At least 90 out of 100 people would tell you that they don't enjoy change. Change isn't easy because we humans are creatures of habit. You want to continue living in a certain routine once you've conditioned your body and mind to function in that way. This makes you feel comfortable with your surroundings and decisions. And it also makes you feel uncomfortable when it's time for things to change.
Let's face it... retirement signifies massive change - in all areas of your life. In fact, it's difficult to think of a single part of your life that won't be changed by retirement - your sleeping and waking patterns, your social life, your relationship with your partner (if you have one), how you spend your time and even what/when you eat!
Even though you're probably counting down the days to the time you retire, there are bound to be some imminent changes that concern you more than others. (Such as how you're going to fill your time without resorting to watching daytime TV or how you'll get along when you and your partner are together 24/7, for example.) And, even if you don’t like change, there are ways to make these lifestyle changes easier. Entering into a phased retirement (where you retire gradually, reducing your working days and increasing your leisure time accordingly) is a good example of this.
There are also tools you can use to welcome change into your life, even when a phased retirement isn't an option and you feel like you're entering the new, uncharted territory of not working for a living head on at full speed.
Here are 3 ways to make lifestyle changes easier for you:
1. Determine the Pros and Cons. If you know you need to make changes in your life (such as those dictated by retirement) and you aren't looking forward to doing so, you can do a good, old-fashioned 'Pros and Cons' exercise that will help you get your concerns out into the open where you can face them head on and begin to get to grips with them.
Take a sheet of paper, and on one side write “Pros,” and on the other write, “Cons.” On the corresponding side you'll write the pros and the cons of the change so you can see what the benefits and drawbacks might be. So, if we take the example of your concerns about how you'll get along when you and your partner are together 24/7...
The 'Pros' of being retired together might be:
You'll have the time to do the things you've been 'saving' for retirement - such as taking trips, moving to the coast or pursuing joint hobbies that have brought you pleasure in the past. You can buy that motor home (RV) and go off on extended trips. You can get closer as a couple again, now that you're not being pulled apart by work-related obligations.
The 'Cons' might be:
You're worried that you might get bored with each other or that you'll 'get under each other's feet'. Or you might be worried that, when you're together on a daily basis for extended periods of time, you'll find that you don't actually have all that much in common.
Seeing the pros and cons will help you identify the benefits associated with making the change. But it will also help you to articulate your thoughts around the cons and enable you to decide what you need to do to set about tackling them - such as having a heart-to-heart with your partner about your worries or allocating each of you a room (or den) that you can retreat to in order to get some personal space and time.
2. Incorporate the Change Gradually. Another way to make lifestyle changes easier is to work up to them.
For instance, if the lifestyle changes that you need to make centre around eating less (so you don't put on weight if you become less active in retirement) you may not want to radically start cutting your intake of calories. Instead you can keep an eye on everything you eat for a week or two. Then, try to cut down on your snacking habit. Or you can replace your favourite snacks with something that's a little healthier - such as fruit, so that you don't feel like you're completely depriving yourself of the pleasure of eating.
Preparing yourself both physically and mentally helps you to ease the change into your daily routine.
3. Use Affirmations. Another way to help make lifestyle changes easier is to use positive affirmations. Positive affirmations are statements that encapsulate the way you would, ideally, think or behave. They can be used to counteract some of the negative thoughts that we often default to if we're not being careful.
Some examples of affirmations are:
- I eat well, exercise regularly and get plenty of rest to enjoy good health
- I learn from my mistakes
- I know I can accomplish anything I set my mind to
You can either create your own affirmations or look for statements that others have created. The key is that you find an affirmation that 'speaks' to you.
Words are powerful and, when you repeat the same words over time, they continue to resonate through your mind. When the words are positive you’ll find that you can tap into the positive thought anytime or anywhere.
If you’re worried about making a retirement lifestyle change, you don't have to be. Instead, you can remind yourself why you want to change by saying something like, "Change is healthy. I don't need to get stuck in the same routines. Now that I'm retired, I can choose what works best for me. If I choose something that doesn't work for me, I can choose again." When you repeat this often enough, it becomes your response to the anxiety you feel. This makes change easier for you to handle.
Some lifestyle changes are harder than others to become accustomed to, even when we desire to make the changes and have been eagerly looking forward to them. Many times just one of these tips will help you to implement the change, while other times you may need to use a variety of methods to feel at ease about the change.
Use the “pro and con” method to see the benefits. Then bring the change in gradually while you accept it through your affirmations. These techniques will help you feel confident so you can enjoy the benefits of your new retirement lifestyle.
This mini-guide has been brought to you by Ann Harrison and Contemporary Retirement Coaching. Ann is a Retirement Options coach and Too Young To Retire facilitator who runs pre-retirement training courses in the UK and offers pre-retirement coaching worldwide.