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In this video Tracey Spicer talks to Jon Glass about what a retirement coach does, and what some of the first steps people should do when thinking about their retirement.
Jon Glass is a Retirement coach, author of Finding Joy in Retirement and founder of the 64 Plus website.
Well, you’ve probably heard of football coaches and netball coaches, but did you know there’s such a thing as a retirement coach, and you’re about to meet one. His name’s Jon Glass and he’s the author of Finding Joy In Retirement. How good does that sound? He’s also the founder of the 64 Plus website. Hello, Jon. What exactly is a retirement coach?
What a great question, and hello, Tracy. Thank you so much for inviting me to this session. A retirement coach, is not a job that’s well understood. I imagine if you took a thousand people at random and asked them, “What is a retirement coach?” There’d be 1,001 people who’d say, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
I think there are two parts to it. One is that that person is a coach and even that’s not well understood, I think, outside the sporting arena, and executive coaching inside corporations. But put simply, a coach is someone with two ears who listens, because the answers to the questions posed by the client are actually inside the client, but the job of the coach is to help to extract those answers rather than to deliver them.
The other part of retirement coach is retirement. Now, I need to put a caveat to that because I’m not a financial planner, and I think financial planning is the dominant practice inside the space of retirement. I’m working with the emotions of a client. We all have emotions and they can bubble over, contrary to what people think, emotions can get very strong around the age of 60, very close to retirement. There are a lot of things happening. It’s a major, major, major, did I emphasize that enough, transition in life, and a good retirement coach, I believe, can help the client to make that transition from work to retirement.
I imagine that you use a lot of your own personal experience. What was it like when you finished working full-time?
That was many years ago, and I’ll be honest. It came as a bit of a shock because I didn’t have the benefit of a retirement coach to talk to, except that I talked to myself, and there were many times when I sat on my sofa just behind me here, under the bookcase, and wondered should I go back to work? Which I think was a good question to ask, and I concluded, “No, I need to start doing something different.”
I explored a few aspects of myself. I always wanted to draw cartoons for my granddaughter, and my level of artistic prowess is well below Michelangelo’s, but so what? So I started drawing and making up cartoon books. The beauty of the publishing world today in 2020 is that anyone can self-publish and I’ve self-published some children’s books using other people as illustrators.
I thought about what should I do, and then it started to dawn on me that I should have a portfolio approach to my retired life, which means do a bit of work, as I do, as a retirement coach, and have other activities, and I love it. I wake up each morning thinking through, “What am I doing today?” I have a pretty full diary and it’s fun.
This is such a wonderfully wise advice, Jon. I’m in my early fifties, and I’ve had a portfolio career for about 10 years, and I absolutely love it. It sounds like a very good way to transition towards retirement. Yet a lot of people, you write, still have this attitude that’s a very old model towards retirement. They still think in a very old fashioned way. How do you characterise that?
Yes. I think if I go back many decades, I would think the world looked so different then. We didn’t have people living from 60 to 90. A major change in the world, and this is well understood, is that people live long lives post-work, and I don’t think that happened at all, if we go back a generation or two. So that’s one aspect of the new world.
Another aspect is the internet, which of course is enabling us to have this lovely discussion today. I think the internet gives us so much. It gives us the chance to connect with people, particularly overseas, but also domestically, so we can have a broader base of friends and we can chat away with people in inappropriate time zones.
It also gives us the chance to learn. There’s so much we can learn on the internet these days by enrolling in courses online, et cetera, et cetera. These things were not available in the past, obviously.
Another development that I think is so favourable to a retired life that’s new, is the springing up of coffee shops. I was in my local coffee shop only this morning, doing a bit of writing. Well, what a wonderful environment that is, and they feed you and give you coffee as well. Did I mention that?
Another thing that I think is important, that’s changed over the generations is friendship. I think, and I can’t be certain, but I think there was once a fairly rigid definition of friendship. A man of 60 was friends, was mates with other men, age 60, and they would go to the pub together and nothing wrong with that, but now we have greater freedom.
You see people being friends with older people and younger people. You see men being friends with women. All this fluidity of friendship, if I can call it that? Is I think, something quite new and very exciting in the world.
Then just to finish, I think leaving aside COVID-19, which I’m sure we don’t want to talk about, the possibilities of travel have opened up enormously, and also, and this is important for retired people, the possibilities of doing good charity, charitable works, has also expanded hugely, I believe.
Thank you for bringing up that point about cross-generational friendships. I have two close friends, one of whom is 22 and the other is in her early eighties. And it brings such richness to your life.
What are your top tips then, your advice for people when they’re thinking about a new way of retiring?
Yeah. I would say, so if you’ll permit me to take as an example, a person who’s on the threshold of retirement, and if I were listening to them and just nudging them to have new ways of thinking about what retirement might mean for them. I would go back to their work environment and get them to think about the routine they have day-by-day at work.
Because what I remember from my work life is the routine would typically kick off very early on a Monday morning, I was in a white collar, oh there you go, white collar executive role. Monday morning would typically be get to the coffee shop very early for takeaway breakfast and coffee, go straight to the computer, in the city and read lots and lots of emails that came through, and that was that.
A routine that in its own way was quite pleasurable. It’s that kind of routine, whatever your job is, which disappears upon retirement, so I would get the person to ponder what routine meant to them, because there’s no rule, there’s no law that says you need to have a routine in retirement. You can decide to get rid of that altogether.
Another aspect I’d get them to think about is what I call validation, which is a silly, big word, but really it all comes down to something very straightforward. When you’re working, as I’m sure happens to you all the time, Tracey, you do good things and you feel good in yourself for doing good things, and your boss, you’re self-employed, but your boss says, “Well done.”
I think that happened to me twice in my career, and you feel really good about that. So where would you get that validation when you retire? I don’t know. That’s again, something to explore.
In the traditional, what they call the three G approach to retirement, which is gardening, golf and grandparenting, okay, maybe the grandkids will be grateful and give you validation. Maybe the golf clubs will do it, but I’m not sure the weeds in the garden will.
You can rethink what it means to be validated, because ultimately what a retirement coach does is to help you to get a sense of your meaning and purpose in retired life, whatever that is for you. Three G approach, if it works terrific, if you want to go and write the great Australian novel, terrific. If you want to walk backwards up Mount Kilimanjaro, terrific. Again, the retirement coaches try to extract that answer from the client.
What are the first steps then, that people should be taking Jon?
I think a really important first step that some people, I think are reluctant to make for any number of psychological reasons, is to have a decent conversation with their family first and to some extent with their friends, but put the family first.
Given that, and I’m talking generically here, I’m not trying to capture everyone’s life in one sentence, but given that I think most people at 60 or so will be in a relationship and will probably have children, then talk to your partner, talk to your children, see what they’re thinking, because they may have some ideas for you, but at the very least by communicating with them, then you won’t surprise them.
Because I do hear stories, particularly about children who will be lamenting the fact that, “Mum, Dad, they just have been moping around the house since they retired. They don’t look happy.” Well, if you explain to them what you’re trying to achieve and what you’re trying to do, I think that sets their mind at ease. It’s those first initial discussions, communication. Could we agree, Tracy, communication is a good thing?
Definitely. Too often as humans, we don’t have the conversations about the things that are most important. Jon, thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and advice with us, and you’ve got a book as well. Come on, give the book a big plug.
Look, it took me hours to find a copy of this on my bookshelf, Finding Joy in Retirement.
What a wonderful piece of advice right there. How to find your joy in retirement. Jon Glass, thank you so much.
Thank you so much.