Spotlight on life coaching for baby boomers

As a Life Coach and baby boomer I have been interested in understanding if there was a need for life coaching amongst retiring baby boomers. I felt there was a lot support offered in the area of Financial planning but thought the equally important areas of Life Planning were not being fully discussed and considered.

 I decided to undertake a research project where the hypothesis was "that there is a significant role for Life coaching in facilitating and empowering retired and retiring Baby Boomers with the new life journey they deserve."

The current wave of retirees emerging from the post Second World War Baby boom generation are today between 49 to 69 years of age. They have better health, live longer and are more active than previous generations. As a consequence, their retirement experience is likely to differ from their parents and grand-parents.

With this in mind how is retirement going to fit with Baby boomers? Will their finances cover their extended life expectancy and life style? Some say that 50 is the new 40 and 60 is the new 50. With their good health and active life style retiring may be a challenge in terms of what’s next? What am I going to do with my life? Baby boomers will need to have short term, medium and long term plans for their future. But are they prepared for their retirement so that they can optimize and fulfil their life? Looking after grand-children and helping out their adult sons and daughters is always an option, however have they considered what they could do for themselves?

To address these questions, I conducted an online survey that posed 10 questions to Australian Baby boomers who were retired or planning to retire that covered their demographic, feelings and life expectations, control and clear goal settings, support availability and potential need of a life coach.

The demographic showed 11% were already retired while 63% would retire in the next 10 years. 97% of the participants had been working for between 20-40 years.

The feelings associated with retirement were primarily positive. 20% were excited and 42% were happy, although 11% were worried. 

In considering the “wheel of life” in the world of retirees and future retirees, it looks pretty positive, apart from finances and health, and displays an optimistic view of retirement. These results are shown in the Table below.

In terms of having control over their retirement, 45% had full control, 45% had partial control, 3% had little control, 2% had no control and 5% were not sure. These results indicate that less than half of them felt that they had control. As for having clear and defined goals for their retirement, 47% said yes but 53% said no.

When asked if they could discuss their feelings, expectations and goals with family and/ or friends, 65% replied yes, 3% said no, and 32% said sometimes. It is encouraging to hear that most of the participants (65%) had a supportive network however 35% did not feel they did or did not have it, leaving them more vulnerable with decision making and in finding their way through retirement.

Participants were asked if they would like to openly discuss their current feelings, thoughts and hopes with someone who was impartial. The aim of this question was to see if people would be willing/ needing to discuss their issues. While 37% said no, 24% gave a definite “yes” and 39% a “may be”; a total of 63%. This is valuable data highlighting that respondents do not always have people they could talk to.

 In this last question, after providing a short description of what a life coach does, the participants were asked if they would consider seeing a life coach. 34% said no, 21% said a definite yes and 42% may be. This is highly encouraging as the total of yes and maybe equals 63%.

Overall the analysis of the findings from the survey shows that they were a diverse group in terms of the stage they were at with their retirement and their years in the workforce.

Their answers provided evidence of their awareness that growing older and giving up work was going to bring some changes to their life. Therefore, pre-retirement and retirement is a stage where Baby boomers need to explore what they want to do / achieve. While they need to have ownership over their new life journey they also need human support along the way; someone who they can openly talk to about their feelings, plans, doubts and excitements. They need someone who can listen with compassion; someone they can trust.

In the ideal world one would think that in reaching their mature age, Baby boomers would have amongst their friends and family members at least one loyal person to talk to. However, this study demonstrated that the possible lack of immediate support and/or the inability to fully open up to close friends and/or relatives gives impetus for the services of a life coach to fully prepare them for the new life journey they richly deserve.