How hard is it to keep going when you don’t have your work/job routine anymore? There is research that shows that people are more likely to die after they retire because they are no longer part of the workforce which means that there is no-longer the day-day routine of going to work, doing something meaningful, socialising with colleagues, financial security and an identity.
So … what to do when retirement is forced on us in layoffs, terminations etc. These tend to happen suddenly and so often the situation is made worse because there isn’t time to plan “what I will do when I finish work!” Chamberlain (2014:61) comments that “Too few people consider the psychological adjustments that accompany this life stage, which can include coping with the loss of your career identity, replacing support networks you had through work, spending more time than ever before with your spouse and finding new and engaging ways to stay active.”
An underlying issue with many of us who were “retired early” and without warning are financial issues. The goals of retirement (travel, move to the beach, have the money to pursue hobbies, etc) may now be more difficult (or impossible) without the funds to do them. Adjusting to no steady income and coming up with creative ways of bringing in money is a scary place to be. Battling with bureaucrats for help is often a nightmare because we don’t fit into any box for support or funds!
So, what do we do?
The first thing is to stop and ask yourself – “what do I have?” Instead of thinking about what I don’t have, turn the record and play the other side. This gets our mind focussed on the “up-side” and this will improve how we feel as well as encourage us to start appreciating even the little things.
After I was terminated, I sat down with my journal and I challenged myself to think of 10 things that I was grateful for. When I started, I didn’t think that I would be able to find even five, but I persisted, and I eventually had the list of 10. For the next month I added at least 5 things to my list every day and soon I had a list of over 100 things that I was grateful for. This meant that I couldn’t stay focussed on the downside of losing my job – instead I began to see the positive side and I developed a sense of thankfulness for the blessings in my life.
Did this make it all perfect – “no”. But it did make it easier to navigate the road ahead. The “termination” journey is ongoing – I still have battles to fight, but throughout it all, I am very thankful for the blessings that show up every day!
What about you – what are you grateful for?
Comment below and let’s all choose to be grateful for the little things that brighten each day!
Chamberlain, J. 2014 Retiring minds want to know American Psychological Association 45(1), p 61 https://www.apa.org/monitor/2014/01/retiring-minds