Oct. 27, 2017
Recently, I spoke at the Retirement Coaches Association conference and had the opportunity to ask retirement coaches from across the US about their experiences with clients transitioning into retirement. The discussion highlighted several trends taking place in the undercurrent of retirement that need to be brought out from the shadows and into the light as baby boomers continue to make the transition.
When I asked the group, “What are your client’s biggest fears and frustrations?” There was a laundry list of factors including some more common ones like loss of identity, declining health, failed relocation, and shrinking social network to name a few. But three other factors caught my attention.
Don’t end up like this in retirement! (Photo credit: Shutterstock)
First, some coaches report that clients are experiencing a Ground Hogs Day, type life in retirement. If you remember the 1993 movie with Bill Murray, his character Phil Connors is essentially required to re-live the same day over and over again. For many retirees, the same thing is playing out in a very mundane way. They wake to the same things day in and day out, craving for the opportunity to step outside this realm, but are unable to break the cycle.
Others shared their client’s struggled with the early part of the transition because they used their parents as role models. The idea that boomers are changing retirement and popular slogans like, this isn’t your parent’s retirement, resonate on a bumper stick or fancy brochure, but people tend to do what they know. Some approached retirement assuming everything would be okay and fall into place like their parents. The issue of course is that older generations were more self-reliant. They didn’t talk about their problems or let people know what was going on. As a result, more and more boomers are waking up to the reality that they need to have plans to replace their work identity, stay relevant, strengthen their social network, and keep mentally active.
Another stumbling block for new retirees is finding a suitable outlet for achievement. Most of our lives leading up to retirement was about achieving good grades, results at work, and checking things off the list. However, as people lose their identity, have less mental stimulation, and fewer social interactions, they lose their focus on climbing higher and position themselves to fall into the Ground Hogs Day type lifestyle. The rules change in retirement, meaning people can’t use the same parameters they used during their work years to gauge whether or not they are making a successful transition, and it’s not easy to adapt to without someone explaining it or guiding them through it.
As our discussions continued, two interesting themes emerged when I asked the group what their clients have tried to do to remedy their challenges but hasn’t worked. One cultural shift became very apparent: Senior centers will not exist in another 10 years. Many retirees report that they have explored their local senior center as a last resort to connect with people and find things to do, but frankly they don’t like the label a senior center projects and feel they are too young and capable to ever join one.
Another unexpected trend that came up was that an increasing number of boomers are intimated by the gym. The combination of technology, half-dressed young people, and a headphones atmosphere where no one talks to each other, suggests several things. New age-based gyms are likely to begin popping up. Locations where members will be 50+, be greeted by name, have their own locker, and will serve as a social outlet. It’s also likely to spur more age based communities to enhance their work-out facilities to attract outside members, causing a drain on mainstream gyms who benefit from older members signing up but not showing up.
Overall, as retirement coaching and planning continue to evolve, and boomers reshape it, more conversations on topics like these will not only need to take place, but also need to be ingrained into the more traditional retirement planning process. By making people more aware of the impact the non-financial aspects can have on their life in retirement, the better prepared they can be to address and manage them. After all, a successful retirement isn’t one without problems, but rather one in which you are able to overcome them.