By the time I hit 50, it was clear that AARP had my number. For that matter, it seemed like the entire financial planning industry had found my contact information. My mailbox started filling up with invitations for a “free” dinner and retirement planning seminars. Telemarketers seemed to have me on speed dial and the e-commerce community was making me aware of services offered by their institutions. The message was clear: You must be prepared for the economic implications of your retirement years.
It’s not just hype. Financial preparation cannot be overstated. The financial and retirement planning industries have innumerable recommendations and products to help you determine savings rates, investment vehicles, risk profiles and expected returns – all designed to help you get to a dollar amount by a set age so you can retire with greater financial security (after all the disclaimers). Long before retirement is in view, you need to be setting your monetary goal and working to achieve it.
The financial piece, however, is only one part of the equation that adds up to fulfillment in retirement. Figuring out what’s next after living in a workday world is the addend many people are missing when their last day on the job comes around.
Now, if you are early to mid-career, you are excused from the remainder of this post with one – make that two – homework assignments. First, start/continue saving for retirement and, second, explore areas around which you have interest and passion.
For those with retirement on the horizon, developing a vision and plan for life after career is an area where coaching can be especially useful. Coaches encourage clients to creatively think about the many prospects and life changes that retirement initiates. It can also help you identify how to address the challenges and embrace the opportunities ahead.
There are many topics to examine that can help you determine what’s next. If your identity is tied to your profession or employer, what will your identity become in retirement? How will your relationships be altered? Relationships with former work colleagues and associates may change dramatically or cease to exist. Additionally, you will likely spend more time with your spouse or significant other. Are you ready for that? Is your partner?
How will you spend your days? Obviously, the response to this question is different for everybody. While some anticipate the freedom of retirement with the absence of the demands and stress associated with their work life, others may fear boredom or irrelevance. Still others feel invigorated about having the time to further develop passions or hobbies.
What opportunity does retirement present for you? How can you turn your passion, enthusiasm, skills and abilities into something that is meaningful for you and gives you purpose? It’s time to start filling in the equation.
As a final thought, let me suggest you begin regarding your retirement as a commencement. Think about it: earlier in life, when you graduated from high school or college, you celebrated with a commencement ceremony. It literally marked the beginning of the rest of your life. Retirement, on the other hand, usually punctuates the end of a career. But isn’t it really another new beginning in life, the commencement of a new phase that can last for 20-30 years? How are you preparing to fill these years with meaning?
How can executive coaching help you embrace your commencement and achieve what’s next?
Lance Hazzard, CPCC, ACC, is a certified Intelligent Leadership Executive Coach helping people and organizations successfully achieve what’s next. He is Executive Coach and President at Oppnå® Executive & Achievement Coaching. Find out more about Lance and Oppnå® Coaching at oppnacoaching.com