Don’t discount your past experience or your skills. Put them to new use. Discover new interests or perfect your skills, which can lead to new opportunities and to gaining a new identity.
Congratulations, you’ve retired! And now that you have enjoyed the summer cottage, visited the grandkids and graced the golf courses with your attendance, what are you going to do with all your time?
Experience shows that September is that time of year when the change to a retirement lifestyle suddenly hits people like a ton of bricks. After all, many of your friends are returning to work and suddenly your day is full of time, time, time . . . The challenge you’ll face is what to do with all your time.
I know most people have made solid, well-advised financial plans for retirement, but I also know that many fail to plan for the emotional and social side of their life as well as for what they’ll do with their time. Every year about now, I’m contacted by newly retired individuals who’ve been highly active and engaged for the first six months or the first year but then come crashing down with depression when this timeline expires. Gardening, golf, fishing, camping, traveling and grandkids filled up their time for a while but the seasonal change to fall brings it all to an end.
At this point, I find many of my retiree clients feel confused, lost, lonely and/or bored. In fact, some can get quite cantankerous as they struggle with this new transition in their lifestyle. In particular, the new retirees really miss the people and friendships they had in the workplace. All in all, their adrenaline is no longer flowing, they are sad and they don’t know what to do.
Part of this sadness is due to the fact that work has become such a very important part of our lives and personal identity. Without realizing it, we become our job titles and when the job title is gone, we question ourselves, “Who are we” in this new life. The situation can be quite daunting. The issue really hits home when people ask that standard common question, “What do you do for a living?”
When the answer is simply retirement, there often isn’t the same sense of significance to it. Perhaps that’s because the word itself is somewhat nebulous and means different things to different people. So, how do you turn retirement into a meaningful personal identity, one that gives you a sense of pride and accomplishment? One strategy is to work with an executive coach specializing in career management. What will this coach do for you?
The first step a coach would take would be to help identify what you will gain from your coaching sessions, assist you to set specific goals and to become familiar with the various steps in the coaching process. The coach then conducts a personal assessment that will help to discover your interests, your communication style and elements of your character that can serve to create a more powerful and satisfactory retirement lifestyle. Many of these assessments also examine other aspects of your life and will draw your attention to areas where more planning is required.
An executive career coach will help you to understand the change and transition process, to recognize where you are on the change cycle and to identify and deal with the emotions that arise at each step.
My practice is to advise retiree’s not to “throw the baby out with the bath water”. In other words, don’t discount your previous experience and/or skills but instead build on them and put them to a new use in your retirement. Explore and create a new purpose for your skills. For instance, if you came from a teaching background, there are plenty of volunteer as well as paid part-time opportunities where you could utilize these skills.
New horizons open
As well, many people have also had a specific interest that couldn’t be further developed because of work-related time constraints. Thus, retirement is a time when you could discover new interests and/or take courses to perfect your skills, which in turn can not only lead you to new opportunities but also to meeting new friends and gaining a new identity. Many of my clients transition into a whole new second career.
While retirement represents a major life change, it needs to be viewed as a new beginning rather than an ending. A career coach can greatly assist you to find that new purpose in your life and develop a plan to ensure that you experience a sense of meaning, fulfillment, pride and identity.
Barbara J. Bowes is president of Legacy Bowes Group, a columnist and radio host at CJOB. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .