Retirement Coaching: Rehearsing the Second Act

People are working much longer in life, but even if it’s farther away retirement is still an opportunity to start anew. Without advance planning, it can feel more like an end point than a beginning. This is where working with a retirement coach can help.

Sharon Good, BCC, ACC, CLC, shared some thoughts on how to get the most out of the coaching experience and enter that next chapter well prepared. Good explains, “A retirement coach is a life coach who helps people manage the retirement transition. Many people work with a financial planner, but they don’t think about the other aspects of the change. A coach can help the person think ahead while they’re still working, so the day of retirement isn’t a shock. They can help (clients) realize changes that will happen and how to negotiate those changes.”

Good offers the example of a new retiree suddenly spending more time at home, and the impact that can have on a relationship; deciding in advance how to spend that time, together and apart, can ensure both partners adjust well to the change. Coaching also helps fill newly free time in ways a client can feel good about. “A coach can… help someone explore new activities for their retirement phase, whether paid or unpaid, and how they can find a sense of fulfillment in retirement.”

There’s one crucial aspect of retirement that these services do not cover, says Good. “A retirement coach does not do financial planning unless they are a certified financial planner. They can help the client think through their finances, but they are not qualified to give advice unless they are certified.”

Virginia B. Berger, Certified Retirement Coach, CPC, ACC, helps clients look ahead with strategies like an assessment of six key areas (career, health, finances, family, leisure and personal development); finding potential obstructions before retirement offers clients a chance to remove them. For those who have already retired and find themselves overwhelmed, she begins with an energy assessment, then tailors exercises to those areas where the client is most stuck in order to facilitate goal-setting for future progress. This can be as simple as finding a hobby or volunteer position that’s a good fit for the client, or as complex as designing an entirely new approach to daily life.

Clients who find themselves alone and feeling the financial crunch can find help in a group setting, Berger mentions. Coaching circles are less expensive and offer many of the same services to clients that one-on-one sessions would, as well as the chance to run ideas by a group of peers. Coaches who offer group sessions can facilitate groups by phone for those who are geographically remote, but the camaraderie of group sessions held in person is an added benefit for those who miss the water-cooler culture at their jobs.

It can be difficult to determine whether retirement coaching is the right move, but Good offers a few points to consider. Someone for whom their work has been their identity, and who hasn’t cultivated many outside interests or hobbies stands to benefit. If the prospect of so much free time feels frightening, coaching will lead to a plan of action. Some people may enjoy the spontaneity and freedom of retirement and naturally gravitate to a healthy mix of civic engagement, family time and solitary pleasures. But those who would much rather plan ahead, for whom that lack of organization is a source of worry, will find retirement coaching a great way to prepare for what’s coming.

Heather Seggel

Heather Seggel is a writer based in Northern California. Her work appears in print and online media and covers books, food, housing and class issues.

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