Redemption, in its most basic form, is defined as the opportunity to buy or gain something back. It typically involves a process of going “from” one point “to” another. For clients, particularly baby boomers entering retirement, this is a profound opportunity to buy back many of the things they put on hold while pursuing a career and saving money for retirement.
At the heart of both reconciliation and retirement are three factors that individuals and couples can use to make a successful transition from work life to home life: deliverance, forgiveness and reconciliation. While these are more commonly associated with world religions, as you will see, they can serve as powerful influences to help people prepare for more than just the financial situations they’ll face in retirement.
In terms of deliverance, retirees are quick to realize that they have been set free … rescued from the stress and demands of the everyday rat race. Free from the bondage of work and the grips of detailed schedules and time lines, retirees are finally in control and positioned to flourish.
When it comes to the redeeming quality of “forgiveness,” many people are unaware of the role it plays in retirement. Whether you are seeking forgiveness or offering it, both involve the process of letting go. Likewise, retirement brings with it the need to release the past, which may include a company title, prior asset allocation or daily routine. Failure to do so can cause inner turmoil, resentment and grudges that keep you from moving on and accepting your new situation and opportunities.
Finally, retirement’s most powerful aspect of redemption is that of reconciliation. The daily grind can affect people in various ways, which in turn can hamper relationships, eating habits, exercise and overall well-being. The ability to reconcile or renew a passion, hobby, relationship, spirituality or healthy lifestyle can serve as the driving force retirees need to get out of bed each and every day. An attitude they can use to redefine themselves and create a no-regrets retirement plan.
While the concepts of deliverance, forgiveness and reconciliation seem to fit well into the retirement mold, the challenge comes in trying to apply these ideas to ones individual needs and situations. For me, that means thinking beyond traditional dollars and cents advice and investing the time and energy in ideas, strategies and conversations that produce both personal and industry value.
During a meeting with a woman recently widowed, I could tell she was struggling to make some decisions. So, I stopped the conversation and said gently, “I don’t know if anyone has told you or given you permission to take some more time for yourself, but you don’t have to have it all figured out right now.”
As you might expect, she broke down and began crying. I didn’t reach over to hug her, pat her hand or pass a tissue. I gave her a moment to take it in and deal with her emotions. I waited quietly for her to compose herself, after which she simply said, “Thank you!” In that moment, she was free from the constraints, worries and burdens she was carrying.
The reality was she didn’t need a plan, just temporary permission to be a ship without a rudder. It was a simple suggestion that created the space and time for her to continue to come to peace with her situation and begin to restore her personal strength.
I also have a pair of well-educated medical professionals as clients. Their income places them among the 1 percent, and when they asked me how much they should be saving, I vaguely replied, “a lot.” I followed up by suggesting they shouldn’t rely on traditional stock market investments alone. Instead, I suggested they may need to consider starting their own business, investing in someone else’s business or adding physical real estate to their plans in order to ultimately achieve their retirement income needs.
They were relieved and excited. It’s something they had considered doing, but previous advisors were only willing to discuss and help coordinate products and services they offered. This constituted a form of forgiveness, because both they and I let go of some constraints the financial services industry commonly puts on advisors and clients. The couple later remarked, “You’re the first financial person we have ever heard say that.”
A different setting brought about another opportunity for retirement redemption. A retired female client called to say she was thinking of taking a large home equity loan at just 2.5 percent interest. Her plan was to use a small portion for some home renovations and then give the rest to me to invest.
I cautiously responded by asking her a series of supportive questions: “Tell me more about the thoughts and plans behind your decision. Was this spur-of-the-moment or something that’s been in the works for a while? Is there any reason why you would rather get a loan than use your existing savings? Have you discussed it with anyone else?”
After some discussion, it became apparent that the decision to renovate her home was in response to boredom, loneliness and anxious feelings about using up her money without running out of it. I encouraged her not to take the loan and suggested, “One thing I have learned over the years is that stuff doesn’t make people happy.”
The reality is that new cabinets and stainless steel appliances don’t pick up the phone and invite friends over, they don’t mend broken relationships, and they surely don’t help take off excess weight or remedy those financial worries that cause sleepless nights. In other words, stuff doesn’t offer clients the opportunity to reconcile and fix what may really be going on.
I say and do these things because over the years I have developed a personal set of simple saving, investing and risk management beliefs that go beyond traditional retirement and investment planning. They are:
I wish I could tell you that I have always followed these rules and a course of redemption, but that’s not the case. They were created over time, through many failures, lost clients, missed sales and personal challenges in my own life. All of which help me see the need to change and be more than a financial resource in people’s lives.
Retirees today are definitely concerned about running out of money, but they also need help replacing their work identity, filling their time, staying connected to family and friends, as well as keeping mentally and physically healthy.
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About the Author:
As the Retirement Activist, Robert Laura created the Retirement Coaches Association and RetirementProject.org. He is the leading voice for the retirement coaching industry and has pioneered many tools and resources to help people prepare for the non-financial aspects of retirement including the Certified Professional Retirement Coach CRPC training and designation.
He is the author of several books and guides including Naked Retirement and Retirement Rx. He is also a nationally syndicated columnist for Forbes.com and Financial Advisor Magazine. Robert is a sought-after corporate trainer, speaker, consultant, and financial expert witness. He can be reached here