2 August 2016

There is great value in role models as we transition into retirement

We know the value of role models and mentors when we’re younger. I’d like to propose there is great value in those important people as we transition into retirement.

Very few people have a realistic concept of what retirement is truly like until they’re there. Many people incorrectly see retirement as a time to only take it easy. While changing the pace of activities is important, just taking it easy often leaves people feeling like their lives lack meaning.

Look at the people you’ve known who are great role models for positive aging. What is it about their lives that make them admirable?

I remember Jim, who was in his 90’s and still actively painting with my group. He live in an assisted living facility and used a walker, but maintain a delightfully optimistic attitude about life. At the time, we met monthly for plein air painting. This is painting landscapes outdoors. Jim was always there. He was often the only man and he reveled in being surrounded by younger (in their fifties and sixties), attentive women. We always went to lunch after a morning of painting and he would hold court, sitting at the head of the table. He was aging with grace and dignity. He still had a sense of humor with a devilish glint in his eye.

Make a list of the older people in your life who have known and respect

You can also include public people who aged admirably. After you’ve made your list, write special attributes you believe each possessed. Once you’ve made you list, review it to find out how many of those characteristics you share with your role models.

My guess is you’ll be surprised to discover you share many of the attributes. You may not always live them, but they are also a part of you. If you’re not demonstrating these strengths, you can decide if you want to set goals for yourself to emulate them more often.

Role models, whether they are active in our lives or not, provide a path to living a positive and meaningful life. As you look at your role models, also consider how you can be a role model for others. The cycle will then go on forever.


The blog was written by Cathy Severson and published on


To see what your income would be, try the Lifetime Income Calculator.