Consider a Coach
A retirement coach can help you through the transition from work to not-work.
Some people have romantic ideas about retirement that don’t bear up under scrutiny. Such as the notion that you can be employed one day, retired the next, and live happily ever after.
We know better than to think that way about marriage – even to a handsome prince – but many otherwise brilliant people engage in this magical thinking that they can step naturally into this new state of existence without a plan. And I don’t mean a financial plan.
That’s another myth: When you see the words “retirement planning,” 98 times out of 100 it means “financial plan.” We have no problem addressing the money issues of retirement. It’s the emotional and psychological aspects of life after work that are not as visible. Financial planners are great at determining if you have enough money to retire on. But few of them begin by asking, “Just what is it you want to do in retirement? And who is it you want to be?”
That’s why it’s common for new retirees to spend months, or even years, trying to come to grips with answers to those questions, or others such as these:
What am I going to do with all my time?
If I am not my work, who am I?
Where do I want to live?
How do I want to live?
Why have my relationships changed since I retired?
Then Along Came Coaches
The Four Pillars of the New Retirement: What a Difference a Year Makes reports that 77% of people planning to retire wish more resources were available “to help them plan for an ideal retirement beyond just their finances.”
A new cadre of retirement coaches has emerged to address that need. Some work in conjunction with financial planners, others independently. Their goal is to guide clients through the hard decisions about how they want to live the remaining 30 to 40 years of their lives. Coaches recognize that retirement is a major life transition, and they try to make the transition as smooth as possible.
The Retirement Coaches Association formed in 2017 to set standards and provide a training curriculum for certifying coaches. More than 300 have been certified to date. To help potential clients find a coach, the website lists its members by state.
Coaches can help individuals or couples solidify their retirement plans two or more years in advance. They can be helpful in clarifying goals and desires once retirement begins.
Here are a few of the nonfinancial issues a coach might help you resolve:
When to Retire
Because retirement is a major transition, finding a way to ease in gradually may give you more time to prepare and make necessary adjustments. Do you have any options other than working full-time until you don’t? Will your current employer allow you to step down from full-time to part-time? Is working part-time as a contractual employee a possibility? Do you have other part-time options as a consultant? Knowing how you want to pace your last years at work goes hand-in-hand with the financial options.
Who Am I Now?
For those who don’t love to plan ahead and have given little thought to what comes after working, the sudden change to not-work can be confusing or even depressing. This is particularly true of people who have identified themselves with what they do. Coaches help clients clarify what is important to them, develop a plan to act on their values, and help create a structure and schedule to help clients organize their not-working lives into meaningful and satisfying ones.
When two members of a couple don’t retire at the same time, the transition period may bring unexpected changes in the dynamics of a relationship. The retiring partner may be gung-ho to travel, for instance, while the working partner has to concentrate on career matters.
Where’s My Team?
Many retiring executives and professionals are surprised to discover they no longer have a support staff to perform tedious but necessary tasks that helped them concentrate on being more productive. Now they must perform those tasks themselves or find someone else to delegate to. Delegating to the spouse is a risky move that is likely to create tensions in the relationship.
It’s Your Life
A retirement is a terrible thing to waste. If you’re preparing for your retirement, or if retirement isn’t everything you thought it was going to be, do yourself a favor: Consider finding a retirement coach to help you get peak performance from your final chapters of living.