Thirty years ago I attended a lecture in Minneapolis USA by a Dr William Bridges on change and transition. Change he said is what happens in the real world but transition happens in the mind. When planned change fails its usually because people have not made the mental transition to accept the change. He offered a simple way to understand transition by breaking it into three stages.
Stage 1 is all about making endings and letting go. Real change he said must begin with an ending, counter intuitive isn’t it. Letting go of the current way of doing things or your present role in your company or society.
Stage 2 he called the neutral zone. It’s that period of time when the old way or attitude has been discontinued but before the new has been convincingly established. It’s the in-between space that can be scary but offers great opportunity for creativity and exploring new opportunities that may previously have seemed impossible.
Stage 3 he calls new beginnings which embodies our vision of the future. New approaches, ways of living and new relationships are formed as we exit the neutral zone and commit to the change. Think about it, this simple 3 step process of transition happens in all life’s changes, big and small. The shift from being single to being married, a geographical relocation, changing jobs or companies are all real world changes that are only successful if we let go of the past and embrace a new way of living.
Entering retirement is a major change for everyone and it comes at a time in life when many seniors have become change averse.
When I notice that a retired friend or ex colleague is having difficulty adapting to a retirement lifestyle it is usually because retirement, the real world change, has not been accompanied with a matching mental transition. The inability or unwillingness to let go of the past and making endings is usually at the heart of the problem. Men in particular have difficulty in letting go of who they were at work. In many cases their entire persona is wrapped up in who they used to be and the position they once held. When introducing themselves they will say I am so and so, I used to be the CEO of an international retail business!
For most of us there are many things we need to let go of for a happy retirement.
These may include scaling down the large family home, the luxury German fuel guzzling motor vehicle and the monthly spending budget. Change will also include different use of your time, different physical activities and changes in relationships. If you manage to let go of most of the inappropriate elements of your past (inappropriate for retirement that is) and get through the neutral zone which could take weeks but probably months, you will be able to embrace retirement as a new beginning. You will be an authentic human being following new but different dreams and adding value to your family and community. Irrespective of the challenges that ageing throws at you, your financial position or state of health, I believe that you will be happy.
At Evergreen Lifestyle we would love to come alongside you as you make these transitions to retirement, especially with regard to making your lifestyle easy and fun. To find out more go to www.eveergreenlifestyle.co.za or call Sharon on 087 808 7000 to find out more about our partnership for life promise.