Retirement Expectations

Retirement will trigger changes in every area of your client’s lives.  As they anticipate and prepare for this stage of life, they are likely to look forward to certain changes and to dread others.  In fact, it is not uncommon for individuals to experience many ambivalent feelings towards retirement because of the significant transitions they anticipate.

For example, many express that they are eager to leave the workforce, but nevertheless are concerned they will miss the structure of the workday and interaction with colleagues.  In addition, most people closely identify who they are as individuals with their job titles or what they “do for a living.”  Therefore, they are likely to feel less significant when they step out of those roles.  Furthermore, spouses or partners can feel a tremendous strain as they adjust to more togetherness and to a new economic status.  As one woman related, “I define retirement as twice as much husband and half as much income!”

Both research and experience have shown that overcoming challenges and taking advantage of opportunities are key elements to making successful transitions in retirement.  Therefore, it is important for your clients to learn ways to cope with change in healthier and more productive ways.

William Bridges, author and preeminent authority on managing change, defines transition as the psychological process people go through to come to terms with a new situation.  Similarly, in the world of music, the “passing note” is a note that is not part of a particular chord, but placed between two chords to provide a smooth melodic transition from one to the other.

As you help your clients prepare for the many transitions they will experience in retirement, seek ways that you can assist them in orchestrating the important “passing notes” in their lives.  To accomplish this goal, it is important for your clients to view retirement not as a respite from work, but as an opportunity to explore new arenas, stretch their comfort zones, and find unique ways to fulfill their potential.

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