It’s funny how great news can sometimes turn your whole life upside down and cause you great consternation.
For me that moment came in a planning meeting with our financial advisor. At our request, she was running a few scenarios to see how and when we might be ready for retirement. She shared some of her assumptions, including the one where she assumed we would retire in January. I said to her, “you mean this coming January? Like in 5 weeks?” She said, “Yes. And looks like you can do it. If you want to, you can begin your retirement this January.”
That conversation was 10 months ago, and my head is still spinning.
On the one hand, I was very excited (and relieved) that we could begin to draw down on our retirement savings to pay for our living expenses. On the other hand, I was scared, confused and uncertain about what this transition would mean to my business? my work? my brand? my identity? (And to be completely honest, my EGO). I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to “retire” in the classic sense.
There were many restless nights. I experienced a level of angst that surprised me. How could I be so unhappy with such a blessing? My husband thought I was nuts.
That’s when I realized planning for retirement and being ready to retire is NOT just about the money. There’s an emotional and mental piece to this big life transitions. There’s real fear. There’s concern over loss of identity, relevance, meaning, purpose. What will become of America’s Marketing Motivator if I retire? Who’s going want to hire me when I tell them I’ve retired. Maybe that’s why I’ve had trouble writing this blog post. Would you believe I started it last December??? The original title I envisioned for this blog post was “Stepping into a New Arena.” My final title is a bit more truthful – “I’m not done yet.”
I found two definitions of evolve in the online dictionary:
- develop gradually, especially from a simple to a more complex form.
- give off (gas or heat)
I guess I’m in for both. Changing, morphing, and yes, outgassing. Better out than in Shrek always says.
For the first few months, I tried to figure out myself what this transition would or should mean to me. I didn’t get very far. Still uncertain and uncomfortable.
Full Disclosure: I am a member of her Advisory Panel and have been helping to guide her as she grows her new business and brand. I’d been listening with great joy to her weekly shows live streamed on Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube.
And Wendy asked for our feedback about launching a new 6-week group workshop called What’s Next?, I thought it was a smart business move. When Wendy shared the mission of the What’s Next? program which is to support evolving adults as they shift from full-time work to their next chapter, I suddenly realized that I would be the ideal prospect for this new program. It was something about the word “evolving” that called to me. I needed this!
And so, I enrolled. I committed to the What’s Next? 6-session group workshop.
It’s an odd feeling to switch chairs. When the teacher becomes the student. When the consultant becomes the client. There’s a certain level of vulnerability and trust that you must create and honor. And with Wendy Green now as MY coach, MY mentor, MY guide, I quickly realized that I was in excellent hands.
I’d like to share 8 things I loved most about my experience in the What’s Next? program with Wendy Green.
- It was a truly excellent program. Real & relevant.
- It came as the exact right time in my life. (Okay, it could have been useful a few years before, but I wasn’t aware enough to know that I needed it.)
- Wendy Green is a highly skilled professional coach. She is intuitive, compassionate, and pushy when she needs to be.
- This program provided me with practical tools and valuable resources. My favorite being the Life Themes Profiler assessment, and book, Transitions: Making Sense of Life Changes (40th anniversary edition!) by William and Susan Bridges.
- I met new people in this program that I would otherwise never have known. Observing, supporting, and getting to know them and their What’s Next? journey was extremely helpful. I now know that I’m not alone in this struggle.
- I came away from the course with a six-month and a 1-year action plan. This has provided me with great comfort and clarity. I review it regularly and have been able to celebrate a few WINS. I’m building momentum in my What’s Next? phase of life.
- Accountability. Wendy has stayed in touch with me, sending me emails reminding me of what I said I wanted in the next chapter of my life and to see how I’m doing. She hasn’t forgotten about me. This business of transitioning takes time, and you will need ongoing support.
- Great value. The fee for the course is ridiculously affordable. An easy YES. And the value that you get out of this experience is truly priceless. If you pressed me for an ROI figure, I would estimate….hmmm…at least 1000%. Yah, that’s about right. Now, I sleep better at night.
I’m not done yet. Are you?
As a result of taking the What’s Next? program and doing the reflection and work of transition, I have more clarity about my vision, mission, and purpose and how I want things to roll moving forward. I’ve decided that “I’m Not Done Yet.” (I just love saying that. It’s so affirming and energizing.) I suppose it is also true to say that I’m stepping into a new arena – one of my own design and choosing.
Now I see more clearly what’s possible in this next chapter of my life and I’m excited by it. It will include a multitude of things that bring me JOY such as mentoring others through The Fearless Leader program. I have also decided the things I will let go of and what I won’t do. (Wait for it? I am no longer doing keynote speaking. That decision even surprised me.) And I do want to smell the roses, tend my garden, take long walks daily, and take on small projects, like building a new house (okay that’s a HUGE project).
If Anthony Fauci (age 81) and Serena Williams (age 40) can do this thing called retire AND still have purpose, relevance, passion and goals, then so can I. So can you. We just need to face the fear (of retirement) and do it anyway.
Get the Help You Need to Navigate Transitions
It took me 10 months to finish this blog I started way back when I got the “great news” that I could retire financially. I couldn’t do it on my own. I was struggling. It was mentally and emotionally confusing and painful.
But I’m here to tell you now that I am getting through this transition just fine. But I know that are others out there who are struggling with the idea of retirement. And they aren’t dealing with it head on. They are delaying the examination until it hits them square in the face. Bam.
If you are a mid-life working professional like me (yes, I turned 60!) who is heading towards retirement (or recently retired) but are not sure what you want in this next phase of your life, then I recommend you reach out to Wendy and learn more about the What’s Next? group coaching program.
And to the financial planners who are working with clients all day long to help prepare them financially for retirement, PLEASE let them know about Wendy Green and her program. Your clients will need more than just their 401K funds to enter retirement. They need other levels of support and guidance. Don’t try to be their therapist. Introduce them to Wendy Green, the Boomer Coach.
And to the companies, leaders, bosses who have people in their companies who will be nearing retirement soon, consider gifting them more than just a nice going away party and a pretty but useless retirement clock. Here’s a brilliant idea: Why not hire Wendy Green to facilitate a private cohort group of the What’s Next program for the pre- and post-retirees at your company. After all, they’ve given the best of years to grow your business, they deserve to be supported more fully as they leave your company.
- What’s Next? – Getting comfortable with transition, with Boomer Coach, Wendy Green
- Dates: Oct. 19 – Nov. 30, 2033 (Note: skipping Nov. 23 which is day before Thanksgiving)
- Time: Wednesdays from 3:00pm – 5:00pm EST
- Where: Zoom
- Group Size: Limited to 6 participants to ensure individual attention and quality discussion.
- Mission: The What’s Next? program supports evolving adults as they shift from full-time work to their next chapter.
- Learn more about the What’s Next? 6-week group workshop with Wendy Green