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5 Great Coaching Exercises to use with Empty Nesters and Retirees

peopleMH900309137 325x217With the end of the school year approaching fast, and many children graduating and setting off to make their way in the world, many parents are experiencing “Empty Nest” syndrome. Summer is also a great time to retire to enjoy the warm and sunny weather.

What these two types of coachees have in common is:

  1. A surfeit – or excess of – time on their hands.
  2. A potential loss of focus and/or meaning in their lives.

Here are 5 Great Coaching Exercises to Help Empty Nest and Retiring Clients Get The Most Out of Their Lives:

1. Identify Their Values

Values Identification Workbook PageUse the Personal Values Identification Workbook (or your own process) to help your clients get really clear on what matters to them.

Our values change over time – as we learn, grow and our priorities shift. Retirement and children leaving home represent a major priority shift – and it’s a great opportunity to reflect on what’s most important to us in life – now.

WHY IT’S HELPFUL: Once your client has a handle on their values they can pick goals, activities, relationships, hobbies and other opportunities that align with what really matters to them.

OTHER TOOLS/EXERCISES: Another tool in your toolbox are some big powerful questions to ponder that really get your client thinking. This is often a great place to start with our clients – perhaps you have your own favourites or you could also try Powerful Pondering Questions Tool.

2. The Wheel of Life

Wheel of Life Template Exercise Page 1The Wheel of Life Template is such an easy and fun exercise. Your clients now have more time than ever to dedicate to themselves – where should they start? Usually we use the Wheel to review and explore life-balance – because people need more time for relaxation, fun, creativity, relationships etc. But Retirement and “Empty Nester” clients now (in theory) have more time – so use the wheel instead to help them create more meaning and fulfilment.

WHY IT’S HELPFUL: What does a meaningful like look like? How will they create a rounded and enjoyable life? Because without thought and focus, it’s easy for people to simply fill their time with lots of new activities, but not feel any more fulfilled. To learn everything you need to know about this powerful coaching tool read: The Complete Guide to The Wheel of Life

In particular the Career segment poses very interesting questions for these clients. Our careers or roles are where we spend most of our waking life (for stay-at-home moms, their “career” would be taking care of the home and kids). Now they’re experiencing a significant shift – and there is a big unknown! Many retirees and empty-nester (moms in particular) identify with their roles and feel literally worth “less” when this role disappears.

One great place to start is to ask your client if – and what – they’d like to rename the Career segment (eg. Volunteering, Creativity, Writing, Giving Back, Supporting Family, Following My Dream). What does their new name for this segment tell them? Take this a step further with a Blank Wheel – ask them to label the 8 segments on this blank wheel with how they would like this new area of their life to be – and coach them from there. How satisfied are they with each area currently? What goals can they identify? What actions could they take to raise their scores? etc.

peopleMB900422179[1]So, some final thoughts:

  • For Working Empty Nesters: If your clients currently work – how does the empty nest at home impact their career (if at all)? Will they devote the extra time and energy to themselves – or to grow and accelerate their careers? Will they take more holidays, move to part-time work, or do they need to ramp things up to pay for college fees?
  • For Non-working Empty Nesters:  Do they want to re-enter the workforce? If so, will it be full or part-time? Do they want to start a business or new creative enterprise? What will they do? Is any training/re-training required? What would be exciting and interesting? What would be easy?
  • For Retirees: Being healthy is something worth consciously exploring with retiree clients. How will they be able to tell they’re healthy? Life is short – and for our retiree clients help them make sure they have no regrets! If they looked back in 10 years time, what would they be disappointed they DIDN’T do? (eg. take care of their health, get out in nature, paint, write that book, volunteer, consult, travel, cook, start a side-business?)

OTHER TOOLS/EXERCISES: You could use the Self-Care and Needs Review Exercise (to identify their needs), inspire your clients to try something new (or slow down and relax) with the Are You Sitting TOO Comfortably? Comfort Zone Exercise or help your client rediscover their buried career hopes and dreams with the Career Discovery Pondering Questions Sheet.

3. Wacky Wild Goal Brainstorming

Goal Brainstorming Coaching Exercise ImageSo, your clients have all this extra time – and energy. What will they do with it? What have your clients always wanted to do but never had the time? Instead, help your clients pick some really meaningful and exciting goals for them to work towards.

WHY IT’S HELPFUL: When we start a new phase of our life it’s all too easy to fill our time with whatever comes next – or other people’s needs and priorities. By helping our clients choose really meaningful and/or fun and exciting goals they’re going to be super-motivated!

OTHER TOOLS/EXERCISES: You could also ask them to create a Vision Board and explore and coach them around the goals – and messages – they see on there. Learn more about Vision Boards here >>

4. Detox Their Relationships

Detox Toxic Relationships Coaching ExerciseAs your clients move into the next phase of their lives, it’s a great time to review WHO they spend their time with. Do the people they hang out with leave them feeling good about themselves? Have they outgrown their friendships? Have they got like-minded people to spend time with and learn from? The Detox Your Toxic Relationships exercise asks your clients to assess people by considering how they feel about themselves after spending time with them. Then, how can they spend more time with people who energise, support inspire and encourage them, and less time with those who drain them?

WHY IT’S HELPFUL: We all know that the people around us affect our energy levels – so help your clients have more energy to navigate this new phase of their life with verve and vigour!

OTHER TOOLS/EXERCISES: Help your clients Identify a Spark Team of people who energise and inspire them, and get to work on creating it!

5. What Makes Their Heart Sing?

What Makes My Heart Sing Coaching ExerciseThe simple but powerful “What Makes My Heart Sing?” exercise is a great way to help your clients find more enjoyment and satisfaction in life. Ask your client to make a list of the top 10 things that make their heart literally “sing”. What’s particularly interesting about this exercise is that usually the heart sing items are both free (or low cost) and easy to do. So, why don’t we do more of them?

WHY IT’S HELPFUL: We all need things to look forward to in life. Sometimes a big change can leave us feeling empty. This exercise helps your client find simple but meaningful things to do, and reframes what enjoyment and happiness can look like…

This exercise is particularly useful for retirees who may be learning to live on a lower income than they’re used to. It’s easy to go out and spend money on activities that fill the time – and yet, there are so many free, low-cost and easy to do activities they could be doing instead! Learn more about how to use this exercise here >>

OTHER TOOLS/EXERCISES: Use the Boost Your Strengths Exercise to help your clients find ways to use their strengths in powerful, new ways.

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2 thoughts on “5 Great Coaching Exercises to use with Empty Nesters and Retirees

  1. My mother is about to retire, and I know that she feels concerned about her daily activities, and I want to help her somehow. I like that you talked about the importance of making sure that you identify their values and learn how to highlight them. I will definitely follow all your advice, and I will also start looking for professional help.

    1. Hi Megan, I’m so glad that you found this article helpful! Warmly, Mary

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