What type of Retirement Personality are You?

You have been dreaming of the day you can retire. Now you are here- the last day of work. What does tomorrow look like? The first day of your second act is like a blank page. How are you going to fill it? What are you retiring to? 

Dave Hughes in ‘Smooth Sailing’ describes 8 types of Retirement Personalities. I think we all have a couple traits and seasons we may pass through.

The Decelerator

As I watch many people transition into retirement this is a phase many experience. Especially if your job has many demands, time constraints, responsibilities. It’s a time of no alarm clocks and schedules. This is good for a season- time to decompress. Give yourself time to dream about ‘WHAT’ you want to do. Rediscover who you are. Decelerator is not a place you want to reside permanently. For a healthy retirement you need social interaction, challenges, trying new hobbies or sports; a sense of purpose. Drifting through the day will eventually lose appeal.

The Perpetual Worker

The opposite is true to the Perpetual Worker. This retiree enjoys working; they are engaged in their work. It provides a sense of purpose and identity. Or they may be working because they need the income for the lifestyle they desire.

Gig jobs works well for this retiree. They work intermittently. As jobs open or need their specific skill. Often an employee can work part time on a project. Or you might have a skill set you can ‘lend’ to many companies doing contract work.

I have a colleague who semi-retired. His partners maintain the business and he works a reduced schedule; travelling when he wants. Another client retired when a management change occurred. He started to miss the work he was doing. He found other companies that can use his services- he is reengaged and enjoying life again. The cash flow helps too.

The person who is a perpetual worker will have a more difficult time transitioning into retirement. The more engaged you are with your work, the harder the transition. Working part time to begin the transition is helpful. Sometimes you have to create a space for other opportunities to blossom

The Volunteer

The Volunteer shares characteristics with the Perpetual Worker. Such as needing a sense of purpose, feeling productive, connecting with other people. Retirees have many skills and talents that can benefit the community.

Volunteering can take many forms. Find the cause you are passionate about, what services, skills, or activities does the charity need. Can you help them? I am often asked to be treasurer- that’s not where I want to volunteer services. Yet I know several accountants that do volunteer accounting services. Some volunteer opportunities are high profile and prestigious. It’s an identity, appeal to the socialite. Others volunteer where they have been working for their whole career. As one volunteer said “I may have quit my job but not my profession.”

The Traveler

I believe there is a Traveler in every retiree. Some may be international travelers exploring the world. Others may hook up the RV and travel across the country. Many have a bucket list to see the National Parks. Or maybe you want to sail the world. I know a couple that sail in the southern seas, meeting new people, exploring other countries.

I think our western lifestyle lends itself to RV or travel with a 5th wheel. Whether short trips of long jaunts, there are RV parks everywhere. During the COVID pandemic, sale of recreational vehicles exploded. With rising gas prices, we may see a change in travel again. My observation is new retirees take several trips in the first few years. One client begins planning their next trip when they get home from the last one.

The Doting Grandparent

The Doting Grandparent is another retiree personality. Enjoying your family is your greatest priority for your retirement years. You may choose to live close to your family so you see the grandchildren’s performances, sporting events and birthday parties. You are the preferred babysitter.

Some may have a second home in the community where the grandkids are. Or travel frequently to get a grandkid ‘fix’.

The Fun Seeker

The Fun Seeker sees retirement as a permanent vacation. You have worked hard- now it’s time to have fun. You play golf or tennis every day, joining activity clubs and participating in lots of social events. You may want to find an active retirement community that organizes activities and has recreational options.

Be aware, too much leisure can get boring. You might need to mix it up with volunteering or grandkids.

The Self Actualizer

The Self Actualizer is looking forward to exploring what you are passionate about. Taking lessons in arts, music, or photography. Your job has paid the bills now you are doing something that is fulfilling to you.

You will need to live in a community with many resources such as museums, colleges, and performance venues.

I have seen this divide a couple- one wants to disappear to a small community in the mountains. The other needs the social setting. In Idaho you can find both if someone is willing to drive to make their connection.

The Lifelong Learner

For the Lifelong Learner it is important to stay mentally sharp and engaged with the world. You want to be taking classes from college or community education. You are hanging out at the library. Your vacations may have an educational component complete with tours, or learning new things. You may want to travel to places with historical importance or try new culture experience. One retiree came back from vacation where he borrowed a book on quantum physics. When he got home he went to the college library to do more exploring.

There needs to be some life learner in all of us. Keeping mentally engaged helps prevent dementia.


What retirement personality are you? Your partner? You may see yourself in several personalities.

It’s your Second Act- paint the picture you want. Try new things, explore. If you don’t like something, close that chapter and start a new one. It can take several attempts to find the retirement that works for you.


More Posts

Your HSA and Retirement

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are rapidly growing in both size and numbers.  These accounts offer deductible contributions and tax-free distributions for qualified medical expenses.  An

More To Explore