Guest Contributors

Why I Became a Retirement Coach

Like many Baby Boomers, I have had several careers and transitions. After working as a lawyer for many years, I took some time off to raise my three daughters. When they became more independent, I went back to work as a part-time attorney and also became an active volunteer in my community, recently serving as an elected school board member for 8 years. For almost a decade I also served as the primary caregiver for my father who suffered from Parkinson’s Disease. During this period, I wanted a flexible job due to family obligations. I also wanted to do something where I could help other people and take advantage of my background. I looked at various options and decided to become a Retirement Coach.

Currently, I work at Amava, where our mission is to help people to stay socially engaged throughout their lives. Our website is designed with this in mind. We believe that staying engaged with people and finding meaningful activities to do is the key to health, longevity and also being satisfied with your life. You may be reading this because you are thinking about what you want to do next in your life and want to figure out the best way to stay engaged as you plan. If so, you are not alone! In fact, there are between 75-100 million people in the U.S. going through the transition of leaving full-time work over the next decade or so. Some of us will have 25, 30 or even 40 post-career years. And we have more options than any prior generation.

Many of us want to work at least part-time. In fact, forty percent of people 55+ are working or looking for work (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014). And that number is expected to keep increasing through 2024. There are various reasons people are working after leaving their careers. One is that we have a longer life expectancy. People are living into their 80s, 90s and beyond. Today people are better educated and higher education is correlated with staying in the workforce longer. Another reason people are working longer is that unlike our parents’ generation, most of us don’t have pensions. Finally, some people work even though they don’t need the money, because they have a desire to stay fulfilled or to make new connections.

Our generation is leading the charge in redefining “retirement.” Of course everyone has individual priorities. But overall there are some trends. Many of us want flexibility. We want to feel valued where we work. And we want to work with people we like. Those are the top three things people say they’re looking for.

Unfortunately, though, more than half of us say that we find it challenging to stay engaged after we leave our jobs. Even worse, many of us spend too much time staring at screens. The average number of hours that adults in the US go online has reached a new high – 23.6 hours per week (USC Annenberg study, 2018). Anyone with an iPhone may be getting the alert showing the amount of hours they are spending just on their phone each week. This was eye-opening for me and got me thinking about how I was spending my time and whether it was aligned with my priorities.

Naturally, everyone has different priorities. The tough thing is to figure out what yours are and then adhere to them in terms of how you spend your time. For some people the priority is making money. Others just want to find ways to give back. And some people want adventure or to explore the world. Still others want to learn something new or just find something to do to stay relevant. For many of us it’s some or all of the above.

If you are still not sure what you want to do next, or you feel like you need more help, you might want to use a Retirement Coach. You may have heard of a Life Coach. A Retirement Coach is similar, but focuses on people at this stage of life. There is a Retirement Coaches Association, where I got certified.

A retirement coach can help you identify what isn’t working in your life and help you develop strategies to overcome obstacles, increase self-confidence and rediscover your true priorities. They can listen to you and then give suggestions so you can make a plan to discover and then do the things you want to accomplish. Many people find that a few sessions with a coach is all they need to get “unstuck.” If you have a spouse or partner, consider looking at the Amava resources together or doing some coaching sessions together.

Whatever you are looking for, Amava can help you get inspired and then take action to Discover Your Next!

Joan Lambert is a former attorney who has worked in the private and non-profit sector. She has served on the board of several non-profits, and co-founded the Preeclampsia Foundation. She is a Certified Retirement Coach.

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