January 29, 2015 by Cindy Elwell

Retirement. You may have been planning it for years, working out how you and your spouse will manage it financially and how you’ll be spending your more abundant free time together. You’re nearing retirement age when all of a sudden you find yourself going through divorce, and all your plans and dreams are shattered. What do you do now?
Gloria Dunn-Violin, a Certified Retirement Life Coach, agreed to share her insights on this topic. Gloria has an extensive background in helping people create fulfilling lives both before and after retirement. Before becoming a retirement life coach, she spent 25 years providing training, coaching, and consulting in the field of Organizational Development and Behavior, and wrote the book From Making a Living to Having a Life. Currently she focuses on helping people plan for a happy retirement via her business, HAVING A LIFE After Making a Living. Here’s what she shared with us.
Retirement and divorce have some very similar elements. Certainly they both involve big change and transition. The experience of both transitions are also similar depending on the circumstances. For example, quitting your job feels very different than being fired or laid off. Similarly, divorcing because it is your choice feels quite different than if your spouse springs it on you. When the transition is not your choice, it’s more difficult to deal with and entails a big emotional aftermath. But whether the choice was yours or not, it’s a huge upset to your lifestyle and previous plans.
To make things less difficult, it’s important to reinvent your future with a new plan. Retirement used to be for a shorter time; nowadays, people generally live longer and hopefully healthier. We could be living in retirement for 30 or even 40 years! What are we going to do in all those years?
Retirement philosophy has changed. No longer viewed as a time to just slow down and do nothing, it is now seen as a chance for a new beginning! If you enjoyed your work, maybe you’d like to do it part-time as a consultant. Is there something you have always wanted to do that you never had time for before? Here’s your chance to take up sculpting, learn how to fly a plane, take some painting classes, or become a great golfer. Would you like to discover and learn new things? Now you have time to take some anthropology or art history classes, or explore the sciences.
Now is your time to make a positive new beginning in your life! Some people have hidden treasures and talents that don’t come to light until they have the time and space to discover them. One of my clients took some art classes after she retired and found that she had a great gift for it. Another client had wanted to be a writer since she was five years old, and finally had the time to develop that talent.
When people retire or get divorced, they sometimes lose their perceived purpose in life, and feel they have no reason to get up in the morning. We need to find our personal purpose and meaning in life that is not related to a job or marriage. This could be volunteer work, activism, exploration, or many other things. We have so many options and opportunities these days!
Another important aspect of a happy retirement is to have a support system in place. We need other people, not only for our emotional health, but because when you interact with others you discover more about yourself. This is a great time for personal growth. Coming out of a divorce or a work layoff, one’s self-esteem can be hit pretty hard. Now’s the time to redevelop your self-esteem and form a good relationship with yourself.
It’s vitally important to have a plan for this phase of your life, a plan to help you prepare for and move to where you want to go. A retirement coach can be a great resource to help you create your plan for a fulfilling and meaningful “rest of your life”. Make it a new priority to let the creative and curious part of you come out to play – it’s been waiting a long time!
Our thanks to Gloria for sharing her perspective on retirement and divorce. Divorce With Dignity is all about helping people to not only get through the divorce procedure with peace and dignity, but also to give them referrals to other professionals who can help them rebuild their lives and make a new beginning. To speak with a Divorce With Dignity associate, please visit our website.
The author of this blog is not an attorney and the information contained in these blogs should not be considered legal advice. The information provided here is based on the experience of the author and some of her clients whose actual names are not mentioned. Do not hesitate to seek the advice of an attorney if you have any legal questions.

photo credit: moodboardphotography