When your retirement life feels constricted, you might ask whether you have outgrown yourself. Whaaaat — you ask? How can that happen?
In all likelihood, you have outgrown your retirement lifestyle. You planned a fulfilling and exciting retirement — not one that feels smaller with each passing year. Outgrowing oneself may be a natural progression of ageing.
Most people look forward to retirement, save for it, and make plans for a relaxed lifestyle life free from the demands of paid work. Too often, however, retirement evolves to a routine that leads to boredom, loneliness, and hopelessness. How long can the 3Gs of retirement (golf, gardening and grandkids) keep one changing, growing, and developing especially when retirement can last 20 or 30 years? These activities contribute to feelings of well-being and quality relationships. But, are they enough to satisfy growth needs for years of retirement?
When there is nothing new or exciting to talk about with friends and family, it’s a clear signal that life is becoming static and small. Repetitive and boring days leave little to anticipate. The days feel tiring and empty. It may not be depression per se, but the vitality that brings happiness is missing. Living on the sidelines wasn’t in the retirement plan. The excitement of the first months/years of retirement is over.
You’ve outgrown yourself!
Re-evaluate and Create a New Vision
Rather than despair, this is an ideal time to re-evaluate and create a new vision for the next phase of retirement. You want days of purposeful activity. You want your life to mean something. You want challenges that create growth.
Just as retirement means that you are no longer tethered to a job, it also means that you aren’t tethered to a particular lifestyle. Each of us is capable of living a life on terms that satisfy. It doesn’t always happen that we get it right with our plans nor is it realistic to think that ‘steady as she goes’ will keep things right for the decades of retirement.
Re-evaluation begins with taking stock of what brings joy. It might begin with listing gratitudes, journaling, and deep reflection. This takes time — perhaps weeks or months. The process can be painful. It might involve letting go of people or activities that feel burdensome.
Growing out of friendships and no longer enjoying certain activities is a natural progression of age.
Ageing brings greater self-confidence plus freedom to choose. But, choose what?
Sometimes small adjustments to lifestyle serve to create new enthusiasm. It might involve a changed physical routine at the gym to increase stamina or a change in eating patterns to incorporate more veggies. It might involve changes in how you present yourself in terms of dress, manners, or demeanour. Making a small adjustment such as going outdoors for 30 minutes every day often invigorates. Perhaps taking on a new activity or starting a volunteer gig.
Sometimes a drastic change is necessary. This may involve selling the family home and moving. It may involve a life change from which there is no return such as separation or divorce. It may involve a decision to become a nomad for a year to see the world and live out of a suitcase.
Drastic changes should never be undertaken without careful thought, deliberation, and consideration of all options. A life coach can help to evaluate whether you can bear the risk involved with a drastic life change or whether your plan is an impulsive reaction to feeling stuck. Less drastic choices may be available.
Embrace the Changes and Transitions
Transitions can be tortuous. Changes are uncomfortable in later years and it’s easy to make excuses to avoid challenges beyond the usual pursuits of retirement.
Life transitions lead to changed expectations. It’s not unusual to question previous decisions nor to experience a sense of loss or grief. Nothing happens without a degree of risk. Adopting a mindset that is open to personal growth and new opportunities sidesteps setting a course that leads to regret.
Changes and transitions take time and commitment. Finding opportunities for a life transition in retirement that shifts purpose from career ambition to elder wisdom assures that you aren’t outgrowing yourself. A fulfilling retirement is not for the faint of heart.
Thanks for reading my blog post. I’m interested in your comments and ideas about outgrowing ourselves in retirement.