Today I want to focus on a quote that stood out for me when I was reading a new book by the Retirement Coaches Association :
“Until today, I thought my unhappiness with retirement was my fault! But what really hit me here was realizing that I’ve never before been solely responsible for managing 168 hours a week! This insight changes everything! What I’ve been missing is a way to effectively manage my time and energy! I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Now I see how to move forward.” This attendee’s disillusionment with retirement is not unusual. According to Growing Older in America, a study published in 2000 by the National Institute on Aging, 39% of retirees do not describe themselves as very satisfied with their post-work life. Struggling and unsure why, retirees assume the problem lies with them. After all, everybody else’s life looks great on Facebook!
Association, Retirement Coaches. Rightsourcing Retirement: Best Practices For Employers And Employees. Retirement Project. Kindle Edition.
When I myself retired 6 years ago, I found it difficult initially to structure my weeks, but as I am someone who has several hobbies, it didn’t take me long to get back into crafts I had neglected for years while working. But what happens for those who have never really had hobbies or interests outside of work? How do they fill their time and structure the weeks?
For me, there was an additional component, and that was loneliness. Living on my own, I could no longer rely on interaction with people at work – I now had to actively seek out company or social interaction.
These are two important aspects of my retirement coaching.
The author goes on to say:
“Why are previously well-adjusted individuals with spouses and families finding the retirement transition so challenging? Why, after the initial “retirement honeymoon” do these retirees slide into disillusionment, frustration, and emptiness? And why are the numbers of struggling retirees growing? The answer is two-fold: Retirement today is nothing like retirement of yesterday. Few comprehensive and relevant in-house programs exist to educate employees about how to prepare for leaving the workplace and then support them as they navigate the first few years of retirement.”
How many companies are actively involved in helping their employees make the transition? A couple of years back I coached a woman who had worked for our local municipality for 23 years, and all she got at the end was a big party on her last day. The following Monday, the 1st day of the next month, she was preparing for a big void. Fortunately, after a few sessions of retirement coaching, she had a much better idea of how she was going to structure the transition.
There is also literature pointing to reduced productivity in workers who are within 5 years of retirement. The findings point to employees who are distracted by worry in the lead up to making the 2nd biggest transition of their lives. (the other is into the work environment) . Though finance is the first thing people tell you is a worry, it appears some are also thinking about filling their days, feeling relevant, having a purpose and so on.
So, why is it that Employers are reluctant to do anything about this problem? Is it because they are focussing rather on the incoming employee readiness and do not want to spend money on someone who is leaving? If they are only focussing on one half of the succession equation, are they not shooting themselves in the foot?
I ask this question because, after 5 years of trying to earn a living off retirement coaching, I still do not have a reliable flow of clients. I am passionate about the fact that adjusting to retirement is not easy – it is not like going on holiday. After 40 years of work providing structure and interaction, we leave work and, without adequate preparation we can walk into a void. For our generation in many cases, this void could last upward of 25 years.
Would love to hear your thoughts and how you have experienced the transition,