Yes, I am one of those. The ones who identified themselves by what they did at work. The ones the experts say will struggle in retirement transition to find out who they are without work.
As I struggled with “To work or Not to work”, What is my Identity?, and finding a life balance of Less work/More play, I decided to pursue a path I had considered twice in my life, but didn’t take either time. Yes, the Robert Frost poem comes to mind… two paths diverged. Had I kept the path for a later day and now was the time? I’ve always been happy with taking that path less traveled – the female engineer – a technical (STEM) path and very feminist role-model. It fit my practical, rational, critical thinking style.
The other path, the path not taken – Life Coach.
Becoming a Life Coach felt so female! So touchy-feely. Yet, when I looked into Life Coach with a Retirement Focus, the first two folks I talked to were men! I had all this knowledge having researched in-depth retirement transition and even created a process with associated exercises to move through it – to create a next stage life vision and action plan.
How did this all come about?
Contemplating “To work or not to work”, I realized I needed some work. I needed something to mentally challenge myself, to help provide an identity, and to provide some income for self-worth. I started with my old mastery area. I still love doing that work. But it was specialized to the MegaCorp I left and I struggled (as have others who have left the MegaCorp with similar specialty) to explain this unique skill and its benefits. The simplest (yes, this is simplest) way to describe it is: Multi-disciplinary Product Strategist that integrates 1) end user/shopper/buyer understanding/insights, 2) business models, brand identity & business needs, and 3)product/package technologies and design. Clear as mud, hmm? So, even with creating my own LLC, and signing on rosters with 3 different consulting groups, I wasn’t seeing that path creating a flow of mentally stimulating project work. I’m not giving up on it – I continue to network as part of my action plan activities.
What is My Identity? I recently described an acquaintance as “she’s an empty-nester mom, an avid athlete who runs and bikes, a great cook and a doctor, too”. (Yeah, can I hate her just a bit?) But it made me wonder what is my litany of role descriptors? Being able to say I am a Life Coach certainly helps with identity statement!
Less work/More play is still my big life mantra. I find that “work” can creep into my week quickly, as I find it mentally stimulating and easy to get lost in a new project. Keeping the focus on a few, small Multi-disciplinary Product Strategist projects a year and then adding a few Retirement Transition clients a year will keep me on the 75/25 split of 75% play. Keep in mind that blogging for me is play! Going to dinner and the theater, taking a hike with friends, going to Zumba or yoga, and taking cooking classes – all play.
So, I have taken the first few steps down this new (untaken) path. I am now a Certified Life Coach! And I am working on the Certification for Retirement Life Coach as well. To be honest, I am not sure how far down this path I will go. Is it my passion, my purpose? Not sure. But it certainly feels good to be able to answer the question ”what do you do?”