Man Pondering his Retirement Struggles

Struggling with Retirement: One Man’s Experience of Going from Hero to Zero

“After feeling like a corporate rock star, I’m feeling like a one-man band without a gig. It’s like I went from hero to zero.” – Jack M.
This isn’t an unusual sentiment for men who continued to climb the corporate leadership ladder until they retired.
For many men, what they have done to earn a living has defined them. They struggle with retirement, look at this life chapter as a loss: loss of identity, loss of income, and a loss of colleagues/friends.
The struggle is real, but it doesn’t have to be this way.

Planning for Retirement’s Life Changes

Some retired men feel as if they’ve had a rug pulled out from under them. They lose the meaning and purpose of their job or career. And even though planning was a critical work skill, men often do not realize the importance of planning for this next phase of life.
It’s common for male clients to tell me about their plans to work out, play golf, and spend more time with their spouse and grandkids during retirement. This is important and enjoyable.
However, they did not anticipate struggling with how to build their new community, identity, and purpose; the things that “lit them up” and gave them a reason to get out of bed in the morning. They didn’t anticipate going to social events and finding it difficult to have something to talk about, or answer “what do you do?”

How to Stop Struggling with those Negative Feelings and Enjoy Your Second Chapter

Here are a few starting points:

  • Consult with a Certified Retirement Transition Coach and learn about a variety of retirement success factors that will help you plan for retiring before you actually retire.
  • Contact retired friends, family members, or former colleagues to find out about their “lessons learned” when they retired.
  • Think about what skills and other factors were satisfying and motivating at work or outside of work and how to use those skills/motivators in retirement.
  • Read up on the topic! The internet is loaded with information on best practices when transitioning into retirement.


So, what happened to my client who felt like a “one-man band?”
Because of his love for gardening, we created a plan for him to complete a “Master Gardener’s Certification.” And he uses his leadership skills as the chairman of the Landscape Committee for his homeowner’s association.

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