Altered states

The subject line might conjure up images of a 40-year-old horror movie, however that is not what I am writing about.

The term could be applied to your mind state whenever you go through one of life’s transitions or you experience something such as a divorce or bereavement. Retirement can be equally disconcerting, especially if this happens to be cliff edge retirement, in other words you revert from full time employment to nothing. Studies have found that in extreme examples adjusting or reorienting ourselves to retirement can take as long as 15 years. By any stretch that is a long time.

Having experienced a divorce, been widowed and now at a time in life when retirement is an option I can comment on not just from what I have learnt and observed, but also lived.

Although fully aware of what a change to my circumstances might bring (I sold my financial planning business in 2021) through my work I was nevertheless surprised by the extent to which I found some of the change uncomfortable. Humans find change difficult, preparation and having a plan ahead of time eases the discomfort. I am fond of saying that it is far better to retire to something rather than retire from something.

The key to solving this for yourself is to find out what the something that you might retire to is. 

In her book Retire Smart Retire Happy, psychologist Professor Nancy Schlossberg created the following definitions. 

  • CONTINUER? Someone who continues to use your existing skills and interests, but modifying them to fit retirement?
  • An ADVENTURER? Someone who sees retirement as an opportunity to start new endeavours.
  • A SEARCHER? Someone who explores new options through trial and error.
  • An EASY GLIDER? Someone who enjoys unscheduled time letting each day unfold.
  • An INVOLVED SPECTATOR? Someone who cares deeply about the world, but engages in less active ways.
  • A RETREATER? Someone who takes time out or disengages from life.

She goes on to observe that we may well go through each of these during our later lives, sometimes more than once. One of her key lessons that I whole heartedly recommend is her Lesson 4 Keep Dreaming or “My Time” 

To quote “By tapping into our hopes, fantasies and regrets we can construct our desired possible self”.

How will you use this lesson?