Has life ever thrown you curve balls? I sure got a few thrown my way after leaving my career. I’m sure I’m not alone. Retiring from a professional or corporate career represents one of life’s major transitions. When you walk out the door for the last time, your life has changed.
In 2021, 47 million people left their jobs as part of the Great Retirement/Resignation phenomenon. Their lives changed.
You may be one of them. And, you may be thinking, “Now what?”
Women tend to plan well for retirement from a financial perspective. But transitioning from a career to a next chapter requires more than just focusing on finances. It requires paying attention to the psychological perspective as well to dispel fear of the unknown and keep your physical, mental and emotional health in good order.
It also requires an understanding of the difference between change and transition. Change is the event. It happens quickly. How you respond to the event and navigate the uncertainty between the old and the new is your transition.
Here are some curveballs you might encounter in your retirement transition and some mindset tools you can use to help you push past the fear and manage the messy middle between the identity you left behind and the authentic self you have yet to uncover. Think of it as programming yourself just like you would the navigation system on your car.
- Loss of Identity
If you’ve been in a profession or career for any length of time, it’s entirely possible your identity is wrapped up in that world. I know I had allowed the people and circumstances of my career to define me, and my life. It’s not the end of the world, it just happens.
So, when that changed, I just felt lost. I didn’t know who I was. You may be experiencing the same thing, or maybe this is one of your biggest fears and main reason why you haven’t left that career you’re no longer in love with.
Here’s what happens. You experience a change in your life. Something ends, and when you enter the transition zone, you have a hard time letting go of where you have been and what you have been. You lose your old connections to the activities and the people who used to matter to you, and you feel like a part of you is missing.
But, if you understand how the mind works and how powerful it is, you can allow it to help you navigate life’s curve balls, transitions, loss and grief.
2. Losses of relationships
Staying socially connected can have a huge impact on your mental health and happiness. The workplace is just one of our social networks, but too often it’s either the only social network we engage in or it’s the one we engage in most often.
When our social ties are closely linked to our jobs—and they’re abruptly cut short when we retire—it’s normal to have a sense of loss.
The transitional phase between retirement and a new beginning is the perfect time to find ways to strengthen your social network. Make a point to stay in touch with former work colleagues after retirement, but also explore opportunities to broaden your social network beyond work.
You’re never too old to build new, rewarding friendships.
3. Lifestyle changes
After many long years of employment, you have finally crossed the threshold into retirement. Congratulations! You may be feeling relieved, excited, anxious, and perhaps a little sad. Even when retirement comes after a long wait and a lot of planning, it’s normal to have unexpected thoughts when you enter the transition phase.
Retirement means a change in lifestyle. Your daily schedule, sense of purpose, and structure are different, starting with the alarm clock and daily commute.
Work is a significant source of satisfaction for many adults, and absent a reason to start their day, many recent retirees say they feel adrift and experience feelings of sadness, which can contribute to other health conditions, such as fatigue, insomnia, and weight fluctuations.
Time to start new habits and a new daily routine.
4. Inner changes
When you’re in a transition, you may feel like your life is totally out of control. That’s when it is so important to manage stress and anxiety so it doesn’t lead to a downward spiral into depression.
After retirement, the commute, the deadlines, the demanding boss, and the nine-to-five monotony may be over, but that doesn’t mean your life will automatically be free from stress and anxiety. While workplace stress can take a serious toll on your health, those same damaging stressors can also follow you into retirement.
You may worry about managing financially on a fixed income, coping with declining health, or adapting to other lifestyle changes. The loss of identity, routine, and goals can impact your sense of self-worth, leave you feeling rudderless, or even lead to depression.
The first thing to do is acknowledge your emotions. There’s no “right” or “wrong” way to respond when dealing with a major life transition, so give yourself some grace. Be yourself and resist the urge to fit into someone else’s mold.
Accept the things that you can’t change. Set new goals to create a sense of purpose and redefine your identity in this new chapter.
5. Financial changes
Even if you planned carefully for your retirement years, you still need to keep track of and manage your income, your investments, and your expenses.
You may need minor tweaks now and then or—if your situation changes in a major way—a major overhaul. If you’re fortunate, you’ll have several income streams in retirement. They might include a pension, income from your retirement accounts and other investments, and Social Security benefits.
As people live longer, they continue to learn and have a desire to be productive and contribute to society. As a result, they may keep working past traditional retirement age in some capacity. This new chapter may be the perfect time to pursue that dream you’ve always had but never had time for.
6. Emotional changes
Worrying is a total waste of time and energy. Nothing has ever really been solved by worrying about it. Wringing your hands and using precious brain power worrying about what might happen in the future is futile; it robs you of today and it robs you of tapping into possibilities and solutions. It puts you on the low vibrational scale.
If you find yourself on the worrying train, please stop, pivot and focus on the positive. It’s a much better use of your precious brain power.
You may also have to disconnect from social media and unplug your television for a while. Especially if you’re addicted to it and especially if it is causing you to be fearful and full of stress and anxiety. You’ll survive. I promise.
7. Physical Health
Dealing with a major life change like retirement can take a toll on your physical and mental health, weakening your immune system and negatively impacting your mood.
In addition to managing stress, finding new purpose, and staying socially and physically active, there are plenty of other ways to keep your body and mind healthy at this time.
First, let’s talk about sleep. Getting adequate, quality sleep is vital in maintaining good health, yet a third of US adults report that they usually get less than the recommended amount of sleep. Make sure you’re not one of them.
A healthy diet and drinking plenty of water every day are also important in helping you maintain a positive outlook and in allowing your body to function at its best.
Finally, keep challenging your brain. The more active you keep your brain, the better you’ll protect yourself from cognitive decline or memory problems. Try new variations of activities you enjoy or improve how well you do these activities.
So often, we forget how intertwined our mind, thoughts and emotions are. In reality, the thoughts you have in your mind become feelings and emotions that lead to actions. And, we all know that actions lead to results—good or bad.
While I use these 7 tips (and a few more resources) to help me navigate life’s transitions, I also tap into the incredible emotional support that comes with using pure essential oils.
These oils provide emotional support to reduce stress and anxiety, while also enabling clarity, confidence, creativity, and a sense of calm. They have allowed me to rekindle my passions and discover new ones so I can live life by design—my design—instead of by default.
Time not only reconciles us to loss but also helps us to understand the loss so that we can live through it. Our society, unfortunately, keeps us trying to make sense of endings in the context of change rather than in the context of transition.
In reality, endings are the first, not the last, act of the play. Want to dive deeper into ways you can throw these curveballs back rather than dodge them? Grab my free resource here.