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Coping With Change in Retirement
Written By : Dee Cascio 
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All change carries with it the risk of the unknown and the unexpected. Some find these adjustments exciting and welcome the challenge. These people are able to go with the flow. Others follow the path of redirection reluctantly, dragging their heels all the way and feeling threatened. Perhaps their anxiety is caused by their fear that they won't be able to navigate the shift.

Many of us have anxieties that create barriers to development, especially as we age. In an effort to cope, you may hear these kinds of comments: I am too old to learn new technology; my approach works, why change; don't fix something that isn't broken; I am too busy, too disorganized, too overwhelmed, too set in my ways. Do many of us really want to end up thinking this way?

It is easy to justify whatever we put our minds to. The opportunities abound when we choose advancement and growth. This can open up a whole new world to us. Research shows that our brains are perfectly capable of learning new behaviors at any age. It is only our attitudes and beliefs that stand in the way. As each of us makes the transition to retirement, our ability to deal with change becomes even more important and necessary.

Arenas of Change in Retirement

Your career path may be redirected either because you have to retire or because you have decided to try something different. Throughout this process, you may learn new skills or rediscover old ones that you have not used in a long time. You may decide that you want to work part-time, volunteer or do something else you have always wanted to do. Your whole life will be impacted by these important decisions.

Socially, your circle of friends can actually become more varied as you transition from a work environment. You will meet new friends, explore new environments, and experience a different commute each day, bringing you into contact with different people.

Health-wise, we all experience new challenges to our health as we age. You may discover elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure, or pain in certain parts of your body. Fortunately, you will reap the benefits of progressive medical research as they find new ways to treat these chronic ailments. You may also decide to reshape your routine to include daily exercise and a healthier lifestyle. Doing this may help you age well and could even extend your life.

Geographically, you and your spouse/partner may choose to buy a second home where you spend the winter months. Moving back and forth between two homes requires a degree of flexibility that represents the ultimate willingness to cope with change. You may even decide to move out of your hometown permanently, rearranging almost everything in your life and giving up what is comfortable and familiar. As you transition, family and friends may move away which will bring additional adjustments. These changes will require you to be open to developing new friendships and interests.

Financially, the recent economic downturn has required many of us to make substantial financial adjustments. Some of you who have already retired may need to go back to work. Others who have been laid off are now job hunting. These ups and downs represent a few of the areas of your life that are impacted daily by uncertainty.

Are You Ready?

Change is inevitable. Its unavoidable impact on your daily life will be determined, in part, by your ability to adapt and by your attitude. A conscious, developed awareness of your response to change can help you create better coping strategies.

Your reaction to the following statements is a reflection of how you cope with change.

1. I am able to make a change even if everything isn't 100% right.

2. I can make changes proactively before they are forced on me.

3. I often look forward to change as exciting and challenging.

4. I am not the kind of person who has to be totally fed up before I'll make any adjustments.

5. When confronted with a change that I disagree with, I try to accept it and if I can't, I look for healthy ways of dealing with the change.

6. I never feel responsible for negative changes that come out of nowhere.

7. I realize that sometimes even "good" changes have an underside that may bring unexpected problems.

8. I realize that a positive change in one area of my life won't solve all of my problems.

9. When coming to terms with a major transition in my life, I try to keep other changes to a minimum.

10. When a change or transition occurs, I review how I have handled other such events in my life for lessons on how to cope with this event.

11. I look for other people who have undergone similar changes as models for how I might better cope with those in my life.

12. During a time of change, I ask for help and support from those reliable friends and outside professionals that I trust.

13. After a life-changing event, I step back from the situation to get perspective and give myself time to regain a sense of balance.

14. When a change occurs, I try to look at the "big picture" and acknowledge mixed feelings I might have.

15. I don't hold onto "the way things used to be" but instead move into "the way things are" or "the way that I would like them to be."

16. In order to make a necessary change, I am willing to risk the disapproval and lack of support from others.

17. When something positive happens for someone that might change our relationship, I don't let my fears get in the way of being supportive of that person.

By becoming aware of your response to change, you have taken the first step in adjusting to retirement. If eleven or more of these seventeen statements are true for you, keep doing what you do now. If not, take an in-depth look at how you might respond differently. Consider more positive coping strategies and get the support you need. These steps will allow you to have a fulfilling and evolved life in one of the biggest transitions of your life, retirement.

Find out more about: retirement
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