Have you ever come across someone whose professional and personal life are contradictory? Think of a carpenter whose house remains under constant construction, the family therapist who struggles to make family time, the chef who prefers to order out—or the retirement planner who can’t get their arms around actually retiring.

On the surface, the disconnect between work life and home life is easy to understand. The last thing many people want to do when they get home is more of their work. However, the problem is in some ways worse for financial planners helping people with retirement, because they face so many emotional decisions when they finally decide to leave their own businesses.

The subject is, in fact, an emotional minefield for advisors. They have to contemplate giving up the client and staff relationships they’ve spent years building and nurturing. That’s a perfect reason for them to procrastinate. It’s no wonder the average age of advisors continues to climb. The barriers to exit seem too high, so they put it off.

My own big epiphany came when I was presenting at a national advisor conference on the psychology of retirement and started taking questions from the audience. Initially, I expected to get routine questions about client situations, but instead the audience of planners asked personal questions about their own exits from the business. They didn’t know how to talk about it with their spouses. They asked what would happen when they lost their work identities and had to replace the “high” one gets from helping people achieve their financial goals.

The primary role of financial professionals has been to make sure their clients don’t run out of money. But they haven’t made the switch when it comes time to helping people look and plan beyond the dollars and cents. Very few firms encourage this type of training and even fewer can provide it. But now advisors facing their own retirement have put it together: They’re quickly realizing that running out of money pales in comparison to running out of family, friends, good health and time.

Over the last couple of years, after having more conversations like these with planners, I have identified three key reasons that advisors struggle.

1. The Emotional Void
When we leave our jobs, we lose a part of ourselves. That’s because when someone is enmeshed in their work, they overidentify with it. That’s especially true when they have roles so important in people’s lives—their ability to talk intimately about finances keeps them relevant, connected and highly sought-after.

Advisory clients trust us as the go-to people. They rely heavily on us for our expertise, knowledge and experience. In that way, we’re triple threats—like the high-profile celebrity who can sing, dance and act.

Those roles are fulfilling to us psychologically, and it’s not easy to replace them with more rounds of golf or boat rides with the grandkids.

Thus, our transition out of work creates an emotional void whose depth and complexity are hard to recreate elsewhere. Because financial advisors are so enmeshed in this work, it meets most of their psychological needs. The work gives them feelings of meaning and a motivation to do and be more. And as a result, they haven’t developed much of an independent sense of self outside of the profession.

That puts them at risk of feeling lost, purposeless and out of sorts when they exit the field. This can lead to regret and isolation until they find ways to get those same psychological needs met some other way.

The key thing for advisors to know is that falling in love with your work comes with a big price tag. It can’t love you back, and that can make for a long and difficult breakup if you don’t have other sources of identity.

2. The Mystique Of Retirement
There’s a powerful mystique about retirement, and even many financial professionals believe in it: They see it as this magical phase of life where they will have more time and freedom and less stress. They think things will get better simply because they’re not working. But these ideas are generic and vague, and nobody has taken the time to critically question the assumptions underlying them.

Partly that’s because advisors don’t put as much value on the soft mental or emotional sides of the equation than they do the hard, financial sides. They just assume the emotional part will somehow work itself out.

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