Retired life might sound enticing to those still struggling through the nine-to-five work day. But as retirement coach, Jon Glass explained, not everyone is prepared and equipped to deal with the abundance of free time that comes with retirement.
Watch Insight's episode, Retirement, Ready Or Not here.
There are many transitions in life, and retirement is one of the important ones. I retired from full time work seven years ago, after spending four decades working in the investment industry. For the most part, the jobs I had were both enjoyable and stimulating.
In the immediate aftermath of retirement I felt confused and couldn’t settle. I kept asking myself whether I should return to full time work or not. Occasionally I would receive a mid-afternoon call from a friend who would inquire humorously if he had disturbed my afternoon nap. Such can be the view of retired life from those who still work.
After a longish period of reflection I decided to continue to work, but only part time. This decision had consequences. Most importantly it forced me to address the issue of free time - the positive and negative aspects. It’s a fact that when you cease full time work you get a bonus shot of free time and with all this free time, I began a period of experimentation.
A new phase
I took up ethics teaching at the local public school. It’s fun and fulfilling to facilitate young minds as they engage with ethical issues. In addition, the ethics teachers meet for coffee after class, which has created an enjoyable social group.
I also studied coaching and then set up my retirement coaching practice, which is still active to this day. I help people to make their emotional transition from work to post-work.
Everyone knows what the coach of a sporting team does, but few understand the value that a retirement coach brings. Put simply, a retirement coach works with a client for six, one-hour sessions in order to help the client discover their meaning and purpose in retired life. You might think that this is obvious - it’s to live a stress-free life full of fun activities - perhaps, but that sounds more like a holiday and, moreover, a holiday that might last 10,000 days.
Typically a client will come to me because they sense that 10,000 days feels more a threat than a gift. Could they get bored? Will they annoy their partner, their children? Why do some people succeed while others fail at retirement?
I help the client to reflect upon what their work life gave them aside from a salary. There are three common themes: a routine, a social network and a purpose. The question becomes what does the client replace these three things with. To answer this requires good questioning from the coach in order to elicit some deep emotional responses from the client. By the end of the six sessions the client has a clear sense of their meaning in retired life, with a plan to execute that.
Retirement coaching is in its infancy as an industry. That is because our society emphasises the role of money and health in retirement. This is correct, however having a healthy emotional life is just as important. Our society is slowly becoming aware of this third truth. To this end people near the end of their work life should think about engaging a retirement coach. After all, why waste those precious early years of retirement swimming in a soup of confusion when you could build up your strengths and resources for the remainder of your life.
In terms of my own fulfilment I am now passionate about learning foreign languages. My skills are modest yet my enjoyment is high, I take pleasure in the process not the achievement. An unexpected bonus is that I have acquired a network of overseas friends. They help me to better understand their language and culture and I help them with their English.
I continue to believe that TIME is a crucial ingredient in how I think about my life.
I also enjoy writing. With no prior experience I set myself to writing a book for my three-year-old granddaughter. I continue to write, now for so-called middle grade readers. I am ambitious enough that I want to find a publisher. Wish me luck! In addition, I have also written and produced two plays.
I also firmly believe that I should keep active in my social life, because I can. It’s hard to keep track of friends and relatives, as everyone is busy. To deal with this I commissioned a software developer to build an app that allows me to maintain regular engagement with my friends and relatives.
Where am I now?
Now I have reached a more mature and settled phase of my retirement. I continue to believe that TIME is a crucial ingredient in how I think about my life. In a positive sense I have time to reflect on my life, which is a good thing. In a negative sense I think I sometimes waste my time on keeping up with the news cycle and social media.
I self-assess as happy in my retirement, yet I feel that this assessment can only be provisional.
Emotions are not the only thing that I attach importance to. Of course my health and financial resources are both critical inputs to my retired life. Therefore I devote consistent attention to both. I can do that because I have the time to do it.
There will be more changes to come in my retirement. I hope I have built up the resources to manage and adapt to them and I hope to share this knowledge with others in my line of work.