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5 ways to start the 'purpose' conversation with clients

Help clients understand that retirement is about more than money

Nov 19, 2018 @ 12:09 pm

By Dan Starishevsky

Purpose. It's a topic that pops up in many conversations these days, and not only among psychologists and life coaches but likely among your clients as well. Many experts believe purpose makes for a fulfilling life. In fact, recent studies have shown that discovering our purposeis the key to health, healing, happiness and longevity.

For many, a long, successful career fuels a purpose-driven life, but what happens when that comes to an end? Even with sufficient funds, experts now acknowledge that retirement is about more than money: Retirement is also about enjoying engaging activities that give life meaning. In fact, having a life plan for retirement may be even more important than how you finance it.

With that in mind, here are five conversation starters that can help you create a successful retirement plan beyond the numbers.

No. 1: The magic pill

How much would your clients pay for a pill that could:

• Make them 52% less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease?

• Help prevent stroke by as much as 44%?

• Reduce the chances of a cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack, by 19%?

• Improve their overall health?

• Add years to their life?

Fortunately, your clients don't need a pill. All they need is purpose. Scientific studies by medical doctors, neuroscientists, psychologists and medical researchers show that living purposefully has a measurable effect on health outcomes on a par with other protective activities, such as regular exercise.

(More: 3 last-chance retirement moves for 2018)

No. 2: Time becomes your frenemy

During their working years, your clients grew accustomed to devoting about two-thirds of their day to sleeping and working. But consider this: Every day is Saturday in retirement. When your clients retire, suddenly their free time more than doubles. They have over 16 hours of time to fill every day for what could be 20 or 30 years.

Faced with seemingly endless days, weeks and even years with no structure, your clients may turn to activities that distract them from boredom rather than ignite their passion. At this point, time can become their "frenemy," their friend and their enemy. To help your clients avoid this time trap, advise them to think about how they will fill their 16-plus hour days before retirement, not after.

No. 3: How sweet it is — or isn't

Shortly after retiring, your clients may discover reality isn't as sweet as it sounds. At first, their reaction may be, "Woo-hoo! I can finally throw away my alarm clock. I'm free to do whatever I want — pursue my hobbies, relax, travel and have fun."

(More: Why seniors need travel insurance)

This common phenomenon is what a 2012 study from the Journal of Happiness Studies refers to as the "sugar rush," an immediate feeling of well-being and satisfaction after retirement that is often followed (in just a few months) by a sharp decline in happiness. If your clients make no purpose-driven plans in retirement, they could experience feelings of anxiety, depression and loss.

Urge your clients to take intentional steps now to uncover their passions and purpose for a happier retirement.

No. 4: The new retirement reality

Today, 65 is the new 50. Your clients may not have thought much about how retirement has changed since their parents' generation, but they should.

For decades, retirement was a finish line. People retired and then sailed into the sunset. These days, people live longer with more vitality. Remind your clients that retirement can be a new beginning. Retirement, or maybe better put, "refirement," is a chance to redefine yourself. It's a time of revival and opportunity, a chance to pursue new passions and live with renewed purpose.

No. 5: Planning with purpose

Retirement is undoubtedly one of life's biggest transitions, which is why creating a satisfying retirement requires planning beyond financial concerns. After all, what's the point of helping your clients craft a well-thought?out financial plan if they don't have a plan for their money in retirement?

It's up to you to start, and facilitate, the conversation. Encouraging your clients to think deeply about life beyond their portfolio is a good place to begin. Not only can you serve as a trusted sounding board, but you can also provide the guidance your clients need to build a plan with purpose — a holistic plan that reconciles their vision of the good life with their finances. By merging your clients' life plans with their financial plans, you can help turn that vision into a reality.

(More: 10 countries where you should consider retiring)

Dan Starishevsky is senior vice president of distribution and advisory marketing at Jackson National Life Distributors.

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