What do I make of the rest of my life? Global and quotidian life construal across the retirement transition

Jeff Steiner, Teresa M. Amabile

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Retirement means relinquishing the daily structure that work provides and the career-dependent meanings that it offers life narratives. The retirement transition can therefore involve contemplating both how to spend newly-freed daily time and the implications of retirement for one's life narrative. We investigate how American professionals construe their working and retirement lives, in a qualitative study drawing on 215 interviews with 120 participants, including 12 interviewed longitudinally throughout their years-long retirement transitions. We identify two orthogonal dimensions for contemplating the work and retirement domains of one's life – global and quotidian life construal – and four basic modes of cognition that arise from variability across these dimensions. We induce a theoretical model describing how construal of working life prefigures construal of retirement life, which then shapes the retirement life experience. This study contributes to construal level theory, narrative psychology, and the literatures on retirement transitions and the meaning of work.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article number104137
    JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
    StatePublished - Jul 2022


    • Construal level theory
    • Global construal
    • Life narrative
    • Meanings of work and retirement
    • Quotidian construal
    • Retirement transition

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Applied Psychology
    • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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