Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

A school administrator was telling me how confusing she found her new retired status. In her career, one of her responsibilities had been helping first-time teachers get acclimated to the profession. As for Retirement, she said, “I don’t think we as a society really do anything that helps people transition to whatever the next stage is.”

The EndGame is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.

She is right, as teachers often are. Although a few major corporations and many federal agencies actually offer workshops for employees approaching Retirement, in popular parlance the term “Retirement planning” is a synonym for “financial planning.” Money matters, to be sure, but it is not the whole story. Retirement, or as I prefer to label it, The AfterWork, is a major life transition. Major life transitions are no small thing. They bring unexpected psychological and emotional changes (what author Bruce Feiler calls “lifequakes”) that must be addressed. Among them: changing relationship dynamics at home, feelings of emptiness, replacing work with something meaningful, managing time. Financial planning rarely touches on these issues.

New Options

That gap between financial planning and the emotional and psychological transition into The AfterWork has provided an opening for a new profession, retirement coaching. (If you are looking for a coach, the Retirement Coaches Association offers a state-by-state list of its certified members.)

Share The EndGame

Now it seems that the gap is drawing other forms of Retirement preparation into the market. Many of the new entries have been initiated by higher education. At the University of Colorado Denver, a pilot program called Change Makers graduated its first class this spring. Its goal is to help older adults find ways to apply their skills without working full time. By the end of the program, each student writes a 90-day plan for how they will either transition into their next job, wind down their careers, or find a new post-career purpose. For 60-year-old Todd Matuszewicz, a graduate of the first class, the program was needed because after 35 years of working, “there’s no exit strategy. That’s not taught as part of education.”

Notre Dame University is approaching Retirement training at the executive level. The university brings 20 Inspired Leadership Initiative (ILI) fellows to campus for a year of broadening their horizons and exploring what they might do next after completing their primary career. As in UC Denver’s program, a primary focus is understanding the students’ current skills and imagining ways to use them in their next stage of life.  

Other colleges including Harvard, Stanford, and the University of Texas, Austin have programs similar to Notre Dame’s. Generally they are priced at $50,000 or more. UC Denver’s program is among a handful of lower-cost programs that range from $2,500 to $3,200 and can be completed in a semester.

Back to School?

It is highly likely more colleges will initiate Retirement preparation courses, because they are desperately seeking alternative sources of students, now that the pool of 18- to 22-year-olds is drying up like California lakes. More schools are tailoring other programs to attract older adults, particularly the 60 U.S. members of the Age-Friendly University Global Network. So even at schools that don’t offer a specific Retirement preparation program, there is always the option to design your own do-it-yourself exploration of courses that appeal to you. Maybe you might sample some of the courses you never got around to taking the first time because you were busy fulfilling requirements in your major.

With some reluctance, let me mention one other avenue that may be helpful, but this should come with a giant warning label slapped on it: Several Retirement preparation courses are offered on the internet. They range from a Udemy course on Retirement Lifestyle Planning for $14.99 (marked down from $39.99) to an in-person, five-day intensive Retirement Planning training course from GLOMACS for $6,950 (discounted $1,000 if you take it in Dubai). Just remember: Some things you read on the Internet may be true.

In short, major life transitions are seldom smooth. The transition from decades of work to a new life stage, The AfterWork (nee Retirement), might be smoother if you were offered some advance preparation for it. Unless you are one of lucky exceptions, you won’t have preparation handed to you. If you want it, you’ll have to take the initiative to find it. On the positive side, the range of options is steadily increasing.

Leave a comment

The EndGame is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.

Don Akchin Publisher/Podcaster at The EndGame

Don Akchin is a recovering journalist who publishes a weekly newsletter and biweekly podcast called The EndGame, which encourages "chronologically gifted" baby boomers to live their later years with joy and purpose. In his former life he wrote for magazines, newspapers, colleges and universities, and nonprofit organizations.