“do you need a retirement coach?”


I came across this article by Paul Keegan in the 13 Jun 11 issue of the Fortune magazine. I am on a spurt of needing coaches to help me get my life in order, well at least reassure me that I am recovering, so the title caught my eye. But I thought: “are you seriously joking? Retiring needs coaching?”

The article started off with a rosy picture that perhaps the majority of us dream of: XX aged 62, retired, big mansion, huge reserves, sports cars, young girlfriend, etc. I’d expect him to be living on Lizard Island and snorkeling everyday, and reading all the books he had not had the time to read prior to retirement. Instead, Mr. XX was sitting in the office of New Directions, a firm that helps retired executives figure out what to do with themselves.

Um, huh, pause. You mean those guys who worked that @ss off for the past 30 years to get to the point of a comfortable retirement don’t know what to do once they got there?

Apparently, they do not. And after 30 years of slaving away at the desk, 18 – 20 hours a day, these CEOs and senior executives feel “lost”. I can empathize a little, though I am not nearly as senior. The first days of being confined at home when I got very sick, without an office to go to, with less emails on the blackberry, and no meetings to attend, I felt extremely empty, useless and lost too. I was used to be being busy and needed. Suddenly, the phone does not ring anymore. So how would someone who’s been in this routine 3 times longer than me feel? Probably 30 times more empty.  


Yet, I cannot say I sympathize with them. After all, it’s the consequence of 30 years’ of their actions and decisions. Is it surprising that their wives left them and their kids are distant if wives and kids get none of their time and attention, because they were “busy at work”? Does it shock to know that not exercising regularly in the last 30 years (golf hardly counts as a cardio work out) since they were so “busy at work” that they might have problems with their health sooner or later?

The bitter truth that stung me was: I could have ended up like that too! So like my shrink tells me which I find hard to agree with sometimes even now, is that I should be thankful I got sick, which gave me the space and time to hold still and think about if that’s the future I want to live. We think we have everything with a great job that pays the bills. Our tunnel vision towards getting ahead in the corporate world is such a bright and optimistic one. But once we enlarge our scope of sight and look peripherally, we wonder, where have we put our health, our family, our friends, our partners and spouses in the picture?

Why are we sacrificing what will ultimately mean the most to us for the quest of some 10-figure salary?

There must be a way to align financial security with other aspects of life. As the retirement coach in the article pointed out, start envisioning what your “retirement” will be like and how you will spend your years. Maybe with a picture in mind, we can work backwards to see if the life we are living now is conducive to a rosy picture 30 years later.

9 Responses

  1. Great observation noch! Having so much money that you don’t know what to do with it, is not such a bad problem! I wish that it was the college age kids who got coached on what to do with their lives, before 30 years go by… And that’s on every level – spiritually, emotionally and financially. Nice writing!


    • nochnoch says:

      @Vlad – I completely agree with you, I think we would be much better prepared for the “real world” had they focused on teaching us more about ourselves in school and college, instead of stuffing random facts into our little brains! Thanks for coming by again 🙂

  2. I have seen people like this. Work became their life, and when they no longer had work, the no longer had life. Retirement can be a very difficult transition for people like this. I got laid off a couple of years ago and was able to find a job that required less hours, leaving me more time to focus on my family. I find life much more rewarding now that I have more time to spend on non-work pursuits.

    • nochnoch says:

      @Eric – good for you! I’m glad the hiccup of losing your job gave you more perspective on life, and that you turned it around to something more positive. I’ve had lots of friends in the finance industry who fared less well in the midst of the challenge, and too caught up in finding another job that paid as well. Work is indeed, just one part of life, and needn’t be the whole of it. Thanks for dropping by and come again soon. I will come visit your site soon!
      noch 🙂

  3. Much enjoyed your post noch. I love the wise advice of your counsellor, to see how what at first appeared a devastating event in your life, can be seen in a totally different way. As you say, as an opportunity to be still, and connect with what is truly important in this world and in this life.

    • nochnoch says:

      @Chris – thanks for coming to my little blog again, much honoured 🙂 Yes it’s hard to be still sometimes, am learning lots of tips from your writing too. Lots of self introspection these days.

  4. […] against the idea of a corporate job, which many define as a pointless pursuit of nothing and little reward. In fact, I might return to one myself sooner or later—but definitely with a clearer vision of […]

  5. […] and then making a few millions a year as CEO in some big international company?” I dreamt of retiring early with millions in my account so I could go travelling around the world. Goodness knows what I […]

  6. […] and then making a few millions a year as CEO in some big international company?” I dreamt of retiring early with millions in my account so I could go travelling around the world. Goodness knows what I […]

about Noch Noch

Enoch Li, (pen name: Noch Noch) was born and raised in Hong Kong and Australia. She has also studied / worked / lived in the US, France, UK, Japan, The Netherlands, China, and has travelled to more than 40 countries. She loves travelling and her curiosity in foreign cultures and languages has led her to enjoy her life as an international executive in the banking & finance industry. However, she was forced to take time off work in 2010 due to her illnesses and after spending time in recovery, cooking, practising Chinese calligraphy, reading and writing – in short, learning to take care of herself and letting out the residual work stress, she has transitioned into a Social Entrepreneur and founded BEARAPY to help corporates make workplaces mentally healthy, and support executives to become more resilient.