Find Happiness in Retirement by Embracing Change

Find Happiness in Retirement by Embracing Change

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When planning your retirement, it is a very good time to really start telling the truth. It’s not nearly as important to do that with your friends, neighbors or co-workers as it is to tell the truth to yourself.  This is no time to be embellishing or fantasizing who you’d like to be on a core level. It’s a time to be really honest, brutally honest with yourself as to who you really are so that you can nurture and befriend yourself through the process of creating this next chapter of your life.

When my children were babies, I marveled at how quickly changes could happen. In the blink of an eye they could go from sitting to crawling or one day just getting up and walking. One day a diaper and then a potty.  Sometimes, in a matter of days, there was a whole new person with a whole new skill set. It was a miraculous joy to behold. As the life cycle continues, there seems to be a whole lot of years “in the middle” where changes happen, but they’re small and not as emotionally charged. But then at about 50-ish changes start to happen more rapidly.  And not necessarily the fun ones……..

Happiness Hinges on How You Address Change During the Planning Process

From what I’ve seen in my work with clients, (as well as experiencing myself) we all have very different perceptions and tolerances for change.  Research has shown that those of us who embrace change and have demonstrated a marked talent in resiliency wind up being more satisfied in life and healthier both physically and emotionally.  There are so many touching interviews with very elderly people who have seen so much change in their lives; loss of friends, family, health issues. What may seem to be incredible to many is that they still find joy in their days and maintain a positive, hopeful outlook.  They have learned to embrace change and are resilient.

So, back to the truth…. YOUR truth. Here are some questions to consider: Are you someone who enjoys change?  Do you like the unexpected?  Do you bounce back quickly from disappointment or unanticipated occurrences?  What have you done in the past to get through challenges? Do you tend to process things alone or do you benefit from sharing and listening to others? Are you a close-your-eyes and leap kind of person or are baby-steps what has helped you in the past? Is it more important to maintain what you have than re-creating something new?

As I said earlier, look at these questions but answer from your soul…..not what Oprah would want you to say. There are obvious changes that must be considered in retirement planning and it is a process. It might be a change in residence, change in geography, change in spending habits, a change in how you manage your day.  But, how you plan for this and take care of the person you ARE, makes all the difference in how joyful or stressful the process will be. If you are someone who looks at this whole subject with trepidation and worry, working with a Retirement Coach can be a productive and empowering process.

The Support You Need to Successfully Tackle Life’s Transitions

My expertise is helping people transition through all the changes that life offers.  As a Retirement Coach, my job is to help you successfully create a fulfilling, exciting new chapter.  No matter where in the world you are or how busy your life is, the phone, Skype, FaceTime, and the internet make our meetings easy to manage.  Let’s talk about how we can work together!

The Importance of Relationships, Especially During Retirement

The Importance of Relationships, Especially During Retirement

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Who Gets To Go Into YOUR Refrigerator??

Ginny, one of my retirement coaching clients, was reflecting on the changes that have taken place in her social life over the last several years.  At one time, she and her husband had enjoyed a thriving and active community of friends.  She felt the best and easiest time was when their children where grade-school age and play dates and school activities created tremendous opportunities to meet people and regularly come together.  Acquaintances become friends with a long, shared history of memories that included their children but deepened far beyond that. There were also opportunities at work to meet people regularly and co-workers morphed into life-long friendships. There were not enough days in the week to fit in all the people they wanted to spend time with.  Whether it was a dinner date, impromptu pizza get-together or vacationing together, there was no lacking of friendship and social stimulation.

As time has progressed, the terrain of her social life has changed dramatically.  Her workplace is filled with much younger people who she enjoys but often finds little in common with. Her neighborhood has changed as good neighbors have sold their homes and new, young families are replacing them.  Deaths and divorces have taken their toll.  Dear friends have moved away or life circumstances have made them less available. They’re still valued friendships but distance and the lack of intimacy of not being in each other’s daily lives on a regular basis have altered the texture of the relationships. Ginny also expressed her concern that without other meaningful relationships she might come to rely too much on her husband and children to fill in the gap and actually put a strain on those relationships.

Ginny’s feelings really resonated with me.  Life is constantly changing and certain circumstances are easier or more challenging at different stages in a person’s life.  How we adapt to these changes is critical in our ability to constantly recreate the excellent life worth living.  Some things can go by the wayside, like sitting cross-legged on the floor and getting up without using your hands; social connections cannot.

Create a Happy Retirement by Creating Connections

While reflecting on Ginny’s concerns and how to coach her towards rebuilding a vibrant social network, I re-visited a wonderful book written by a friend and colleague of mine, Dr. Will Miller.  The book, “Refrigerator Rights: Creating Connections and Restoring Relationships” contends that all of us NEED the intimacy and comfort of the friend whose house you could walk into and, without preamble, rummage through their refrigerator and vice-versa. A relationship of this quality is prioritized and cultivated over time but it’s yield is enormous.  We live in an age of disconnection and groundlessness; people move frequently, often not near other family. Phone calls, initially replaced by emails, have now been replaced by texting, Facebook, Instagram, etc.  It’s easy access in the short-term but is rather disastrous over time.  How often do we choose to get lost in our gadgets rather than connect personally and meaningfully with someone we hold dear or could possibly become a great buddy?

Having a “Refrigerator Rights” friendship is becoming obsolete.  And, it’s not limited to people of Ginny’s generation: people of all ages are feeling the effects of prolonged disconnection.  As Dr Miller contends, and many psychotherapists agree, social isolation and lack of intimacy are directly correlated to an increase in depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol abuse, dementia, serious physical illness, and premature death.

How are you feeling about your social connections? What choices are you making on a daily basis that are either moving you towards friendship and closeness with others or actually slowly eroding the ease and comfort of being with other people?  My job, as Ginny’s coach, is to keep her accountable to her expressed desire and need for friendship, intimacy and connection in her life.  Together we are coming up with strategic and realistic actions that over time will rebuild her thriving social life.

Whether life circumstances have created some less-than-welcome shifts in your social life or you’re concerned about how to stay connected when you retire, I am here to help.