To retire or not, and how? A coach might help

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Moving into a continuing-care retirement community can generate tax deductions.

It's an age-old quandary: Keep working? Retire to baby-sit the grandkids? Take up a new career in retirement?

These days, professional coaches are guiding baby boomers as they ponder their postretirement dreams and ambitions.

Some people consult these coaches to find purpose through volunteering, hobbies, and second or third careers, just as they might consult financial advisers to take inventory of their 401(k) accounts.

Others discover that they never wanted to stop working - or that can't afford to.

Ambivalent about the whole idea?

Personal coaches "assist people to improve their lives by focusing on the person within," says Bill Dueease, cofounder of the Coach Connection and former chairman of the International Coaching Federation.

His service is based out of Florida, and operates as a referral to a one-on-one coach. The cost: $300 for three interview sessions, and monthly fees thereafter.

Here are some tips from local coaches and career experts if you're facing retirement or a layoff, or want to pursue your passion.

Network before you must. Cheryl Beth Kuchler, president of Ballantree Consulting in Blackwood, founded the CEO Think Tank as an executive "support group" and program that incorporates peer meetings in a confidential setting. She says of her networking group: "Our programs are built to strengthen the environment that helps our members grow professionally and personally."

Coaches recommend networking 12 to 18 months before you plan to retire fully or work part time.

"If you feel there's a risk ahead, your company is in the middle of an acquisition, start doing things that are proactive," such as having strategic lunches and coffees, joining nonprofit boards as a volunteer without pay, and writing your own blog, says Grace Killelea of Philadelphia, author of The Confidence Effect.

Adopt technology. About 80 percent of job searches - and offers - start on LinkedIn and then are sealed through a personal referral, says Killelea, who formerly worked in talent at Comcast and in HR at the Lifetime cable network.

"You must have people advocating for you. It's too late to do it until after you've retired or been fired. It's like your house is on fire and you don't have a phone to call the fire department. It's too late," said Killelea, now an executive coach who charges $15,000 to $25,000 based on the length of the assignment.

Boomers often "resist future technology. They won't get an iPhone or learn to text and connect with people digitally," she says. "They complain about managing millennials, and one day those young people could be their customers."

Women need coaching. Boomers over 50 and in the encore period of their lives especially may need advice.

"We're programmed to have a family, be a good sister, wife or mother, and around age 55, women start asking themselves, 'What did I ever want?' We help connect the dots," Killelea says.

Many women have to keep working to cover bills and health care.

"Some want to stop the 9-to-5 grind, but keep working on their own schedule," says Kelley Cornish, past president of PhillySHRM.org, the Society of Human Resource Management. Use that security to find your passion, whether it's writing, filmmaking, adopting children, or teaching, she says.

Divorce in retirement can also prompt the need for a coach. The Women's Resource Center in Wayne plans a May 19 divorce-coaching session that includes therapy, financial counseling, and mortgage applications. Cost is $20 for the seminar at Central Baptist Church, 111 W. Wayne Ave. in Wayne. For information, call 610-687-6391 or visit http://womensresourcecenter.net/.

Don't be that angry guy. Many boomers are sandwiched between kids in college and elderly parents - while still paying off a mortgage. Typically, Killelea's first move is a long sit-down with clients, asking them a dozen or so questions - and then listening.

"Are they making decisions based out of fear? I allow them to let out all the resentments and recriminations. Allow them to get past the anger."

"Brand your transition as positive, not negative. Tell your friends and peers, 'There was a leadership change. I had an opportunity to take a package and pursue my passion,' " she recommends. For some, retirement feels like a car wreck.

Others see it coming and yet still feel resentful or left behind.

Worried about your finances in retirement?

The American College in Bryn Mawr offers a certification program called the Retirement Income Certified Professional, three courses in creating sustainable retirement income.

It could be your new career, too - an estimated 7,000 Americans will reach age 65 every day for the next 17 years.

earvedlund@phillynews.com

215-854-2808@erinarvedlund