Helping Clients Redefine Retirement

 Watch this welcome message from your instructor!

What is retirement and does it even exist anymore? The corporate world uses the term “retirement” to indicate the end of full-time employment and the beginning of collecting retirement benefits such as a pension. In our parent’s day, this usually meant working at one job until age 62 or 65, enjoying a retirement party or receiving a gift such as a gold watch, and then enjoying a few remaining “golden years.” Today, workers who reach traditional retirement age may opt to continue working, change careers, begin their own businesses, or spend their time engaged in leisure or volunteer activities.

Current definitions and stages of development are no longer sufficient to describe today’s over 60 population. As with previous social movements, the Baby Boom population is once again taking the lead in defining and reinventing a new period of their lives that may last an additional 15-30 years beyond what we used to consider traditional retirement. Social connections, meaning, healthy lifestyles, creativity, intellectual stimulation, and giving back are common themes that motivate today’s “retired” individuals. Whether they continue to work in some fashion, or spend their time pursuing volunteer or leisure activities, this stage of life is their time, and they’re enjoying every minute!

This course offers an introductory review of retirement career and lifestyle counseling. The purpose of this course is to provide career counseling and coaching professionals with retirement career counseling theories and practical strategies to help clients find meaning and purpose in retirement. This course focuses on career and lifestyle retirement planning, not financial planning.

Career counselors, psychologists, and coaches in private practice who provide retirement career counseling services to clients are the primary audience for this course. This course will also be useful for college and university career services or anyone in workforce development who works with adults or individuals in the community who are retired, or approaching retirement age. Human resources staff in institutions and companies will also find the information of use as they work with their employees in transition to retirement.

At the conclusion of the course, you will be able to:

  • Identify the demographic, physical, mental, and psychological characteristics of today’s retirees
  • List the retirement challenges and issues
  • Learn how to assess clients’ readiness for retirement
  • List the elements of a healthy retirement
  • Locate occupational, volunteer, entrepreneurial, and leisure options for retirement
  • Analyze web and print retirement resources

This course has five parts for you to read, access, view, and internalize. When you are to read text, watch a video, or answer questions, this will be listed in red. It is probably most efficient if you plan to complete the course in three or four sessions. As you move through the course you will track your progress by answering questions on a work sheet. Click the button to download the worksheet and save it to your computer. After each section of the course you will complete the corresponding questions on the worksheet.

You will be asked to complete an evaluation at the end of the course. One of the questions relates to the time it took you to complete the course requirements. Please be sure and keep track of the time so that we have an accurate reflection of the workload.  You have 30 days to complete the course and submit your worksheet. At the conclusion of the course, email the completed worksheet to the course instructor. Your worksheet will be reviewed by the instructor and once found acceptable, you will receive a certificate of completion for 6 clock hours. If you are ready, go to Part 1.

The New Face of Retirement

 “I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it.
I want to have lived the width of it as well.”

~Diane Ackerman

Today’s retirees are active, engaged, and mentally sharp. They want to continue working and playing, being productive, and have a strong desire to give back to their communities. Some will continue to work (out of necessity or desire), while others will formally “retire” from one job and move into another, change careers, or even start a new business. Many will choose to spend time with their families, volunteer for their favorite cause, travel, learn a new hobby, or enroll in classes at their local college or university. Given our advances in health care, it is not unrealistic to expect today’s retirees to live well into their 90’s and beyond.  The question facing this segment of our population is not when to retire, but what to do after they retire.

One thing is true: the old model of retirement doesn’t work anymore. Retirement is now a time for choices, new adventures, and just simply doing what YOU want to do for a change.

We hear the terms, “reinvention,” “life reimagined,” and “encore careers.”  Whatever term you choose to use, it’s all part of the process of redefining how to spend the next 10-20 years of our lives.

Watch the following video about a 95 year old heart surgeon.  Note he is still alive today at 99 years old.  As you view the video think about what you learned about longevity?  Did the individual in the video challenge any of your ideas about aging?

View the video below to learn who today’s retirees are, when they plan to stop working, how they view old age, and what they want from retirement.

READ the article,What Women Really Want…From Retirement.” Learn how women’s retirement decisions may be different from men and how those decisions may affect our future workforce.

When you have completed the activities, please complete questions 1-5 on your worksheetAfter you have completed all the requirements of this section you can go on to Part 2.

Part 2Retirement: Theory and Implications for Practice 

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

~Abraham Lincoln

For many older Americans, retirement is a process, not a single event. Retirement is typically defined as later life withdrawal from the work force. With so many retirees opting to continue working, find new jobs, open their own businesses, the previous definition no longer applies. Today, retirement is a perfect example of the fluid nature of career development, the value of knowing yourself and what your purpose is, and using courage and transferrable skills to reinvent yourself later in life.   

First, let’s learn about retirement decision-making.

Please read the article, “Behavioral and Psychological Aspects of the Retirement Decision.” This is a comprehensive review of the retirement research by Melissa A. Z. Knoll, a research analyst with the Office of Retirement Policy, Social Security Administration. In this article you will learn: a) The relationship between leaving the workforce and claiming Social Security benefits, b) How the factors that make up a decision may affect the timing of one’s retirement, c) How the ability to accurately predict future happiness may affect retirement decisions, d) Predictions about the future, and e) The roles that emotions and information can play in the retirement decision. The information in this article will provide a solid foundation for helping individuals plan for their retirement as discussed further in Part 3.      

Next, view the video below to learn about retirement stages, or phases, and implications for providing career counseling with retirees.

Be sure the answer questions 6-12 on your worksheet.  Then move on to Part 3.

Part 3Assessing Readiness to Retire

Retirement is a work in progress. I try to figure out my day, and what I know about myself is that I need structure.

~Pete Sampras

People plan for everything else in their lives – their career, their vacation, their new home, but not how to handle the non-financial aspects of retirement. There are no modern models of retirement to follow. The old model was to work until 62 or 65, retire with a party or parting gift, and then spent the remaining years of their lives in the rocking chair on the front porch until they died. Not a very exciting prospect. Today’s retirees are faced with the question of what to do with the next 20-30 years of their life?  This is a daunting question. When put that way, many people suddenly realize the scope of the situation. To suddenly stop working is an abrupt change to one’s lifestyle. The lack of structure seems to be the greatest hurdle to overcome for many new retirees. Lack of structure can lead to boredom, even depression, and lack of social contacts can create more problems. So if you’re client is seriously contemplating retiring, make sure that they have a game plan to replace work with other meaningful and fulfilling activities. Perhaps there’s a hobby that they want to focus on full-time. Maybe they want to work part-time or start a new career or their own business. With a little imagination and some research, the choices are endless! 

READ the following article in Career Convergence, the e-magazine of the National Career Development Association. This article explains the need for retirees to prepare for retirement by understanding what they will need, or what will be missed in retirement.

Let’s begin by examining some of the issues that may arise when an individual stops working. Please readPsychological Effects of the Transition to Retirement“. The article also offers suggestions for counselors who have clients who are retiring or are planning to retire.

When you have finished the article, view the following video which emphasizes the need to develop a retirement plan.  The video covers the characteristics of a healthy retirement, the potential issues during retirement, and provides examples of exercises to help your client prepare for retirement, and provides examples of questions and exercises to help your client plan for retirement.

Then read Life After Retirement – What Do I Do Now?  This article offers suggestions for answering the question of what to do after retirement.

After you have read both articles and viewed the video, answer questions 13-17 on your worksheet.  Then move on to Part 4.

Discovering Part 4Possibilities: Employment Options

Deprived of meaningful work, men and women lose their reason for existence.”

~ Fyodor Dostoevsky

Many of the retirees, or pre-retirees, whom I talk to want to continue working – but not in their previous job or profession.  Beyond the financial benefits of continuing to work after retirement age, people who work after retirement often remain more active and socially connected, which can mean better overall health and fewer medical issues.  Even working even part-time can give you a sense of being part of something without being tied to a career and long hours.

Merrill Lynch recently published a landmark study that explores and challenges commonly held beliefs about working. The study found that 72 percent of people over the age of 50 want to work in retirement. READ “Work in Retirement: Myths and Motivations.” 

For individuals who know they want something different, but don’t know what that is, administering a reliable career assessment to identify career options based on their interests, values, and personality style may be helpful. The two main differences in working with retirees versus younger clients/college students is that a) retirees can focus on what they love to do and b) have plenty of transferrable skills to utilize in a new career. 

Keep in mind that some retirees may have less stamina in their senior years and climbing the corporate ladder may no longer be a priority. An ideal new career would involve a job where they can use their skills and experience, but at fewer hours or with the flexibility to still enjoy life, family, and hobbies. There are plenty of options available for retirees who take the time and effort to seek them out.

View the video to learn about the variety of work-related options open to retirees.

As you learned from the video, entrepreneurism and encore careers are popular options for retirees. The following two articles will address this issue in more detail.

READ the article Never Too Late: More Older Adults Sold On Entrepreneurship.” 

READ the article Building a Successful 2nd Career Near Retirement. 

After having viewed the video and read the article, try your hand at seeing if you can provide some good advice to people.  

READ each of the three scenarios listed here.  Print out the file and enter your answers on the sheet.

To see how you did, read this file that has some possible answers. Did you come up with the same or similar ideas?  Did you have some different suggestions for the people?

 After completing the requirements of Part 4, answer items 18-22 on your worksheet. Then you can move on to Part 5.

Part 5Discovering Possibilities: Non-Work Options

“Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it.”

~ Buddha

Retirement is all about doing the things you love, but never had the time because of family or work responsibilities. The benefits of leisure pursuits are a sense of belonging, social relationships and connections, learning experiences, and skill use or development. Leisure activities can be as casual as relaxation (e.g., sitting, walking), passive entertainment (e.g. TV, books, music), active entertainment (e.g., party games, cards, gambling, attending sporting events) or more serious leisure activities on an amateur, hobbyist or volunteer level (e.g. golf, carpentry, hospice volunteer).  Leisure and volunteer activities can fill the void left by the absence of work and can help the new retiree create a new identity and sense of purpose during retirement.  

View the video below which will show you the number of volunteer, hobby, and leisure activities that retirees can use to make their retirement meaningful and productive.

As you can see from the video leisure activities have several health benefits and serve an important function by replacing work activities during retirement.

Volunteering is a popular and personally rewarding activity for many people, including retirees. Read the article Benefits of Volunteering  for an overview of the health and social benefits of volunteering.

READ Tips for Boomers Who Want to Volunteer  for helpful suggestions for clients who want to volunteer but are not sure how to get started.  

READ the Issue Brief: The Health Benefits of Volunteering for additional information about the health benefits of volunteering. 

Here are more examples of leisure and volunteer activities that you can share with your clients:

Playing cards, chess, board games, computer games, cross word puzzles, writing fiction/non-fiction, poetry, plays, reading, bird watching, drawing, painting, sculpting, making crafts, jewelry, stained-glass, hunting, fishing, motorcycle, ATV or bicycle riding, boating, kayaking, water skiing, snowshoeing, skiing, snowmobiling, ice-skating, gardening, lawn maintenance, vineyard, quilting, sewing, cross-stitching, cooking, baking, making wine, beer, hiking, running, swimming, playing racquetball, basketball, tennis, hockey, volleyball, weightlifting, aerobics, tai-chi, yoga, casino gambling, shopping, attending sporting events, historical reenactments, raising/showing pets or animals, restoring antique cars/tractors, collecting stamps, antiques, memorabilia, cars, precious gems,  travel, participating in or attending auctions, attending movies, concerts, lectures, theater, other live performances, volunteering at a museum, school, hospital, SPCA, volunteering as a Boy or Girl Scout leader, 4-H leader, mentoring, tutoring.            

However your client chooses to fill his or her day with leisure or volunteer activities, encourage them to be creative, and to try something new and out of their comfort zone. A recently retired friend told me, “There are a lot of things to do out there (in the community) that you may have never knew existed, but the key is that you have to go out and find them.”

You are just about done with the course.  Please complete items 23-27 on your worksheet.

Conclusions and Congratulations!

Retirement career and lifestyle counseling is a growing new field with opportunities for both research and professional practice. As career development and lifestyle experts, we play an important role in helping retirees, and those about to retire, plan and create the next exciting chapter of their lives.  We live in a time where the word “retirement” is literally being redefined and reinvented. Twenty years from now the word, “retirement,” if the term still exists, will have an entirely new meaning and corporate implementation. Until then, enjoy the ride!

Congratulations on completing this course.  Make sure you have completed all items on the worksheet and send it to your instructor, Mary Ghilani, for review.  When it is determined to be complete, you will be issued your certificate of completion. requires that you complete a course evaluation. Please click on the link and complete the very short evaluation.

Click here to download a bonus brief of related web and print resources that you might find very helpful. Thanks for completing this course and we hope to see you in other courses and webinars.

Thanks for your support of!