Perhaps you do a lot of reflection and introspection routinely through journaling. If so, you may have looked at ruts, habits and routines that you have developed or fallen into. Perhaps as you are moving into a new phase of life, it will be helpful to reflect again. And for everyone else, this time of life is a very good opportunity to assess who we are, what we do and why, and to look to the future.
I invite you to think about 3 areas in which routines/habits/ruts may be impacting your life positively or negatively. Then you can determine if you want to continue in those directions, or if you would like to make some changes.
1) Looking at general ruts and habits. What’s totally predictable about your life?
– in daily routines
– in interactions with others
– in reactions to people and occurrences
– in choices of how to spend my time and money, what you eat and wear
Which of those do you want to continue and which would you like to change as you move into retirement?
2) Looking at family relationship ruts and habits.
You can start by identifying which family relationships you want to look at. The circle may be small – parents if they are still alive, siblings and their families, and children/grandchildren. You might include cousins, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, even second cousins if they are meaningful relationships now. Then think about whether each of those relationships is static or changing. Why is that – by choice or default? If things continue as they are, what will that relationship be like in 5 years or 10 years? Is that okay or do you want to make some changes?
3) Looking at relationships with friends.
You can ask the same questions about your circle(s) of friends. Especially as you move from employed to retired, work relationships will automatically change. This is a good time to look at which ones you want to continue and how that can happen. Will losing some of those work relationships leave a vacuum? If so, think about how you might find new relationships that will be satisfying in the future.
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.