The majority of life-changing events – marriage, divorce, childbirth, – usually involve an acknowledged process of emotional adjustment. Retirement is equally as major a change as these.

While those life-changing events already mentioned – marriage, divorce, childbirth and other family-related issues – are subject to many years’ scrutiny and study, retirement has only been explored in detail relatively recently. It has been found that retirement follows a pattern similar to the emotional journey travelled in other areas of transition and change.

Retirees have to face the last transition in their lives. Our first comes when we leave the security and care of home life to attend school or nursery. Following a day at school we have the rest of the day to ourselves. When we come to enter the workplace, we have the weekend to ourselves. While in retirement, we have the rest of our lives to ourselves when careers have ended and our work is done.

1.Planning before retirement

When we are at work, retirement can appear to be both a distant promised land and an approaching burden. All business owners know that this will eventually come at some point and save for it. When it comes to thinking about what they will do when they have reached their goal, little time is spent. Demands of both the working and family life get in the way of such thinking. Many people face retirement like an athlete running a race of hurdles, overcoming each one until they reach the finishing line. Most people do not think about what their lives will be like in 20 years’ time when they are paying for their kids’ college fees, finishing paying the mortgage and trying to enjoy leisure in the meantime. Immediate action is required in order to be able to tackle issues before you reach the finish line. However, remember, life is measured by the memories you create. From the perspective of your business, it is best to make arrangements for succession planning (whether this involves your children or not) or for valuations and positioning of your business for sale.

2.Retirement – the day itself

The shortest stage in the retirement process is the termination of employment itself. We usually mark it with a party, special dinner or celebration. It is a rite of passage comparable to a marriage ceremony.

3.Freedom! – the honeymoon phase of retirement

Honeymoon periods follow more than weddings: we often speak about the honeymoon phase of a new government, Prime Minister or President. And the same goes for retirement. In this stage, the retiree do all of the things that they wanted to do having stopped working. Such activities often include travel, visiting old friends and relatives, developing old and new hobbies. No set time period is applicable to this stage in the retirement process and will vary from individual to individual.

4.Disenchantment with retirement

After the emotional high of a wedding, the excitement wears off and the couple has to knuckle down to building their relationship together. At this stage the retiree can be left feeling disenchanted: it feels like a ‘let-down’. Retirement isn’t an ongoing holiday. Loneliness, disillusionment, boredom and feelings of uselessness make themselves known, especially if there is no plan.

5.Constructing a new identity for retirement

Good news – the previous stage doesn’t last for ever. Retirees begin to adjust to their new circumstances by familiarising themselves with the new landscape of their lives so that they can navigate their way through it. This can be extremely difficult without planning ahead and takes time and effort to achieve it. It is a matter of adjusting to circumstances such that you are able to answer the questions “Am I still useful in some way?” “What is my purpose now?” “Who am I now?”. Many retirees never escape this stage.

Life coaching, for those who have previously led busy lives in the world of commerce and business, is one way to make sure that your life feels purposeful and fulfilled.  Charities and other institutions with a general view towards altruism may welcome your expertise. This can be seen as your time to give back. You might wish to accept opportunities to act as a mentor to a member of a younger generation. Consider the following organisations listed by the organisation Mentoring and Befriending. The younger generation need guidance, support and encouragement, and the older generation has to make way for the younger.

6.Accepting retirement

Eventually, a new daily schedule is produced. Ground rules can be agreed upon with your spouse about time spent alone and together. A new identity enables the retiree to navigate the new landscape as familiar territory with a new sense of purpose.

Life planning is essential to successful retirement. Business owners who put in serious time and thought about what to do when retired will, generally speaking, achieve a smoother transition than others. Life coaching with Claire Buck will help you achieve the formulation of such plans and understand how the course of your life can be honed to continue with a sooth a transition as possible.

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