Audra Mrini, MA, NCC, works as a resident in counseling at the Center for Pastoral Counseling of Virginia. She has worked for years with those reaching retirement age or who have recently retired and helps them prepare for the psychological changes accompanying this milestone in an individual’s life. Primarily, Mrini works to explore opportunities to prepare retirees for optimal meaning and fulfillment in retired life and to craft the plan to proceed towards this desired goal.
She recently sat down with EBW Life to discuss how she works with individuals who are reaching retirement age and helps mentally prepare them for the changes this will bring to their life.
- Tell us about The Center for Pastoral Counseling. What is the primary goal of your organization?
Audra: The Center for Pastoral Counseling, CPC, is a not for profit community of fully certified and licensed counselors serving Northern Virginia and beyond. We are focused on providing supportive and healing counseling services to all people. We offer a sliding fee scale to be able to serve people of all socioeconomic levels. Part of our mission is to be available to provide counseling using traditional approaches as well as to offer to those for whom it is important the additional experience of integrating and addressing spiritual beliefs and concerns. We are an interfaith community of counselors and not affiliated with any one religious group or faith community, but welcoming people of all stages and manner of spirituality.
- What do you believe are the most important things for a soon-to-be-retired or recently retired individual to understand how life is going to be different now that they no longer work?
Audra: Retirement can be equally, if not more, fulfilling as our pre-retirement life. Retirement is the opportunity to engage in activities that are fun, purposeful, and enriching. It's a time we can be creative about how we spend our time, energy, and resources. We get to make of it what we want and feel called to make it. The schedule and structure of our time in retirement is usually more self-directed than in our pre-retirement life. In many ways, we have more choice about how we spend our time and money, for example. For many, this can be a challenging time because it is a big change if work and career have been the primary focus and other areas may have been neglected.
- What do you mean by Living the Retired Life? What do you believe are the keys to a fulfilling and joyous retirement?
Audra: The retired life may be defined as that time when we have chosen to alter the path on our journey up until that point. We may have worked full time or part time and decided to end that chapter. We may be married or living with someone who chooses to retire and thus in a sense, we retire with them, particularly if we have not had a career, in traditional terms. It is a time when changes occur in how we spend our time, in our routines of daily life, and in how we define who we are and our contributions to society.
Some of the keys to a fulfilling and joyous retirement include planning ahead, exploring any concerns about retired life and begin to address them, exploring interests and begin to find ways to plan to incorporate them and take inventory of material and non-material resources. When we have been thoughtful and reflective on these things it allows us to seamlessly move into this next phase of life that is full of opportunity.
- Talk to us about some of the key concerns you believe people should have about retirement/retired life?
Audra: Some of the primary concerns at this stage of life include the following:
How will I spend my time?
Who will I spend my time with and how often?
Who will I be if I am no longer in my career?
In what ways will I contribute to my community?
Will I be healthy enough to still do things I love?
- What can one do to prepare for retirement? What do you tell your clients about "life categories" lists to ensure they take steps to shape a meaningful, fulfilling, retired life?
Audra: One of the most important steps in planning for retirement is to take inventory of the things that are working well in your life and you, therefore, want to maintain and/or build on in some way once retired. We also want to inventory the areas for which we have concerns and worries. The categories to consider for taking inventory in both areas include social life and supports, leisure interests and activities, physical and mental well-being, financial health and resources, spiritual supports and community, and vocational interests. We want to make sure that we have all the resources we need such as people, finances, community, and health.