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6 Steps to Restoring Balance After Retirement

By Hilary Henderson August 07, 2022 Lifestyle

Many of us have the tendency to head towards the finish line at work, telling themselves that they are going on an eternal holiday and the well-deserved rest they have earned over 40 years in the labor force.

But the morning after the retirement send-off brings with it a major shift in routine and structure that few people think through and plan carefully.

We all know what we give to our work, but what is it that work gives us? It gives us:

  • Routine
  • Security
  • Challenge and stimulation
  • Identity
  • A sense of belonging with people who speak the same ‘language’
  • Opportunity to grow
  • Opportunity to contribute to the world around us.

In my coaching practice I refer to the “Model of 6 Human Needs” to unpack what actually occurs at retirement. I then use it to help my clients re-structure and balance their lives.

This model is presented in the New Insights life coach training programme and is based on the original model conceptualized by Anthony Robbins.

In the coaching context, we look at how to balance these human needs in your everyday life.


Certainty is about having routine and structure that give your life predictability and security. If you were to have too much certainty, you would become bored because everything would be planned to the last minute.

For some people, certainty after retirement comes with the routine of gym classes, walking or hiking that start the day; for others it may be Tuesday golf and Friday bridge.

For yet others, it may be a part-time job, mentoring or volunteering. If extra finance is what is going to give you security, finding an income will be a major aspect of building your certainty.


The challenges that stimulate you both physically and mentally give you variety. These would include meeting new people, learning new things, stepping outside your comfort zone.

A little bit of adrenaline is good for the body! Too much variety and you find yourself in crisis or stress management mode. That’s why we need to balance variety with a measure of certainty for a healthy lifestyle.


For around 40 years your identity has been rooted in your role at work. When people meet you in a social setting they tend to ask what you do as a means to starting the social chat.

This, therefore, becomes your identity – when I say I am a retirement coach people can then put me in context, and they have an idea of which questions they can ask next.

This becomes my identity and differentiates me from the person standing next to me and, by implication, gives me significance. When you retire it is important to take on a new identity to replace the one you had when working full time.

Love and Connection

In any profession there is a jargon you learn in order to fit in. Finding love and connection is more about feeling you belong than a hippie-style feeling of love. Having originally trained as an occupational therapist some 40 years ago, I left the profession at 35, but today I can still ‘speak the language’!

Even though I have not treated a patient in 30 years, I still feel that I fit in and belong when I meet other occupational therapists because I understand what they are talking about.

In retirement, you need to find people who are in the same position as yourself, who are experiencing the same challenges, in order to feel you ‘belong.’

Too much significance and we start to lose the love and connection, and vice versa.

Growth and Contribution

In your job and career you were learning new things all the time. If it was not attending structured courses or training, simply keeping up with the changing technological environment kept you on your toes.

In retirement, if you do not actively seek out opportunities to grow and contribute they probably will not come to you. Opportunities are all around. These could include volunteering or mentoring, starting an encore career, or simply re-structuring your regular working environment to suit your new lifestyle by consulting or working part-time.

But you need to actively seek them out. I find myself with no shortage of opportunities to grow because of the new and evolving concepts of digital marketing and networking in my coaching practice. To feel I am contributing I have signed up to mentor someone for the year.

I find this model a good place to start the process of replacing what you left behind at work when you retired.

What are some opportunities you have found in retirement? Do you feel more or less busy now than when you were working? Please join the conversation below.

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Thank you for you wisdom. It is encouraging.

The Author

Hilary Henderson is a Retirement Coach She brings to her coaching her experience as an Occupational Therapist as well as an entrepreneur. Her mission is to help people find relevance, purpose and meaning in their retirement years. Facebook is one way to reach out to her.

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