Gloria_featuredNorth Bay Business Journal


January 11, 2016


Dealing with change in organizations and in our personal lives have a lot in common. They both deal with loss, challenges, and adjusting to something new. They both kick us out of our comfort zones where we can become stale, and edge us toward something better. And, whether the change ends positively or negatively, we can at least learn from the experience. In either case, we can be proactive or reactive — take steps to influence our outcomes or wait until we crash.

Retirement is a major change that we often expect will just fall into place after our final days at work. But, it’s not that easy. Thousands of retirees struggle with what to do with their lives after they no longer have work goals, meetings and all of the other activities that fill their job descriptions.

Retirement is a major personal change that takes away our known work environment, persona, workmates and purpose in exchange for a carrot stick that says we can now be in charge of our lives. Now, we can do anything we want to do. Yes, we can! But, prethinking and preplanning are essential to smoothly embrace and positively adapt to this major transition.

Believe it or not, you’ve been going through change all of your life. Some of it was so gradual that you didn’t even notice. You went from being in your mother’s womb to finding yourself in this new and complicated world. Then each day, you made subtle changes as your body grew. You got new shoes, new socks, new jeans. One day, you went to school. One day, you got a job. You had relationships. New experiences have filled your life. There were times when you had to make major decisions — take chances — win or lose. Each was a change.

Often, it’s not until we get blindsided by dramatic change that we react as if the world is either falling apart or falling in place. These are wakeup calls — the alarm clocks of your life. Let’s be honest. Change is uncomfortable. Many of us stay in the status quo because we fear change. We don’t know what to expect, how things will resolve themselves. But status quo doesn’t work for new retirees.

Yet, when we venture into new territory with a map, we regain our comfort. For future and present retirees, a plan to guide your new retirement experience is vital.

Here are a few routes to take on your retirement journey:

1. Awareness. If you don’t know what’s holding you back, you will stay stuck. The first step in any endeavor is being aware. Retirement can create a vacuum if you don’t have a plan to fill your days. You want to think through what your days and weeks will be like without your job, and fill them with activities that are pleasurable and fulfilling.

2. Attitude. This trait will help you accomplish whatever you set your mind to do. Go into retirement understanding that you will be a work in progress as you traverse this new territory. Envision your cup full instead of empty.

3. Ownership. If you don’t own your process, someone else will lead you where you don’t want to go. Because you have acquired a wide breadth of skills during your work years, you may be called on to volunteer, serve on boards, and otherwise give over control of your newly found time. These are worthy undertakings when we have time to give back. But, be careful how many times you say “yes.”

4. Intention. If you don’t pull all your internal resources together and focus on your desired results, you may become scattered. Go for what you really want by having a clear intention. Be your own boss with a project, and focus on it.

5. Action. If you don’t act, you don’t get. Move toward your desired outcome and reap the rewards. You don’t have to make a mad dash to reach this destination. Take it slow if you need to. Enjoy the journey.

6. Integration. Remember that wholeness comes from integrating your new “transition adventure” with the other important aspects of your life.

Navigate this major transition as you would navigate an important work project toward success — by planning and taking action. Then, get ready to experience a fulfilling and exciting future.

The New Retirement: A Paradigm Shift is a recurring column by Gloria Dunn-Violin (415-259-7090,, [email protected]). She is a certified retirement life coach, professional speaker and a business consultant. She has over 25 years experience in organizational behavior and development as a trainer, facilitator, consultant and coach. She also advises financial, insurance, and other businesses on how to provide their clients and employees with meaningful advice about aging and retirement.