What's Your Identity? | Fee-Only Financial Planners Long Island

What’s Your Identity?

What’s Your Identity?
Ronald Rogé, MS, CFP®
Chairman & CEO

To answer this question, you also need to answer some other questions—Who am I?  How do you look at yourself and your relationship to the world?  What is your dominant role in life?  While most people have many such roles, e.g., mother, father, daughter, son, sister, brother, businessperson, coach, community leader, one or two of these will dominate, which will be how people think of themselves, perhaps subconsciously.

A few weeks ago, we were having some fun during one of our lunchtime discussions as we talked about our self-identity and how we view ourselves.  I had mentioned to the staff that each of us has a self-identity.  Perhaps they had never thought about this subject before.

I mentioned to Michelle, our Director of First Impressions, that I would guess she had one dominant identity—as a mother.  Without hesitating, she agreed.  She does not think of herself as anything else. Even though she has other roles in life—wife, businesswoman, friend—she identifies herself as a mom.

Both my Mom and Dad have passed away during the past nine months (they were 91 and 92), and I have been reflecting a lot about their lives.  When we talked at lunch, I suddenly realized what my parents’ identities would have been. My Mom always thought of herself as an executive secretary, and my Dad had two self-identities: United States Marine and a textile designer. While they were both loving parents, I know neither of them felt that being a parent was their dominant identity.  My grandmother had the role of Mother, possibly because my parents delegated that role to her while they were working, and she had raised seven children of her own.

I became aware of self-identity about 15 years ago. One of our clients (now deceased), a well-known and highly respected medical researcher here on Long Island, retired and moved out of state.  He would call Rosanne, my wife, from time to time, and she noticed that he was becoming more and more depressed about the move.  We realized through talking with him and his family that he had lost his identity.  On Long Island, he was Dr. Smith (not his real name), a noted researcher in his field.  In his new location, he had no identity and was having trouble dealing with it. Roe convinced him to get help and he did.

A few years ago, we met with a prospective client, a woman in her late 50s who had recently retired and was a widow.  When I asked her what she planned to do in retirement, she immediately told me that she was a professional grandmother.  No one had ever said that to me before, and I knew by her answer that she had defined her new role and would not have any issues with her self-identity during her retirement years.

As a result of our experiences with this phenomenon of self-identity, we are always alert when working with pre-retirees and the newly retired.  Without proper planning for changes that may be ahead, loss of identity can lead to serious problems.

So what’s your identity?  What will it be after you retire?  How will you prepare for your transition to your new identity?

Do you need help planning your future?  Give us a call and experience the many ways a financial planner can add value to your life.


Ronald Rogé, MS, CFP®
Chairman & CEO

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