The challenge of retirement

Get Ready for RetirementA few months ago I was asked to write an article for Perception magazine about the challenges that retirement may bring.

For a lot of people the thought of retiring is a good one but for many others it starts a new phase of their life that they seem ill prepared for.

You can read the full article here.

Although it may not seem like an obvious choice to see a hypnotherapist if you are struggling with being a new retiree there are several areas that we can help with. Apart from any emotional issues that emerge we can help you, through coaching to achieve any new life goals and adjust to the changes.

Why not share your experience and tips on how to make retirement a good one.


Retirement: Are you ready?

 

Are you looking forward to retirement? Do you see it as a time when you are free of the stress of work and can spend lazy days relaxing? Or are you dreading the day you no longer have to get up for work and wonder how you will fill all those extra hours?

Retirement can and should be an enjoyable time. The freedom and leisure to engage in new hobbies, travel and enjoy time with friends and family is a gift. For many it can seem like an extended holiday.

Retirement is wonderful. It’s doing nothing without worrying about getting caught at it. ~Gene Perret

However our emotional response to retirement can vary. It can depend to a large extent on the reasons for leaving work. People who have planned their retirement are more likely to enjoy it than those who have been forced into it early through redundancy or ill health. People who found their work unrewarding or particularly stressful are also more likely to have a positive view of their retirement.

The transition from work to retirement isn’t smooth for everyone however. Although we commonly plan for our retirement financially, we rarely plan for any emotional challenges we may face when confronted with such a major lifestyle change.

Work provides structure, money, social interaction, purpose and a sense of self worth. Retirement can raise issues around relationships, boredom, and self-esteem. For some these challenges can seem overwhelming leading to prolonged stress and depression.

Identity Issues

Our identity and sense of self worth is often so intrinsically linked to our profession or the roles that we play that it becomes difficult to redefine ourselves in retirement when this changes.

When we define ourselves in terms of our job, for example, ‘being’ a doctor, a teacher, a pilot it makes it impossible to differentiate what we do from who we are. This can lead to a sense of loss once we retire, of not knowing who we are anymore.

In contrast, when we talk about working as a doctor, a teacher, a pilot it classifies what we do as separate to who we are. So redefining our sense of self away from what we do towards acceptance of who we are as a person has a huge advantage when we transition into retirement.

Relationship Issues

Retirement can bring new challenges to existing relationships. Additional time spent in each other’s company can upset the balance and bring unresolved but previously manageable tensions to the fore.

It can highlight contrasts in ideas and personality types. One partner may see retirement as a time when they just sit back and relax, whereas the other may be looking forward to a busy schedule with extended travel, new hobbies and an increasing social network.

Sometimes this is just a difference in personalities. Introverts may be more comfortable spending time alone and with limited social contact whereas extroverts will need company and regular social interactions more often in order to keep them happy.

Personal space and privacy can also be an area of concern. Friction can arise if a couple try to do everything together and don’t have enough autonomy. This can be additionally difficult if one partner has retired earlier than the other and has enjoyed independence and personal space that then may become restricted when their partner joins them in retirement.

Retirement can also mean that decision making processes change. Prior to retirement, work routines can provide a very clear division in decision making responsibilities. After retirement this division may no longer be clear and the need to make joint decisions more often can put a strain on the relationship.

Communication is essential to creating a harmonious retirement. Check that your expectations of retirement are the same as your partners. If your needs differ then make plans that will fulfil both of you. It is important to maintain activities that can be enjoyed both together and separately.

Loneliness

People often underestimate the importance of their work friendships. In many cases the people you spend time with at work are sharing up to 8 hours a day with you. If you don’t have a stable social network outside of work the absence of these daily contacts can create feelings of loneliness and isolation.

This can be complicated further if your retirement plans involve a move to a new area where you don’t know anyone or if you are single or have friends or family that live some distance away.

Make the effort to maintain your social contacts. Prior to leaving work agree future dates to meet up with friends so that you will have some social engagements to look forward to after you retire.

If you are moving or don’t have any friends that are local to you make the effort to join activities, clubs or special interest groups in your neighbourhood, It’s a great way to increase your social circle.

Boredom

Lack of routine or planned activities to look forward to can increase this sense of isolation and lead to feelings of boredom and depression. After we retire there is often a sense of not being useful anymore, or having a lack of purpose.

When we work our daily routine is shaped by the requirements of our job. Our success is based on how well we perform and we get rewarded for our success. We are very much dependent on an outer structure to provide us with a sense of achievement.

Once we retire, we are solely responsible for planning our days. We are making a shift from the outer structure of a work environment to the inner structure of retirement.
Simple daily routines can add purpose to each day as can regular activities. Volunteering can also be an option for some and can provide a new purpose as can any activity that is done on a regular basis.

Creating a happy retirement

Many people find adjusting to a life of retirement difficult but knowing what you want from your retirement and planning for it can help you manage any emotional challenges you may face.

Understanding what makes you happy should be the first step. Retirement should be an enjoyable stage in your life when you have the opportunity to do all of the things you didn’t have time to do when you worked. So don’t waste it.

Maybe you want to climb Everest or go camel trekking. Take up an art class or simply spend more time in your garden. Whatever you have a yearning to do make plans for it and then tick it off your list of things you always wanted to do but didn’t have time for.

Communicate with your partner and compare expectations. It is better to talk these things through before you retire so that you can plan for any disparity in ideas. Even if your views of retirement differ entirely there are many ways to manage those differences so that you both get what you need. Your partner may surprise you and be happy to join you on the back of a camel.

Don’t forget to talk to your wider family too. Their expectations may be different from yours too. Just because you are no longer working doesn’t mean that you should be constantly available. Decide and agree boundaries.
Maintain your social network. Even if you are looking forward to retirement and want a period away from the people you worked with don’t lose contact. Make new friends and increase your social circle. Although this can seem scary, joining a group or group activity is a great way to meet like minded people.

Find a purpose. Small things can often provide the greatest meaning. Helping a neighbour, looking after a pet, babysitting the grandchildren are all purposeful activities.

Keep active. There is a lot of research that suggests that people who stay active and involved cope best with retirement. The benefits of physical exercise are well documented but don’t forget your brain.

Work provides mental stimulation for many so if you need to continue it after you retire why not consider learning something new. There are a lot of organisations that run adult classes so whether you want to take up a new hobby or further your education you are bound to find something that interests you.

Remember retirement is a process. Work often provides structure, hierarchy and defined roles whereas retirement is undefined and unstructured. Like any transitional period retirement has both emotional rewards and pitfalls.

How successful your retirement is depends on you and your ability to find happiness in your relationships both old and new. As well as satisfaction in your personal interests and challenging or creative mental activities With forward planning and good communication you can look forward to a smooth transition into this exciting phase of your life.

I’m not just retiring from the company, I’m also retiring from my stress, my commute, my alarm clock, and my iron. ~Hartman Jule

How to make more time

Follow these 5 easy steps

Having trouble finding the time to do that thing you’ve always wanted to do? Can’t finish that project that absolutely has to be done? Not sure how you could fit one more thing into your week?

Take a breath. You cannot make more time but you can use it more productively. Here are five top tips for finding the time to do those important projects.

time hypnosis1. Time versus Priority.

We all have the same amount of time in a day… prime ministers, mothers, CEO’s, university students, part-time workers…you get the picture. If you believe that you don’t have the time to do things perhaps now is an opportunity to revisit that belief.

Instead of telling yourself you don’t have the time to do something try telling yourself that it’s just not a priority for you at the moment.  Getting things done often isn’t about the amount of time we have to do them, it’s about how motivated we are to do them.

So next time you find you are using lack of time as an excuse for not being able to do something ask yourself if that is really true or if that whatever it is that needs doing is just not as important to you as everything else right now.

2. But versus And.

I could do it, but. Don’t let ‘buts’ hold you back. If you really want to move forward with a project try changing your ‘but’ into  an ‘and’. Using ‘but’ provides us with a reason not to do something. This is an illusion, we always have a choice we just need to recognise it. Next time you are tempted to say ‘I could do it, but’ try saying ‘I could do it and‘.

3. Goal versus Time.

If you read my previous blog Goal setting – the good, the bad and the ugly you will recognise the importance of setting a specific goal for yourself. In order for you to achieve it you need to do two things:

(a) Make it your priority

(b) Block out time to complete it.

Blocking out the time,  whether it’s an hour a day or an hour a week is important as it commits you to the project. Make the time you set aside limited to that goal – no e-mail, facebook, making a cup of tea etc. Your goal is your only priority in that section of time.

4. Gain versus Loss.

As your brain is designed to move you towards pleasure and away from pain, it is a powerful way to motivate yourself so why not use it. Focus on what you will gain by finishing your particular challenge rather than what you will lose or won’t have if you don’t.

5. Celebration versus Time.

Even if you are busy take time out to congratulate yourself on what you have achieved. I’ve mentioned it several times before but don’t underestimate how important it is to celebrate your successes and achievements. It feeds your reward response and you are more likely to carry on and complete your project if you take a few moments to treat yourself along the way.

A friend of mine has recently written a book, for every hour he wrote he rewarded himself with 10 minutes of Facebook time ( to be published soon, so watch this space!)

So is it possible to do all those things you really want to do even if you have a busy schedule? Yes, prioritise the things that are important to you, give yourself a goal, set aside time to do them and celebrate your success along the way, AND most importantly ban the word ‘but’ from your vocabulary. Why not try it for a week and let us know how you get on

Goal setting – the good, the bad and the ugly

The Good.

The internet seems to be besieged with articles about goal setting. So why am I adding to them? Goal setting is one of the most useful ways to help you achieve what you want.

Setting goals should be a positive and motivational way of helping you move forward on any project where you want to achieve a successful outcome.

Decades of research show that setting goals can increase people’s performance. However as anyone that has made a new year’s resolution or has decided on an action plan of some sort, eat healthy, lose weight, stop smoking knows, they don’t always work.

Unless you are completely new to the idea of goal setting it is likely that at some point you will have come across ‘S.M.A.R.T” – goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound.

Although having goals and goal setting is important they are perhaps better viewed as a mechanism to get you closer to your overall aims.

The Bad.

Sometimes they just don’t seem to work. We get stuck, feel unmotivated by them and they can sometimes seem unachievable.  There are several reasons why this may be so.

  1. Too Many. If you set yourself too many goals, the chances are that you will focus on the easy ones ignoring the difficult ones even if they are more important. This means that your overall aim can suffer and lead to a lack of motivation.
  2. Too Specific. Although the S.M.A.R.T model encourages specificity don’t get bogged down in the detail of specific goals always keep sight of your overall aim.
  3. Too hard. Goals should be achievable. You should not have to resort to extreme measures in order to reach them. Stretch goals can be de-motivating so if your goal seems too hard why not try to break it down into smaller goals or have a re think about where it fits into your overall aim.
  4. Too Soon. Try to encourage yourself to think long term. Short term goals are often successful but they need to be repeated. A great example of this is something I read recently on Psyblog, – the reason it’s so hard to get a cab on a rainy day in New York is partly because cabbies do such good business that they go home early, having met their daily target.

The Ugly.

So your goals are specific but not so much that you lose sight of your overall aim. They are achievable without you resorting to extreme measures. You know when they should be completed by and you haven’t made too many.  So why aren’t you achieving them?

The number one reason why people don’t succeed in achieving their goals is lack of commitment. Sometimes this is as simple as the goal that we have set ourselves is not congruent with our overall aim so it is worth revisiting the bigger picture of what you want to achieve.

Tell other people about your goal, I mentioned in my previous blog, peer pressure works and increases motivation.

Record your progress. Often we forget how far we have come in achieving our goals. Keeping a record of your progress it can be a  fantastic motivator.

Reward yourself for your progress, as our brains work on the principle of moving us towards pleasure and away from pain even small rewards will move us forward to much greater success.

Think about what will happen once you achieve your goal. Focusing on the future and the steps you need to take to achieve it makes us more likely to take action.

Goal setting.

Goals should be motivational and have personal meaning. When you think about achieving them you should feel positive. We would love to hear how you get on so drop us a line and we will share your goals and achievements on line.

Success – how do you know?

Most of us strive for something in life. Whether your goal is to make money, live a simpler life, retire early, or simply to work on improving yourself we all have things, big or small that we want to achieve.

But how do we know when we have succeeded? Sometimes this is easy to answer. If you set a goal to earn enough money to go on holiday each year then success can be measured by reaching your chosen destination.

When our goals revolve around improving ourselves the question is much harder to answer. I was talking to a friend recently about her desire to be ‘good enough’ to do her job but when I asked her how she would recognise when she was ‘good enough’ she didn’t know.

If we can’t measure our success or our progress along the way then we will always be working towards an unachievable goal. As our brains work on the basis of moving towards pleasure and away from pain then striving for something that will always be out of reach becomes unsatisfying and ultimately futile. It reminded me of a story I heard a while ago that I would like to share with you.

The Fisherman and the Businessman

There was once a businessman who was sitting by the beach in a small fishing village. As he sat, he saw a fisherman rowing a small boat towards the shore having caught quite a few big fish.

The businessman was impressed and asked the fisherman, “How long does it take you to catch so many fish?” The fisherman replied, “Oh, just a short while.”

“Then why don’t you stay longer at sea and catch even more?” The businessman was astonished. “This is enough to feed my whole family,” the fisherman said.

The businessman then asked, “So, what do you do for the rest of the day?”

The fisherman replied, “Well, I usually wake up early in the morning, go out to sea and catch a few fish, then go back and play with my kids. In the afternoon, I take a nap with my wife, and evening comes, I join my buddies in the village for a drink — we play guitar, sing and dance throughout the night.”

The businessman offered a suggestion to the fisherman. “I have a PhD in business management. I could help you to become a more successful person. From now on, you should spend more time at sea and try to catch as many fish as possible. When you have saved enough money, you could buy a bigger boat and catch even more fish. Soon you will be able to afford to buy more boats, set up your own company, your own production plant for canned food and distribution network. By then, you will have moved out of this village to the City, where you can set up HQ to manage your other branches.”

The fisherman continues, “And after that?”

The businessman laughs heartily, “After that, you can live like a king in your own house, and when the time is right, you can go public and float your shares in the Stock Exchange, and you will be rich.”

The fisherman asks, “And after that?”

The businessman says, “After that, you can finally retire, you can move to a house by the fishing village, wake up early in the morning, catch a few fish, then return home to play with kids, have a nice afternoon nap with your wife, and when evening comes, you can join your buddies for a drink, play the guitar, sing and dance throughout the night!”

So how do we improve or achieve success if we can’t measure how far we’ve come or how much further we need to go? Sometimes it’s just about recognising and appreciating the success we have right now.

A little bit of perfect

red rose

I’m a bit of a Grand Designs fan. I am horrified, delighted, envious and pleased in equal measure as the houses get built. I love the weird, wonderful and sometimes grotesque houses that begin to grow from somebody elses dream.

I watched an episode recently that really touched me. The budget was small and the plans modest. The couple had saved for years to build their dream home on the Isle of Skye. The plot of land was surrounded by stunning views, sea and sky with a little bit of green in between.

It was the scenery that inspired the build. The couple were so in love with the Island that the design was based around maximising the views and minimising the look of the house in the environment. Although the house was not a ‘standard’ shape being more like a diamond the grass roof they had insisted on having blended it in with the surrounding hills making it look as though it had grow up as part of the landscape.

As the presenter was talking to the couple he mentioned the rather small proportions of the house, one bedroom, open plan. One of the owners replied immediately saying that it was better to have a little bit of perfect than a lot of everything else.
What a wonderful way to think. So much of life seems to be about doing more or getting more, here was someone that was more than content to have a little bit of perfect and not worry about the rest.

We can’t always have everything we want so how about appreciating the things that we do have and recognising the little bit of perfect that already exists in our lives?

If you don’t already have it why not think about creating it.. your little bit of perfect doesn’t have to be a house it could be your garden or a part of your garden or just one flower in your garden . It may be something else entirely but whatever it is why not go and enjoy it now.

Photo by CherieJ

A little inspiration for you…

“There is Nothing You Cannot Do”
-Tao Porchon Lynch.

I am completely inspired! In this article by Rick Schindler, he describes how his 93 yeard old yoga teacher ( Tao Porchon-Lynch) was recognised in the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest yoga teacher in the world. She has led an incredible life, and is a real inspiration:

“The funny thing is, Tao’s age is just about the least remarkable thing about her. Over the dozen or so years I’ve known her, enough incidents to fill several colorful lives have trickled out:

  • She marched with Gandhi — twice — in her native India.
  • She fought in the French Resistance and underwent an emergency appendectomy during the Blitz after escaping France to London.
  • She was a model for fashion house Lanvin and a contract player for MGM, appearing in such films as “Show Boat” (1951).
  • When her friend Leslie Caron injured her foot, threatening to delay production of “An American in Paris,” Tao fixed it with a Coke bottle.
  • To get a part in a western, she pretended to know how to ride a horse (after she took off the saddle and rode bareback, Tao told me, “the horse and I got along fine”).”

So, if you’re sitting back from one too many mince pies after the Christmas break, why not start thinking about your goals and projects for 2013?