The title of this piece is a paraphrase of what Rick Steiner, PhD says, which is ‘Plans are ‘hopes’ waiting to happen’.  Right now, your dreams may be small and generous, such as hoping /praying that the predictions for deaths in this pandemic are wrong, that there will be a vaccine created in less time than they predict.  Or, maybe you are sticking to the dreams you’ve carried with you for years.

Change and Transition

Recently I did a podcast with Lisa,  (www.workingwomenswealth.com/itunes) where we talked about change and transition. The initial intent was to talk about women and retirement, the transition that occurs and often how difficult it can be.  However, interestingly we began talking about how this pandemic challenge and the internal conflicts with isolation, changing work space, and unknown future creates the same feelings and fears that sometimes occurs upon retirement.

Challenges come from

I believe that part of the challenge comes from the fact that often there are no structures in retirement and this is a new reality the only rules are the ones our leaders are putting into place.  These can change daily, and structure? We are learning to develop our own structures in order to manage our days.  We are used to following structures, in our childhood through our parents and teachers, in our second act in work, our profession.

Rehearsal

When we retire the structures we have become used to no longer exist and often we find ourselves going in circles.  The very things we thought we would enjoy – all the books we would read, the golf we’d play etc.. no longer seem so enticing.  If you’re thinking of retiring within the next few years, even 10/15 years from now, look at this time of physical distancing as a rehearsal.  What are the things that you find difficult?   What about your health, both physical and mental, what are the changes you think you need to make to ensure as you age that you are in the best health you can be?

Or Maybe

You are walking with the ‘what if?  The worst case scenario, or looking at the negative challenges in the future: loss of retirement funds, inability to do the things we’ve been dreaming of.  One of the indicators of good mental health is how we react to circumstances and possibilities, how are you doing today?

Control

We’ve all heard the saying you can’t control what is going on around you, but you can control how you react to it and this article from Berrett-Koehler Publishers , they reflects on a twitter user who calls out doom-scrolling!

I’ve had lots of different conversations over the past few weeks, as I’m sure, many of you have.  Conversations that vary from the total focus of impending disaster, to ‘well let’s see how it goes, but I know that things are changing and when we come out of it, we’ll all be better for it!’  I know which ones I prefer.  I’m also surprised at who is saying what, that is who is looking at this from a place of doom and negativity.  And who is looking at this time from a place of positivity and curiosity.

If you’re coming from a negative, fear based position, think about the effect it may have on your body.   Stress and anxiety can cause cortisol to constantly flow in our bodies, which causes a degenerative effect over time, and can trigger adrenal fatigue, as well as chronic fatigue syndrome.  Prolonged stress over things we can’t control can affect the neurons in the brain that affect memory (how many times over the last few months have you struggled to remember a word, or something that you meant to do?).  Stress around  the unknown: ‘when will this end?’  causes anxiety which in turn can cause insomnia, irritability, and high blood pressure.  These in turn cause premature aging and the negative effect noted above

What can you do to keep your mind at ease?

Think about what you can control.  Here is a wonderful tool from the Coaching Tools Company which gives you a way to look at what is controllable, what areas you may have some influence over, and those where it is completely out of your control, and letting go.

Practice mindfulness – be present with what you are doing, whether it’s writing, talking to another, or focusing on the homework your children are trying to figure out.

Remember that this will end, and that no-one at this time has the answer, but what you can do is stay in the here and now.   Your brain needs to relax – this can be attained through human connection, allowing yourself to be vulnerable – acknowledge that you’re having difficulty, and understanding that you’re not alone.  We’re all in this together.

Finally, if you need someone to talk with, to help you develop a plan for now, and for slowly integrating back to work – contact us. May is International Coaching Federation Coaching week, and we’re offering 30 minute coffee breaks.  No charge, no expectation other than helping others…

Take care and stay safe

Maeve & Christine