Back in the day, I had a good buddy who was dating a rock star’s daughter. Her dad was coming to town and headlining a New Year’s Eve concert. I’ll won’t date myself by naming the bands, but for some context, we were ringing in the new millennium in the Motor City.

I was beyond excited to learn that my buddy had secured us backstage passes for the event, and even got one for my brother. I don’t know if you’ve ever had a similar pass, but you get to hang a huge lanyard around your neck and you feel like a million bucks. It’s like you’re part of a special, exclusive group. People look at you different, including the big, buff security guards who not only nod at you to acknowledge your high-level status but also guide you into places few others can go.

During one of the jam sessions, my brother and I were near the front of the stage, and I motioned to him to follow me. There was a security guard near an entrance that led under the stage behind the performance area. By this point in the evening, I felt like part of the band’s entourage, so I walked up as if they needed me backstage. The guard stepped aside, and within minutes we had a rock star’s view to one of the greatest and most memorable concerts ever. In fact, while we were back there, I remember a roadie scooting by us several times during the jam session to switch out guitars for one of the front men.

After the concert, I boldly walked into one performer’s after-party. I was able to chat with him and spent the next 30 minutes hanging out with his family and friends. It was a night to remember.

The next morning, I couldn’t thank my buddy enough. I was still on a high from the preceding night, going on and on about it, when he told me something that rocked my world. He said, “The crazy thing is, her dad couldn’t get us all the passes we needed, so we gave you guys the badges we used for last year’s concert.”

I didn’t know what to do. I recall going through an intense range of emotions because I had never been through something like that. I was excited and grateful on one hand, but also felt set up and tricked on the other. The entire time I thought I was so special and different, I wasn’t.

You may or may not have a similar concert story, but perhaps you’ve seen something comparable play out with clients entering retirement. They are on the precipice of one of the greatest events of their life. They have hung the prestigious badge of “retiree” around their neck, and they have an all-access pass to now do whatever they want, whenever they want. But they may learn after a short time that it’s not the pass they thought it was going to be.

Shortly after people enter retirement, they face the conundrum of how to introduce themselves. You wouldn’t think something so simple has any significance, but it does. In the time leading up to retirement, we are trained to believe it’s a major accomplishment and that once we get there, it means a job well done, and that it’s a large feather in the cap of life.

Unfortunately, we live in a society that puts more emphasis on youth than on age, experience and wisdom. So when people say they are retired, they expect it to mean something good or positive, something worthy of a nice pat on the back. Instead many retirees find people’s backs turned on them and that they are left out of conversations. Hundreds of retirees, including those who have recently left work, have told me that whenever they introduce themselves as retired, the conversation just stops. It’s as if the final chapter has already been written, so there’s not much else to talk about—nothing to go on that people care about, since every retiree is the same.

It suggests that people consider retirees to be less relevant, less connected and, thus, of lesser value. It’s an ugly and unfair stigma, though it’s slowly changing thanks to activists and organizations like the Modern Elder Academy and (which was recently renamed CoGenerate).

It’s a problem I address in my new Retirement Intelligence book and in my online “retirement quotient” (or RQ) assessment. So far, more than 40% of the assessment respondents say they plan in the future to introduce themselves as “retired.” But they have no idea how such an introduction could set them up to feel as if they’re on a deserted island. No one has told them they may benefit from saying something else.

Think of Disneyland. Most people assume it’s a magical and happy place. It is on paper. But it can be a very different story when it’s jam-packed with people, temperatures are sweltering, your kids are hungry and tired, and you’re only halfway through a two-hour wait for a ride you don’t want to be on.

The retirement transition, much like Disneyland, is portrayed as a feeling: “Now that I am not working, I will be in a happy place and more content. I will feel less rushed, less stressed, and less obligated.” But retirement isn’t a feeling.

Advisors are used to dealing with such emotions. We often warn clients about the dangers of making investment decisions based on feelings, because if feelings get the best of them, our clients can miss opportunities, which means fear will limit their next moves, and their goals can end up delayed. At our firm, we try to keep this from happening by developing an investment policy statement or some other consistent framework for the way investments are bought and sold.

Feelings might not just slow down and muddle your investment process. They can pollute everything you think about retirement. Because a client has no preset action plan to follow once they stop working, any feelings can come and push them in one direction or another. But if they have a consistent process and discipline, they’ll be rewarded with positive feelings and outcomes over time.

It could be said that successful investing is guided by plans, actions and self-control, not by whims, feelings or the latest news flash. The same is true for everyday life in retirement. It needs to be directed by specific plans, daily actions (routines), and self-awareness. Just as grass and flowers wither without water, retirees can succumb to bad habits by doing nothing, and their feelings won’t be in line with the way they expected to feel after they stopped working.

Advisors must also be conscious of their own feelings surfacing during the retirement planning process. We might have to start conversations with clients that we don’t feel like having as we help them better understand what they will be going through. Our feelings won’t always be reliable or positive. They can deceive us (in much the same way my friend deceived me at the rock ’n’ roll show) and we might feel betrayed.

I don’t normally brag or name-drop, and I said I wouldn’t brag at the beginning of this article about that crazy night in early 2000 when I got to meet Ted Nugent, watch Metallica play from behind the stage, and hang out with Kid Rock (or “Bob” as his family and friends call him). That badge made me superhuman for the night and I made the most of every opportunity. Looking back, I could have spent the night in the parking lot of the Pontiac Silverdome, but I didn’t.

In a similar way, advisors must help clients understand and make the most of the retirement badge they’re putting on. It can take them anywhere they want!

Robert Laura is a best-selling author, nationally syndicated columnist, and president of Wealth & Wellness Group. He is a seasoned conference speaker, corporate trainer and founder of the Retirement Intelligence Assessment, which focuses on the nonfinancial aspects of life after work. He can be reached at [email protected].