The Desk

September 21, 2014

What Else?

Around August 10, ForbesWoman discussion group was presented with an article from the Finance section of the New York Times. The article relates to retaining your identity after retirement. It’s a good article. It talks about the need to make plans.

Some people think of planning for retirement in terms of having enough funds to take care of their expenses, in essence, having a livable income when there’s no more employment. Many people think of retirement as a time of luxury or the time when you’re no longer working and have little or no productive purpose. Still others think of retirement as finally reaching a point when there’s time to engage in avocations that were deferred while raising children, caring for aging parents, vacations not taken, travel for recreational purposes.

Who are you when all of your life you’ve been a student, a spouse, the person who holds a particular title for a job? That job title usually spelled your entire identity and once the final paycheck is collected and the Social Security checks start rolling in, you title may seem to be “old” or “no longer useful” or “Mama” (“Pops”). You begin to feel less than, not interesting, fruitless. While it’s important to make the financial plans necessary to cover the inevitable issues that lie on the horizon (life insurance, healthcare, rent, food, clothing, maintenance, taxes), quality of life matters remain.

Planning for retirement includes coming to terms with what quality of life means for you, personally. Quality of life includes feeling and being still involved, fulfilled, and vital. Still accepted and desired are some other quality issues that need to be addressed. Feeling as though you’re still developing and evolving, not being static, is a need that all people have but not everyone has the same personality nor the same drives. In other words, no two people are going to have matching lists of what constitutes quality of life. It’s an individual matter. This is the time to start looking at how much of your Hierarchy of Needs still needs to be completed.

What is happening these days, and especially pertinent to Boomers, is the idea of using retirement consultant services to help focus on having an identity that isn’t linked to the type of work you do. Some people will join some type of sports league or take up a sport that was a longing until the responsibilities of the workplace were no longer mandatory. Others opt to raise the prize-winning [fill in the blank]. Others see retirement as an opportunity to finally have the time to give back to the community. And then there’s SCORE to satisfy the still-burning need to stay involved in the business world. And others simply change chairs and rooms in order to serve on Boards of Directors or become industry consultants.

Some people end the “I have to do this” job in order to completely change fields and become the employed expert in an entirely different occupation. Essentially, there is no retirement; there’s a transition into another work life. I think that type of person is called a Die Hard (not to be confused with the battery or the movie).

There are many roles that can capture one’s attention after the formal time of employment is behind you. As with anything else, it’s important to stop sublimating about that next phase and start making plans based on latent goals deferred until whatever obligation (real or manufactured) has been satisfied. If there’s a roadblock to coming up with a plan – such as just getting used to the idea of not being at the office anymore – it’s a good idea to enlist the services of a retirement coach to start the ball rolling.

While there is now the feasibility of seeking assistance from a retirement coach, there’s yet another option available to those who are working on making plans for the next phase. And it’s free! Pay a visit to the HR Department’s Employee Assistance professional (EAP). A company that is sensitive to these types of matters will have an established program that provides counseling and preparation for those employees who are reaching the age of retirement and need to start making plans for their transition.

Back to that original question, “What else?” There are always options. The important thing is, in addition to planning for the future, is to realize they are options (as in “which one?”), not “right or wrong” choices.

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