Would’t it be terrible to find out that retirement can really suck?

After all, you’ve shouldered through a grinding 30-40 year journey filled with marginally-motivating jobs and totally marginal bosses to get to this point.

You’ve sacrificed most of your ‘today’s’ for the ‘tomorrow’s’ that your financial advisor’s constantly changing charts, graphs and strategies say is out there for you.

In the 3-5 years leading up to the coveted date, your excitement has built, with plans for recreation, hobbies, travel, R&R.  You will be amongst the 91% who expect to be happy and the 80% who expect to be able to achieve their dreams.

You see your retirement as part or all of a remedy for unhappiness.

The numbers are there; the financial risks are isolated and covered and contingency plans are in place. The only thing left is to slide into the new lifestyle and reap the rewards of the sacrifice.  You’ve paid a big price for this third-stage-nirvana.

You’re entitled.

The date arrives.  Jubilation! Liberation!

Average duration: One year  

These numbers are courtesy of research done by the AgeWave organization headed by Dr. Ken Dychtwald, gerontologist, psychologist and one of the world’s foremost authorities on aging-related issues. Dr. Dychtwald’s extensive research of 55,000 Baby Boomer retirees exposed many of the hidden realities of retirement.

AgeWave’s research revealed that there are five stages of retirement. (I unpack this in my January 6 blog entitled the The $400 Trillion Time Bomb and An Unnatural Act. ) Liberation is Stage 3.  The sucky part of retirement emerges and intensifies in stages 4 and 5- Re-orientation and Reconciliation. In a nutshell, AgeWave’s research revealed that the retirement honeymoon lasts 1-5 years and wears off with the discovery that retirement is more challenging and less satisfying than anticipated. Other research has revealed that 75% of pre-retirees expect life to be better after retirement while only 40% of actual retirees report that to be the case.

Clearly, people discover that they hadn’t planned well for their retirement. Often times, couples are not on the same page. Boredom sets in. Relationships diminish. Health issues begin to accelerate.

In his free booklet The Darkside of Retirement Financial Planner and Retirement Coach Robert Laura reveals some disturbing but important facts about the realities of retirement.

He writes:

There is a hidden epidemic taking place in the shadows of retirement. It’s a chilling reality that will impact baby boomers and their families more deeply than any economic recession or market crash. It’s the dark side of retirement, where addiction, depression, and even suicide are quickly becoming so prominent that new and soon-to-be retirees must become more aware of the impact these powerful influences can have during retirement and develop a plan to avoid them. Here are just a few sobering facts:

  • It is expected that, by 2020, the number of retirees with alcohol and other drug problems will leap 150% to 4.4 million up from only 1.7 million in 2001.
  • The National Institutes of Health reports that, of the 35 million Americans age 65 or older, nearly 2 million suffer from full-blown depression. Another 5 million suffer from less severe forms of the illness. Women are at a greater risk for depression because of biological factors such as hormonal changes and the stress that comes with maintaining relationships or caring for loved ones or children who are ill.
  • Depression is the single most significant risk factor for suicide among the elderly. Recently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed a dramatic spike in suicides among middle-aged people, with the highest increases among men in their 50s, whose rate went up by nearly 50% to 30 per 100,000; and women in their early 60s, whose rate rose by nearly 60%.
  • A recent New York Times article noted that the overall, national rate of divorce in the United States is trending down. Except for one group: the 50-plusers, who have seen their rate of divorce surge 50% in the past 20 years. In fact, one in four couples divorce after age 50.

So, what else does your financial advisor know that he/she hasn’t told you?

Whoa, hold up!  Let’s not hang this on your CFP/CIMA/CPWA/AIF/CMFC/CRPC/AAMS (NOTE: you might want to consider a change if your financial advisor has all of these initials after their name!)

It’s not their job to guarantee you a happy, fruitful retirement.  They are just there for the numbers, the hard side of retirement. And they’ve likely done a pretty good job for you in that regard. Roger Whitney is a highly credentialed and successful financial planner with 25+ years of financial services industry experience. 

In his refreshingly candid book Rock Retirement he provides some perspective on why you should only expect hard number assistance from your financial planner:

The professions of financial planning and retirement planning came from the investment and insurance industries.  Until the recent advent of the financial-planning-degree programs at the university level, financial planners came from the sales forces in these industries.  Pause for a second: sales force. They created the industry; they set the standards. The truth is, although almost all advisors are well-intentioned and capable, they don’t have the skill set or training to think beyond investment solutions.

In other words, most financial planners (i.e. salespeople) are not trained to go to the soft side of retirement and discuss the critical emotional, social, mental, psychological issues that emerge in any retirement. Theirs is a world of numbers, not counseling couches.

We’re on our own to prepare for the potential pitfalls of retirement.

We know that, unfortunately, 2 of 3 retirees enter their retirement with NO semblance of a non-financial plan. Like an iceberg, most of what goes on in retirement is below the surface and outside of the conversations and planning that goes on with most financial advisors.

Serious non-financial considerations such as the mental, social, physical, and spiritual adjustments accompany every retirement. Just as a good, sturdy stool will have four strong legs, a fulfilling retirement will need attention to these four pillars to succeed. And most retirees go into retirement with little or no consideration of those “soft side” elements.

The soft side elements mental, social, physical, spiritual will raise their heads in any retirement.  But, if anticipated and planned for, they can help lead to a longer, fulfilling and healthier retirement and don’t need to be dark side elements.

But it’s important to get out in front of them.

That’s where a retirement coach can play a vital role.

Robert Laura, mentioned earlier, has been a retirement coach to pre- and new-retirees for years and has combined this experience and his financial planning background with the skills and experience of two psychology Ph.D.’s to develop a new Certified Professional Retirement Coach (CPRC) program. 

I have completed the program and received that designation to add Retirement Coaching to my coaching services.  It’s a logical complement to the Career Coaching that I do.

We’ve developed a comprehensive program designed to help pre- and early- retirees avoid these dark side elements by focusing on the four non-financial pillars of retirement- mental, social, physical and spiritual through a fun and enlightening eight-step process that culminates in a plan focused on achieving a best-life-possible retirement.

Curious?  Want to know more about the components and how it works?  Email me at gary@makeagingwork.com or call my office at 720-344-7784 and we’ll set up a no-cost consultation to see if it makes sense for you. ____________________________________________________________________ About the Author:

Gary Allen Foster is an executive recruiter, retirement and career transition coach, writer, and speaker. He is an over-70 portfolio-career guy and audacious ager dedicated to helping folks in the over-50 crowd adopt a new perspective on how to live longer, live better and with more purpose in the second half. He coaches, speaks and writes publicly on the issues of mid-life career transitions, planning for purposeful retirement and achieving better health and greater longevity.

Find his thought-provoking articles and get a copy of his free ebook entitled Realize Your Full-life Potential: Five Easy Steps to Living Longer, Healthier, and With More Purpose at www.makeagingwork.com.

Gary Allen Foster Executive Recruiter/Retirement and Career Coach Highlands Ranch, CO 80129 720-344-7784 (O) 720-810-1300 (C) gary@makeagingwork.com www.makeagingwork.com https://www.linkedin.com/in/garyallenfoster