Handbook of Research on Sustainable Careers
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Handbook of Research on Sustainable Careers

Edited by Ans De Vos and Beatrice I.J.M. van der Heijden

What is a sustainable career and how can individuals and organizations develop pathways that lead to them? With current levels of global unemployment and the need for life-long learning and employability enhancement these questions assume a pressing significance. With twenty-eight chapters from leading scholars, the Handbook of Research on Sustainable Careers makes an important contribution to our understanding of sustainable careers and lays the foundation for the direction of future research.
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Chapter 23: Managing the transition to retirement: from meaningful work to meaning in life at retirement

Ariane Froidevaux and Andreas Hirschi


The aim of this chapter is to provide an understanding of retirement adjustment by specifically focusing on meaning in life for retirees and meaningful work for older workers who are close to retirement. After a first outline of global issues of aging and work, we approach transition to retirement from the standpoint of sustainable careers within its main dimensions of continuity and importance of personal agency. Next, we review and synthesize literature on meaningful work and meaning in life, distinguishing three levels that constitute meaningful work and five dimensions of meaning in life. To illustrate our points, we present quotations from semi-structured interviews realized with Swiss older workers who were going to retire within a few months. Then, we describe ways to promote meaningful work for older workers and how to create a new meaning or to pursue a previous meaning as a retiree. Finally, we suggest ways in which individuals, organizations and career counselors can facilitate a meaningful transition to retirement.

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