Today, let’s talk about new beginnings.
Perhaps T. S. Eliot said it best. “What we call the beginning is often the end and to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.”
I read a book a while back that truly put transitions into perspective–the right perspective–for me. In it, the author said that we take endings too seriously by confusing them with the meaning that something is over or finished. Because of that, endings scare us.
But, the truth is, we need to have endings in order to have new beginnings. And, the endings must be dealt with because the new beginning and growth cannot emerge out of old habits, attitudes, and outlooks. Endings are a clearing process for what no longer serves you or may no longer serve you now or in the new chapter you are entering.
Endings can also involve a symbolic death. The end of a relationship, the loss of a job, or the completion of a project can all feel like a kind of death. They represent the end of something that was once important to us and can be accompanied by feelings of sadness, grief, and loss.
But, here’s the thing. Just as the death of a plant or tree can nourish the soil and create space for new growth, the end of a relationship or job (even retirement) can provide us with the opportunity to reflect on our experiences, learn from our mistakes, and move forward in a new direction.
So a symbolic death is not necessarily a negative thing. It can also be transformative, allowing us to let go of old patterns and beliefs and creating space for something new.
For me, this symbolic death was retiring from a career that had defined me for over 3 decades. It was scary because it meant that career would not define me moving forward. And, if it didn’t, what would?
I know I’m not alone.
Retirement is a major life transition that, trust me, involves a symbolic death of sorts. When you retire, you are no longer employed or actively working in the same way that you were before. This can mean that you lose a number of things, including:
- A sense of purpose: For many people, their work provides a sense of purpose and identity. When they retire, they may feel like they have lost that sense of purpose and may struggle to find new ways to define themselves. I know I did. But in reality, my old identity was standing in the way of my transition to a new chapter. And, my disenchantment with my career at the time was a signal that I was ready for a transition. As hard as it was to let go of that old identity (that was residing in my own head, by the way), I had to in order to have the identity that not only fits with the chapter I was entering into, but also better reflected my true, authentic self. I just had to get out of my own way.
- A daily routine: Work often provides structure and routine to our lives. When we retire, we may find ourselves with a lot of free time and no set schedule to follow, which can be disorienting. Finding a new routine that compliments your new purpose is important.
- Social connections: Work is also a place where we often form social connections and friendships. When we retire, we may lose those connections and may need to find new ways to stay connected with others.
- Financial security: For some people, retirement can also mean a loss of (or fear of a loss of) financial security. Without a steady income from work, they may need to rely on savings or other sources of income to support themselves.
Notice that I put the financial security thought last. That is because we typically plan for retirement from a financial perspective, but we don’t from a mental or emotional perspective. That was my mistake.
All of these losses can contribute to a symbolic death when someone retires. However, it is important to remember that retirement can also be a time of new beginnings and opportunities. By embracing this new phase of life and exploring new interests and passions considering the whole person and not just the financial plan, retirees can create a fulfilling and meaningful retirement experience.
Mine is. Doors to my Next Chapter Plan™ Academy will open soon. If you’re interested in learning how you, too, can plan for retirement from a “whole person” perspective and experience, get on my waitlist.