Let go gracefully
Five strategies to retire powerfully.
September 10, 2012
“Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.”
I coach a lot of successful, powerful people as they prepare to retire from important positions such as CEO, managing partner, practice leader, and others. There are important strategies and tactics to ensure a successful transition, including choosing a successor; documenting the clients, people, processes, and duties that the successor will inherit; and training the successor to ensure readiness for the new role.More important than all of these, though, are the mental preparation of the retiring party and the development of his or her steely commitment to let go with grace.
After all, retiring is not easy. Many picture mall-walking, being underfoot at home, endless hours with grandchildren (which for some sounds heavenly, while others are less amused), and a life that has less meaning. Others fear financial difficulties or the decline of their health. Sadly, these stereotypical images of retirement haunt many, and their fear of living a life-less-powerful keeps them from preparing for retirement properly and setting up their successors for true and lasting success. Instead, they risk jeopardizing their long-term legacy because they don’t ensure the perpetuation of their organization without them.
Letting go is hard. Retirees must face the “death” of their career and pass through Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s five stages of grief including denial (where many get stuck and never progress), anger, bargaining, depression or sadness, and, finally, acceptance. Most retirees don’t want to admit their fears, feelings of vulnerability, or their sadness at the loss of their work identity. As a result, they hang on well past the point of what’s best for their successors, their organizations, or themselves.
Instead, combat your fears of retirement and follow these five strategies:
Life after “the old job” can be exciting, fulfilling and transformative. You can continue to learn, contribute, grow, and thrive after retirement. Your actions today will influence your outcome tomorrow—the decision is entirely yours!
Jennifer Wilson is a partner and co-founder of ConvergenceCoaching, LLC, a leadership and marketing consulting and coaching firm that helps leaders achieve success. Learn more about the company and its services at www.convergencecoaching.com.