I came across an article on Fast Company titled “5 Steps to Finally Making Changes in Your Life”. It’s a good read worth checking out. And it’s good timing to think about change.
During the pandemic, an increasing number of Americans have retired or started thinking about an earlier retirement. Many people are looking for a new opportunity, possibly toward an encore career. All these decisions can make sense depending on your personal situation. The thing they all have in common is change.
Back to the Fast Company article, one of the steps that I found interesting was “choose an enjoyable path rather than a highly effective one”. It reminded me of that old saying “the journey is the destination”. When we’re thinking about changes, especially big changes, it’s a good reminder to choose an enjoyable journey. But what does enjoyable mean? I think that’s the part that will take some reflection.
TIME means different things to all of us. When we’re talking about change, is it better to take a long journey with small adjustments along the way or a short one with a big change? Does it depend on what the change is? Maybe a move to an encore career can happen quickly but the journey to full-time retirement could be slower.
FINANCES are something that we must deal with all the time. If we’re talking about change, we must ask ourselves if we can afford the change we’re thinking about. It’s possible the answer is “yes” but only if we make some modifications to our lifestyle. That means we have change on top of change. Are you ready for it? Maybe making some money decisions will change the time component.
PLACE is another area that means different things to each of us. In this case, I’m talking about location. Are you where you want to be when you make this change? Or do you need to move to start the change? During the pandemic, I’ve seen many people evaluate their living situation and decide that change is necessary. Moving is expensive, so making a long-term commitment to a place could be important.
PARTNERS are the people who will be taking this journey with you. They could be family or friends. If we’re ready to make a big decision, are they ready to join us? Will they be supportive? Is it going to be enjoyable for them? Keith and I often talk about what our life will look like if one of us decided to retire and the other person didn’t. Those conversations need to happen, or the enjoyable part of the journey might not.
RESULTS should be flexible. I’m a big fan of Lewin’s change model which is basically three steps:
- Unfreeze, which is recognizing the need for change.
- Change, meaning develop a new habit/routine/etc.
- Refreeze, which is settling into the new normal.
One of the things that I like about the model is the implication that there’s always something unfreezing. While I believe it’s important to make good goals and work toward accomplishing them, it’s okay to change your mind. If you decide to retire and then decide to unretire, that’s totally cool.
Anytime we’re thinking about change, it makes sense to ask the question “How can I make this change an enjoyable one?” Honestly, that doesn’t mean that everything will go perfect. There could be some unexpected bumps along the way. But if we plan for an enjoyable journey, it’s very likely that we will have more things go right than wrong.
P.S. Speaking of change, regular readers of Unretirement Project have probably noticed that we’re publishing articles less frequently. All is good. We’re healthy. The reason for our irregular schedule is because I’m writing a book. Actually, the better way of putting it is that “we’re” writing a book because it ends up becoming a family event. Ha.Ha. Anyway, I’m super excited about it and promise to share more details later. But taking on the commitment to write a book, means that we need to shift other priorities. So please stick around and enjoy the articles…just a little less frequently for now.