My best friend is a life coach. This was her second career after she retired from working as an administrative assistant. She decided to retire and pursue a career as a life coach after she began seeing a life coach herself. My friend and I have agreed to disagree about the value of life coaches and the fact that there is not an independent certification for life coaches. If you do a search in Yahoo! for life coaches, it is fascinating the number of hits that are returned. In fact, there are coaches for just about any area of life including retirement, career, family, weight loss, finances . . . any area of life that someone might need help improving.
The reason my friend and I agree to disagree is that I dismissed the entire concept of life coaches. I felt having a good friend or family member for support was free and at least I knew that person better than I knew a stranger. This was until another friend of ours turned 65 and faced retirement. She was depressed and unsure of herself because she had no idea what to do with her free time. Our life coach friend suggested she see a retirement coach – – I, of course, was against this 100 percent and thought she should not waste her time or money. Since I was the skeptic, I was invited along so I could be proven wrong (not that either of my friends expected me to admit being wrong either way).
My first realization about retirement coaches are they do not give financial advice. I thought we would discuss retirement accounts, saving, pensions and other ways to pay for living expenses during retirement. However, that is what financial coaches cover. Retirement coaches are there to help those facing retirement with no idea how they want to spend their time or resources. The fact is that the first wave of baby boomers will be turning 65 this year and will probably redefine what it means to be retired.
The baby boomer generation has never done anything like their parents or grandparents; therefore, no one should assume baby boomers would enter retirement like the generations before them. Baby boomers do not even know how to relax on vacation so how can they expect to suddenly stop working – – no more deadlines, emails, phone calls, letters, faxes, projects, etc. This is what my friend was facing with her retirement. For the first time in her life, my friend did not feel pulled in 20 directions at once and she realized she actually missed that.
Retirement coaches do not offer advice nor do they guide clients into retirement paradise. What they do is help individuals facing retirement redefine their goals and lifestyles to meet their needs now and in the future. By taking surveys, talking about subjects that had nothing to do with retirement, making collages and doing other activities, the retirement coach helped my friend identify areas of her life she wanted to change and then make a solid plan for changing them. It does sound a bit “hokey, hippy 60-ish” but for my friend it is what she needed to help her transition from a hectic, crazy working lifestyle to retirement.
I have re-evaluated my opinion on life coaches after being the skeptic in the room. I still worry that there are no federal or state certifications for life coaches; however, with the proper references and credentials from a well-known school, life coaches can be helpful for some people. Even being the skeptic I am, after watching my friend with her retirement coach I think I want a few sessions to explore questions like:
– How will I spend my time when I retire?
– If I am not working any longer, how will I contribute to society? I do not want to sit in a rocker all day.
– Do I want to travel or go back to school when I retire?
– How will I pay for the things I want to do during retirement?
– How will my spouse and I relate with so much time together? Will we get along, will we have things to talk about without work, etc.
– What is my identity outside of work – – who am I when you remove work from my life?
– What will I do if my health declines? How is my health now and how can I stay healthy?
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