I’m a certified life and career coach and I’m seeing a new kind of client these days: women nearing retirement. I think it’s wonderful!
There are many reasons people see a life coach. Often, it’s a woman in her mid or late-career who wants to make a pivot. Or a stay-at-home mother who wants to reenter a highly different workplace than the one she left.
For me, the absolute best part of my job is helping a woman identify her passions – no matter what her age. All too often we know we’re not happy, but we can’t put our finger on what exactly it is that we want. Or maybe we do know what we want but have no idea how to get it. That’s where I come in. We identify your passions together and then chart a path. And I’m with you every step of the way.
I’m nearing retirement myself, and I want to share with you some of the issues I’ve explored with retiring women, with the hope that it will help you as your retirement date approaches. And if you’re already retired and feeling a bit uncertain or disappointed this might help you too.
Not thinking about your retirement, not planning for it. I’m not just speaking about financially, although that’s super important. I’m talking about honoring your values and what is authentic to you as a satisfying life outside of the workplace.
We plan vacations. We plan our holidays and family events. We plan our education. And yes, we think about retirement planning as basic financial planning. But it’s more than that.
Many people think: “I work, I retire. What’s the big deal?” The big deal is that your retirement years are now THE most precious years of your life. The years are finite. These are the years you’ve been working towards and looking forward to your entire life.
Most people haven’t given retirement much thought, only thinking how nice it will be to not have to get up at dawn. But then the days go on and you sense a little confusion or disappointment. Is this it? Is this what retirement is?
Seeing a life coach to seriously think about and plan HOW you want to live your retirement years could be the best investment you’ll ever make. So what are my top three pieces of advice to a woman about to retire or to one who already is retired and feeling unsatisfied?
Time is a tricky thing. Time and your health are the two things money can’t buy. Retirement is finite. If you retire at 65, you think you have a long stretch of years, when in reality time passes very quickly. Suddenly, you’re 70 and wondering, “Wait, where has the time gone? What’s ahead?”
You want to make the most of your early retirement years when you are physically strong to do the things you want to do.
In your pre-retirement life, your time was decided by others and external circumstances. The needs of your family dictated your time. The requirements of your job dictated your time. You fit your personal life in the spaces. But now, you are the boss of your time. What are the ways you can maximize it and enjoy it in the best way for you?
You’ve spent your life taking care of people, raising your kids, being responsible to a job in a way that has made tremendous demands on you. You’ve given up a lot. Much of what you did was about other people’s expectations and reliance on you.
This is the moment to ask yourself: What really makes me happy? How do I want to live? What are my priorities for these years? Now is the moment to dig deep and ask yourself: Who am I without the job title, without the responsibilities? How do I want to spend my time in a way that is meaningful and authentic to me?
This is your moment to be totally true to YOU. Will you volunteer? Will you take up a new hobby or pursue an old one? Will you travel? Will you start a new business? Write a novel? Go back into the workplace on a part time basis in a different capacity? What is something you’ve wanted to do that you never had the time to do before?
Spending some time thinking and brainstorming about who you are, how you want to live, what are your values is the best investment you can make for your happiness.
Yes, fun! Retirement is a reward. It’s about pleasure. What’s fun to you? These are the playful years. Your years to explore your passions, whether it’s a hobby, traveling, gardening, reading, painting, joining interest groups or feeling good by giving back to your community. Maybe you want to start a business or find a part-time job. If you do feel uncertain or cautious, what is holding you back?
One thing I hear over and over is: “I’m worried about money. What will it be like to live on a reduced income?” I counsel my clients to practice living on a reduced budget before they retire. It’s not about a scarcity mentality, it’s about prioritizing your spending in a way that maximizes your lifestyle.
Start cutting things out little by little, so the transition is seamless. For instance, I cut all my cable TV subscriptions which resulted in a savings of $200 a month. That’s $2400 a year!. It’s all about what’s important for you.
Retirement is yours to create, so why not start now?
What is your pre-retirement story? What do you wish you had known before you retired? And if you are retired, how have you changed your lifestyle as you grew more comfortable with your time and new priorities?