When forced early retirement comes knocking at your door

Arantza Ríos. Professor. IE Business School

27 April 2016

One day, out of the blue, your life suddenly changes because your firm has decided to make you take early retirement. Coaching is a useful tool for meeting the subsequent challenges and seeing the positive side of the situation.

“In a month’s time they are forcing me into early retirement,” my husband said as he walked through the door.  The first reaction in these cases is to enter into a state of shock on finding out something that you just didn’t expect.

Afterwards, you start thinking about the financial implications. “Will I have enough money to cover everything in my new financial situation?”

Then comes the feeling of disappointment. You used to believe in people, you see yourself as still young with extensive experience, you have given your all to the firm. We all know that when companies’ costs don’t add up, decisions begin to be taken on a quantitative basis (“we have to cut staff costs by X percent”) and I’m not saying that people are not valued, but they matter less than before.

Lastly, you realize that you can’t do anything, which means that in the face of things it’s better to accept the situation and start to see the positive side.

And the good thing is that you’re now a person of leisure, and what does that mean?

In the case of my husband it means being able to:

Spend more time with our kids, who are still at an age when they need him.

Pick up the slack for household tasks that I, his wife, does, and that way I’ll will be less stressed.

See his friends more, because up until now he was too busy to spend quality time with them. 

Do more sport. Until now, he could only play paddle tennis once a week, and it’ll be cheaper now because he can sign on at the public sports center.

Learn to cook. Even though he doesn’t know how to cook properly, he can do a cookery course to get inspired and then cook for family and friends.

Adopt Pepa, a dog that we’ve been sponsoring for the last few years, but couldn’t actually keep because our day-to-day was too complicated.

And little by little, such realizations can give a real lift.

The other day when he finished packing for our Easter holidays he said: “I’m going to take my coaching book with me, because I quite feel like getting into coaching again.”

I’m a little worried how he’ll feel when he actually stops working, but what most concerns me is how we’ll live our lives at two different speeds. We’ve never had a situation like that before. Furthermore, we’ve both always had demanding jobs. I’m afraid that now he might not understand that I get home late sometimes, because I’m working, or that I’m stressed or upset or tired. It’s something that we’ll have to live through and work through together.

A selfish part of me thinks that it’s a really positive thing that he’ll be at home. The kids will be happy because their dad can spend more time with them. I think it will bring them a sense of security and emotional stability.

What I’m most happy about is the fact that there is a Plan B, even if he isn’t fully aware of that yet. He’s a very good coach and when he feels ready, he can start coaching again. He did it for a while, combining it with his main job, but had to stop because he just didn’t have enough time.

And this time when we get back from the Easter vacation, I’ll be sad because I’m going back to work, and he won’t be so much because he has a future ahead of him full of hopeful anticipation and new activities. And, most important of all, with a lot more time!



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