Retirement Transitions

Retirement is a major life transition. We offer programming and resources to help you make the transition from employment to retirement.


We offer a range of programs and workshops designed to help prospective and recent retirees explore the experience of retiring — from packing up your office to processing the emotional impact to thinking about what a fulfilling retirement looks like for you.

Who Will I Be Without My Job?
An interactive, discussion-based workshop to help plan for a meaningful and fulfilling post-retirement life. Suitable for current employees approaching retirement as well as for recent retirees. Workshops are typically offered two to three times each year.

What’s Next?
Panel and small-group discussion on retiring after a lifelong career in the academy, featuring recently retired UW faculty. We typically offer two sessions each spring, organized by college or school on a rotating basis.

Keep, Share or Shred? Preparing Your Office for Retirement
Packing up an office you’ve worked in for years—or even decades—often seems like an insurmountable task. How do you know what to keep, what to toss, what to pass on to someone else, and what to archive? Do yourself, your successor, and your department a favor and watch our recorded program with staff from UW Records Management to get answers to these questions, along with helpful tips for making the process manageable.

Upcoming Programs

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Thank you to Míċeál Vaughan and Judy Howard for compiling this list of helpful articles and book chapters regarding retirement issues.

* = Not in UW Libraries; available from Summit/ILL, or Online

Introductory Articles and Book Chapters

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Baldwin, Roger G.  (Ed.)  2018.  Reinventing Academic Retirement.  Wiley.  Online at

Dreifus, Claudia. (2017). ‘Writing the Script for Your Next Act,’ New York Times, Aug. 4, 2017.  Online at

Ellis, Carolyn; Mitchell Allen; Arthur P. Bochner; Kenneth J.Gergen; Mary M. Gergen; Ronald J. Pelias; and Laurel Richardson. (2017). ‘Living the Post-University Life: Academics Talk About Retirement’ Qualitative Inquiry, Vol. 23 (pp. 575-588). Online at

*Moen, Phyllis. (2016). Encore Adulthood: Boomers on the Edge of Risk, Renewal, and Purpose. New York, Oxford University Press. Online at

*Nussbaum, Martha C. and Saul Levmore (2017). Aging Thoughtfully: Conversations about Retirement, Romance, Wrinkles, and Regret. New York: Oxford University Press. Online at

Aging — Facts/Fictions and Ageism

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Applewhite, Ashton.  2016.  This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism.  New York NY:  Celadon Books.

Brooks, Arthur C.’Your Professional Decline Is Coming (Much) Sooner Than You Think.’  The Atlantic, July 2019. Online at

Contexts (Fall 2009) ‘Facts and fictions about an aging America’ by the Macarthur Foundation Research Network on an Aging Society.  Online at

Gopnik, Adam. ‘Can We Live Longer but Stay Younger?’ New Yorker, May 13, 2019.  Online at

Gullette, Margaret Morganroth. 2004. Aged By Culture. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Gullette, Margaret Morganroth. “Blame ageism.”  Los Angeles Review of Books, June 8, 2016.

Gullette, Margaret Morganroth. Ending Ageism, or How Not to Shoot Old People. Rutgers University Press, 2017. Online from Project MUSE:

Gullette, Margaret Morganroth. “Against ‘Aging’– How to Talk about Growing Older.” Theory, Culture and Society 35 (2018): pp. 251-70: available at

Krystal, Arthur. ‘Why We Can’t Tell the Truth About Aging,’ The New Yorker. Nov 4, 2019 (pp. 74-77). Online at

Pinsker, Joe.  “When does someone become ‘old’?”  The Atlantic.  January 27, 2020.  Online at

Other General Bibliography

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*Alboher, Marci. (2013). The Encore Career Handbook : How to Make a Living and a Difference in the Second Half of Life. New York: Workman Pub.  Online at

Athill, Diana. (2008). Somewhere Toward the End: A Memoir. New York: W.W. Norton.

—————-. (2016). Alive, Alive Oh!: And Other Things That Matter. New York W.W. Norton.

*Baldwin, Roger G.; Brett H. Say; and Angie A. Belin. ‘Transforming Academic Retirement: The Performance and Potential of Retirement Organizations in Higher Education.’ (2017). Report from the Center for Higher and Adult Education (May 2017) from Michigan State University.  Online at

*Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.  Lots of useful resources online at

Cicero, Marcus Tullius. (45-44 BCE). Cato Major de senectute (Cato the Elder on old age). Many older translations are available: e.g., W.A. Falconer’s translation in the Loeb Classical Library (1923). Online at Loeb Classical Library.
* (2016) A well regarded recent translation, by Philip Freeman, is How to Grow Old: Ancient Wisdom for the Second Half of Life. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Darling, Rosalyn Benjamin, & Peter J. Stein (Eds.). (2017). Journeys in Sociology: From First Encounters to Fulfilling Retirements.  American Sociological Association/Temple University Press.

Eisenberg, R. (2016). “Retirement Life: Women and Men Do It Very Differently.” Forbes, April 20, 2016. Online at

*Farrell, Chris.  (2014). Unretirement: How Baby Boomers are Changing the Way We Think about Work, Community, and the Good Life. New York: Bloomsbury Press.

*Freedman, Marc. (2007). Encore: Finding Work That Matters In The Second Half Of Life. New York: Public Affairs.

Gawande, Atul. (2014). Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End. New York: Picador.

Hillman, James. (1999). The Force of Character and the Lasting Life. New York: Random House.

Jones, Kathleen W. (2016). ‘Finding the Path to Retirement.’ Chronicle of Higher Education 27 November 2016. Online from

*Klaus, C. H. (2000). Taking Retirement: A Beginner’s Diary. Boston: Beacon Press.

Laslett, Peter. (1991). A Fresh Map of Life: The Emergence of the Third Age. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Lawrence-Lightfoot, Sara. (2009). The Third Chapter: Passion, Risk, and Adventure in the 25 Years after 50.  New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

*Moffitt, Phillip. (2012). Emotional Chaos to Clarity: How to Live more Skillfully, Make Better Decisions and Find Purpose in Life. New York, Penguin Group.

*Sedlar, Jeri, and Rick Miners. (2007). Don’t Retire, Rewire!: 5 Steps to Fulfilling Work that Fuels Your Passion, Suits Your Personality, and Fills Your Pocket. Indianapolis: Alpha Books.  Online at

Shultz, Kenneth. (2015). Happy Retirement: The Psychology of Reinvention. New York: Penguin Random House. Online at

Spicker, Stuart F.; Kathleen M. Woodward; & David D. Van Tassel (Eds.). (1978). Aging and the Elderly: Humanistic Perspectives in Gerontology. Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press.

Strout, Elizabeth. (2019). Olive, Again. New York: Random House.

TIAA Institute. Useful resources online at

‘Understanding The Faculty Retirement (Non) Decision.’ (2015).  TIAA Institute Report, June 2015.  Online at

*Van Ummersen, C.; J. McLaughlin; & L. Duranleau (Eds.). (2014). Faculty Retirement: Best Practices for Navigating the Transition. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.

Woodward, Kathleen. (2009). ‘Against Wisdom: Anger and Aging.’ Ch. 2 (pp. 58-78) in Woodward, Kathleen. Statistical Panic: Cultural Politics and Poetics of the Emotions. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press.  Online at

_________________. (2012). ‘Assisted Living: Aging, Old Age, Memory, Aesthetics.’ Occasion: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities 4 (June 14, 2012).  Online at

_________________. (2019). ‘Aging in the Anthropocene: The View from and beyond Margaret Drabble’s The Dark Flood Rises.’ In Ageing in Literature, ed. Elizabeth Barry, an annual volume of Essays and Studies (Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell and Brewer, 2019).


In retirement Terry Mitchell, professor emeritus in Management and Organization, turned his academic eye to an analysis of the retirement experience. Terry finds that the journey through retirement typically follows three distinct phases.

Leaving. Let go of work, say farewell to life at the UW, and start doing the things you always said you’d do.

  • Start new activities before you retire.
  • Treat your first post-retirement activities as tryouts. Embrace the false starts!
  • Expect challenges. Relationships, with your spouse and others, may have to be renegotiated.
  • Accept feelings of disenchantment, loneliness, or lack of purpose as both normal and temporary.

Adjusting. In the first year or two, redefine yourself and truly build your new life.

  • Reflect on present and past activities and garner feedback from family and friends. Identify where you’ve found joy, what you value, and what makes you feel purposeful.
  • Land on your own mix of post-retirement work, education, travel, volunteer service, and recreation.

Enjoying. Engage in the community, meaningful activities, and satisfying rhythm of your new life.

  • Take care of physical, emotional, and intellectual needs. Set shorter-term goals, and shift from acquiring to divesting — from adding “stuff” to un-stuffing.
  • Use your freedom to move in and out of activities as you choose.

Read the full text of Professor Mitchell’s article on the retirement journey.