The Gray Divorce Podcast: Episode 8 Retirement Coaching with Amy Ginsburg

Andrew Hatherley |

In this episode, I chat with Amy Ginsburg, a retirement and career coach based in Olympia, WA. Amy also happens to have experienced gray divorce. So we'll be chatting about retirement after divorce and career change as it applies to mid to late-life divorce. 

What is retirement coaching? 

Amy discusses how coaching is a misunderstood field. She elaborates on the distinction between therapy and coaching. The former are trained to diagnose medical cases and other diagnosis and tend to be more focused on one's past and healing and relieving pain while the coach is partnering with the client, with the view that the client is the expert in their own life. 

Amy also discusses the concerns people have about how they're going to fill their days if they're not working at their job. What purpose do they see for themselves in their life going forward? And how has that shifted now that they're no longer in the workforce? She works with people to help sort out the blocks and fears that may prevent them from going where they might want to go or from even realizing where they might want to go. 

The Old and New way of thinking about Retirement 

We discussed the old-school idea of retirement as spending more time on the golf course or the beach and how this may not fill people with satisfaction and retirement. Amy shares some startling statistics about the negative implications for our health if one doesn't find meaningful things to keep ourselves occupied in retirement. 

We also discuss how our approach to retirement can contribute to a virtuous cycle leading to fulfillment, better health, and increased energy or a vicious cycle leading to depression, low energy, and poor health. 

Retirement Coaching for Men and Women 

Amy works with both men and women and couples. She discusses the distinctions and commonalities in her work coaching men and women. Theses distinctions become more pronounced when discussing retirement after divorce.

Mindset and Self-Awareness 

Amy emphasizes that the way we show up, for one thing, is the way we show up for anything. Once we have self-awareness about why we show up the way we do we can then better understand ourselves and choose if we really want to show up this way in our actions. 



Announcement: Welcome to The Gray Divorce Podcast, hosted by divorce financial analyst and retirement planning counselor Andrew Hatherley. Join Andrew and guest experts as they help late-life divorcees build the financial and mental foundation for a meaningful future. There is life after divorce. Now on to the show. 

Andrew Hatherley: Hello everybody and welcome to the latest episode of the Gray Divorce Podcast. I'm very happy to have with me today, Amy Ginsburg. Amy Ginsburg is a career and retirement coach. She's certified through the International Coaching Federation and has her own practice, Amy Ginsburg Coaching and Consulting, and also trains new coaches. 

Amy herself has transitioned between various careers in the arts, education, and nonprofits. When Amy realized that what she loved most about all these jobs was coaching from the sidelines, she trained up to be a life coach. It wasn't long before Amy realized that her favorite clients were those grappling with retirement issues. 

Amy also happens to have experienced gray divorce. As I expect have many of her clients. So I look forward to hearing her thoughts about retirement and career change as it applies to midlife mid and late life divorcees. I know my thoughts about work and retirement shifted immensely after my divorce. So Amy Ginsburg joins us from her home in the Great Northwest Olympia, Washington. 

Amy, hello. How are you?  

Amy Ginsburg: I am Great, Andrew. Thank you for welcoming me to your podcast. 

Andrew Hatherley: My pleasure, Amy. You know, I'm really looking forward to to chatting with you. We've chatted a little bit in the past and I think our challenge today will be to keep the conversation at a reasonable length. 

There's so many things to talk about in this in this area. I guess what I want to start with is the concept or the work of coaching. It's become such a popular vocation for many people and I'm curious how you define the coaching work that you do. And maybe you can demystify it a little bit for our audience and how would it relate to something like therapy or consulting? 

Amy Ginsburg: Yes. I appreciate that question. It is often a very misunderstood field. It's a relatively new field, and as you've already mentioned, it's a growing and very popular profession. the distinction between therapy and coaching is an important one, and it's one that almost every one of my clients has when we first start talking. 

So typically, coaches and, you know, there's a range in terms of, how people would define it, but the basic definition of a coach is that they're partnering with somebody to create whatever they're wanting to create in their future. So it's a very future focused profession. Therapy, while you may very well be talking about the future with your therapist, it tends to be more focused on one's past and on healing some kind. You know, healing is a big part of the modality and restoring function, relieving pain in some cases. 

And of course, it's not to say that in a coaching session, one never talks about the past or certainly healing happens. And similarly in therapy sessions, people will talk about future goals, but the focus and the role of a coach and a therapist is very different.and I would also emphasize, along those lines of roles. 

A therapist comes to the session as an...they are trained to diagnose medical cases and other diagnoses. A coach comes to the session as a partner with the client, with the view that the client is the expert in their own life. So that's a really big distinction between coaching and therapy. 

Andrew Hatherley: I'm thinking where maybe you compliment the work of the therapist. Is this future or is this future orientation towards the specific goals. Perhaps because we talk we introduce you as a retirement and coach, perhaps you could talk a little bit about how you came to that particular specialty and how do people come to you and, you know, what are typical concerns that some of your clients might bring? 

And of course there's so many ways we could go with this. And how do you work with them, ?  

Amy Ginsburg: Yeah. So I started out as more of a generalist as a life coach, and about a year into my practice, I looked back and it was really clear to me that the clients that I most enjoyed working with were my retirees. 

And when I define retiree as those that were contemplating retirement or fully invested in later stages even of retirement. And so that's how I selected retirement coaching as a niche. I do define myself as a re career in retirement coach bevause some of my clients are not yet retired.but that's how I selected this niche andit's really exciting to think of the range. 

The people that I work with. The one thing that I share with folks is that the only thing I can guarantee is that what they intend or think that we will be talking about we don't end up talking about .  

Andrew Hatherley: That's interesting. That's interesting commonalities. Yeah. What do they, I'm going to interrupt you here. What do they think you're going to be talking about?  

Amy Ginsburg: Well, you know, people for good reason are, are like, oh gosh, you knowm how am I going to fill my days if I'm not working at my job? And, you know, a lot of things that are what I would consider on the doing level, and many of us sort of spend our time thinking about, gosh, my calendar is going to be so different. 

How am I going to do those new things? How am I going to spend my time, if you will? And what we very quickly end up talking about with the style of coaching that I practice is really, what's the motivation underneath? Like, well, what is it that you really, you know, want to achieve in this next chapter of your life? 

You know, what is your purpose that you see for yourself? And has that shifted now that you're no longer in the workforce? And so looking at some of the blocks that people have about creating things that they may have always wanted to create in their lives or sorting out Even fears that they may not have even known existed or goals that they didn't know were there. 

So it gets to a much deeper place pretty quickly.  

Andrew Hatherley: Now, are your clients mainly men or women or, or a mixture? 

Amy Ginsburg: It's a pretty decent mix. I would say in my case, it's a mix of men and women, and I also work with couples and so that's actually something that I personally will be exploring more in the future. 

I work with a few sets of clients who I work with together as a couple, and then I also work with them separately. So it's kind of organic, like when are we going to meet together and when are we going to meet separately? And you asked earlier about some examples so I can give you some concrete examples that's oftentimes helpful.  

For example, a couple that I work with later in their retirement you know, well into their seventies looking to simplify. Some people classify the retirement stages as like, Gogo, slow, no go. And so I would say that this couple came to me when they were starting to shift into that slower go phase and really wanted to simplify some of their work, quite frankly, that they established for themselves and they worked together in a business like a later stage part-time thing. So I helped them to simplify that so that they could be doing more traveling and some other things that they wanted to do. And it very quickly turned into working with each of them on some person. 

Personal growth areas, and we do still work on simplifying their business and sometimes we'll come together but it is not the focus. Our time is no longer on the simplification of their business, which was what they originally had you know, hired me to help them with.  

Andrew Hatherley: Now when you say Gogo slow no go. 

I assume this is based on.  

Amy Ginsburg: Typically, yes. one of my other clients who is in her early eighties she's an example of somebody who's choosing to simplify and I would say sort of selecting to go into that slower go phase. And her body is not requiring it. She could be going, she has got more energy than many of my friends in their fifties, and it's more of a mental shift for her, which is kind of taking her by surprise. 

And actually, I'm pretty certain that that's why she reached out to reach with me as a coach. I'm sorry, to work with me as a coach, is that she was like, well, why? Why am I no longer desiring this go-go lifestyle. So it's a mix, but usually I would say that people's bodies do begin to slow down and they prefer, you know, and sometimes need to reevaluate what's realistic in that stage of their lives. 

Andrew Hatherley: Retirement, there's so many areas we could go here. First of all, I'm thinking of a couple of things you mentioned. One of the assumptions that people have when they enter into a conversation with you about retirement is what are they going to do? And kind of standard thought of retirement is you retire you know, from work to some sort of leisure. 

And it may be, you know, a lot more golf or a lot more tennis or a lot more playing on the beach. and I think people, and maybe you could confirm this with your clients, is people are finding out that maybe golf, or tennis, or beach was a novelty while they were working, but it's no way to spend a full time or a lot of time in retirement. 

And that's kind of caused them to, you know, rethink how they want to spend their sixties, seventies, eighties, and. .  

Amy Ginsburg: Absolutely. And I know you and I have shared some research around you know, oftentimes people will imagine that they're just going to play golf and, you know, a few years into it they say, you know, this is actually not it's not making me happy. 

It's actually my d my health is declining. Yes. And the picture shows that people's life expectancy statistically decreases with, you know, I think it was for every one year earlier that people retire. There's two months taken off of their life expectancy. And it's important to define retirement as, it's not necessarily, you know, I'm staying at my 50 hour a week job, but just the idea of like not having something that is meaningful in one's life, contributing to a greater project or volunteer work or part-time work. 

So when all of that stuff is eliminated people's health does statistically tend to decline.  

Andrew Hatherley: Yes. Yes. And you know, when you mentioned, when you talked about energy I think, you know, a lot of energy can be derived from having a purpose, having something to do. And this is kind of where I see the link between coaching and therapy and, you know, even medical doctors coming into play. 

People don't, aren't able to create a meaningful life for them, you know, in the second and third acts because it can be, you can either have a virtuous cycle or, what's the, what's the word? A vicious cycle. You know, if you are working very hard and had a go-go job and it cuts cold Turkey, you know, that can have implications for your sense of purpose, your interaction with others or lack of interaction, and that can kind of feed down a, a low energy, unhealthy circle versus having some meaning or purpose and which can be energizing and, and contribute to a virtual cycle. 

Amy Ginsburg: I agree 100% and you know, so often, you know, to be honest, I think it's really true also for people who are working crazy hours, you know, earlier in their lives, that oftentimes people don't pause to really reflect on, you know, what is. 

My life purpose, like how do I want to be contributing? And it's a real gift to take a pause at any age, at any stage in your life and to really define that. And so if somebody's entering retirement and hasn't yet paused to really look at that it, it's certainly,I couldn't agree with you more that, that not having that sense of value certainly diminishes people's. 

Energies and so forth. I think the most striking example is I do have a client in his thirties who's retired andIt is, it is very clear that sort of being taken out of the workforce early all for good reason all all good in terms of you know, finances and that kind of thing, but without that sense of purpose being so young. 

Not having had those life experiences, valuing himself and so forth, it, it's really, really clear that one needs to have that sense of value and purpose to, to thrive.  

Andrew Hatherley: I, you know, it's funny you should say that because just a few days ago I had a conversation with a client of mine who's in her fifties and retiring from a a public position.  

So she's retiring with a nice pension, but she's had colleagues who put in their hours very early in life and are retiring in their mid forties with a very nice pension. And she said exactly what you just said, and it makes me wonder if maybe it might be a even more difficult transition for someone in their forties because they don't have that kind of, For lack of a better word, life experience or wisdom  to deal with with what's a shock to the system, essentially. 

Who was it? Was it Jonathan Rush? I can't remember who wrote the book called The Happiness Curve, but he suggests that a really troublesome period for people is in their mid to late fortiesin terms of overall happiness, apparently studies have been done showing that as a difficult period, and if it's combined with a sense of being adrift with respect to finding meaning through your occupation, that could be a very difficult. 

Amy Ginsburg: Yeah. And you know, I think specifically for women I can speak for myself you know, so many of us have put a lot of our energies toward raising our kids, right? And it's certainly true for men as well, certainly as gender roles are shifting. And so it overlaps with, you know, when many kids are leaving the home. 

Regardless of people's work and retirement status, just that shift in purpose, it's a common time when people, it's like, wow, all my extra time has gone into raising these children and now they've flown the nest and now what do I do? It's a super, super common thing. So then if layered on top of that, you're also either shifting careers or potentially retiring you know, that can really leave a gap for people. 

Andrew Hatherley: You know, discussing, you know, women, for instance, women in gray divorce who may have spent the, the may have given up a career at a relatively young age and, and brought up children for, for 20 or so years, maybe longer these days.  you, it, it may must be quite difficult to this question of what to do. 

And this applies also to men who would perhaps, career change. And this goes back to, you know, a point that you raised earlier about deciding what to do, but there's a lot of questions there and there's a lot of, it's difficult because it all kind of revolves around understanding yourself and your mindset and your awareness. 

In society these days, there's the common phrase, you know, follow your bliss or follow your passion, which is easy to say, but a lot of people have no idea what their bliss or their, their passion is. Can can you givd me an example? How would you approach working with somebody who, and you must come across this, they're not sure exactly what it is that they should do. 

Amy Ginsburg: Yeah. Well it is super common and one of the first things I certainly would do is to normalize it. And I know you and I have talked about the designing your life curriculum, it's out of Stanford University, you know, Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. I want to make sure to give them credit for that. And one of the things that they cite in their book is, and in the course that they offer at Stanford, is that 80% of us don't have a quote unquote passion. Right. And this real myth, I even found myself asking my young kids, like, you know, as they're talking about, you know, what they want to do when they grow up, so to speak, it's so often for us, even at that young age, to encourage kids to follow their passion. 

And, you know, statistically, 80% of us don't really know what that is. And it's, the passion is going to follow from the experience. And so to normalize you're not alone and that you don't have this like, you know, golden star showing you exactly where to lead you on the path of, of, of your passion, so to speak. 

So that's one piece. I also love an adage that I picked up from the design of your life curriculum is this whole concept of deciding things just for now, right? That so often. We become overwhelmed with a decision when we feel like it needs to be a forever decision. Somebody's retired and you know, what am I going to pursue? 

Or often with my clients who are switching jobs, what should I choose? I mean, it's true for myself when I chose to shift to coaching. Initially it felt like, oh gosh, you know, I'm nearly 50. I'm switching jobs. I better get it right, so to speak, and to really just lighten that load and that this is a decision for now, and that you can decide something else in the near future or far future. 

So those are some things that I do explore.  

Andrew Hatherley: I think there's a parallel that I love this concept of deciding for now and of taking small actions because it works on so many different levels. First of all, taking action on something inevitably set some sort of positive momentum going forward. 

You're accomplishing things, but I think there's a parallel to creativity as well in that we, I don't think the best ideas are plucked out of the air. I think they come from the process of doing, and maybe we don't know exactly what we. To do for the next 10 years. But if we start on something that intrigues us, maybe that'll lead us to something that we're really passionate about. 

And there's nothing wrong if our minds change over time as well. I mean things we care about certainly change over time. So I think sometimes some of the personal development industry can lead us down lead us down the wrong path sometimes. I think ultimately it, it comes from a our own doing, our own experience and and, and what we value and find purpose at. 

Amy Ginsburg: I fully You asked earlier, or you at least mentioned the term mindset and I feel like it's important to sort of add into the conversation here that, you know, this idea of putting so much emphasis on what we're doing is also something that is often reflected in the coaching session and this idea that that the way one shows up for one thing is the way one shows up for anything, right?  

So, so for example, if I show up for my coaching session and you know, well, even just something silly. Not so silly, but just benign in the sense that I'm consistently late. Let's say I'm consistently late to my coaching session. That that way of showing up. Is inevitably going to be the way that I show up everywhere with my life partner, with my children, with my friends, and so digging into, well, what is it about me that is, is having me show up in this way for my coaching session and. 

What inevitably happens is that it's a portal of self-awareness. And in this example, being late, it's just, it's just something small. It could be around self-confidence. It could be around having difficulty making decisions. It could be around self-worth. You know, how the it's an an infinite number of things that can be observed of how we show up. 

And then once we have that self-awareness, we can then choose, do I want to show up this way? In all of these different areas of my life where I now see that I consistently do this, that I have this pattern. And to me, that's really the power of coaching. And that's really what I mean when I say that. We don't talk about what people think we're going to talk about because yeah, we'll sort out, you know, I'm going to become a painter or something, but it's really how I show up as a painter. 

That is what's so transformative. Right.  

Andrew Hatherley: And I, think. Unfortunately, I don't have the studies in front of me, but I've they've come across my desk a lot. A lot of these studies that have shown that the attitude that we bring to an endeavor. Is is just crucial in, in, in how the endeavor proceeds and simple op simple dichotomy of optimism versus pessimism. 

I think if you think things that something's going to fail, well, there's a good chance it might. But if you're, if you're open and there's so many different ways, the mind mindset, you can work on your mindset. I think of just taking a deep. and perhaps be a mindset tool like waiting an extra 10 seconds before you speak. 

Not losing your temp, losing your temperature, losing your temper in, in traffic.I, I guess you hear meditation is often and breathing exercises are often mindset exercises. Yeah.  

Amy Ginsburg: And, and I also feel like the term mindset, you know, it's perhaps sometimes. For in different know, what I'm hearing in your question is like being fully present and how can I be fully present in my life as, as a way of being mindful. 

What you mentioned earlier about having a positive outlook like this is going to go a certain way for me, is going to create that outcome is kind of a different flavor of mindset and all of those things do show up in coaching sessions for sure.  

Andrew Hatherley: You know, would you say mindset relates to the concept of getting outside of one's comfort zone? 

Because i,I've become a big proponent of the idea that any little thing you can do to get outside your, your comfort zone will just take you to wonderful places. . Oh, yeah.  

Amy Ginsburg: Well,I believe strongly in that. And the training program that I trained up with, you know, there's a, there's a quote in one of the tools and it says, it's my favorite quote of, um you know, in the unknown is where possibility lives. 

And so we, we all have this comfort zone and it's cool, like we can stay in here and life will be good, but out in the unknown is where the possibility exists. And so getting out of our comfort zone, in other words, is, is where,  

Andrew Hatherley: you know, that's a much more, that's a much more elegant turner phrase than nothing great was achieved inside your comfort zone, 

which is, which is one I tend to use  frequently.this is great stuff. And, you know, we could, we, we could we could talk about this and for, for a long time. Is there any, is there anything we haven't touched on that, that you think that our listeners might might benefit from? .  

Amy Ginsburg: Well, an area of study that I'm, I'm heading in personally in terms of my own professional growth, in terms of mindset is this, this idea of the mind body connection. 

Mm-hmm. and our, our ability to create our future through our mindset. And I'm personally going to be exploring more about The, the potential for healing, both emotional healing as well as physical healing through that mind body connection. And I see examples around me all the time. So, so that's a whole other facet of mindset. 

Andrew Hatherley: Well, the, this is, this is, does this relate to stress at all? Because we've heard that stress is the silent killer and we may have known people who, who've, who've stressed themselves into an early grave. It was, it would seem to me that the right mindset could be a great alleviate of stress.  

Amy Ginsburg: Oh, a hundred percent. 

And you know, again,I want to be cautious.I do understand that some things are, are bigger than our minds, you know, abilities and Absolutely 100%. I am a strong believer that our mindset truly creates our, our world. I think it was the Buddha has said, you know, with our thoughts, we make our world and. 

I, I can only imagine how many others have restated that concept over and over again. Our outlook creates our reality fully. And, and any coach you know, one of the things that I would just, you asked . Other things to include before we close, if people are looking for a coach, you know, coaching is an unregulated industry at this point, right? 

And so one does not need a license in one state to practice coaching the way that a therapist does. And so one way to to filter through is to find somebody who is accredited with the International Coaching Federation because it is the only accrediting body. It is an international. Operating association and you know, any coach that's trained up certainly through the I C F, this idea that we are creating our future through our mindset, through the way that we are looking at the world, is a commonality of the coaching profession for sure. 

It's a big part of, of how clients and coaches partner together to create their futures.  

Andrew Hatherley: How can our listeners get in touch with,  

Amy Ginsburg: Well, I have a, a website, and that's spelled a m y g i n s b u r g And on that website there's an explanation of my practice as well as a contact form. 

So that's a great way to reach out to me. And I'm also on LinkedIn with that same you could find me with that same name. G I. B u r G.  

Andrew Hatherley: Terrific. Well, look, thank you very much, Amy. We're going to have to have you back on the show to discuss all the other notes I've got that we didn't touch on . But really appreciate your thoughts and thank you very much for for being with us here today. 

Amy Ginsburg: Well, thank you Andrew. I appreciate you and your podcast and introducing me to this concept of gray divorce. I had no idea that I was a gray divorcee until you and I met , so thank you for that additional identifier.  

Andrew Hatherley: Gray divorce. It could be a great thing. Well, the, the, the, the results, the post post divorce community,  

Amy Ginsburg: Great thing. Oh yes, a hundred percent yes.  

Andrew Hatherley: So, yeah, and that's maybe we'll talk about, maybe we'll table a discussion on post-traumatic growth for another day.  

Amy Ginsburg: Well, you already know my, my concept of that term post-traumatic. So  

Andrew Hatherley: it's right, we, we can, we can rename it . We, we don't have to, we don't have to necessarily agree in every detail.  

Amy Ginsburg: Well, thank you Andrew. It's been a pleasure. Thank you, Amy. 

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