How are you doing now that you are staying home? I've found each person I've talked to having their own unique experience. You may find yourself noting noting one or more of these:
This is such an incredible time of change for us, accompanied by plenty of worry and uncertainty and grief. We each get to process that in our own way and I hope you will be gentle with yourself as you process your own presence.
As I thought about my own plan for this time of being thrust into a new life pace, I realize how, in addition to just staying well, adjusting to this time shares some elements with what I know about adjusting to retirement...but maybe with less elation and more anxiety. They both involve a profound break from what has been our routine and the search for a new daily reality.
When talking about healthy patterns in retirement, I often use a model I refer to as 'The Three Keys'. The research has shown that each of these three keys has incredible health benefits for us. I decided I would offer these up to you during this unusual time to ponder and start to organize your thoughts to build a gameplan for your days ahead. I've also shared some questions that you can think about with each key as you do your planning.
Structure forms a frame from which we can live our life. With all our disruption right now, many of us are building a new frame. How are you introducing some routine into these days that are anything but? Having structure will keep you grounded when everything around you is changing. It also helps your biorhythms settle in to help all your systems function better and is a springboard for creativity.
How can you be intentional about forming a daily routine for yourself? And how can you do it in a way that gives you space to be with this experience and the days that may include lack of productivity, fatigue, and sadness?
Here are some simple questions to get you started:
This time is impacting all of us differently. It is perfectly normal to be feeling some disorientation, or weariness, or inability to focus. Go easy on yourself. If you need to break this down into simple pieces, simply focus on holding some routine in your days, one step at a time. You don't need one more long list of things you 'should' do. As time goes on, the other two keys will feel more important so you can dip into them as you are ready.
The trick to structure is not to engrave it in stone. There has to be a little wiggle room for spontaneity, just not a wide-gaping hole of chaos or emptiness every day.
How are you reaching out in the world? Connection gives us the opportunity to feel like we are part of something greater. Connection is going to be crucial as we spend more time at home these next weeks. For those of us who live alone during this time, this has to be even more intentional. For those who live with others, keeping this extended time together with others light, kind and respectful may be the order of the day.
We’re seeing virtual happy hours, fashion shows, yoga hours, exercise classes, bingo, concerts, and dance parties spring up online. What clever ideas can you come up with to stay connected with others?
Meaning connects with a deeper part down inside of us that tickles our sense of presence, purpose and significance. It is not the part of you that is built from shoulds, but the part that is deeply captivated and satisfied by a certain activity. It may involve doing something of purpose out in the world, which is much needed, but that doesn't always scratch that place of meaning. It could also be something that you do with and for yourself such as art or reading or music or writing. What is important is that it is something that connects with that deeper part of you and lights you up, makes you lose track of time, connects with your gifts, and enthralls you.
It is all too easy to get caught up in watching and responding to the latest developments in the media. Doing something that satisfies your curiosity or captivates your imagination or furthers how you want to live life aligned with your values helps anchor you. It provides a way to be grounded when so much around you is changing. And if life is moving all too slowly for you, having an activity to build some meaning into your days is one of the best remedies.
Keep these three keys in mind as you shape this time ahead. Most certainly, pay attention to maintaining your physical health. We also need to focus on getting through and emerging from this time emotionally and mentally healthy. With attention to these three keys, you give attention to the latter, with benefits for the former!
50 FUN THINGS!
Now a bonus for you! Last week, I attended an online session done by Teresa Thomas. Teresa is one of the most gifted networkers and facilitators I’ve encountered. She does live events called 50 Fun Things (www.50funthings.com) which are creative and inspiring. The particular session I attended was done online and was entitled "50 Fun Things to Do While Cooped Up". Over the course of a half hour, everyone who tuned in offered up ideas of fun things to do to pass the time on these days. We came up with a list of 108 ideas. You can source it by clicking here...50 Fun Things While Cooped Up
Teresa will be doing other fun online versions in the next days if you would like to join. To do so, join her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/50funthings or follow her on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/50funthings/
Most importantly, I hope you are focused on keeping yourself grounded and whole. I wish you not only to be well, but enriched, during this unusual time in our lives. I hope there can be a bright side in it for you. I am available and happy to do 30-minute or 60-minute online sessions if you are feeling out of sync and want help coming up with a gameplan for these days ahead, for your life in general, for your retirement, or if you just plain need to break up cabin fever! You can contact me at email@example.com
Be well and be at peace.
In Part 1 of this blog, I challenged you to stop and take a broader look at your life and your WDYWFY (What Do You Want For Yourself). I encouraged you to begin that process by taking a look at what matters most to you by identifying your top values. That process is important, not only to identify your top values, but also through realizing what isn’t in the top five. Sometimes we are spending a whole lot of time and energy on things that we later realize aren’t that important. If you’ve not had time to do that yet, here is the link where you can do that: https://www.think2perform.com/our-approach/values
Building from your values-based framework, reflect a bit and write goals for this year or this first or next part of your retirement. What do you want to have happen? I know, it’s almost February and that may feel a little like New Year’s stuff. Creating and getting clear about your goals is an important step to make your ideal life your real life! It gives your brain something to organize activity behind. Even if you can only come up with one goal you want to make happen for your life this year, go with it. I’m all for simple.
The Acid Test for Your Goals
You have likely learned about writing goals using the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Action-Oriented, Realistic/Relevant and Time-based) acronym. I encourage that, and let’s simplify that even further for use here by using an idea that I am borrowing from Doug Lennick, the CEO of think2perform:
When you think about turning your wants into goals, Doug advises applying this acid test to each goal:
Signs Along the Way
When I work with people on building what’s next, once their goals are set, I also ask them to put ‘markers’ alongside their goals. What fun things will you notice or encounter that will be evidence of moving in the direction of your goals? This is not a measurement, such as, “When I step on the scale, I will weigh 14 pounds less”. A marker happens out in the world as a result of your intention and effort, but isn’t the end goal. For example, “Someone will compliment me on how much healthier I look.” or “I will be asked to lead a retreat.”
I think of pairing markers with goals as push vs. pull. When we set a goal and work toward it, we are using effort and determination to push toward it. Markers are something we envision happening out in the future and simply show up along the way to provide evidence we’re heading in the right direction and are in alignment. They pull us forward. I think it is as important to envision out to the future and watch for those signals showing up as it is to do the work each day to make your goals happen.
Questions for You
As you arrive at your goals and markers for your year or your retirement, here are some questions to ponder:
Enjoy the gift of this year ahead of you. Taking time to think about what you want for yourself and what matters most to you, how you live in alignment, and what it will look like when you move in that new direction will help help you make meaningful use of this year in your life and in your retirement. That is my hope for you in your 2020.
Ruth Tongen helps people plan and live meaningful, fun and healthier retirements.