This is a guest post by a friend, mentor and former boss! Lowell-Ann provides mid-life career coaching and also helps folks who are about to retire do some good thinking on using this new stage of life as a time of renewal and re-direction.
I asked her to write a post for those who are about to enter their “Third Age”.
So you’ve entered the uncharted territory of your Third Age and you find there are places there that really scare you:
- What will I do there?
- Will I have enough money to be there?
- Who will I be?
- Where is my tribe if I’m no longer connected to my career?
- Where will I find the courage to deal with all this?
In my coaching work I often remind clients that it’s a lot more difficult thinking about a plan than doing it – one step at a time. But lately I’ve begun to reflect and reconsider this. A better reframe of this notion has become: “how we think about something will determine the outcome”. Do we think about it from a contraction or an evolutionary stance? I believe it’s a choice we make.
When thinking about the future, first comes a momentary reaction that is fraught with fear and the anxiety that it brings, followed by a huge resistance to the changes that we know must occur. Contraction could take over here. The psychology of contraction brings about some rather dramatic responses that we may not desire for ourselves:
- Excess vulnerability, feelings of being victimized
- Outbursts of anger
- Loss of trust
- Over-reaction to events
- Seeking scapegoats
- Orientation to the past
- Using substances to numb
- Thoughts of just putting in time
All of these responses tend to bring on more of the same – which we know is not a great place to be. Then comes the moment of choice: Do I choose what contraction brings? Or do I choose the opposite? The psychology of evolution is more likely to bring about what I do desire:
- Forward orientation (both thought & motion)
- Joy and fun
- Positive results
- Meaningful connections
- Sense of wholeness
The choice that we make seems to boil down to our ability to manage our fear. This is the million dollar question, “How do I manage my fear?” We can muster up the courage and just plough through, or we might try something more creative. Daniel Goleman reminds us that “the emotional brain is highly attuned to symbolic meaning”. (pg. 209) With this in mind, discovered an exercise (The Artist’s At Work by Bryan, Cameron & Allen) that puts our fear into a symbolic ritual that I think is worth a try:
1. Sit a moment and reflect – forgive yourself for the fear, confusion and lack of courage that has prevented you from claiming what you want. Generate some care toward your vulnerable self.
2. Realize there is no moment without stuckness for anyone.
3. Create a fancy jar to house your fears.
4. List all your fears. Write one fear per piece of paper. Fold each well.
5. Place each fear into the jar with ceremony. Seal the Jar.
6. Place your Fear Jar on a shelf.
Having chosen to put your fears on the shelf for a while, you have freed up some space for some practical steps toward evolving into your Third Age with expansion. Frederick Hudson in Life Launch suggests:
1. Find teachers, mentors and coaches to assist
2. Reconnect with your values
3. Reflect and decide something new that you want
4. Decide what you could unlearn or let go of
5. Identify what new information and knowledge you need
6. Consider life skills and technical skills
7. Create your learning environment
Go forward with the confidence that you have what it takes to have a very inspiring Third Age. Associate with positive, stimulating and inspiring people. And read inspiring books like Richard J. Leider and David A. Shapiro’s Something to Live For – Finding Your Way in the Second Half of Life or Rosamund and Benjamin Zander’s The Art of Possibility – Transforming Professional and Personal Life.
Lowell-Ann blogs at blog.workstyle-lifestyle.com
You can connect with her on LinkedIn
Photo Credit: Jennacatpink