Dealing with change in retirement is important.
Like most people, I like to think that I’m good at dealing with change. I can adapt.
But recently, I had to confront myself. Our niece was visiting us last month. The conversation turned to tactics for protecting the brain and keeping it active to assist in warding off dementia.
Our niece recommended an online word-finding game and offered download the app to my smart phone. My response was “No, I don’t like games and don’t have time for online games.”
That night as I was going to sleep, I replayed events of the day. I thought about my response to her genuine offer of something that could help me.
My curt ‘no’ reflected rigidity and inflexible thinking and not openness and adaptability.
It also reflected an unwillingness to change. Perhaps playing online games is a good strategy for keeping my brain agile as I grow older.
Recalling this conversation and my reaction has caused questions about how I deal with change to float through my thoughts.
Thoughts on Dealing with Change
I thought about who influences me to make changes? Answers included my husband, friends, my doctor, my financial advisor, the media, and the internet. I also noted that sometimes an offhand comment will influence a change.
However, all significant changes in my life have come from my decision for action. Sometimes it was a life-altering change like marriage or a move across the country or a decision to go to graduate school or to make a job change or to retire. At other times, change involved a less consequential decision like changing a habit or trying a new activity such as learning to swim in adulthood.
I also thought of what causes me to make changes? Influences such as life opportunities, health concerns, legal requirements, and boredom were reasons for making a change. Some changes happened as a result of an inference or a dare. For example, I chose to establish and write a blog as one of my retirement activities after a work colleague told me, just before I retired, that I had neither the skills nor the tenacity for blogging! I was determined to prove him wrong.
Many changes resulted from inspirations that have come unexpectedly. An inspiration might come from a conversation, from something I’ve read, or from something discussed over a bridge game.
When the inspiration is consistent with my values, I pay attention. Regular journal writing often influences and stimulates my creativity. Sometimes, inspiration comes from nature or music or exercise.
I considered the discomfort caused by a change. Change is rarely easy. Although I dislike most games, playing online is low-risk and quite easy — even for beginners. Winning is another matter but I’ll leave that for another post.
The level of discomfort depends on how significant the change might be and whether it is a positive change or a negative change. The level of discomfort also depends on whether the change is self-initiated or imposed by circumstances. For example, it is much easier to adapt to a new job if changing jobs was a choice and not a forced change due to down-sizing or dismissal.
Many changes for self-improvement have been internally driven. I made a conscious choice to move away from my comfort zone and step into the unknown. Playing games online is an example of making a choice to exercise my brain.
Make Dealing with Change Easier
It’s easier to deal with change when you recognize that dealing with change is a process. Sometimes it requires long periods of adjustment. Sometimes it means leaving behind familiar people or abandoning habits that provided gratification. For major life changes, like retirement, the change process involves developing a new identity.
A positive attitude makes dealing with change easier. Regardless, of the type of change, a forward-looking, positive perspective, makes it easier to step into the unknown.
Internally driven changes for self-improvement, changes involving a conscious choice, and changes that are self-directed usually go smoothly. Externally imposed changes are often more frustrating and stressful. For changes driven by circumstances beyond our control, a positive attitude is especially helpful.
It’s also important to give yourself compassion when dealing with change. You may not succeed as quickly or as skillfully as you hoped. The way that circumstances or events cause upheaval in your life may cause disappointment. Dealing with change is easier if you adopt a forgiving and compassionate attitude toward yourself.
I’m slowly learning to understand that dealing with change is a process that benefits from a positive attitude and a good dose of self-compassion. I’m getting better at adapting. I know that I’ll repeat these steps constantly and that’s okay because living well means dealing with constant change!
Thanks for reading my post. If you like my blog, please consider becoming a subscriber — and email your friends!