“I’m so done! I can’t take it anymore. All the bureaucracy, the politics, the stress, the ‘more’. Meeting after meeting after meeting. When will it stop! I’ve been saving for so long…I have to know if my wife and I have enough money to retire.”
Plopping a pile of papers on the table, Ron finally sat down in our conference room chair, exhaled deeply, and looked at me as though I was the problem. Ron was stressed, suffering from career burnout and just the sheer unmet desire to leave the rat race for a more peaceful existence. I calmly gathered the scattered sheets of paper and began to reorganize them in a semblance of order. Boldly, I then turned the papers face down on the table and looked straight into Ron’s eyes.
Confusion filled his face as I proceed with my line of questions. “So, tell me, what are you going to do in retirement? Oh, and don’t forget that your answer must align with your wife whom you conveniently didn’t bring to this meeting for our discussion. She has her own routine and won’t want you following her around the house all day.”
Ron’s confused expression soon gave way to concern as he pondered my question.
Undeterred, I continued. “How can I know for sure if you have enough to retire on if you can’t articulate to me what your retirement actually looks like? Are you staying in your home here in town? Are you buying a vacation home? Are you traveling the world? What do you need in this next stage of life? What are your values? What brings you meaning and purpose? What will bring you joy? Who and what are you concerned about? When those questions are answered by both you and your wife, you can retire. And not a moment before!”
Ron’s expression now migrated from concern to calm. He nodded, agreeing with the gravity of my questions.
My gaze never left his eyes. I smiled. “You need the next 9 months…dare I say even a year to prepare for retirement. You, and your wife, need to spend some time thinking about this transition. You need to prepare for a life of meaning beyond retirement. You can’t just retire from something, you have to retire to something. This isn’t just a financial decision, it’s a comprehensive life transition that can’t be taken lightly.”
Ron rose from the table. The meeting was over. Not sure if I had offended him or helped, I extended my hand which he evaded in favor of a hug.
“Thank you,” Ron said as he looked purposefully in my eyes. “This was the most important meeting I’ve ever had.”
My life’s purpose is to help others discover theirs, especially through these life transitions. To read more about how a tragedy changed my view on how I approach retirement with my clients, I invite you to check out my book Retirement Stepping Stones: Find Meaning, Live with Purpose, and Leave a Legacy. To engage with content and a community that explores the transition into retirement from non-financial perspective, check out Refocusing Coaching. Our Life Coach helps you craft an actionable game plan to continue a life of meaning beyond retirement.