Jane Kerschner is a graduate of the 2005 Newfield Certified Coach Training Program.
“Retiring seems to put a magnifying lens on those pesky existential questions that we have perhaps been putting off: What is the best use of what I know to be a limited time on this earth?
We have 30 more years of life now than we did just a century ago and some of us are retiring as early as 50. There is now a whole (and large!) span of life that we haven’t really figured out—one many of us have been planning for financially but not always preparing for emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
The two questions most people ask around retirement are: Will I have enough money to retire? What will I do when I stop working?
As a retirement coach, I talk to people who are retired, and a plethora of questions, inquiries, and reflections continue to arise during this time: “I’ve lived my life-saving money, how do I switch from a saving to a spending mindset?” “How will I structure my day with so much free time?” “Who am I if I am not a [insert profession here]?” “Have I found my purpose?”
There is so much around this important life change, and yet, it seems there are very few forums to really talk about it. Exploring uncharted territory means asking questions. I find the more I can stay open to questions, the more possibilities open up. I have also noticed that which questions get asked affect the paths we go down.
For example, “How do I live a life of leisure?” could lead us down a path of thinking that we should spend our days on a golf course or by a swimming pool. If we alter the question to “What is a leisurely life?” this allows us to contemplate whether we want to continuing to do some form of “work” but in a way that is leisurely, that gives us passion, that contributes.
The questions we ask and the assumptions we hold are directly connected to the culture we live in. For instance, many of us are unfamiliar with the practice of leisure since being busy in our culture is really important. Culturally, we, in the west, value the doing: productivity, focus, and what is constructive.
One potent and beautiful big shift that I see that’s possible during this time is to orient to life from a place of being. This is not just a challenge for retirees, but for many of us because we are often seeped in a culture that values doing. I found this shift required that I peel away the layers of identity to reveal my essence; it required being present.
Retiring seems to put a magnifying lens on those pesky existential questions that we have perhaps been putting off: What is the best use of what I know to be a limited time on this earth? For the sake of what have I been on this earth? What is my legacy? And, perhaps the beauty of this era of life is the perspective and spaciousness from which to ask these questions.
A present challenge for both retirees and our culture is ageism. Older people are marginalized, and yet we are the ones that have the most experience, the most wisdom. We, ourselves, grow up in a culture that often dismisses our own aging, disrespecting this stage of life by trying to look and act younger rather than trying to step into our elderhood.
The gift of this challenge is that it raises powerful questions: How can I give my gifts to help with world problems? How can I take responsibility to reconnect with younger generations?
One way reconnection is happening is that older people are no longer choosing to live in segregated, age-focused communities. One of my clients, for example, rents out her extra room to a college exchange student. There is a growing desire to live inter-generationally.
There are lots of ways to do things, but at all stages of life, we only know what we know. That’s why it’s important to read, talk to people, and ask questions. Coaching conversations are about making people curious and awakening the child within so that you can go out and play in the world knowing you are deeply and fully alive in this moment.
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Author: Jane Kerschner
Jane Kerschner MA, PCC, NCOC
Jane's career theme is supporting the personal growth and development of her clients. Jane works with clients as a coach, educator and facilitator to search for ways to bring more passion, purpose and meaning to their lives. The greatest discovery of her 13 years as a Newfield coach has been learning how to use the wisdom of the body and the transformative power of movement and dance in her work.
Now a baby boomer, Jane focuses her practice on the challenges and opportunities of this stage of life. She creates critical conversations with individuals and small groups on how to reinvent retirement and age wisely. Many in their 50's, 60's, and 70's are terrified about growing older and cannot see the possibilities for creating a third chapter of life. Jane is thrilled to play a role in developing this new paradigm of aging.
Jane holds certifications from Newfield Network, International Coaching Federation, True Purpose Institute, Five Rings Somatic Coaching, Retirement Options, and Wise Aging Facilitation with the Institute of Jewish Spirituality. Jane has a BS in education from Northwestern University, and graduate degrees in human development from George Washington and Marymount Universities.