes, visit with friends, join online social networks.

I entered the ranks of older adults (55 years of age or older) over a year ago. I still have over 11 years to work before I can file for full retirement benefits through Social Security. I have been employed with the same employer for over 22 years. After a recent surgery I had an epiphany that made me ask myself, “Who am I without my business card?”

I noticed that my job was all I talked about with the hospital staff when they accompanied me on my therapeutic walks post surgery. It seems the vocational dimension in my life is overly developed in comparison with most of the other dimensions. I don’t know if that’s because it takes up so much of my life: 10 hours of my waking life every weekday (including the commute). If my life were a pie and I was to cut it into seven pieces representing the development of the Seven Dimensions of Wellness in my life, this piece of the pie would dwarf the others; except for my spiritual dimension which I keep with me 24/7.

This awareness was a red flag for me. What I realized in the hospital is that most of my self-identity is wrapped up in the woman behind the business card. This is not healthy, and will not serve me well when it comes time to retire. I need to start now to fortify the other dimensions of wellness that I will need to lean on when I leave this dimension upon retirement, even if only temporarily, until I carve out a new niche for my vocational life. Not to do so will leave me like little more than an empty vessel, wondering if my life is over.

So that leaves me with these dimensions to work on: social, environmental, intellectual, physical, and emotional. (I’ve already established that I’m doing well in my spiritual dimension, and am currently overly developed in the vocational.) The following resource is one way to work on the social and emotional dimensions:

The resource is, “Project Renewment.” Renewment is a term derived from retirement and renewal, and was coined by Helen Dennis and Bernice Bratter, co-authors of the best-selling book, “Project Renewment: The First Retirement Model for Career Women.”

Project Renewment’s mission is to “provide a forum for career women 55 and older to use their strategic thinking, creativity and vision to forge new directions for their future that are equally, if not more satisfying than their previous working years.” It is not a nonprofit or therapy group, but a movement, a process, a forum that is best facilitated by a guide in groups of eight to 10 like-minded women who relate to renewment.

These groups help retiring career women move from “success to significance.”  It means changing one’s perspective to one of “being” instead of “doing.” Dennis and Bratter say the challenge is now to re-define the answer to the question “What do you do?” It means that it’s time to explore values and what really matters and then find meaning in life based on these things. So as not to be accused of being sexist, I think this model could work as well for men as women.

For more information contact: http://www.projectrenewment.com.

1 Comment

  1. This sounds like a great project – it does become a reinventing of the self as happened to me when I retired from my field after 38 years.

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