Frequently Asked Questions

What is retirement, anyway?

Retirement has no one meaning.  Understandings of it range widely from the notion of putting your feet up and just doing nothing, bathing in relaxation.  Maybe trying to do all the things one has been hungering to do for yearsimmersed in golfing, reading, traveling, visiting the grandkids, and so on.  To taking on another new job or a new hobby or two, or going back to school to learn a new skill.  Or, phasing from one's long-time position to a reduction in that same effort. A combination or blending of options, or a sequencing of them also is pursued by some.  An adventurous conception of retirement, where exploration is a key, is re-branded:  ReFirement. 

Many options exist and no one-size fits all. What might appeal to you?

What does adapting to retirement mean?

Many of us can look forward to multiple years of retirement, however we may fashion it.  A general rule of thumb is some 30 years being possible, representing about 1/3 of our life, depending on health and circumstances.  That's a long time, indeed. 

Studies have revealed a general tendency that applies to adapting to retirement.  This tendency may not apply to everyone, of course, but it is something to be aware of.  What is it?  That satisfaction with one's retirement can vary markedly over time.  Depending on individual conditions, 3 phases may be involved:  

Phase 1:  "Honeymoon," which may last 6 months or so.  In this phase, the new retiree loves it, diving deeplyoften non-stopinto pursuit of just exactly what he or she had been pining to do, such as traveling.

Phase 2:  "Let Down," which can set in from 3-18 months into retirement, where majoring in the same beloved activity over and over again may begin to run thin.  "Is this all there is?" might become a refrain. This is a vulnerable and sometimes dangerous place to be.  Fortunately, it need not last forever.

Phase 3:  "Reorientation," occurring some 24 months in, may take over, where the retiree begins to re-shape how to spend time and to re-imagine one's purpose, now informed by experience and environment. Those who navigate successfully through this phase, as most tend to do in some way, sometimes with outside assistance, can come out on the other side having put together a kind of reconstituted and positive retirement life.  It may not be  exactly what was expected originally, but it is realistic and can  provide for satisfaction and a sense of purpose.

What does our company do?

The intent of Charting Your Personal Future is to assist in anticipating and managing the retirement process so as to increase the possibility for happiness and meaning.  Individual sessions, groups, and workshops (as scheduled) are offered, and we also contract with businesses to provide service. We are interested in helping people to prepare for retirement in such a way as to eliminate or to at least minimize the let down referred to just above.  That period where satisfaction and joy can cave.  Rather, we aim to assist people to adapt to retirement in ways that avoid pain and maximize happiness and meaning.  The 4 cyclical steps in our model that are used to guide movement prior and through retirement in order to enhance opportunities for growth and satisfaction, are:

     STEP 1:  Review

Use your left brain to reflect on your life to identify what you have done, what you have liked, what you have accomplished, and what you might like to continue or discontinue.  Identify your "psychological portfolio," that is, your particular resources (such as coping skills and resilience) that you draw from to keep moving ahead positively.

     STEP 2: Dream

Forecast ahead, let your right brain work as you fantasize about future possibilities, however fanciful. What have you always wanted to do? What might make you happy? What huge accomplishment might you want to make? What small, comforting things might you get involved with? What places around the world, or close to home, might satisfy you?

      STEP 3: Plan

Put information from the Review and Dream steps together to consider how you integrate it into a coherent plan of action. This plan might be very detailed, with goals‐methods‐dates, etc., or it might be quite general and open‐ended, the style dependent on what works for you.  A quick story here.  My barber, when I mentioned I was going to retire from the university, asked if I had a plan, to which I admitted I did not as yet.  Alarmed, he pointed out the front window of the barbershop to the street, asking me if I saw the rather decrepit old man shuffling by.  He said, "Bob, that could be you; he was a professor who did not have a plan."  Point made.

      STEP 4: Engage

"Just do it," one famous national ad proclaimed. The Review‐Dream‐Plan sequence leads to nothing of real purpose without related action. The fourth step of Engaging means to put your plan to the test, to do it, and then to see how it goes. Retirement is found "in the doing," and its success is tied to your ability to implement and revise your plan as is appropriate.

It is important to realize that we do not focus on financial considerations, even though these areof coursecritically important. We are psychologists, not financial experts, so we stay within our own lane.  Financial planners, however, should be sought out for this kind of specialized assistance, and we refer clients to one company in particular for this assistance.  Our focus is the personal-social-emotional side of retirement planning and of retirement itself.  This domain also is critically important, but it too often is overlooked.

What is the Personal-Social-Emotional domain?

We help those we work with to become aware of expectations for retirement, understanding how the retirement process can work, and especially of one's interests, attitude, skills, and experiences.  In some cases, this may involve psychological counseling (we are licensed psychologists and clinical counselors), but otherwise the form of help might be called psychoeducation and prevention.  This form of help is available to individuals, through groups and workshops that we offer, and to businesses that may contract with us.

We encourage learning about how the retirement transition can evolve (the "3 phases") and becoming aware that retirees likely will encounter a series of new challenges, as Nancy Schlossberg has pointed out:  (a) new roles, (b) new routines, (c) new relationships, (d) new assumptions, and (e) new responsibilities.  Emphasis on new.  Let us simply mention here something about new routines.  Suddenly, it may seem, as a new retiree one has been stripped of the familiar ways of organizing the work day.  In place, instead, is a kind of blank slate, from 9:00-5:00.  Finding a new set of fairly predictable ways to move through those hours, day-after-day, involves creating new routines, and doing so is important for moving ahead positively.

We also help clients to become aware of their existing skills and how they can be applied in retirement.  Can you plan effectively?  Are you resilient and adaptable?  Can you reach out to others?  Have you developed a social network outside of work?  Do you exercise and keep active?  Is your nutrition healthy?  Are you able to learn from your experience?  Is your outlook on life basically positive?  What are you able to do well?  What are your interests?  What do you enjoy doing? Are you curious about learning new things? What do you find meaningful and purposeful?  Are you knowledgeable about what opportunities may exist for you to possibly explore?

How can you learn more?

Make it your business to learn about retirement.  Feel free to look into the resources, reading, and websites we have listed; let them stimulate more exploration.  Talk with others who have retired to discover ideas.  Reflect on your life and imagine what your own retirement could be like.  Begin keeping a personal journal, if you do not yet do so, where you can begin to notice more closely your thoughts, questions, and feelings related to retirement. Tune into the importance of being aware, being attentive, and being available in your life, three processes that the comedian-actor Bill Murray has stressed as being important.  How might they apply to yours?  Maybe begin some tentative review, dreaming, and planning on our own.  See what questions and what insights might emerge.

You may also contact us for a deeper exploration.  We would be honored to work with you.  See our contact us page for instructions.

In all cases, we wish you well as you move ahead with your life.

Contact us

Phone:  (513) 673-1982

Copyright © 2021, Robert Conyne and Charting Your Personal Future. All rights reserved.