Most frequent questions and answers

A very good and very personal question to answer. The average age that people are now slipping into retirement is 62. You qualify for Medicare at 65. And you may start collecting Social Security, without penalty, at 66. If you wait to collect Social Security until 70 you can benefit by receiving the highest level due you. All of these benchmarks are just that numbers on a chart. The real answer is retire when you want to not when you have to. Don’t let father time come knocking on your door unexpectedly with your 3PM cake and ice cream in the employee cafeteria. Take control of your exit rather than the other way around. 

Before you go plan for your departure. Amass all the money you can muster to stuff into a 401k plan. Be kind to your successor and work family by offloading all your work wisdom whether it be tactical or strategic. Don’t be shy, share your knowledge. Decide if you want to offer your services back to the company after you go as a Consultant. 

And most importantly, really sit down and think about what you will do after you go. Make a plan that covers how you will spend your time. How you will finance your new life. With whom and where you will spend your new life. And most importantly what shape is my health in and how can I improve it or keep it at an optimal level. Retirement only feels as good as you feel. 

That really depends on a myriad of factors that is hard to answer in a simple sentence. It really depends on the age of the two individuals. How close you both are to qualifying for Medicare and Social Security. How well you have planned for your retirement years in terms of funds, location, your joint physical health and most importantly that both of you have talked through what the two of you will do with your time together or apart. Finally seek out a third party, like a Retirement Coach, to help facilitate your spousal discussions so that the both of you are open and honest with each other about your wants, needs and desires.

This is the question that inevitably comes up when you start looking at your personal finances and budgeting for your new life. All the images of retirement shows smiling people, on sandy beaches doing a lot of nothing. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The day you step into retirement is just like the day before you made the plunge. Your kids still need you to help with your grandchildren, your same doctors are still in place and your friends still want you to go out on Friday nights. The best advice is to only make changes that will benefit your standard of living and makes you feel happy about where and how you live. Make sure your choices come from a place of what is best for us and our circle of love.

This is where the dark lord of FEAR first appears when you begin to plan out your retirement in earnest. This is the place where many people stop planning and run for the cover of their job and stop thinking those crazy thoughts of retiring. They do this because it is easy, comfortable and it relieves the FEAR immediately. But it also puts you in extreme danger.

By not being honest with yourself it can lead to an unscheduled or abrupt need to plan out your retirement activities while you experience your outplacement. At that point you’ve lost control of your retirement and guess what? You now have to unexpectedly adjust to not having an income!

Plan for your transition. Decide what you want to do with your time and how much you will need financially to live on. Think hard though. Don’t go for the low hanging fruit of what you know because I have to do it in order to survive. Rather choose your next vocation to be one that gives you joy, happiness and satisfaction. You will find that vocation much easier to raise funds for to pay for that kind of life than the other.

Miscommunication station!!! Of all the deep seated lifestyle questions that are failed to be asked this one is number one with many couples. It is also the one that can severely wound an otherwise healthy relationship. Many times the retiring executive just assumes certain things about their retirement and fails to even consider what their spouse is thinking. This is why a Retirement Coach can save the day and ask the right questions to draw out the issues that may not be apparent or are assumed. To try and do Retirement Planning alone is like trying to teach yourself how to fly a plane. All the necessary information is on the internet but with this approach you only get one shot at it. Good luck!

Tragically this situation is one which occurs on a more frequent basis than most people imagine. It is hard enough to adjust to a new “Retirement Lifestyle” but to then have your life partner unexpectedly leave this earth really rocks your foundation. It also is a place where FEAR reemerges as grief, abandonment and depression. You jointly worked your whole lives to prepare for this wonderful new life and then your partner is no longer there to enjoy the life you mutually planned.

At first your family and friends smother you with love and support. You are in the state of shock. You know they are there but it is all kind of a slow motion dream. Is this really happening? Over time your family stays close but retreats back into living their lives. Your friends show up on the short term but slowly they begin to fade away. Why? Because you plight scares them and they say to themselves how often can I say sorry for your loss? Soon those alienated feelings I spoke of earlier really take hold and can have a devastating effect on you.

But wait there is an alternative! You can seek counseling from a therapeutic professional. You can begin to reconstruct your life sans a partnership and become a sole survivor practioner. You did not plan nor want this to happen but it has so be good to yourself. Adjust your plan with a shift towards you reaching out to those family and friends that are scared. Reassure them that life does go on and you would prefer that it goes on with you and them together. Turn sadness into solidarity!

Why? Because you were too smart and did not need someone, like a Retirement Coach, to help you plan out your new life. Oh no, asking for help is weakness. You saved some money. Things will just instantly fall into place. All those retirement ads make it look so nice.  I’ll hang out with my friends and bounce some ideas off them on what I should do. If it were only that easy. The road to a successful retirement is paved with the hard work of accepting the fact that your work identity is over and you must create a new identity that you feel confident, comfortable and excited about.

This identity has many factors that will influence it like what you really want to do because you want to. Your financial situation. Your familial situation. Your circle of friends whether new or former. And so on. As you can see there are many aspects to consider and this new persona does not happen overnight. In fact it may take many months, if not a few years, to truly manifest itself. The big thing is you accepting the fact that change must happen so you don’t get caught up in a Bill Murray Groundhog Day.

It is the old “I’m not worthy” or they won’t hire me “I’m too old” mentality that defeats you even before you begin your search. Assumptions are the main ingredient to defeating yourself when it comes to a senior job search. First off you need to decide a number of things. What kind of job am I seeking? Do I want to work full or part time? What kind of income is acceptable? Do I want to work days, evenings or overnight? These may seem like rudimentary questions but remember you are starting all over again so you need to build your new job profile.

When some go through this process they immediately want to plug back into the career from where they came from. That ship has probably sailed. The time to connect with that strategy was when you were putting your exit plan together. A seamless shift into a consulting role at your last workplace has a higher level of success then attempting to do it two or three years later. Your experience is important but what is more important is that you amass your personal job profile and then begin to try and match your profile up with what’s out there.

The key thing is to be honest with yourself about what you want to do. Seek out the islands of opportunity in that vast ocean of vocations. And be open to start thinking of the world of work in a whole different way. Think about this. Over the past few years, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics 26% of the available workforce left their job for another. That means that 39 million jobs were open for a period of time. You don’t think there may be one for you? That same agency also pointed out that 6 million jobs went unfilled last year so don’t be afraid to go back to school and acquire some new skills that will lead to a whole new career thought process. Just remember that you are not old just adjusting to a different state of your life. You had value before you retired. Now reengage and find your new personal value proposition again.

You are merely suffering from post-partum work identity depression. As Mike Myers and Dana Carvey used to say on Saturday Night live in unison, “I’m not worthy”!! You left your old workplace possibly in a hurry and without the benefit of putting an exit and after plan together. You went home with a bit of cash and decide to emulate those retirement ads. You went traveling, bought a new car, met up with your old work friends picking up the check to show them how great retirement is and finally you bought your spouse that piece of expensive jewelry she’s always wanted. Everybody’s happy right? Yes everybody but you. Six months after leaving your job and retiring you sit every day, at home, on the couch, watching TV asking yourself the same question every day, “What do I do now”?  You pick yourself up off the couch, shower most days and head at lunch time for the local pub for a spot of lunch and several beers while the bartender becomes your therapist. Back home at 4PM to catch Judge Judy that becomes an extended nap only to be awoken by an irate spouse who asks, “What did you do of consequence today”? Your typical response is, “the usual now what’s for dinner”?

No wonder you feel the way you do. So how do I change things? First off rise early and engage in exercise either in an organized fashion at the gym or just simply go out for a brisk walk that enlivens your body and gets the blood pumping. Come back from that shower, eat a healthy breakfast while checking in on the happenings of the day before you’re out the door to go to work, volunteering, taking a course, leading an AA meeting or simply hanging out with your grandchild while your child goes to work. Activity is the key both physical and mental. It is extremely important to keep the weight off, to stay cognately engaged and finally to do something on a regular basis that gives you both a replacement identity and a feeling of relevance. It is those two things identity and relevance that will keep any retiree happy but without it a downward, depressive spiral has an ample field to grow in. So stop feeling sorry for yourself. Stop the comfort food binging. And get yourself organized an engaged in what will be the best time of your life.