As I have been working through my retirement transition, a series of mantras have helped me along the journey. I repeatedly go back to these statements when I hit some of the lows or stumble on this path forward.
1) Keep a positive attitude. This isn’t rocket science. Many, many people have successfully navigated the retirement transition. Don’t stress the ups and downs of the roller-coaster ride. Yes, some days will feel overwhelming, some will feel like you are rudderless, and some will be good ones with feelings of accomplishment. No one embarks on a path not taken before and knows all the challenges, pitfalls, barriers that lie ahead. But through it all, choose positive, proactive, affirming articulations! I am. I can. I will.
2) Be patient. This is a major life transition, and transition takes time. As I learned working on the Pantene brand in my previous life, “it won’t happen overnight, but it will happen”. Take the time needed to deal with the losses you are experiencing and say good bye to the past – to “let it go.” Take the time needed to understand what is important to you, what you need to be satisfied in life. You can’t delegate or outsource this work… you need to do it and know it. Give yourself permission to relax a bit, allow your body and mind to decompress and find a slower rhythm of life. Take the time to get a good night’s rest, exercise regularly, eat well, connect with people, talk it out, enjoy nature, reflect – time to just “let it be”. This isn’t a race.
3) Know thyself – Define My Vision. One of life’s most difficult things is to truly discover what we really want for ourselves… and not just what we’ve been told to want (the “shoulds”) or to do what everybody else does and expects you to also do. It took deep introspection to really understand myself so I could create the vision of what I wanted my next life stage to look like. Even even though I had known me for 50+ years, it took time to really delve into and articulate things in real language and not just MegaCorp speak. I needed to really understand the destination I wanted, and then work with my significant other to find some common vision elements for creation of the “she/he/we” vision.
4) “Do I really need to work?” There is a lot of reporting on the Baby Boomer retirement bubble and its potential socio-economic impact. The reality of Social Security and pension/retiree programs with less going in, leaving both the government and private companies under a huge financial drain to maintain the aging Boomers. In the healthy longevity conversation, there are many studies about why keeping both physically and mentally active (which many define as a working life) is so important as we age. So of course, you will work in retirement, every Baby Boomer does. But when it comes down to the INDIVIDUAL, the “yes, you should work” assumptive answer needs to be a bit more detailed. Do I really need to work? Do I need to work to generate income (a critical financial reason)? Do I need to work for a psychological or social reason (mental stimulation, social connections) and other activities can provide those needs? What if work takes over life and does not allow time for healthy life activity? What if work is “just a job” and not meaningful or fulfilling? This was another case of know thyself, and not jumping to the “should” expectations of others.
5) Plan for serendipity. Be open to possibilities. As I thought through knowing yourself, creating my vision statement and thinking about possibilities, the acts of capturing my thoughts by writing things down (journaling!) and then sharing aspects with others were both amazingly helpful. Inspiration came from reading books & blogs and talking to others who are going through the transition or have been through it. You never know where great ideas or connections will come from – they did come and will continue to come.
6) It’s OK to not be the expert. I loved being the go-to (expert) person at work. Now I’m a beginner making mistakes and realizing new habits are hard to form and new skills take repetition to establish. Practice makes perfect. Does knowing this make it any easier? Not so much, but I am using the tools & skills I have, gathering new ones along the way, asking for guides to help, finding supporters to encourage me, and working to establish new habits. Try it. Explore it. Do it. (Yes, it took me 12 months to start my blog…. but I did it.)
7) Be Not Afraid. Try it. Yes, you will feel the conflict of holding on to the old (comfortable, even if not satisfactory) and moving towards the new (possibly scary, untested waters, maybe even voids). What is the worst thing that could happen if you try something new and it doesn’t work out? Everyone says you will regret it so much more if you didn’t try it. So what if you fail at it, or are not perfect at it… more people will be impressed that you TRIED it! So, try it!
What affirmations do you find helpful in your transition?