By Megan Giles, first published by The Visible Woman (link: www.thevisiblewoman.com.au)
Whether it’s real or not, the fear exists for many women that once they reach retirement they will slip into obscurity. Introducing oneself simply as a retiree can feel a little inadequate. It doesn’t attract the same respect or interest as being a marketing manager, a nurse unit manager or an academic and suggests (rightly or wrongly) a less full and meaningful life. In short it doesn’t make you feel relevant. Doubt can then start to creep in – am I worthy of being visible?
Is this a valid fear to hold, or more aptly does it need to be? When women step out of the workforce, do their skills and expertise suddenly disappear? Does their energy dissipate? Do their ideas and journey suddenly count for nothing? Absolutely not! But ever so subtly these thoughts can start to ruminate. There are women who are quietly stepping back from conversations, perhaps because they want the younger voice to be heard but perhaps also subconsciously because they feel that without work to define who they are, their value is now just that little bit less.
I’d like to challenge this thinking and argue that all women, particularly those approaching the age of retirement need to be visible because of the significant contribution they have made, and continue to make, to the people and community around them. Retirement is no longer a slow and sad decline of watching daytime television from an armchair. The women retiring today are smart, vibrant and energetic with many years ahead of them, just imagine what can be accomplished with more time to focus on what is important to them and what they enjoy and are passionate about in retirement?!
But before we turn our attention to the future, it’s important to first recognise and celebrate the life we have lived thus far.
“Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are”
— Malcom Forbes
When was the last time you paused and took stock of what you have accomplished? Take a moment and reflect on what you have achieved, overcome and created in your life to date. How to do this? You may like to use the following three points as a guide:
Articulate your proudest moments. These may be achievements in both your personal and professional life. Try not to be too modest - value them for what they are.
Recognise your strengths. What unique skills can others learn from you? If you’re feeling brave, you may like to ask people around you what they admire in you.
Embrace the bad stuff. Life doesn’t always go to plan. Consider what you learned and how you’ve grown from challenging experiences.
I have no doubt that you will articulate multiple reasons as to why you can and should feel worthy of remaining visible in life after work. Don’t be afraid to share - value those experiences, skills and expertise and use them to keep having a bold and positive impact on the people around you!
The Visible Woman is a movement that celebrates the style and substance of women of a certain age. We want people to look past the stereotype of what it means to be an older woman in our society.
We challenge the notion that women become invisible as they age by shining a light on amazing women. For more information visit www.thevisiblewoman.com.au.
If you approaching retirement or starting to think about it, and worried about the "what's next', wondering:
- How you’ll stay relevant and connected to people
- What to do with the amazing skills, energy and ideas you have
- How to prevent slowing down too soon and getting old before your time
you may be interested in a one-on-one or workshop-based retirement planning session. I would love the opportunity to support you to feel in control (and a little bit excited!) as you transition into retirement, and all of the details can be found on my For Individuals webpage. .
You may also be interested in the following blogs 'I ummm....How to Introduce Yourself in Retirement'
and 'How to Build Your Legacy'.