The conversation around retirement planning has always been one-sided. For far too long, we have only focused on the financial part of retirement, exploring how much it costs to make an exit from the workforce, what the best savings plans are, and at what age is best to make the move based on benefits.
While the financial side of retirement is super important - after all, you will need savings or a new job lined up post-retirement if you want the move to be successful - what about the social and emotional side? Why has this gone ignored even though it is a huge factor for many retirees?
That’s the question we had when we launched Evergreen, a program designed to help upcoming retirees explore their life options, understand how their life will change post-retirement, and start preparing for the years to come on a very human, down-to-earth level.
Here’s Careerminds’ Vice President of Business Development Tracy Grajewski with more details:
“Evergreen begins with a lifestyle-based assessment and personal coaching supplemented by a thorough learning experience.
“We focus on educating and empowering later-career individuals so they can plan their transition from the full-time, corporate setting to their next life experiences while still employed – this could also include contributing differently at your organization. Our clients are using Evergreen to introduce creative workforce strategies like phased retirement or “project corps” that help them retain experienced team members to provide knowledge transfer or staffing for project-oriented work or technology changes - a “win win” for both parties.”
In other words, Evergreen helps people understand how life will change after retirement - not just how their pocketbook will.
But does it really work?
Yes! And we asked one of our participants, Linda Lockhart, who was formerly a SVP of Operations in Financial Services, to give us a rundown of her experience within the program to shine a light on how.
Here’s our Q&A:
Careerminds: What Challenges Did You Face When Planning Your Retirement?
Linda: The big question was what the days were going to be like as far as being full, active, and rewarding. After 42 years of working/commuting in jobs that were demanding and focusing 85% of my life on work goals, I wasn’t sure what it would be like.
And in my case, it wasn’t a planned retirement. It came out of the corporate blue. I only had 90 days to think about it while continuing to fulfill the demands of my position. Therefore, for me, the Evergreen experience was invaluable and became my compass.
So, the second big question was related to finances and spending habits. After a lifetime of being conditioned to save and experiencing two major economic downturns as an independent adult, it’s a huge step to give yourself permission to start to spend from your savings. It doesn’t happen overnight. So, you try adjusting your lifestyle to your new income to see if you can. It’s a trial and error process until you land on your new normal, which is a combination of adjusting your spending to your new lifestyle and determining whether your budget can sustain itself or if you need to develop an income stream to support it.
This can lead to some fun, new experiences in the search for an additional income stream that still leaves ample time for your enjoyable activities, provides some fun money without the stress of responsibility, and fits your retirement plan. And part of the growth experience is giving yourself permission to not stay at a job if it turns out it doesn’t fit your retirement plan. That, in itself, is a big step for someone who is not accustomed to quitting.
Careerminds: Did Evergreen Help Solve These Challenges? If So, How?
Linda: Absolutely. Evergreen was an awesome tool for me! As I said above, it became a compass. It gave structure to the experience by helping me identify somethings about myself by using your tools.
This helped me to determine how to get the balance that I wanted in my life and how I would work toward maintaining a purposeful life. I have tried doing some unique things that I never would have had the opportunity to try if I was still working a full-time job.
The Evergreen experience gave me the momentum to think about many different things that I otherwise may not have tried. And by evaluating and outlining the balance I wanted to achieve, I re-prioritized, allowing me to enjoy so many personal events that I would have otherwise missed if I was working my pre-retirement job.
It was a great launching pad for going into - what could be considered, for some - the unknown. And as someone who likes to have a plan, for me it was invaluable. I’ve gotten married since going through the Evergreen program, and I want to use my notes to try to work with my husband, who is also retired, to have a purposeful life.
Careerminds: Has Evergreen taught you anything about the social/emotional side of retirement?
Linda: Absolutely the social and emotional side of retirement is huge. And the Evergreen experience gave me great insight into what I need and what I look for even though deep inside you already know it.
It’s reinforcing when you do the exercises and chunk out the decades of your life and what you took from each one. It reminds you what motivates and fulfills you and gets you thinking about how you are going to continue to achieve that outside of work. It emphasized the importance of the social/emotional components of life that often take a back seat when you are in corporate America.
I don’t have any other programs to compare Evergreen to as far as retirement preparation. All the others were financially/investment based.
Careerminds: And finally, what are you doing now that you’ve retired? And has Evergreen helped you land on this decision?
Linda: Evergreen definitely helped me get where I am because of the process of defining yourself and opening your thinking to this huge, new and exciting chapter of your life that you get to write.
You no longer have a boss to answer to or shareholders. You are truly the boss of yourself and your life and can do whatever you want. Just for fun I tried a job in retail. I learned that I loved interacting with the customers, but I did not like the erratic, last minute scheduling of hours to be worked.
It didn’t fit into my retirement plan. Now, I do some part-time work for a Move Management Company who helps seniors transition from their homes to retirement communities. I have become a lector at my church. I applied for the Pastoral Council. I just got information for Meals on Wheels, which I thought is something my husband and I could do together. I donated platelets to the Red Cross for the first time ever because it’s a 3 hour commitment. I became a Wedding Officiant. We formed three LLCs and have done tax lien investing in Florida and Ohio and we are still just learning about that business. We joined a golf club in our neighborhood and we play golf on a regular basis. We have also traveled once a month since retiring to warm and sunny places for golf.
We became grandparents and got to be at the hospital for the birth of the baby, which never would have happened if I was still working full-time. As a result of the birth, we attended Grandparents Class and Infant CPR class and met some interesting people and learned valuable information. And there has been time to do projects around the house and entertain. Retirement has been fun!
That last sentence is what we love to hear. Retirement can be stressful even for the most financially savvy. By understanding how retirement will look and taking a deep dive into the social/emotional aspects that come with it, retirees can start their next chapter on the right foot.
We’re thrilled to hear that Evergreen has helped Linda and people like her through the retirement process.
Want to learn more about Evergreen and how it can help your later-career employees retire successfully? Learn more here: