As one of the Wall Street Journal Experts, Natalie’s blog was originally published at blogs.wsj.com.
NATALIE CAINE: I was hiking uphill, early this morning, and met a woman on the path. We briefly chatted. As I continued my hike, I heard her voice in my head, “I am 76 and started hiking at 62. It makes life worth it. This summer, I am going to try biking at the beach.” Now she becomes a role model for me and gets me excited about possibilities.
I think when you are heading toward retirement or sitting in it, you can practice shifting the different voices in your head. For example, there’s the voice from your younger self that you hear, “Oh man, you are 40, that is really old”–and, of course, you are way past that age now and don’t feel old. Or there are the voices you hear in present time, such as, “I will be so bored after a few months and my life will just be invisible.”
Your new job is to hear those inner messages and make choices. “No, I am not 40 and I am not feeling old” or “Yes, I might have boring days and I can figure out what I want to do about that.”
Changes can give you a new view of you. You are in the unknown and that can be both exciting and terrifying. Delete the need to compare yourself to others.
Here are a few tools:
Your new chapter, called “Me beyond work life,” is fed by exploring what really matters to you now. Health, family, friends, creativity, spontaneity, joy, spirituality, etc. You can have more than one and you can change your mind. Life continues to be a journey, not a one-answer response. You get to be the role model you want to be. If you have people who motivate you, as far as how enriching their lives continue to be after retirement, post them on your refrigerator, even if it is their name.
Today on my refrigerator is the name of the woman (Katherine) who I met on my hike, along with a big happy face.
Natalie Caine, M.A. firstname.lastname@example.org