Case Study: Transitioning to Retirement + Consultancy

One client a few years ago came to me for ‘retirement coaching’ which in turn developed into semi-retirement and developing a consultancy service rather than the business employment he was moving from.  Although he had started and built his business, then sold it on and was in effect, a consultant to them, he was of an age where he wanted to reduce his working hours and increase his leisure hours!  So we did.

Together, we worked on the barriers, the thought process and perceptions of ’employee’ v ‘consultant’, the retirement v semi-retirement which he wasn’t ready for but in effect it was semi-retirement i.e. increasing leisure hours.

Challenging the mind-set and the perceptions change the expectations, and identified key needs that he needed to meet to find the direction he wanted to move in, and what he wanted happily to leave behind for evermore.

At first, we met weekly then fairly soon moved to regular monthly meetings.   Without a set package, we developed it with 3 month check ins on whether coaching was still required and useful, or whether it was becoming more of a habit which can happen.   Part of my coaching role is to check out this, and make sure it is always relevant and effective, and keeps my client moving forward, not just staying still where they have ‘arrived’.

Although people do reach a ‘plateau’ stage through coaching, especially longer term, they are still moving onward and upward, climbing their particular mountain but stopping for a regroup, allow the business or project to settle on firm ground for future building.

Sometimes, the process meant aspects of the changes had beginning-middle-end within themselves – such as the perception change around retirement or consultancy development, but in reality both with the move from paid employment contract.

We worked together for 18 months, meeting monthly more or less – and in that time, even as the consultancy developed from and idea whilst still employed, transition to the first consultancy project and managing that alongside the increase in personal time and fun activities!

It may seem a long time, but in that time, the changes take weeks to months for each session, but also other life events came in that we hadn’t expected but fitted into the stride of the process as coaching can also be therapeutic.   Bereavement, loss of friends and status or positioning in the industry which was something the client hadn’t really expected or anticipated, but was important to find a way to maintain it whilst making space from it, but also longer term connections he wanted to maintain.

The loss and problems encountered were more easily managed within the process because we were familiar with each other, the trust well-established and the understanding of the background to his life and relationships also familiar.  You can never separate personal and professional lives, as one will always impact and influence the other!   This applies to corporate companies and SMEs and sole traders/freelancers, perhaps more with smaller, more intimate teams where everyone is affected by even small changes or short absences, and people know each others out of office friends, family and interests to some extent at least.

The coaching came to an end when I was closing the company anyway to take a year out travelling (in part, motivated by this client’s great opportunities to travel and holiday often and I’m certain this was part of the ‘vision board’ that attracted my dream to come true!)

This was a natural end too where he had made the unexpectedly difficult transition from employment in a company he knew well, was respected and revered in the industry, and had built a large part of his life and developed his ‘image’ around;  to then leave suddenly – disillusioned, frustrated and disappointed in where the business was moving, he decided as he was around retirement age to create more time to follow his interests, spend more time home or on holiday – and still use his active, interested mind and maintain an income stream too.

Retirement Coaching

This can take place from about 3/6 months before your ‘due date’ and up to 12 months afterwards as in this client’s case.  Why?  Because there is far more to retirement than you realise – more than just the money side which is the main focus.

These are just some things retirees find arise for them which often they are not prepared for:

  • Relationships at work – changes in how people perceive you, how you perceive yourself – once a colleague, now a friend to keep in touch with outside work now, or just an ex-colleague you never see again?

Relationships at home – a partner who you spend more time with perhaps suddenly!  Will that work, what agreements (keeping your space and giving them theirs for example) need to made, activities one partner not expect the other to join in when they do or don’t actually want to!    It could be that the distance has kept a marriage going, or put a strain on it – now that will change for better or worse.

Elderly parents you can spend more time with or it will be expected by them if not you!

  • Family members like children – young children see more and likely love it, sharing activities with them, helping your partner to share the chores around them, or teenagers who you might see more in summer holidays from college or university!
  • Status – within a community, in society, we develop a certain status we like, where we feel comfortable even as we are moving up our lifestyle or career. It might be the difference between freedom from procedural practice and systems  ….to creating your own boundaries and motivation on your own, not in a team!
  • Motivation and inspiration – at work in your job, someone may well have ‘given you a job’ – a task to complete, a project to manage, or a list of responsibilities you work to. On your own, at home, self employed or consultancy you have to create your own motivation, feel inspired and passionate about your day to day tasks towards your own dream objective.   Are you inspired intrinsically or extrinsically (push yourself, your values, beliefs v someone directing your actions and choices).
  • Mental health – avoiding stress at work is one thing, but the other side is boredom stress at home all day alone! Finding things to do in the town or making new friends who you can socialise with doing the same interest, sport or hobby!

Depression becomes a very real risk for many – used to people around even if you don’t speak to them or work with them directly, you might find anxiety creeps in – are you doing enough?  Guilt about not making the money you used to or finishing jobs you once took in your stride for someone else!  Not having enough to stimulate your mind and keep you busy, perhaps, or worries you now have more time to dwell on.


Further reading

How can you resolve unexpected retirement problems or working by yourself, in business?