Jack & Deb's Story
For Jack and Deb, retirement had always been: (1) in the future, (2) something they needed to save for and (3) something they looked forward to. The time came when, suddenly, none of those were true. The future had arrived. They had successfully saved enough to retire comfortably. But the reality of retirement wasn’t living up to their expectations.
Unfortunately, there is no prerequisite seminar that covers how to retire successfully. Therefore, we are not surprised to learn that many professionals finish their careers only to recognize that they finally have time and money at their disposal, but nothing worthwhile to do with their resources. Often, depression and anxiety loom as individuals try to find a sense of meaningfulness in their retirement years.
Jack had retired from a large utility company eleven months before he and his wife, Deb, called Jody Michael Associates. Their marriage was a model of those from the early baby boomer era: Deb raised their children while Jack earned money to support the family. Their children were now adults, living in different states with their own families. The couple had prepared so that they would be financially comfortable for the next 20 years, given regular market returns. However, when they arrived in our office, both were bored and unhappy.
Deb had looked forward to retirement as an opportunity to spend time with her life partner and to travel while her health was still good. Jack, on the other hand, had envisioned this as a restful period of his life, in which he could play golf and discover some hobbies he liked at his leisure. Since he had traveled frequently for his work, traveling did not hold the same appeal as it did for his wife. Further, Jack had felt tired and unmotivated in the previous months. And although he was able to rest, he felt he was wasting the life he’d been given.
JMA recognizes that retirement can be many things to many people. In this case, three stakeholders required consideration: Jack, Deb and the couple as a whole.
After more than 50 years of scripted life, Jack and Deb needed Ms. Michael’s exercises, questions and ad hoc homework to rediscover the interests they had thought would be bubbling to the surface. The information they learned about their relationship and each other was important for their future, but also disconcerting considering they had been married for 37 years. JMA helped Jack and Deb through this discovery process and guided them to format the new information in a way that guaranteed they would act on it. Their schedule was flexible enough to allow changes in plans, but granted all three stakeholders their needs.
Jack was comfortable with the amount of time their schedule gave him to recuperate and to golf. As part of the program, Deb prioritized the destinations she wanted to visit and marked a block of the calendar for each of the next four, depending on that destination’s optimal travel season.
The couple recognized that they did not share all of the same interests at home or on trips. Therefore, both individuals could schedule time to get their own needs met – for instance, her to look for antiques and him to golf. Deb recognized that she could not depend on her husband as her only social outlet. She culled her interests and decided to build a social network around two of these by joining groups and participating in community forums. Concerned that she would only meet other retirees, Deb also applied to be a docent at a local art museum.
This is the negotiation that Jody Michael Associates introduced into Jack and Deb’s retirement years. The dialogue not only kept their relationship vital and new, but made sure that each person took care of his or her needs, as well as those of the couple. As a result of this fresh focus and plan, Jack and Deb looked forward to the next 20 years of their lives. They scheduled specific activities for the next year, planned future vacations, and developed a larger set of goals that each wanted to achieve in the following years. Best of all, this plan accommodated the changes that their inevitable self-discovery, both as individuals and as a couple, would bring.
Please note: The names of clients, their employers and certain identifying details have been changed to respect their privacy and maintain confidentiality.