How to know if you’ll be happy in retirement

April 23, 2012 — This week on For Your Benefit retirement expert and career coach Mike Townshend joins hosts Bob Leins and John Elliott to talk about being happy in retirement.

Townshend is a principal consulting mediator and career coach at Carpe Diem Coaching, Inc.

Townshend notes that many people derive a sense of purpose from going to their jobs every day. He says that it is important to rethink your life ahead of retirement and to know what your purpose will be.

“We’re not talking about money, this is not about how we financially prepare ourselves, though certainly that’s an important aspect,” Townshend says.


In retirement, Townshend warns, “purpose can diminish.

“We can feel on the second day of retirement a huge loss and, if we analyze the loss, many of us will find it’s because we had a purpose but now we feel that it’s gone.”

To help people better understand what sort of activities might give them a sense of purpose in retirement Townshend recommends taking a test associated with the Holland Codes. These tests are designed to help you understand your own work personality, which in turn will help steer you toward the kinds of activities that you are best at and enjoy the most.

The Holland Codes personality classification system is named after its developer, the psychologist John L. Holland.

As for single retirees, of which Townshend himself is one, he recommends having friends with whom one can speak freely about life-changing decisions.

He says it is “important to form a coalition” in the last few years before retirement “of people who are known to us: friends, family, people we trust… people who know us.”