Someone I know recently ended up in a situation that could have gone terribly wrong and placed her in grave, physical danger. Fortunately, nothing happened. But in evaluating what happened and the danger my friend faced, I was struck by the decision points that led to finding herself in harm’s way in the first place.
As the situation progressed and escalated she had choices. But never having been in a situation like the one she faced, she did not have time to think through and to evaluate her choices. Now, in hindsight, she realizes that changing her decisions and subsequent actions would have changed the outcome and perhaps avoided the situation altogether.
The process of evaluating these decision points led me to realize that this process can be applied in a variety of situations. For example, I struggle with overeating. Before I to take a bite of something that isn’t in the best interest of my health and waistline, I have a choice – to eat it or to not eat it. Even after that first bite, I continue to have a choice to continue eating or to stop eating. But each time I make a decision that moves me in a particular direction, it creates momentum which makes it easier to continue the course of action I have initiated. The more momentum you create, the harder it is to stop or alter your course of action.
The same is true about the choices we have in retirement. When we make a choice it leads to an outcome. If we are not happy with the outcome, we have the ability to make another choice and so on and so on. We are faced with a plethora of decisions as we plan for and transition to not working. Each decision initiates a course of action that establishes momentum and moves us in a direction that either serves us or works against us.
However, once we initiate a course of action, we tend to go on autopilot seemingly unaware that we are making choices that continue that course of action. Mindfulness – paying attention to what is happening now, not in the past, and not in the future – can make us aware of the choices we are making or not making. Awareness returns the power of choice. So, if life in retirement isn’t going the way you want it to, look at your decisions, and then make another choice.