Preparing for Retirement
What is retirement coaching?
Retirement coaching is a complement to retirement financial planning. The latter answers the question
“when can I retire”, while the former asks “what will I do with my time?” A common approach to
lifestyle planning in retirement is to develop a bucket list of goals and achievements one wants to
accomplish in their golden years. This is a less than practical approach to a new lifestyle. In retirement
you likely won’t be bounding from one achievement to the next.
Retirement is a major life transition, much like going off to college, starting your first job, building a
relationship, buying a new home, or starting a family. There is a sudden change. One day you’re going to
work, seeing your colleagues, passing the days until the weekend, and then suddenly every day is
Saturday. What happens more gradually is a change in thinking. Initially there may be excitement, a
honeymoon stage, boundless energy to accomplish any task, feeling productive and free for the first
time in a while. Eventually, that short list of “things to do in retirement” is all crossed off. The fence is
painted and the quilt is finished. The seasons change.
Despair sets in, along with a feeling that your life has lost its purpose.
Some will begin their retirement journey in shock. They wake up and wonder what to do. What do I
wear? Where will I go? How will I pass the time? They may wonder “without my career, who am I?”
When you retire, do you know what you’ll be giving up?
Retirement coaching is an active approach to planning for life after work. It helps the retiree to focus on
the things they truly value and make plans to pursue activities that provide a sense of meaning and
purpose. It isn’t about planning every hour of everyday; it’s about developing and encouraging interests
so that one has choice of which activities to pursue. Because having free time without choice isn’t really
a choice at all. Retirement coaching helps the retiree to “maximize the promise of free time while
managing the threat of marginality”.
Why do you need a retirement coach?
Retirement coaching isn’t for everyone. Some will approach retirement with clear plans of what they will
do, who they will do it with, and where it will be done. Often they are individuals with active lifestyles
prior to retirement, with well developed skills and interests in leisure and recreation, and a sense of
identity that extends beyond the title on their office door. They are the ones who started planning for
retirement years in advance and had discussions with their loved ones about how they will be involved.
In essence, they have coached themselves.
Others will have ideas of what they will do in retirement but no clear plan of how they will do it, or what
they will do first. Without a clear plan they may flounder, struggling to find meaning in their daily
routines. They may return to paid employment seeking the structure that it once provided.
Finally, those without clear plans of what to do in retirement may continue to postpone their
retirement, missing out on the freedom and independence that it offers.
But isn’t retiring the easy part?
Saving for retirement takes time and discipline. Many of us labor over our portfolios; spend countless
hours with financial planners, and dutifully save money for the golden years. Indeed acquiring wealth
intended to support oneself in retirement takes great effort. But mindless saving, without a plan, can be
hazardous. What if your retirement savings doesn’t match up with your retirement lifestyle?
Knowing what you want to do can help you to plan on how to get there.
If you weren’t working now, what would you be doing?
Imagine, for a moment, that you no longer had to go into work anymore, yet your salary would still be
paid. What would you do with your time? Would you spend it in the garden, maintain your home, learn
a new skill, take or teach a course, finish a degree, write, read , learn a new language, travel, visit family,
volunteer, play a group or individual sport, exercise, or maybe just rest?
Are you afraid to retire?
Work provides us with a lot of benefits beyond security such as a sense of identity, structure and
routine, socialization, social status, and an opportunity to develop and demonstrate mastery. Leaving
work can mean loss. When you think about retirement, do you know what you’ll be giving up?
Retirement coaching helps the retiree to find activities that can replace the positive aspects of work.
Why should I stop working?
In today’s uncertain economy it can be hard to make an argument for leaving the workforce. Retirement
coaching isn’t about money, it’s about time. And time isn’t a renewable resource.
Can you afford to put off retirement?
Are you aware of how much stress you experience at work? Has there been an impact on your health?
High job strain, whether caused by the physical, cognitive, or emotional demands of work can lead to
poor health outcomes. Finances have been the core focus of retirement planning, but without your
health will you be able to live the retirement of your dreams ?
Get started on your retirement adventure.