Being totally FREE can be totally stressful …
… especially when it comes to entering retirement.
In fact, this newfound freedom can be overwhelming. If you don’t plan for this transition beyond the financial, you could get stuck.
Retirees who don’t consider the emotional and lifestyle factors influencing this transition may be at a higher risk for depression, substance abuse, and chronic disease.
The good news? You can avoid it by simply planning ahead.
In the latest podcast episode, I was joined by retirement coach Susan Hogan of Inspired Retirement to discuss strategies for making this transition most effective.
You may be surprised at what you’ll need to consider so you can make the most out of crossing this milestone. Tune in here to learn more.
Hey there. Welcome back to another episode. This week I have a special guest, and we’re going to tackle the hard stuff in retirement that we sometimes forget to nurture—that is the non-financial piece. Susan Hogan has joined me today to share her wisdom and knowledge.
But first, let me share a little bit about her before we dive in cause I know we’ve got some good things to chat about. Susan Hogan helps people who are close to retirement or recently retired to prepare for the non-financial aspect in retirement. Through her lessons in coaching, Susan helps clients to consider practical ways to maintain good health and quality of life through the aging process.
She is passionate about helping retirees to redefine who they are once they’re done working and discover the pursuits that will engage and excite them in their newfound freedom from work. Because Susan is convinced that retirement has the potential to be the happiest time in a person’s life, she built her coaching program called Inspired Retirement to help retirees discover their unique journey to a purposeful and satisfying retirement.
And I do think this is the piece of the puzzle that we’re missing in our financial planning world. So I really appreciate you coming in. Welcome to the podcast and thanks for joining.
Susan (S): Thanks for having me Zena.
Zena (Z): I think what you do is brilliant. We try to cover these things off in our office with our clients, but let’s face it, and I’ll be a hundred percent honest, Susan, it’s not my expertise, it’s not our expertise. And I know that for some people, we’re really missing those important pieces in that non-financial aspect.
So this is your expertise and we all need this coaching. And so I really appreciate that this is what you found as a passion. I think I’d love to see this be that each financial planning office has you on standby in the wings, right? Where you come into the meetings and you join in because I know I’m missing it sometimes and you probably see that too. You probably see people that have taken care of all the finances and then need this piece of the puzzle, right?
S: Yes, in fact, retirement is considered in the top 10 of most stressful life events. So just leaving it to be, or assuming that everything’s gonna be great—I’m free to do whatever I want—if you don’t plan for it, it’s very easy for people to get stuck. And as many as half of all retirees do find themselves stuck or depressed or drifting and at risk of substance abuse or at a greater risk for chronic disease.
It’s really important to do, but it can also at times be a little bit uncomfortable. So I can totally understand why financial advisors generally just kind of skim over the top, just touch it by the surface, and are afraid to go much deeper than that.
Z: Yeah, so true. Oh, man. Okay. And those are stats I didn’t know, but I did realize because I’ve seen the transition where, you know, some people that transition… I’ll share my father-in-law when he first retired—and my family might wanna throw a shoe to me—but I’ve shared it before as I saw a year of some real difficult transition of trying to find a sense of purpose.
Interestingly, we both have a career in retirement consulting, and yours is very different from the financial planning that I provide. And can you give our audience a bit of background on what you do and how it’s different from the financial piece? I think we just talked a little bit about that, but yeah what can you share?
S: Maybe the best way to explain it is to use a bit of analogy. I’ll say as the financial advisor, you are helping your client to buy a car. The financial planning is the part of acquiring the vehicle and making sure it has four wheels and that it’s in decent condition financing it, how much you spend on it. And that’s where the financial advisor’s role ends.
When you come to me for the non-financial side, this is where we’re talking about the other decisions about buying a car. What color do you want and how much storage are you going to need? Will you be taking it off road or do you need just an economical smart car for the city? So the non-financial piece is really about setting your GPS to the destination and making sure you’ve got your sunglasses and your snacks and the right music that you wanna listen to so that you really enjoy the ride.
Z: Oh my goodness. I love that analogy about the vehicle. That is so bang on because you’re right. I get the call and it’s okay, show us the finance. What’s interest rates? What bucket should we take this from? And what does that look like?
I don’t even know what type of car…. As we’re having coffee and we chat, maybe it’s part of the after-discussion, but you’re exactly right. I’m not there at the table talking about all those fine details that actually probably add more stress because I check off the box. We’re good. Yep. We know the financial plan.
But then they leave the office and they’ll be like, this is so overwhelming. I don’t know: What type do we need? What size? You’re exactly right. Bang on. So would you say there’s a difference, and I have a thought too on this one, but I don’t deal with the emotional aspect in retirement, but would you say there’s a difference in the way men and women approach retirement? What do you notice? What do you see?
S: Now generally speaking, and of course, I’m generalizing because men can have some of the traits of women and women can have some of the traits of men. So in general, I would say that men tend to struggle a little bit more with finding their new identity.
Their identity is strongly related to the work that they do, whether they’re a veterinarian or a financial advisor or a teacher, or a C-suite executive. They really tend to identify with that job description. That job title really is a core piece of who they are.
Where women on the other hand are maybe used to carrying a few more different identities. Being a mother because they had to shift to stay home for maternity leave or take on other roles and responsibilities. So they tend to be less connected to just the one job. But then the women tend to struggle with figuring out what it is that they want. What are they interested in, what do they wanna do? It’s been so long for them since anyone has asked “hey, what do you want?” that they can often struggle.
They’ve not made themselves a priority, but their children, their parents, their spouses, their bosses are. It’s always been about what everyone else wants from you. It can be a really great time for someone to look deep and figure out: What is it that I want on my own?
And then again, the women will often have to shift into caregiving responsibilities or taking care of aging parents who are babysitting their grandkids. And then they skip over that part of prioritizing themselves.
Z: I think as we’re talking about the differences, and I don’t know if I’ve noticed it, but one of the things, and I’m thinking of one in particular couples, is that the woman has retired first. And she’s got a year or two under her belt, and then her spouse he’s going to retire. And it’s no, like you’re gonna have to find something to do because you’re gonna mess up my mojo.
Because it was like finally, and I wonder, and I hadn’t put two and two together. I wonder if it was because of the caregiving because she did work 75%, but it was to help wrangle the kids and do all the back and forth. So the caregiving piece. And so finally when her retirement came in, it was probably “Now I can do the things that I always wanted to do”. And that sense of self was there.
And so now there’s the planning of how her mojo’s gonna be messed up when her husband retires now that we’re thinking about it, he’s gonna have to find, and we’ve talked about, the hobbies to keep busy so that it doesn’t mess with her stuff. So interesting, the dynamic.
S: Yeah. In fact the coaching world has a name for that. They call it “retired husband syndrome”. And of course that’s where the wife, like you said, has been home and has everything running tickety-boo. And this is how I do it.
And the husband comes home, and he is bored, and he’s sticking his nose in and he’s micromanaging in places where he doesn’t belong. And so it’s really a tongue-in-cheek way of saying this is not unusual. It happens all the time.
Z: Yeah. And then on the flip side the woman not retiring because her career’s starting to take off finally and she’s finding her way. Kids are empty nest, and so kids are gone, but he retires and fulfills, now it’s a kind of a reversal of the roles as it was. And the timing now is the handing of the torch of the next career piece. And so I do see that happening a little bit more where she’s working a lot longer and really climbing the ladder and working her butt off, and he’s home now taking care of things and I like that.
I like that role reversal even for myself. I’m thinking: Exactly. That sounds pretty good. A topic that came up, and I was thinking about this for another podcast too, but it’s that caregiving role in retirement, and I’ll share that I’ve got a couple of cases where there is a… I don’t wanna call it early retirement because we’d been planning for it.
So it wasn’t for lack of, but it was deciding to quit a little bit earlier than planned, all the money lined up and everything and it was to help look after a parent. And so that caregiving piece, do you see a lot of stress happening on women that are retiring? Are they choosing to retire to help look after people?
S: Yeah. Caregiving is an incredibly stressful job to do, and unfortunately, it does tend to, more often than not, fall to the women. And again, the women can often put their own needs aside and fulfill these roles without any real regard for what it is that they wanna do. And in no time at all, your retirement can be sucked away.
And you’ve spent all of it caregiving. You are stressed and exhausted. And your body’s not working quite right anymore because you haven’t been exercising or doing the things that you need to do for self-care. So the caregiving can really be a bit of a black hole if you’re not aware of it when you’re heading into it.
Z: What advice would you give women?
S: I think the most important thing is to make sure that you have help whether it’s some relief or some respite or making sure that you do have some long-term care insurance or are able to get some in-home care or community resources that can really help so that you would have time for some self-care and to de-stress, whether it’s meditation or therapy, or journaling and other practices, that can really help keep your mind sharp and give you some time to pursue your own interests.
Z: So I was gonna say that’s the reminder. I feel as women we probably give this advice to our best friend and our girlfriends but then we need to hear it for ourselves from someone else, right?
S: Yeah. Yes, that’s right. And then the other thing that’ll be really important for women to remember is that caregiving needs are finite. Eventually, your aging parents will pass or the grandkids that you’ve been tasked with babysitting will grow up and head off to school. And that retiree who devoted all of her time to caregiving will find that she’s almost retired all over again and needing to transition once again to a new identity and a new role.
Z: Yeah, that’s true. I hadn’t thought about that, that topic of babysitting. And parents, grandparents that take on the full-time babysitting role too. And I hadn’t even thought about: What happens when kids go back to school and it’s done?
Okay. I’m gonna jump to are there issues specific to single versus married women in planning for retirement? Now I know the finance piece, right? That’s a dollar number spreadsheet, but tell me about the emotional piece in retirement for that.
S: Let’s start with solo women who are sometimes maybe called an elder orphan or a solo ager simply to define a person who is aging alone with little support. Sometimes these are single or divorced individuals, or sometimes it can be someone who’s lost a spouse. And those parents can often feel that they’re… they find themselves more isolated than those who are childless because then there’s distance keeping them away from their family.
And that family can be a really strong connection that is difficult when it fades and the children are moving outta the house and you’re an empty nester, whereas those who didn’t have children they’ve already learned how to build really strong social networks of friends. So for solo agers, it’s really important that they find other people, some networks that they can build and maintain to really strengthen their social connections and make sure that they’re not alone.
Z: Yeah, taking that extra work probably to build the relationships and keep the relationships, right?
S: Most definitely. Yeah. And then married women on the other hand, once again, we’ve got a negotiation. And retirement can cause a really big shift in a marital relationship. So it’s very important that there’s lots of talking, lots of dreaming. And dreaming, but together, and negotiating trade-offs when it’s time to, say, renegotiate the household chores.
It could be that he always did the outside work and she always did the inside work, but in the winter there’s not much outside work, so she’s still doing more than her share. So this is when it’s time to say, okay, maybe it’s time for you to do the laundry, or maybe it’s time for someone else to cook dinner. And so it’s important to have those negotiations and have those talks and heck when neither of you wanna do it, then hire someone. There’s always options.
Z: I’m a huge fan of delegation because time is money, and if it can free up time then it can also save a marriage. And yeah, in the financial piece, that’s definitely something we can throw into that. Retirement income planning is 200 a month for mowing the lawn if it’s gonna cause some fights.
What would you say about the retirement and aging process to a woman who is more concerned about gray hair and wrinkles, having to go through that piece? What would you say? Coach me on this, please.
S: Oh, I think we’re all a little bit concerned about the gray hair and wrinkles. And unfortunately, I don’t have a good answer for preventing all of that. But what I do spend a lot of time talking about in my coaching program is really maintaining fitness for both the mind and the body. Because with women it’s not just the men who fall ill with heart disease or diabetes and other chronic diseases that shorten the lifespan. Women are just as susceptible.
On top of that, they are at risk of osteoporosis and having to deal with menopause at the same time. It is really important for women and men, everybody really, to re-embrace their health and take care of it as they age. Because, hey, this is the only body you’ve got. Maybe the paint is chipping and your hair is turning gray, but you’ve gotta take it and drive the distance.
Z: Yeah I go to a gym here in town for weight and strength training, and our coach is a female. And she’s just the most inspiring woman, and I’m getting my butt kicked at the gym and I’m seeing and surrounded by these women that are retired. And they actually now have the time to go to the gym. They’re taking the effort and time and they’re lifting heavier than me and they’re standing straighter. And they are in the best shape of their life.
And that is actually one of my retirement goals in transitioning is to stay active. And I think, yeah, you’re definitely right that the hair will go, the paint might chip, but we’re still running around and being active.
S: That’s right. We’re still trucking. Yeah. I love those women at the gym. They’re huge inspirations for me as well.
Z: Yeah. Okay, wrapping up—cause in keeping it in the commuting time frame there for everybody in their car—wrapping up, can I share about your coaching program Inspired Retirement? Can I give you a plug here? You do offer one-on-one coaching, correct?
S: That’s right.
Z: And do you have online programs as well? Do you have anything, like, an at-your-own-pace program?
S: Yes, actually we’re just expanding now and developed a coaching app. I call it my DIY coaching where it’s available on both Android and Apple or on the web. And when going through the app, do it at your own time. Do it at your own pace.
You’ll find micro-lessons that’ll give you a little bit of information, something you didn’t know, something you maybe haven’t thought about, something to inspire you. And then at the end of each session, there is a journaling assignment. And this is the part you can’t skip over, even though it starts to get uncomfortable. And that’s where you dig deep and find out what it is that you really want.
And then through the course of doing that type of program you walk out of it at the end with a bit of a plan, or at the very least, a plan for a plan just so that you can be pointed in the right direction and head towards a successful retirement.
Z: That makes total sense cause, you know, when I started Astra Financial, I went out on my own. I left my other firm. I had a coach that helped me through, and it was a life coach. And then of course there’s a business coach, but we all need that coaching for each transition and retirement is no different.
That’s a transition that we need to plan for. And then it’s also about surrounding yourself with that positivity. So that’s fantastic. There’s an app and there’s all these prompts and stuff, and so that we can keep our finger on the pulse of, okay, building confidence, you’ve got this or this transition’s gonna be okay.
And the self-paced too. I really love that. For those in retirement, where can someone find more information about your non-financial retirement planning?
S: My website is www.inspiredretirement.ca. And just for your listeners, I’ll throw some information out to go to zena.inspiredretirement.ca. I’ll put down some of that information about the retired husband syndrome and some other references that people might enjoy.
Z: Oh, I love that. Thank you for doing that. That’s an awesome giveaway. Thank you, Susan, for joining, and also you’ll find more information in our show notes, astrafinancial.ca. You’ll be able to find the show notes and our transcript, and then I’ll also give all the links and information so that you can find Susan. Thank you for joining.
S: Thank you, Zena. Have a great day. Thanks.