In Shaping a Life of Significance for Retirement, R. Jack Hansen and Jerry P. Haas examine the personal aspects of transitioning from full-time work to part-time work or full retirement. The authors aim to bring to the light the issues of relationships, self-image and personal significance in retirement. They interviewed retirees about their own retirement experiences to shed wisdom about what is to come for those who have yet to retire.

They stress the importance of determining what is important to you in your retirement so you can make appropriate decisions for yourself. The book is split into four main sections – transitions, opportunities, challenges, advice – and address specific issues a retiree faces in each stage of retirement.

In the ‘Transitions’ section, the authors discuss the changes that come with retirement, including having a smaller world of responsibility and influence, a changing of family relationships and friendships, and the shift in recognition. Addressing each aspect of retirement separately allows readers to think more about the changes they will face.

The ‘Opportunities’ section offers chances to continue contributing to society in a way you feel fits your lifestyle – you should retire to something as well as retiring from your former job. You can continue to work part-time is a similar profession you had before or volunteer at an organization. Doing something that gives you great responsibility is a great way to fulfill your retirement.

The most important section may be ‘Challenges’, which address the many challenges that come along with retirement. The question, “Who am I now that I’m retired?” is one that every retiree asks themselves. Your life has likely been shaped by the jobs you’ve held and the career you’ve established for yourself. How do you define yourself once these frameworks are gone? You must determine your personal identity away from work.

The final chapters offer advice on when and how to retire, finances, friendships, relocation, attitude and the importance of having a plan for retirement.

Questions on reflection are featured at the end of each chapter, so you can determine key issues you may face in retirement. Throughout the book, Hansen and Haas address challenges and offer opportunities to overcome them to make your retirement significant and enjoyable.

About Jack Hansen:

Jack Hansen is mostly retired from a career in research and research leadership. He still works part-time for the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition and consults for the NASA Ames Research Center. He became particularly interested in the personal dimensions of transition from full-time work as he was making his own transition. He and his wife, Pat, reside in Greenville, South Carolina.

About Jerry P. Haas:

Jerry Haas pastored churches in California and Arizona for 25 years before moving to Nashville, Tennessee to work in retreat and spiritual formation ministries with The Upper Room. His wife, Donna, is a psychotherapist in private practice.