Four steps to facing your fears

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It’s easy to be fearful of the unknowns of retirement. Leaving our careers behind and forging a new identity are difficult tasks. Relationship issues may surface or reoccur and further threaten our security. Current world and national events do little to calm our psyches.

Here are four steps to help you identify your fears and move through them:

Step back and gain perspective

Research has shown that 85% of what we fear never actually happens. The 15% that does happen we have little control over so why do we obsess about the unknown? The reason is as much physiological as it is psychological. Fear is a protective mechanism hard wired into our neurological systems.

It is the “spidey sense” that warns us of impending danger and engages our fight, flight, or freeze response. Overcoming your biology and managing your thoughts is not easy nor is it a natural response to a fear stimulus. But it is an incredibly powerful tool for banishing fear. Taking a moment (or two or three) to detach from emotion allows our higher reasoning to engage. Thinking, not just reacting, is crucial to coming up with solutions.

Become an observer

Transitioning from working to retirement is not new. Find people who are in the process and talk to them about their experiences. You’ll find that many people, particularly those whose identity is based on their work, struggle with the process. Others who have thought about what they want in retirement and have created a plan tend to handle the change more effectively. Look around for examples of people who are successfully navigating the change, learn from their experiences, and model their behavior.

Have the mind of a beginner

I taught piano for two decades. I loved teaching children and dreaded teaching adults. Why? Adults expected to be able to play proficiently just because they were adults. Fear of the unknown is common. But if a situation is unknown, how can you expect yourself to be able to handle it proficiently? Yet, many adults ask that of themselves.

By having the mind of a beginner, you acknowledge what you don’t know. You allow your sense of curiosity to engage and initiate a path of enquiry. You research, observe, learn, and then create a conclusion about what’s happening. This then leads to an action plan.

Create an action plan

Did you know there are specific steps to creating an action plan? Most of us have internalized this process but reviewing it can be helpful when we are afraid and feel stuck or powerless.

To identify your objective you must know what you want your outcome to be. Retirement consist of a number of different aspects (how to spend our time, housing, relationships, etc.). Each aspect may have an objective or objectives that require an action plan.

An abundance of resources are available on our website to help you with your transition from working to not working. If you have questions or need additional guidance, please drop us a line.





Kathryn Avery

About Kathryn Avery

When Kathryn Severns Avery’s husband, Chris, began contemplating retirement in 2014, she knew they had to quickly come up with a multi-faceted plan. They spent the next year discussing, sometimes heatedly, what they would do once he stopped working. On paper their plan looked exciting. They would head from Colorado to the 1891 sea captain’s house they bought and renovated in Rockland on Maine’s midcoast. But the reality of planning and implementing retirement was much different than expected. Kathryn has worked in radio, television, marketing, and public relations. She is the author of five books and has written articles on interior design and crafts for national and regional publications including Romantic Homes, Log Homes Illustrated, The Rocky Mountain News and Colorado Homes and Lifestyles.