Retiring or entering the Encore stage of life, also known as Prime Time is a process. Even though it feels like it's one decision that sounds like "I'm going to retire on this date," it really isn't. That is one of the reasons entering this new stage in life feels like a challenge. It is actually a major life transition.
I believe it helps to think of this time as if you are preparing to run a marathon race – not a sprint. Preparing for a marathon requires different skills than preparing for a sprint. It also means you will be making certain adjustments to your normal routine as you prepare for the marathon.
A transition is a process that happens over time. Understanding the stages in the process of a transition and what you can do at each stage helps you be more prepared and resilient.
There are 3 stages in a transition:
During a time of transition, you have to identify your losses, work through a middle stage, and finally embrace a new beginning. You may find yourself at different stages and moving through the transition at different speeds, similar to running a marathon.
Stage 1: Ending – Sometimes endings are disliked because they mean unlearning ways of doing things that are familiar. When running a marathon, this is the time you change your behavior to make time to prepare for the race. Old routines need to change to make time to get fit. Losses tend to disrupt your sense of identity, rootedness, and connection. It might mean loss of an ideal, purpose, goal, hope, or plan as you let go of the old way of thinking or acting. Endings can shake your belief that life is predictable, fair, and controllable. The world may feel like it is no longer a benign place.
What endings have you experienced that have done that to you?
It is important to identify your losses before you can have a new beginning. Just like you have to get in condition for a marathon. For a race that means finding time to train or practice even though you might like to just put on your running shoes and go.
Stage 2: Middle – There is little that feels comfortable or clear during this stage. Feelings of confusion can cause discouragement, doubt and anxiety. You struggle when things do not seem to happen as you thought they would. Likewise, in the middle of a marathon, it is easy to lose concentration and energy. Yet, this is a time of creativity, opportunity, and development. It has been described as the winter before spring.
What are some feelings you have when you are in this stage of a transition?
There is a strong need during this stage for direction and answers to help you with the necessary reorientation that is taking place. It helps if you build in some structure for your day, even if it is to just set a time to exercise. It helps provide physical and emotional strength. Realistic, short-range goals and check-points along the way also help keep you in a race. Improved communication lines can lead to innovative ideas that enhance your resilience and moving on to stage three.
Stage 3: New beginning – This stage involves new understandings about yourself and your situation. As you approach the end of a marathon, there is renewed energy and commitment to completing it. Finishing it becomes part of your new identity and affects your values and attitudes.
How would you describe yourself at this final stage in your transition?
Self-awareness is essential. Identify what is important to you so you will be clear about your values and strengths. Develop a clear picture of the outcome you want. Look within yourself as well as outside yourself to determine the things that help you be responsive and persistent. Choose to be authentic in what you say and do. Live your life out of your values and a strong sense of meaning and purpose.
No matter what stage you are in during a transition or a marathon, it is important to keep your resolve. Hopefully, you will keep your eyes and ears tuned to those things that not only keep you in the marathon but also help you be healthy and committed to completing it.
What choices are you making to be resilient and keep your resolve? What will it take for you to do this with perseverance? Your answers will be different from others because you are unique.
If you have questions about moving through your retirement transition, let's talk. Email me for a complimentary Lifestyle Transition conversatioin to help you make this time in your life rewarding.
Until next time,