By Megan Giles: Retirement Transition Consultant
[This article first appeared on the Over 60 website. Link: www.oversixty.com.au]
It’s disappointing when I hear people, be they young or old, who are bitter and complain about all of the things that are wrong in the world. For those who are nearing the retirement age, I hear things like “it was never like that in my day” and “my family don’t care, that’s why they never come to visit” or “what’s the point, I’m going to be gone soon”. Despite all of the good in the world, life seems to be pretty miserable for them.
Not everyone has such a jaded outlook on life and in fact the vast majority of people I speak with look forward to stepping into retirement. This observation did, however, give me reason to pause and reflect on how people can view the world so very differently despite experiencing such similar and challenging circumstances.
As an example, I met two ladies who were recently made redundant. Retirement was on the horizon but it was a decision that each of them wanted to make on their terms. This was a traumatic experience for both ladies as they received minimal notice and little compassion from management within their respective companies. Fortuitously each was in a strong financial position and did not need to work again unless they choose to. There were tears as each farewelled their colleagues and I know that their pride was damaged when informed that their skills and experience were no longer valued.
That, however, is where the similarities ended.
One is making the most of what life throws at her and is now experiencing a fulfilling retirement, whereas the other is fixated on all that has gone wrong and feels despondent and lonely.
One lady surrounded herself with friends and family, celebrated the great milestones she achieved during her career, and took time to grieve for the job and colleagues lost. She then threw her energy into getting fit and healthy, spending time with her grandchildren and becoming more involved in the local community. As she says, ‘what other option did I have’? She may yet work again (if the right opportunity comes up), but for now her cup is full and life is pretty darn good.
The second lady has had a far more tumultuous journey. When friends and family ask how she is fairing she is quick to remind them of her redundancy and that she was wronged. She constantly bemoans that she can’t afford to do ‘x’ or ‘y’ because ‘remember, I was made redundant’ and is quite rigid in how she sees her circumstances. For example she could enjoy the company of friends over a cheap and cheerful dinner at home, but instead appears to revel in her misfortune and declines offers to dine out. She projects a negative energy, is not fun to spend time with and not surprisingly friends start to distance themselves. This only compounds the problem.
Why is it that people react to situations so vastly differently? From my experience it is how they step those situations and the lens that they choose see the world though. The Cause and Effect Model explains this simply (see image above). When faced with a tough situation we typically approach it from one of two positions. The first is the position of cause whereby we take ownership and responsibility for our actions and seek to influence the outcomes in moving forward. We acknowledge the things that we can do, be they big or small, as opposed to what we can’t. The alternative is to come from a position of effect whereby we blame others for our bad luck and make excuses for our behaviour and inaction. The effect mindset is an exhausting one because it assumes that we are the victims of circumstances and denies that we can do anything to change the situation.
Whether we see the silver linings or focus on everything that is wrong and blaming others, is a choice that we make each and every day.
My call to action to you - when faced with a challenge, is to adopt the position of cause and determine the steps you can take, no matter how small, to move yourself towards a retirement you love to live. It’s the only certain way to get there!
If you enjoyed this article you may also like to read Being Your Own Person in Retirement and Investing in Yourself in Retirement - You Are Your Own Number One Asset.
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