What you do with your retirement is up to you. That feels like the hardest part. There is so much to consider that retirement planning seems impossible.

I’ve supported clients as a Certified Retirement Options Coach for many years now so I know a thing or two about moving from the working world to the post-working world. A lot of people struggle to find their new purpose after retirement. A lot of people don’t even know where to start. Let me remind you of my favourite line: Everything to do with careers is learnable. That includes the closing act of your career!

With that in mind, what’s holding most people back from retiring with purpose is procrastination. They aren’t taking the time and space to figure out what they want to do in retirement. Whether they are subconsciously or knowingly avoiding retirement planning, procrastination only adds to the sense of dread as they get closer to their retirement date. 

So, why does it feel so hard to face up to non-financial retirement planning and what can you do about it?

What is causing retirement planning procrastination?

There are various reasons soon-to-be-retirees put off properly considering their options for life post-work. Usually, it’s due to one or a combination of the following reasons. 

Emotional overwhelm

It’s completely understandable if you are avoiding thinking about retirement because it feels like too much to handle emotionally. Retirement planning causes you to think about how you’ll have to say goodbye to what has been a big part of your life for many years – your career. You might be worried that retirement will be boring and you don’t want to think about being disappointed with your life. Maybe you’re actually quite nervous about stopping working. 

Whatever comes up for you, retirement is an immense change so it’s very normal to be overwhelmed with emotions. I have a free guide on the Six Emotional Stages of Retirement which will be helpful if you feel like you’re wrapped up in emotions that you’re not quite sure how to navigate. 

Decision fatigue and choice overload

You have to make enough decisions at work as it is. How are you supposed to make decisions about something as important as retirement? From travelling the world to spending more time with the grandkids, there are so many options for what you could do that you don’t feel like you have the capacity to come to any conclusions. So you’re left in indecision, not knowing when you’re going to feel confident in your next steps. 

My best advice here is to break it down. You don’t have to figure it all out at once. It’s a big lifestyle change. Take your time with it. How about you focus on the first step, thinking about ways to spend your time that excite you? Forget about the how and which ones to choose. Without any reservations create a retirement wishlist.

The busyness of now

You haven’t retired yet. So your time and focus are still very much consumed by your career. You might find yourself with even more on your plate as you prepare for retirement and/or to hand over your responsibilities. You’re so busy dealing with the present that you don’t have the capacity for the future. 

This is a trap a lot of people fall into. The busyness of now takes away from planning for the future. The issue they run into is their retirement date rolls around and they feel completely out of their depth because they have no idea what to do next. They have an abundance of time that they don’t know what to do with. Working out at least the key pieces of the puzzle makes the transition to retirement much less jarring. Could you find an hour a month for non-financial retirement planning?

Not knowing where to start

For decades you have built your life around your career. Now you have no restraints. Your time is wholly yours. It’s no wonder you feel like you don’t know where to begin when it comes to finding your purpose in the post-working world. It’s completely unfamiliar and how to approach non-financial retirement planning isn’t talked about nearly enough. 

I’d get started by reflecting on your purpose in retirement. What’s your reason to get out of bed in the morning when it’s no longer getting to work on time? It can be helpful to reflect on the purpose your career gave you. What about your job or working life motivated and energised you? Is that something you want to take into your retired life? Give yourself the proper space and time to do this. Set aside at least half an hour. Find yourself a quiet place without distractions. Make notes on what comes up for you. 

How can accountability help?

It’s one thing to tell yourself you’re going to do something. It’s another thing to tell someone else about what you intend to do and have them be a source of support, encouragement and an alternative perspective. 

In my experience, having someone to hold them accountable helps people move out of a place of procrastination and into an empowered place of action-taking. By accountability I mean someone who checks up on how you are progressing and if there’s anything they can do to help. You’re not alone. You have someone by your side as you plan out one of the most life-changing transitions you’ll experience – the move from working to retirement. It eases the emotional load. There’s someone to bounce ideas off before committing to any decisions. They can make suggestions to help you get started and prompt you to take time to make at least a little bit of progress before the next check-in. 

While most people immediately think of choosing a friend or family member as a retirement planning accountability partner, I’d steer clear of that if possible as the emotional ties can complicate your decision-making process.  

I embed accountability into my individual retirement transition coaching as well as the support I offer through the Retirement With Purpose Toolkit. As a Certified Retirement Options Coach, I can give people direction on exploring their options, planning their next steps and easing the transition from work to retirement. 

I’m a neutral and knowledgeable sounding board that you can tap into during the monthly group drop-in sessions you get access to for 12 months when you sign up for the Retirement With Purpose Toolkit. The toolkit itself includes self-paced retirement transition resources to explore in your own time. The live sessions are an opportunity to ask questions, receive guidance and have someone to hold you accountable during the planning process. 

Sign up for the Retirement With Purpose Toolkit and I’ll see you at the next drop-in session! It’s an hour each month dedicated to creating a wonderful and fulfilling future, whatever that looks like for you.

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