Cheryl Greenberg - HeadshotCheryl Greenberg, Ed.D.

Dr. Cheryl Greenberg, Ed.D., works as a coach, or guide, for seniors and their families as they consider and plan for changes in their personal and work lives. Contact her at or 336-202-5669.

Arthur, a lovely and accomplished 66 year old man, called to say, “I am ready to retire!”

I knew that Arthur had been a contractor for almost 40 years. He had “put in his years” in productive and satisfying ways. He was also a careful person, so I wasn’t surprised that he had already checked his financial picture, had legal documents in place (powers of attorney, will, and such), and had checked his living arrangements for flexibility, should he need modifications for health reasons later on.

Arthur announced he was ready for the next step for a fulfilling future. But was he ready?

As a life coach for seniors, I advise people to get their practical houses in order, with financial, legal, and even health checkups. However, I also advise people – strongly – to do a psychological and emotional checkup.

Who will you be when you retire?

We identify ourselves largely by our roles, by the work we do. When people retire, they often feel a loss of identity and a sense of being ungrounded.

Will you be content to refer to yourself as “the former attorney (teacher, salesperson, plumber)” or will you be happier as “the active grandparent,” “the part time volunteer,” “a student at the local college”? Or maybe you prefer being “the person with a new job” as a golf club manager, a librarian, or business coach.

What will you do when you retire?

Many people count the days to that gold watch and pension … no alarm clocks, plenty of books to read, and a good rocking chair:  the “luxury of leisure.”

However, many people also find that after this leisure honeymoon, they feel bored and isolated. They miss being involved in day to day, productive projects. In fact, most people who are 50 years old or more continue to work full or part time. Older people are more likely to be looking for jobs than younger people. And 25% of people 60+ are active volunteers.

How will you stay actively engaged and productive after you retire? Will you work part time in the type of job you had earlier or be a volunteer mentor in your career field? Are there other types of work or volunteerism that you would like to try now?

How will you keep your body and mind healthy?

The “luxury of leisure” is appealing, but not best for good health. The National Institutes of Health recommends older adults exercise at least 150 minutes a week to maintain the health of their hearts, lungs, bones … in fact, all parts of the body and brain.

It is also vitally important to keep your mind active. Learning new things and challenging your brain by solving problems, engaging in sports and the arts, traveling and doing crafts are all important for keeping your memory and thinking “sharp.”

And very importantly, socializing can decrease health problems and increase longevity!

So, what will you do to stay physically and mentally active?

Arthur is a retiree now. He made practical plans for the future. Now, he is actively ensuring that he has plans to enjoy a satisfying future.

What are your plans for the luxury of retirement?