Champion Your Career: Winning in the World of Work by Halimah Bellows addresses the needs of a new generation of career seekers in a rapidly changing economy and job marketplace. Designed as self-paced career development workshop in book format, it provides self-assessment tools to enable individuals to explore their personal passions, values, strengths and skills along with sound strategies and resources for decision making, goal setting and networking to begin a fulfilling new career.
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At an early age Halimah Bellows became aware of her natural ability to listen to people non-judgmentally as well as her desire to be of service to others. In her life as an educator, a career counselor and a coach, she has been able to marry her fascination with people’s stories with her deep interest in the world of work.
A Pacific Northwest and California-based career/coach for more than 20 years, Halimah Bellows holds an MA in English Language Teaching from the University of Exeter, an MS in Counseling Psychology from San Francisco State University and received training at The Coaches Training Institute and Retirement Options to become a Certified Retirement and Professional Coach. Author of Champion Your Career: Winning in the World of Work and creator of CAREER QUEST CARDS, she is a seasoned workshop presenter, group facilitator and talk show guest.
In addition to assisting people through career transitions and supporting retirees to “retire with fire”, she also focusses on helping couples and business partnerships build powerful intentional relationships as well as empowering artists, entrepreneurs, and professionals to develop their business and achieve their dreams.
The Five Stages of Retirement
It has been observed that there are basically five stages to retirement. By understanding these stages you will find it easier to deal with the emotional component of retirement, a pivotal transition from an active work life to creating an identity outside the work environment. These are:
Champion Your Career
Stage 1. Anticipation–Before retiring you may experience emotions ranging from euphoria to anxiety as you think about what you will finally be able to do as well as the amount of uncertainty that each day may bring if it is not so highly structured by work. This is the planning stage, a time for considering how you will bring your dreams into fruition as you gradually disengage emotionally and physically from your work-a-day life. This stage begins well before you retire. In one recent poll (Thestreet.com from Yahoo finance), it was found that only 44 percent of those polled felt that they were on track for a fulfilling retirement.
Stage 2. Enchantment–Upon retiring you may feel like you are on a vacation and are greatly relieved of the burden of work-related responsibilities. This stage may last a few months to several years. If you have not designed your retirement well, however, this stage may be followed by boredom, anxiety or disenchantment as you meander without purpose through most of your retirement.
Stage 3. Disappointment–After vacationing for a while, a feeling of depression may surface if you are not addressing your need for a focused, meaningful life. Many retirees do have a list of projects they want to complete but usually retirement will greatly outlast most “to do” lists. Approximately 30 to 40 percent of retirees are depressed within the first years of retirement. This can lead to health problems if unattended.
Stage 4. Refocusing–Now it is time to intentionally plan for the rest of your life. What brings meaning to you? What makes you happy? What essentials do you miss from your work life and how can you have more of those qualities in your retirement? What do you wish you could do now? Some people take community college courses, volunteer, start up a consulting practice, take up hobbies, rekindle family relationships and friendships. Embrace the spirit of risk-taking when going into new learning experiences. Create a new vision for yourself and develop an action plan to make your retirement dreams come true. Ask yourself, “If I knew I couldn’t fail what would I do next?”
It’s important to look at what has satisfied you in work situations. Is it a sense of accomplishment? Is it the feeling of belonging or receiving recognition? Once you have determined what has given you an emotional payoff in your work life then you can transfer that understanding to activities that will satisfy you in retirement. Consider also what kind of social network you enjoy for your activities as well as the manner in which you like to receive recognition or positive feedback. These three components—satisfying activities, a strong social network, and the opportunity for recognition—can contribute to a high degree of fulfillment in retirement. This stage of refocusing can appear between two to 15 years into retirement.
Stage 5. A Rewarding Retirement–This stage, with intentional forethought and design, will yield a healthy and balanced life. The retiree who achieves this is open to new sources of learning and exploration and carries a deepening sense of life’s purpose while nurturing rich, rewarding relationships. It’s never too late to be who you might have been. It’s never too late for a second childhood where you can explore without interruption yearnings and passions in the arts, in service work, in new areas of interest. Retirement can then be experienced as an adventure, a process of experimentation in bringing out the best in ourselves and our interaction with others. One poll (Agewave.com) showed 75 percent of those interviewed claiming to enjoy retirement with less worry and depression 16 years into this stage.
It is hoped that through honest self-reflection in designing (or redesigning) your retirement, you can more easily move through Stages 1, 2 and 3 to use the Refocusing Stage to achieve a more rewarding retirement. There can be a number of reasons why people become disenchanted with retirement. First, they may have retired for the wrong reasons. Then without a plan they become overwhelmed by boredom, finding that the rest and leisure activities were not enough. Secondly, if they had no realization of the emotional component of retiring, coupled with a general lack of self-scrutiny and no real retirement plan, they become distressed, especially if they had no more meaningful reason to connect to their community. Third, some assume that the retirement process will unfold naturally and that they won’t have to do the work of intentionally designing their retirement. Let’s avoid these pitfalls by dong an exercise that will take you on a journey that enables you to retire with fire.
Determine how ready you are to retire by copying the following questions in your journal and noting, on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being “not ready” and 10 being “It’s in place—done”), the appropriate number for your state of readiness to retire with ease.
1. What is your attitude about aging?
1 = Aging means depression, declining health and assets
10 = Aging means “I am optimistic, feel great, take good care of myself, travel, do not judge or allow others to judge me by my age, learn new activities without the interruptions of raising a family or going to work.”
2. What are your financial resources?
1 = I do not have any money to retire on now. I must keep working.
10 = I have planned for retirement, and the money is there for me when I need it.
3. What are your engagement plans?
1 = I don’t know what I’m going to do with my time. I’m a loner.
10 = I am looking forward to being a volunteer, entrepreneur, assistant, student, learner.
4. How strong is your marriage or social network?
1 = I do not have a healthy marriage. I do not have many friends.
10 = I have a loving intimate partner. I have a strong circle of supportive friends.