On average, Australians will live for 20 years after they retire. Some have known for a long time what they plan to do — whether it’s travel, study or improving their golf swing. For others, having to structure their time away from the familiarity of work can be unchartered territory. This is where retirement coaching can help navigate a pathway toward living the retirement lifestyle you want, especially if you’re not sure what that looks like.

Dr Jon Glass, former investment specialist and founder of retirement coaching practice, 64 Plus, says “You don’t know what retirement is like until you get there”. He set up the practice to help people who are approaching retirement to uncover meaning and purpose in their post-retirement life.

Q: What is retirement coaching?

Glass: Retirement coaching is about finding out what the client wants, not simply a menu of directions to follow.

Of course, money is relevant in retirement, but I work on the basis that clients already have a financial plan in place and move forward from there. It’s investigation and interrogation of the client’s inner life, what they really feel and understand and what their values are and what they want to do with their lives.

A retirement coach will help a client reflect on what they say about retirement, in a way that helps them locate meaning in their plans.

Retirement should be an enjoyable time, and so a retirement coach will help a client reflect on what they say about retirement, in a way that helps them locate meaning in their plans. They could be looking at the next 20 to 30 years as an incredible opportunity to do some wonderful things with their life as their own boss.

Q: How could retirement coaching help Qantas Super members?

Glass: The transition from the strong, large, global corporate name, with a strong culture, into retirement is not a trivial step.

A Qantas Super member might ask themselves “Okay, retirement means I’m leaving a very strong corporate culture. What is that life going to look like?”

All of a sudden, their world has opened up in a big way.

Many people will move from working full time, five days a week and having two days off on Saturday and Sunday into an environment where they have seven days a week to think and do whatever they like. All of a sudden, their world has opened up in a big way.

Q: What are the challenges for new retirees?

Glass: In the early days of retirement, retirees often ask ‘I know what I have retired from, but what am I retiring into?’ Their first challenge is to identify meaning for themselves, especially when they’ve come from a corporate culture, like Qantas.

They’re going to miss things that aren’t obvious at first, like collegiality and collaboration.

They’re going to miss things that aren’t obvious at first, such as a sense of collegiality they had with friends and acquaintances. They’re going to miss collaborating, getting involved in projects and activities and working with other people and having successful outcomes.

Wrapped inside that is a deeper concept, which is a feeling of usefulness. All the things that apply to a good work life — meaning, collaboration, collegiality, and feeling useful — new retirees may feel they don’t have once they’ve stopped working.

New retirees may also find that they have to renegotiate the space they share at home with their partners or others now that they’re there seven days a week. What was taken for granted when they left the front door at 6 a.m. and returned at 10 p.m. could now be something that needs to be negotiated. That’s why it’s important to talk with your family about your post-work plans.

Q: How difficult is it to move into a lifestyle where you don’t have as much control, and time isn’t as structured as it was for say, a flight attendant, pilot or engineer?

Glass: This comes down to learning about what a client’s values are, what they feel strongly about, and how they like their life to be structured.

Voluntary work, study or travel can put structure into their lives. Some clients choose to spend more time and renew relationships with friends, family, and extended family, all of which needs to be structured to include their needs too.

Part of the process includes defining ‘work’. In the broadest definition, work is some kind of regular activity, and remuneration is almost a secondary matter. It’s quite common for senior managers to move from full-time employment, into a ‘twilight career’ that can include consulting or a portfolio of non-executive directorships.

Q: What are your top 3 tips for people about to retire?

Glass:

  1. Have a conversation with your family. Talk to them about your ideas. Listen to what they have to say. Don’t surprise them two years later. It doesn’t mean you have to spend hours and hours talking about it, but just sit down and have a chat. It puts people at ease and gives them a sense of confidence.
  2. Think of ways to decouple from your work life. If you’ve been working for the last 40 or 50 years then it’s going to be a large part of your life, and that’s a good thing. But you’ll need to slowly transition away from work, because it’s not going to take up as much of your time once you have left.
  3. Ask yourself ‘how busy do I want to be?’ As your own boss, you can sit and watch the waves rolling two days a week if you want, or you can be on 10 committees and eight charitable enterprises, and pick up all your grandchildren from school. That’s a choice you can make, and it’s not one you make in perpetuity, but that’s something that I invite people to give some thought to.

Get 10% off retirement coaching

As a member of Qantas Super you get added benefits and discounts. Find out about the 10% discount for retirement coaching and other member benefits.