In my last blog I talked about change and why, as humans, we’re programmed from birth to fear it. We may physically age as we transition through life, but emotionally we still crave the comfort, calm, and self-confidence we had in our youth.
Change is hard, there’s no denying it, and especially so as we age, but if we don’t change, then we don’t grow and instead, in retirement, we face living in a world that starts to close in on us day by day. An existence that simply stagnates.
A world in motion
“Nothing endures but change. There is nothing permanent except change. All is flux, nothing stays still,” said Heraclitus, adding, “change is the only constant.”
What a wonderful quote. A reminder that there really is no point in fighting change, as even if we stay still, living in our comfort zone, the world will always keep moving around us.
Change is how we grow
No transition is easy, but it’s at these times we discover new interests, social circles, experiences, and knowledge. Think back to starting high school. Scary yes, but for most of us, a real turning point in our lives. Starting work, becoming a parent, leaving work, losing a parent. In all of these transition phases we learn an awful lot about the world around us and ourselves.
In times of change we also learn to adapt, innovate and to find solutions to problems. We change direction, and often veer off our paths but we almost always end up in a better place than where we started. Think about it, if we hadn’t embraced change, we’d all still be living in caves. And, as Henry Ford (the founder of the Ford Motor company) so famously said, “if I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
What doesn’t kill us
Definitely makes us stronger. Periods of change often aren’t pleasant, usually they’re the opposite, but learning to deal with difficult situations and take on life’s challenges breeds resilience. This means that the next time we face adversity we are much better equipped to deal with it, and we bounce back physically, mentally, and emotionally, much more quickly. Psychologists who study resilience say the skills needed to deal more positively with life’s challenges can be cultivated and practiced. In other words, the more we embrace change of any kind, the easier we find it to overcome it.
Start with baby steps
We’re all going to face huge challenges in our lives, unexpected events, shocks to our system. That’s the way of the world. We may not be able to fully prepare ourselves for the unforeseen, but we can, and should, take steps to help ourselves. A great way to do this is to make small changes, often. These incremental changes are invaluable as they teach us how to adapt and be flexible and more importantly, how to cope when we are forced off course.
A mountain to climb
And, if we have a mountain to climb – a change we want to make ourselves, we can make success much more likely by breaking this down into small, manageable chunks. Perhaps we want to downsize but can’t face the huge hurdle of getting rid of a lifetime’s possessions, not to mention the emotional turmoil that comes with it. Tackle one room at a time and soon you will find both the will and the way to move on.
A life well lived
If we don’t embrace change in retirement and we stick to our routine, not only is life dull, but we are playing it safe. That’s all well and good but the problem with this is that when huge change does come along, we are forced to adapt, which is far less comfortable than when we are in control of our own destiny. Don’t wait to be forced to change, instead embrace every opportunity that comes your way, lead a full life, and remember, in the words of actor Julie Andrews, “when the Lord closes a door, somewhere he opens a window.”
If you would like some help to embrace change in retirement and understanding what retirement looks for you, click here to check out my digital course – DARE to Discover Your Purpose.