The Embarrassing Side Of Retirement

Who will you ask for help if things don’t feel right in retirement? (photo credit: Getty)


A retired family member needed some medical supplies. My wife usually takes care of this stuff, but she was out of town, so the task fell to me. At first, it wasn’t a big deal.  I was just going to drive to the store, walk in, grab what was needed, hit the self-check-out line, and then drop them off.  A pretty straightforward process with easy plan of execution, or so I thought.

When I got to the store it was packed. Mind you, I have gone to this store hundreds of times, but I had never seen it this busy.  As I made my way over to the pharmacy area, I started to feel uncomfortable.  The products I needed to pick up were not in a back corner, discreet area.  They were near an end cap which was just off one of the more heavily traveled aisles.

As I made my way down the aisle, I was horrified.  There I was standing in a high traffic area starring at an assortment of products for any and all problems associated with one’s “behind.”  To make matters worse, I couldn’t find the specific products I was supposed to pick up.

I scanned the shelves several times, trying to quickly find them and get out of there before someone saw me and assumed I was the one with the issue.  But it was nowhere to be found, so I had no choice but to go up to the pharmacy counter and ask for help.  Of course, the person behind the counter happened to be a young, attractive woman.  Subsequently, in the coolest voice I could muster, I asked where these specific medicated pads were.

I was hoping she would inconspicuously respond with a “Bottom row in aisle 6” or point to a nearby shelf so I could grab them and get on with my day.  No such luck.  She responded, “I’ll show you.”

So now I’m following her back to the “fanny” aisle and she doesn’t just point to where they are, she grabs the regular supply as well as the super value pack. Holding them up, she asks “Which one do you want?” I’m turning beet red at this point and feel like everyone is looking at me.

I don’t remember which one I grabbed because at this point, I’m just relieved to have the products in my cart.  Then I realize, I’m in the far corner of the store and need to make my way up to the cash register.  For whatever reason, I’m feeling self-conscious about the whole ordeal and so I look for something to add to my cart to hide the stuff.  I didn’t want to be pushing my basket up to the front and run into someone I knew.

Thankfully to my right are some bags of bath salts. They are the perfect cover, so I grab them and lay them on top of the wipes, making a dash to the front of the store and finally back to the safety of my car.

It’s a funny story and I assume many of you have been in a similar situation.  Just as my experience unfolded in unexpected ways, the same thing can happen to people who are getting ready to retire or are already headlong into it.

Many people start the planning process thinking that things will be pretty straight forward and go a certain way. Then they get there, and real life is very different.  Some people can find that they don’t like endless free time and miss their work title.  Others can feel less relevant without ties to a project and colleagues, or feel isolated if a spouse or all their friends are still working.

Just as I couldn’t find the product, they can’t find their groove and are left looking around and feeling out of sorts.  Some want to ask for help, but they don’t know who to turn to.  While there are an ever-growing number of Certified Retirement Coaches to help with the transition, they aren’t in ever grocery store and warehouse club just yet.

As a result, many individuals and couples can waste some of the best and healthiest years trying to figure it out. Often times, concealing how they are feeling and hoping that no one sees them in this situation.

The reality is, retirement is one of the most significant transitions people will make. Which makes it more important than ever to develop a written plan for these non-financial pieces as well.  Something that very few financial professionals are trained in, let alone have a proven process to take you through.

This is important because the financial services industry is going through a major transition.  Advisors are realizing that clients want something more than just help with their money.  They want someone who can help them thrive in this next stage of life.   Some firms are claiming to use a more holistic approach or life planning process, but it’s a charade.  They don’t have the necessary training, experience, or retirement coaching designation to truly provide the help and insight that people need.

In fact, many offer some one-time conversations about this more personal side, but don’t have any tangible tools or resources.   Therefore, clients should be looking for and screening advisors based on their ability to create both a written financial plan and a written non-financial plan.  If they don’t offer it, move onto someone who does because just having a plan to make sure you don’t run out of money is of very little value if you run out of good health, family, friends, and time first.

In the end, retirement shouldn’t be this awkward, uncomfortable time, where you have to be discreet about what is going on or how you are feeling. It should be a time of life where you feel confident with your plan to make the transition and thrive in any aisle you head down!

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