Ever thought about your past? As we age most of us do and daily. It’s when your past becomes your present that the challenge begins. The niggling thoughts and memories, the what ifs and the longings for what was. I’m guilty of this, the last 4 years have perhaps been the toughest of my life, filled with mourning, longing and an insatiable desire to be back in a place that felt comfortable, a place where I belonged, a place before change.
Retirement, loss, health issues, age, are but a few of the factors that lead to change and how well we adapt to life’s curve balls determines how well we will embrace our life after change.
Ironically we seem to view our past through a rose-coloured lens, focusing on the good old times, knowing there were plenty of tough times but subconsciously labeling them ‘good for us’ or ‘growth’. So why is it so difficult for us to do the same with our present transition through change? Is this not also a ‘good for us’ or ‘growth’ period in our lives?
Now I’m not a psychiatrist but I can see that factors such as time on your hands, lack of purpose, feeling redundant, loneliness, lack of confidence, lack of hobbies or interests, less meaningful conversations, no deadlines and a barrage of other varied feelings and frustrations can affect the ease to which change enters our lives.
Here are a few tips that I have found helped me in my transition to change into my new ‘second’ life.
Realise that there is no time limit
If you are not ready to accept change then be kind and gentle to yourself. Try to keep your body and your mind active. Read a lot, rest a lot and write a lot, walk a lot and enjoy your present time freedom. Slowly you will transition back into a routine. Slowly you will be prompted to add more into your days, more meaning, fun, goals, people, to name but a few.
Accepting your current position and where you are in life
This is difficult and I can’t offer advice to speed up the process…………it just takes time. For me it was a journey of discovering what it was I was good at, what I enjoyed and what made me happy. In fact, when looking back (and sometimes it’s okay) I saw a common thread in all I had achieved in all that I had enjoyed.
I now had time on my hands and no purpose but in fact, I now had time available to work out what I wanted to do and my new purpose in life. It can be trial and error but persevere.
Seek help when you need it
I spoke to family, a couple of good friends and a psychologist. Depression easily creeps up on us and can suck our soul dry if we are not actively watching. A psychologist is an amazing person to whom you can spill your soul without judgement or guilt, an hour of considering the most important person you know – YOU. I highly recommend checking in with a psychiatrist or counselor for maintaining optimal mental health.
Do what you love
This may involve rekindling an old hobby or trying something new. If you are missing something from your past, try to find something meaningful in this area. I miss my young adult children and so find time each month to work with young people in their transition into the workplace. It is both a giving and a healing process.
Feeling redundant; brush up on technology, learn to use a computer, IPad, social media, photography. Learn something new, learn to play a musical instrument, study, start to write, paint, draw or learn a language.
Feeling lonely; volunteer or join a group, social club, craft group, exercise group or book club, fundraising committee, U3A. Time with new friends may only need to be once a month to make a difference.
Start a business doing something that is meaningful to you. For many who find themselves in early retirement a business is a great way to build on skills both current and new, while maintaining a busy daily routine and lifestyle and meeting new people. This can also be a continuation of your previous work by consulting, or imparting your knowledge through mentoring.
Life’s short but long! We worry about life being too short. Really! 20 years left? 30 years left? who knows! We can pack a lot of living into those years. Start today and do one thing you love.
So, you’ve changed, so what, it’s still your life!