By Will Kenton, Adapted from NewRetirement, June 29, 2020
You’ve saved money, but are you really ready for retirement?
Using a life coach for retirement might sound crazy, but it’s not.
While some people prepare for the financial aspects of retirement, it is not clear how many people develop clear plans for the non-financial aspects. Both are important. A financial advisor or an online retirement planner can help you with your finances. A retirement coach can help you be mentally and emotionally prepared for what happens when your career ends.
What is a Life Coach? What is a Retirement Coach?
The first time Newsweek wrote about life coaches, they defined the profession this way: “Part consultant, part motivational speaker, part therapist and part rent-a-friend, coaches work with managers, entrepreneurs and just plain folks, helping them define and achieve their goals–career, personal or, most often, both.”
A retirement coach is all of these things, but they are really focused on the challenges and opportunities of retirement. Retirement is a big deal and it can be a hugely different lifestyle from what you experienced while working.
In fact, retirement is arguably the biggest transition you have ever had. This is the phase of life where you have the most control over your time. A retirement coach can help you decide how and with whom you want to spend it. They can also help you create a plan for the mental, social, physical, and spiritual changes that take place in retirement.
A retirement coach can help you make the most out of this phase of your life. Consider how a retirement coach could help you with these six specific aspects of retirement:
1. Identifying What is Important to You
This is your chance. This may be your last chance. This may be the only chance you have had in your entire life to spend your time entirely how you want to spend it. What is important to you? How do you want to be defined? How do you want to be remembered? What will motivate you to get out of bed each day if you don’t need to report to a job?
However, identifying what is important to you and choosing from a whole world of opportunities for how to spend your time and energy can be overwhelming. At the risk of sounding cliche, a life coach can help you identify your passion and a plan for pursuing it.
2. Measuring Personal Success
During your career, you may have measured personal success by pay, title, or feedback from bosses and coworkers. In retirement, there are no such gauges. And, for a certain type of person, it can be really difficult to lose those guideposts. In fact, depression is a common side effect of retirement for just this reason.
Success means something different to every retiree. Maybe it’s continuing to work at a job you love on your own schedule; perhaps it’s devoting time to a cause that is near to your heart. Maybe it’s defined by your relationships with family and friends, or learning and doing new things. Perhaps it is your golf handicap or your ability to travel.
A retirement life coach can help you pinpoint what matters most to you and help you learn to define and measure personal success based on another set of gauges.
3. Developing a Schedule
In her blog, Stepping Into the Future, Sociologist Jean Potuchek wrote: “One of the biggest changes accompanying retirement is the change in how we use our time. For most adults in full-time jobs, work schedules provide the structure that the rest of our lives are organized around, and freedom from those time constraints is the central dream of retirement. We imagine lives that will be simultaneously rich and relaxed, full without the stress of our work lives. But this freedom can be a double-edged sword; it can leave us feeling unmoored.”
People tend to dive into retirement in one of two ways.
Some schedule their days to the hilt, filling their calendar with recreation, travel, classes, and volunteer work. This is great fun until the endless recreation and activity just become too tiring.
Others take a go-with-the-flow approach, waking up when they want and doing what they want when they want. But many find themselves mindlessly watching TV while days pass without meaning or memories. The key is to create routines and a schedule that gives you a reason to get going each day, but not so much rigidity that you’re left feeling burnt out.
A retirement life coach can help you create a daily routine that involves getting out of the house, meeting new people, and learning new things. Creating healthy routines in retirement can help you stay productive, recover lost enthusiasm, and increase your feelings of happiness and well-being.
4. Planning for Good Health and Accepting Physical Limitations
Maybe you have always been fit and healthy. Or, perhaps your diet and exercise regime could use some help. A retirement coach can help you create a plan for well being.
They can also help you if you find yourself with some physical limitations. Many people find themselves less physically able to engage in their favorite hobbies, drive themselves to appointments, or even take care of things around the house. Adjusting to this loss of independence is difficult.
A retirement life coach can help you adapt to that loss and reimagine retirement based on a different set of abilities. They can also help you explore new hobbies and activities that will help you stay mentally active even if your physical abilities are diminished.
5. Changing Social Circles
Working adults often spend a good portion of their workday interacting with coworkers and colleagues. Sometimes the friendships built at work last a lifetime, but sometimes retirement can unexpectedly bring an end to workplace friendships, especially if those friends are still working.
Other aspects of retirement can change your social circles. Neighborhood friends may be lost when old neighbors move away and younger neighbors move in. Other friends may be dealing with illness or become a caregiver to someone else and not have time or energy for friendships.
If you find yourself missing close friendships in retirement, it is possible to make new friends or reinvigorate old relationships, but it requires facing fears and taking a chance to reach out to others. A life coach can help you make new friends, deal with conflict with friends and family members, and recognize when certain relationships are not healthy.
Your social network may be one of the most important aspects of retirement well being. Therefore, it is worth nurturing.
6. Develop a New Relationship with Your Spouse and Other Family Members
Divorce in retirement has become much more common than it was just a couple decades ago, and it can take a devastating financial and emotional toll. In retirement, many couples simply find that they no longer have anything in common, and with people living longer after normal retirement age, they don’t want to spend the next 20 to 30 years with someone to whom they no longer feel connected.
Relationship coaching may be able to help retirees make progress in their relationship to avoid divorce. Unlike relationship therapy, which often focuses on the past and “what went wrong,” relationship coaching focuses on building toward something better, and it can be effective even if only one spouse participates.
Even if you still married to your spouse, relationships change in retirement. You may also find that relationships with your children and grandchildren change in retirement. You will find yourself needing to make more conscious choices about how much time you want to spend with various family members now that you have less constraints on your schedule.
In conclusion, you may have a happy and productive retirement without coaching, but if you feel stuck or find there is a gap between where you are and where you want to be, a retirement life coach can help you get clear about the kind of retirement you want and help you get there faster.