You have a Financial Portfolio for Your Retirement. BUT, Have You Considered Your Psychological Portfolio?
I am not a financial professional, but I can provide resources that will give you guidance about your financial portfolio. However, as a licensed therapist since 1983, I am fully qualified to talk about your Psychological Portfolio.
Nancy K. Schlossberg, Ph.D., a psychologist in counseling psychology, talked about this concept in 2012 at an invited address before the American Psychological Association . She suggested the concept of having both your financial and psychological assets in balance.
I thought this was a great idea. To begin preparing this article, I checked in with a few of my financial advisor and planner friends. We talked about the elements of a good financial portfolio and the assets within that portfolio. If you’ve been doing a respectable job of planning for your financial future in retirement, you know about the assets you have assembled to make a robust financial portfolio. But just in case, these professionals recommended a few key elements which I’ll briefly repeat here.
Retirement Readiness Asset Assumptions:
Money Assets: Through your employer, you’ve been contributing to your 401K/403B. You have a ROTH/IRA plan, a pension plan through your employer, or a SEP. You have a budget and tax plans. You have automatic deductions into your savings account and have up to 6 months of salary in savings. You are managing your debt well and are paying down credit cards and mortgages. You have an estate plan and a will and trust. You have explored investment strategies, risk management, annuities, and so on.
Resource Assets: You have a team to support you. The team members include family and friends who you trust to discuss the money assets in your portfolio. Your additional resource assets team includes an attorney to help with estate planning and a will and trust, an insurance broker, a tax accountant or tax advisor, or a financial advisor. These resource assets, along with your money assets help you to craft your financial portfolio to provide the money needed in retirement long enough to meet your needs, hopes, and desires.
Psychological Assets: Now let’s dig down into the psychological portfolio elements. What are the psychological assets you bring to support you in your retirement?
How good are you at change management and transition? Retirement represents potentially a third of your adult life; – 20, 30, even 40 years. What experiences do you have with change and transition that will help you through the process? What did you learn from the experiences that will help you be resilient to change and transition in your retirement?
Is your family health history an asset or concern? Since we are learning so much more about our genetic influences, do you need to address heart disease, diabetes, emotional issues like depression, anxiety or stress or other health concerns? Weight, tobacco smoking, alcohol use are issues to be addressed now. Don’t wait until you cross the threshold of retirement to start addressing these. If you have concerns in these areas in your current retirement, seek professional support through your physician or other health care provider.
Stress management strategies are especially important assets. Entering retirement, even well planned, can be stressful. Maybe you’ve explored stress reduction and resiliency building techniques. Yes, it feels like retirement will ease the pressures of daily living. But don’t count on it. Change and transition issues, health issues and more can increase your feelings of stress. Stress management and change management go hand in hand and are critical skills. If you haven’t considered adding these to your psychological assets, it is better to start cultivating these techniques and strategies now.
Is your family an asset? Hopefully, you can talk with them about your plans. There may be areas of potential family conflicts that need to be talked about. If married or partnered, is that relationship an asset to your transition to retirement, or are there relationship issues to be addressed? Some couples struggle with “For better or for worse, but not for lunch” and have standing relationship issues to address. If your kids have children, do they expect you to become the on-call baby-sitter? Sweeping these family asset discussions aside is a set up for problems. Like your health, don’t wait until the last minute to have important discussions.
Goal setting is another important asset. During your career were you a good goal setter/planner? If you are waiting to “cross that threshold” into retirement and then get started, you are missing the opportunity to explore what you are going to need in your upcoming changes in your identity, purpose, and connections. For example, we know from the field of positive psychology, that developing assets such as strong social connections, are critical in transitioning into retirement.
Psychological Resources Assets: Like your financial resources, it is important to know who and what you can count on to support you in your transition to retirement. Friends, family, colleagues, and professionals can all be part of your financial resource team. But you have to talk to them. Too often people have an internal dialogue and don’t talk out loud to check in with others, bounce off their ideas, and get valuable information and feedback. Your plans and activities can come as a total surprise to others in your life, and in the case of family relationships, cause conflict and disruption. An example of such conversations, though difficult, is discussing your Advance Directives. Be sure your family, friends or whoever you designate to be your advocate, can follow your wishes. Talking about death is not easy, but an important conversation for families to have.
We anticipate, or at best hope, retirement will be an easy glide; for some it might be. However, given the duration and challenges that can develop, it is prudent to review your financial portfolio of assets, and talk with others about how to best develop your psychological portfolio of assets as well.
So many of your colleagues, family, friends, and others will offer their “Congratulations” as you enter retirement, but they may not know the concerns you have about your financial portfolio. Perhaps they will even be less aware of your concerns regarding your new retirement identity. Reticence to talk with others about this aspect of retirement is understandable. A call to me to set up a review of your retirement psychological portfolio is a solid step toward the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual riches you deserve in retirement.
Contact me to review your psychological portfolio or to see how coaching can work for you. For pre-retirement or retirement coaching information, go to my website or call me at: