Transforming Your Retirement: Comfort Zones and Ruts

As we look toward or enter retirement, our expected life span gives us the possibility of another about 20 years once we reach 65 years of age.  Most of us have fairly good health, or are able to manage what health issues we have with various medical and nutritional advances .  Whether we think of ourselves as moving into these years with negativity and fear, or as entering a potentially satisfying and energizing time of life has a huge impact on how the coming years will unfold.

When ending a full time job, we may have joyful  thoughts of just settling in and relaxing.  We will do as much or as little as we choose and take it easy. That does sound great….for awhile.  We may look forward to doing the things we never had time to do while working full time – spending time with family and friends, traveling, reading the stack of books that have continued to accumulate, engaging in our favorite hobbies extensively.

We may settle into a comfort zone – a place or situation where one feels safe or at ease and without stress.  Comfort zones can quite easily slip into ruts – repeated life patterns and habits that are worn deep and guide us almost automatically through days, weeks and months. I can speak from experience that what once was new and intentional can slip to a pattern of activity that is automatic. Ruts aren’t necessarily bad, but they warrant examination and our conscious choice to stay in them or change or get out of them.

How do you determine if you are in ruts and whether they are in your best interest? Are they ones you chose at one time, or have they been imposed by family, friends, social expectations, etc.? And if they were imposed, do you still choose to be there? These are all questions that can be enlightening when asked by you about your life as you move into this new landscape of life.

It can take just some reflection on what is totally predictable about your life – like daily routines, interactions/commitments with others, and choices of how to spend time and money.  Identify which of them you value and wish to continue and which you want to change or abandon.

 

Transforming Your Retirement: The Power of Expectations

As any of us approach a major change in life, there are many questions rumbling around in our minds. Approaching retirement  certainly can raise a bevy of negative questions, concerns, and worries – the tragic “what ifs” and “how will I be able tos” and more. Most of us tend to be very adept at seeing the worst possibilities and worrying about them. I know people in their seventies who are not retiring because they can’t imagine what they would do with their time.  Others are concerned about finances or health.

“Questions provide the key to unlocking our unlimited potential. Quality questions create a quality life. Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.”
–Tony Robbins

I love the above quote from Tony Robbins!  Questions can truly open up possibilities in a variety of ways.  Let’s do a quick experiment.  By asking two questions of yourself, you may unearth some thoughts or beliefs you were not aware of.  These thoughts or beliefs may be leading you in a positive or a negative direction as you look forward into a new part of your life.

Take 2 pieces of paper (it has much more impact if you can look at it in black and white) and answer these questions without lots of deep thinking:
(Note: If you think too much about your answers before you write them down, you probably will allow your inner editor to block some of the things that are there but you don’t want to acknowledge and to add some things you’d like to be true. So just let the responses flow out quickly and write them down.)

1) What words and images come to mind when you hear these words?
“retirement” “65 years old and older” “Social Security” “elders”
“seniors” “senior citizens” “Medicare”

2) What questions come to mind when you think of those same words?

Now really look at what you have written. If someone asked you, “Are you looking forward to retirement?” and you had to base your response on what has just poured out of your head, what would your answer be? Write that down also.

So what does this mean? These associations and questions reveal your expectations, some of which you were quite unaware because they are in your subconscious mind. They’ve been stored there from past experiences and observations, and they are likely to be the blueprint for your reality in the coming years. Nearly all of us have some negatives about retirement years boxed up inside ourselves, even if on the surface we seem positive.

If the majority of your answers to one or both of the questions were negative or full of fears, worries and concerns, you are on your way to a stressful time. If you have a mix of negative and positive words, images and questions, note the negative areas so that you can work with them later. If all of your responses are positive, upbeat and anticipatory, congratulations! You’re on your way to a great stage of life.

Identifying your beliefs, attitudes and expectations for your retirement years is a great first step. It gives you an idea of what is already stored inside of you from the past. The great news is that you can choose to change those beliefs, attitudes and expectations! We will talk more about that in the next post.