Outline: #A-Z Challenge
“It was inevitable, he now saw, that once there were no more things to add or improve on, no more goals to achieve or stages to pass through, the journey would seem to have run its course, and he would be beset by a great sense of futility and by the feeling of some malady, which was really only the feeling of stillness after a life of too much motion, such as sailors experience when they walk on dry land after too long at sea.”
The above very long sentence is the best description I have ever read of the malady that besets many of us as we begin our retirement transition.
And make no mistake about it. Retirement is not an event, it is a transition.
An event is just a change, but a transition changes you.
What is a Retirement Transition?
Transitions have three parts to them – an ending, a neutral zone, and a new beginning.
I have written before about the retirement transition and why it’s a good thing if it is difficult and chaotic and painful.
The painful part and, in my opinion the best part, is the neutral zone. It is the neutral zone that Cusk is describing in the above quotation.
The neutral zone is so fluid, so changeable, that it can exhilarate and exhaust at the very same time. I explained in my retirement transition post that it had me fluctuating between “grandiose imaginings that my best days are ahead of me, and absolute conviction that I have begun a slow decline into senility and an early death.”
I’ve been retired for three years and those feelings are mostly gone. That’s how long a transition can take.
How to Know When You’ve Completed a Transition
You will know that you are through the neutral zone and into a new beginning when you feel:
- a sense of a new identity and you turn your energy in that direction.
- that you have learned some important things about yourself.
- calmer and more comfortable, not in such a state of turmoil.
We have talked about the retirement transition today, but there are actually many life transitions. Milestone birthdays can trigger transitions, as can major life events like a cancer diagnosis.
When I reflect on the blogs I read and enjoy, all of them are grappling with the big ideas of life’s transitions. It is life-changing work.
Can you identify a life transition you have successfully navigated? What did it teach you about how to work through transition? (The lengthier post I’ve been referring to has suggestions for working through transition.)