How to turn sudden retirement into a new life
By Adrian Freeland
I always knew that unless something really unexpected happened (if you can call something as inevitable as skipping off this planet “unexpected”) I was going to retire at some stage.
I had a target date in mind and had given some thought as to what I might like to do. But, I had nothing formal in place, as I thought time was on my side. As it turned out, events overtook me and with having had seven days’ notice, I found myself “retired”.
Whilst I tried to put a brave face on it, deep down I was hit hard by this, and more importantly, so were my family. None of us were prepared for the impact this change would have – and would continue to have on us.
After the first fortnight which felt a bit like a holiday, the questions started to arise – “What are you going to do today?”.
This was followed by, “What did you do today?”.
None of the answers to those questions inspired much feeling that my time was being spent in a meaningful way – I’ll take the dog for a walk/I’ll bake a cake/I’ll do some ironing/I’ll do the food shop – these pall very quickly when your partner is still in active employment and a stressful one at that.
Very soon, I found the feeling of “this is OK” turned into feelings of weakness, laziness, incompetence and inadequacy.
After all, people who had something about them don’t get “retired” with the speed with which I did, do they? Everyone told me that retirement would be like a breath of fresh air, but it was turning out to be a nightmare.
I looked around for some kind of work, but in the end I was still just bumbling along without producing anything meaningful, except for increased stress and resentment in myself and others.
Then I got the direction that I needed
I have known Adrian Green and Kay Buckby from The Development Company for a number of years in a social context and one evening I was discussing my situation and what we as a family were going through.
And without me really knowing it, Adrian and Kay slowly led me through a process to help me re-build my self-esteem. This, in turn gave me a chance to focus on what would be best for me and my wife and children.
“Do you really want to retire?”
“What’s missing from your life now?”
“Could you run your own business?”
“Do you want to go back to full-time employment?”
“What are your options?”
“Are your services needed by small businesses?”
These were the types of subtly posed questions, which have now helped me focus on what I do want to do next.
They then introduced me to various techniques which have helped me firm up my ideas and turn them into a solid plan.
As it is, the future is still quite scary
Having worked for major corporates for over 30 years, to suddenly go out and start selling your own skills is an unsettling feeling for me, but it’s a bit like swimming – I still feel a bit out of my depth, but now I know which way I am heading and Kay and Adrian are there to offer help and advice if I lose my way.
Does this mean that the household jobs are going to get shelved? No – they will still get done, but it’s a lot nicer when asked what have you done today, to be able to answer that “I have written a business plan” or “I have submitted a quote for some consultancy work”.
When you are approaching retirement, the main focus seems to be on financial planning, but to be honest for me that was the easy part. The psychological aspects of this huge change don’t get much airtime and I do believe that this is an area which needs to be explored. And it shouldn’t just include the “victim”, but all those in the immediate family who will be affected by this change.
I have been lucky in that I have had help and support from The Development Company. Without this, it’s no understatement to say that I would still be drowning and I would have been taking down my nearest and dearest with me.
Adrian Freeland is a consultant who delivers security and business continuity plans aimed at small to medium business owners. Adrian has wide expertise in assessing and developing security strategies to mitigate risk of fraud, improve communications and awareness of potential risk. Contact him on LinkedIn to discuss how a morning’s consultation could save a website hack, a walk in theft of data or a loss of data.
Comment from Kay Buckby
It’s so rewarding when coffee shop chats enable a friend to make major life decisions. Our job satisfaction comes from seeing the effects of our interventions and knowledge sharing.
I’ve only known one client prepare their workforce for retirement and they used Age UK for these long term action focused programmes on the psychological effects of retirement:
Work forms a major part of our identity. Don’t underestimate the meaning work provides your life as a whole – to you, your family and friends. Once you are ‘out of the circle’ of work it may lead to a very sudden loss of confidence and sense of self worth.
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