MORE than 40 years as a senior HR leader saw Nigel Evans support hundreds of colleagues on the road to retirement.
But when it came to enjoying his own withdrawal from professional life, the 64-year-old found the transition to be more difficult than he ever imagined.
Having returned to North Wales from Hong Kong and a leading role in human resources at a company employing 40,000 staff across Asia, the dad-of-three decided the time was right to leave work behind and begin a new journey.
Three years later Nigel “hit a wall” and decided to launch Riverbridge Coaching, a business focused on helping people with their retirement plans, a process most assume is pretty simple.
“That often could not be further from the truth,” said Nigel, who lives in the Conwy Valley with his wife Yvonnie.
“The adverts and photos we see of happy silver-haired retirees skipping along a beach or doing their daily workout do not reflect the reality.
“As I found myself, there is a honeymoon period immediately after you retire, which is great. You do the things you want to do, travel, spend time with famil and enjoy pastimes and hobbies.
“But eventually you hit a wall and realise that 20-30 years is a lot of leisure time to fill.”
The financial side is what most prospective retirees are concerned with. But as Nigel discovered, the value of physical, mental and spiritual well-being as well as social support are far more crucial considerations.
“More important than a financial plan is a non-financial plan that looks at how you replace work,” he said.
“People don’t realise the value that work provides them. Structure, purpose, routines, deadlines, social interaction and a sense of accomplishment were your day to day life for decades.
“It’s almost a sense of loss, and you question whether you are contributing to society.
“I remember sitting in the kitchen and hearing the clock tick, a sound I had never noticed before.
“I am still full of energy and have so much to give, which is why I started coaching.”
He added: “This myth that retirement is easy and stress free is just that – a myth.
“Research reveals around 55% of people get to where they want to be and are content, but that leaves a huge amount of people who don’t, those who struggle with mental health issues, the financial burden, anxiety and even suicide because they cannot replace what they had.
“Many people lose their identity when they stop working, and helping them discover a new one is often a central theme in coaching conversations”
The latter part of Nigel’s role in the Far East was as an executive coach, and he has brought those skills into this new venture.
He partners with clients to find “creative solutions” to the retirement challenges they are facing and helps them put realistic action plans together.
“I always conduct a complimentary discovery session first so we can explore what issues they are facing,” said Nigel.
“Some people get to solutions and action plans in a few hours – whilst other want to reflect and explore issues over a longer period of time.
“The perception is that coaching is purely advice and guidance, but it’s not like that. You have to get your own solutions because the best answers are yours – ultimately you are the expert on you.”
He added: “I sometimes ask the client to envision what the perfect day in retirement would look like, then the perfect week and the perfect month. Very often this helps people hone right down to what counts and helps to clarify what is important to them about retirement.”
So, what does the perfect day in retirement look like for Nigel? And has he found a new identity?
“My personal mission is to be present and live in the day,” he said.
“I have a wonderful family who I am lucky enough to be able to spend lots of time with. I play the piano, keep fit and am studying for a degree in Psychology and Counselling having achieved my coaching credentials in the past couple of years.
“Much of the remaining time is spent on what I love to do most – inspiring people to retire well and to the best years of their lives.
“Put simply, retirement should not be a struggle, not after decades of hard work. You can still enjoy your life and pursue your dreams. There are many things I want to go on and do, and I know many people out there feel the same.”
For more information and to contact Nigel, visit the website: www.riverbridgecoaching.com