My friend Emily and I were out walking last week. Suddenly she stopped short and said, “Did you hear that Bob did The Big-R?” I was puzzled. “The Big-R?”
“That which cannot be named,” she uttered in her best Harry Potter-esque voice. I smiled and leaned in closer and whispered, “Are you talking about ‘Retirement’?”
“Shhh!” she hissed. “Seriously, don’t use that word anymore. It conveys the wrong message!”
“What in the world do you mean?” I asked. She sighed, and I felt like she was searching for a way to say something nicely. “You, of all people, should know.”
“Look,” I said, “I know there is a lot of misinterpretation about the word ‘Retirement,’ but really, … comparing it to *Voldemort?”
Emily shook her head. “Misinterpretation? People hear the Big-R word and think the person is over the hill, incapable of anything new and fresh…, and, basically, A HAS BEEN!”
My mouth dropped open. “Ok, here’s proof!” she said as she pulled out her phone and pointed to a webpage. “Just look at the definition from the fancy Oxford English Language Dictionary!”
1. giving up work, stopping work
2. seclusion, retreat, solitude, loneliness,
isolation, privacy, obscurity
I could hardly believe what I was reading!
I looked in amazement as she continued. “I have no problem with definition #1 but check out #2! And, by the way, I’ve been thinking maybe you should stick with being called a ‘Life Coach.’ If this is how people are viewing The Big-R, listing yourself first as a Retirement Coach could put people off!”
Just like a Life Coach, a Retirement Coach helps people deal with life’s transitions.
“Oh, Em,” I said shaking my head. “Just like a Life Coach, a Retirement Coach helps people deal with life’s transitions. It’s like the change from being single and then getting married or going from being a couple to having kids. ‘The Big-R’ requires thinking about and planning for the next 20 to 30 years! A person will have more time and more choices for not just how to fill the day but also for how to feel fulfilled at the end of the day. Planning is how to avoid definition #2!” We decided to order coffee and sat down outside.
“If it was my dictionary,” I continued, “Definition #2 would be something like,
"The opportunity and time to energize lifestyle,
renew interests, and create new adventures.”
As Emily thought about it, I decided to have some fun and sound less like a coach. “Take Clark Kent, for example. He knew he was meant to use his superpowers to seek truth and justice, but he couldn’t just transition from Smallville to Metropolis without a plan to protect his identity! He got a job as a reporter at the Daily Planet and located a nearby phone booth.” She started laughing and almost choked on her coffee. But she was listening.
“Here’s another example - suppose you decide to get fit and enter a half marathon. You wouldn’t just get up that morning, put on a good pair of running shoes and join the race - hoping to get to the finish line, right?! You’d map out a training program to make sure you were prepared to succeed.”
She wiped some coffee from her chin and laughed out loud. “Ok, but what about other people’s reactions? I just saw Susan, and she was complaining that her neighbors think since she is around all the time, she can watch for their deliveries!” She paused, “And her kids think she is a full-time babysitter; they assume she’s always available.”
Today, more than 50% of retirees are working
Loretta Saff, M.A., CPC, CPRC