Dealing with Uncertainty
In today’s chaotic and threatening pandemic environment, we are all thinking about not only the coming months but also trying to understand what the post-pandemic world will be like. Over the years, in times of uncertainty, I have often been inspired by Victor Frankel’s autobiography Man’s Search for Meaning. Frankel describes his experiences in a Nazi concentration camp and how he learned to direct his thoughts in a way that allowed him to deal with the environment that he was trapped in. Frankel’s belief was that you may not be able to control events, but you have the power within to control your response to events, no matter how bad they are. In that way, change becomes something that you can deal with in a much more constructive manner.
Bruce Feiler argues in his new book, Life is in the Transitions, that change is not something that ties to a given point in life (eg “a mid-life crisis”) but actually a constant that occurs continuously throughout our lives, including multiple major events that he calls life quakes. Feiler uses stories from hundreds of people he interviewed for the book to describe the many ways that people successfully cope with changes, including how he dealt with his own major life quake, a surprise rare bone cancer diagnosis that he received in 2008 when he was a father of two young twin daughters. Feiler says that if we look at life as full of constant change, we can develop skills that help us not only cope with life quake events but also grow and even thrive regardless of the type of challenge we face. His advice is especially meaningful today as we deal with the pandemic and its far-reaching impact on our lives.
One of the biggest life quakes for most of us is when we are at or close to the traditional retirement age and need to figure out what we want to do next. While this time of life can be very challenging and full of unknowns, some argue that today there are tremendous opportunities for retirees to create a fulfilling and meaningful new lifestyle. Ken Dychtwald and Robert Morrison discuss this exciting time in their new book What Retirees Want. Dychtwald has been a long-time observer of the impact that the Baby Boom generation has on society and the economy as they move through life stages. He coined the term AgeWave back in the late 90s to describe the coming silver tsunami that is now hitting the world as Boomers age into what has traditionally been called the retirement years. Their book discusses various topics to illustrate how the aging Boomer population is looking at retirement very differently than previous generations. Retirement is no longer a static phase of life but a more fluid time where people can do many new and exciting things, including but not limited to working. Dychtwald and Morrison feel that society has not caught up with this trend and companies are missing real growth opportunities to do better marketing approaches to the over age 50 population.
Taking the Next Step
Fortunately, there now is an organization that can assist people to make the most of this next phase in life. This Point Forward is a new non-profit whose mission is to help anyone deal with the types of challenges that they might face when trying to transition to retirement. Most of our identity has been tied to our work life, raising a family, or doing other activities that we are now no longer engaged in, at least not to the extent we once were. The challenge is not to try to replicate or mourn what is lost but recognize that each of us has the necessary ingredients to create a new and brighter future lifestyle. At This Point Forward, we will be offering educational sessions, tools, and coaching to help people understand how to use their experience and skillsets, their dependable strengths and other assets, to help find passion and purpose in their next phase of life. Please join us and together we will create not only a new world for you but also use our combined gifts to create a better society.