I met with a new client* for the first time last week (we’ll call him George): A reserved man in a crisp white shirt, a successful attorney who knew it was time to exit the specialty practice he’d built as his life’s work. He’d sought out a coach to help him transition into retirement.

“What makes you think you need help with that?” I asked.

He replied, “Because I’ve never done it before and I want to do it right.”

We had an extraordinary session together exploring his vision, his remaining business ties, and his perceived barriers.

The session really got juicy when I said, “Death; let’s talk about death. If, God forbid, today was the last day of your life, would you be okay to meet your maker?”

“No,” he said.

The ensuing conversation made it clear that our real work together would not be about retirement; it would be about legacy.

Fast forward one week…the man I met this time was in jeans and a casual shirt, with a bounce in his step. “I’ve got new terminology,” he said with an ear-to-ear grin. “I’m not retiring, I’m transitioning into my next career.”

His enthusiasm was contagious. “Awesome, what does that distinction do for you?” I asked.

“It changes everything,” he said.

He went on to explain that the word “retirement” was loaded for him, and not in a good way. For George (this is different for everyone), the word carried with it, "dread, stress, a path of devastation and stagnation." Those are his words. Until now, that was the definition of his next chapter. No wonder he had some anxiety about retiring.

“Transitioning to my next career” was a phrase that created forward motion, possibilities and unknown adventures for him.

There you have it: Words matter. What happened within George is living proof.

Retirement = Energy contraction and a feeling of dread

Transitioning to my new career = Energy surge and a feeling of excitement

I encourage you to notice the words you use both aloud and inside of your own head.

  • How are those words serving you?
  • Are they energy creating or energy sapping?

Remember, you, like George, have total dominion over the words you choose.

Why bother?

Because it changes everything.


*As always, this is written with the permission of my client