Hey coach, what do I do now? - Tucson Local Media: Editorials

Hey coach, what do I do now?

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Posted: Tuesday, September 29, 2009 11:00 pm | Updated: 1:36 pm, Mon Apr 18, 2011.

People who say they understand life and absolutely know how things are going to turn out in the future are either working from cubbyhole shops in Sedona offering supposedly insightful clairvoyant glimpses of the imminent, or orchestrating weekly spectacles of conviction on Haight/Ashbury in San Francisco.

Add in growing insecurity about routine daily life because of the calamitous recession, and we have an understandable context of profound confusion.

If you're close to retirement or fled the workplace for alleged Leisureville, then you may be wondering how to proceed during these problematical times. Relax; hire a retirement coach to help you maneuver your way through this adventurous phase of life.

You'd assume that people contemplating or entering retirement would have adequately planned for the transition. Recent statistics indicate that the majority of retirees did one thing in preparation for their workplace departure — establish a retirement investment account. Other than that, not much was considered or implemented; most wake up the morning after becoming unemployed and say, "Huh, where would I like to live for the remainder of my life, and what I'll do there."

This sounds implausible considering the complex nature of actual retirement and the myriad of responsible jobs retirees held. Those new to retirement don't seem to have much of a clue about it, but quickly realize that time becomes as significant as money when they don't know how to use it.

Enter the retirement coach, a combination cheerleader, mentor, counselor, philosopher and listener. Their clients, predominately 50-60 years olds, need assistance in recreating or reinventing their lives because most moved directly from high school or college to the workplace with little or no previous interest in learning what retirees were actually doing.

The majority of people offer two reasons for seeking a retirement coach: 1) a loss of identity, or 2) they were "downsized" or the company folded unexpectedly. In effect, retirement is a blank slate that needs to be filled in. Some require part-time jobs to make ends meet; others want to avoid boredom or the frustration of sorting through the endless array of options confronting them.

Who are these coaches, and how does a person become one of them? The term "retirement coach" has been around for years, but never gained much traction due to a moderate trickle of retirees hitting the roles annually, with most using trial-and-error retirement techniques. When thousands of Baby Boomers began landing in Leisureville each month things, changed dramatically, and so have the titles for those assuming the role of guiding someone through the transition process. In addition to retirement coaches we have life planning counselors, life discovery guides, and the list goes on.

However, the term retirement coach remains most recognizable. The highest regarded coach certification organization is the International Coach Federation, located in Lexington, Ky. Their website is www.coachfederation.org. Use a link called "coach finder" to identify a coach in a particular geographical location and refine the choices to those having a specialty niche. Interviewing several candidates, confirming their training, experience and certification and getting references are recommended.

Commonplace is an initial free phone consultation lasting 30-60 minutes to determine interests and compatibility. Sometimes several conversations are necessary to identify a coach with whom you feel comfortable. Next the fee structure and payment method is established. This isn't standardized; average nationwide cost is $400 per month, involving a weekly half-hour phone conversation and frequent e-mails. These arrangements last a month to a year or longer depending upon the complexity of client interests, interaction, and persistence in establishing and pursuing goals.

Coaches use assessment tools, including personality tests and other written forms of homework, to gain an understanding of a client's true interests and capacity for pursuing them.

Naysayers testing the coaching waters enter the process with skepticism and low expectations. Coaches with the best listening skills tend to attain the best results because they have a capacity for getting others to make self-discoveries by talking openly about themselves. People expecting coaches to have all the answers and offer immediate suggestions or solutions are heading for disappointment. Coaches admit having the easy part of the job; clients perform the hard work of seriously thinking about what they want to do and how to achieve it.

If you're considering retiring and haven't done your homework, you may consider a retirement coach. This option could save you hours of aggravation and also help avoid making a costly life transition choice mistake along the way.

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