I recently attended a work-related conference. I can hear folks now… What? Aren’t you retired? But retirement doesn’t mean that I’m not still working part-time, consulting in my field of expertise. And the fact was the conference was right here in town, less than 6 miles from my house, and very much related to my consulting area of expertise. I expected I would know quite a few attendees (I did). In fact, I knew 2 of the coordinators of the conference and I felt a little bit like I was supporting them by attending.
While there were a number of very interesting speakers (and of course I will be summarizing my learning from a couple of them), I came to the realization that I really don’t want to be in the working world anymore! As one blogger recently phrased it – I don’t want to “stay in the game” any longer. I don’t want to learn new skills required to work with the next generation & their different mindset (called a gaming mindset). I don’t want to learn how to work in the new future organization structure (shape shifting versus hierarchical). I don’t want to learn how to maximize use of AI technology. That all just sounds exhausting; I’m ready to move onto something different.
Not staying in the game is not quitting. It is recognizing that I am changing. I am proactively recognizing that my passion is no longer coming from maintaining a cutting edge skill set in my field of expertise. My passion is coming from learning how to live life.
Even though I had this AHA moment, one speaker I found very applicable to my living life realization was a talk on changing existing habits/behaviors. While the information was presented for getting people to buy/use new innovations, the concepts are true for changing all types of behaviors/habits.
Our attitudes and intention do not equate to our actual habitual behavior! Just stating an intention to change does not make it happen.
This was mind opening. So much about entering into retirement for many of us is about habit change – from creating new daily schedules to making healthy living changes in diet and exercise.
Habitual behaviors, even infrequent habits, allow us to function; we’ve essentially created habits to remove decision-making and simplify our lives. No one can make a decision about everything, everyday – it would go beyond just cognitive fatigue. Existing behaviors/habits reduce risk – we know the outcome. Whether those habits are good for us or not, they are firmly ingrained and they keep our life in some sort of balance. Changing a habit is risky – we don’t know the outcome and it could have an adverse effect. We might not even consciously realize our resistance. To make a habit change, the focus needs to be on reducing the resistance to change.
The speaker shared some approaches to increase the odds of habit change (reducing the resistance):
- Piggy back on an existing behavior/habit
- Make new behavior less painful/easier than current behavior
- Holistically “design” the new behavior so it is visually and emotionally appealing
- Provide short term rewards for behavior shift
- Improve perception of behavioral change outcomes – remove cognitive resistance
As I thought about my retirement lifestyle desire for more healthy habits related to eating and exercise, I contemplated what strategies/actions might fit some of these approaches. It has to be more than just stating my intention to eat better and exercise more! Some I’ve implemented, some I need to re-energize, and some I need to plan conscious action around:
- Keep “good snacks” around and in sight – popcorn, fruit, cut veggies. Stop buying big bags of chips (and keep the chip bag hidden in the pantry).
- Keep buying those pre-packaged salads… yeah, they are more expensive, but they taste good, and I eat them!
- Always use my favorite, hand-made bowl to serve a snack (i.e. don’t eat right out of the bag).
- Keep planning walks with friends, instead of lunches.
- Buy a multi-class yoga pass (again). I’ve already bought the cute yoga pants!
- Buy easy to prepare, good tasting foods for breakfast, so it’s not just coffee for breakfast.
- Plan ahead some dinners each week and put them on the calendar; explore some new recipes (enjoy my new kitchen!).
Now, if I could just figure out how to activate my intentions to walk the dog more, get the bike out, and SUP regularly.
So while the conference did not make me want to engage more with the working world, I was glad I went. I did see some folks I used to work with. I did learn some new things. I did re-energize my “health & wellbeing” action plan items. I’m looking forward to this next stage of my retirement transition.
What are you doing to move intention into action and new habit formation?
Picture Credit: me! Africa Safari, 2017. I call this one “Lion King”. Thanks to our great safari guide Wolfgun for putting us in the right location at the right moment.