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  1. Carol Ebert

    Zero In On Starting Over Again

    Now that I have passed the point of no return and entered the so-called Retirement Zone, I know a lot more about how to adjust to creating a new life for myself. But let me back up to where you are and provide you with a cautionary tale. It ain't as easy as you think! I wish I had remembered to review what I already knew about "Managing Transitions" from the work I did as a hospital educator when we were merging one clinic with one hospital and created a large tri-state medical conglomerate. At the time, our department was tasked with training employees on how to handle change because it was going to become very unsettling, disheartening, stressful and scary. And so we embarked on many training sessions over many months and even tho it was a difficult time, and some still hang on to the memories of the "good old days" (I do too!) life went on. So why do I bring this up? Because when you transition out of the workforce and nursing, it is more difficult for some people than you realize. Oh sure. You might be one of the lucky ones who has a new life already carved out for yourself and you can't wait to get started. But many of you haven't really given it a thought (probably too busy to think about it) until it hits you one day that your time is running out and you haven't got a plan. Well that is where this great information I used in the past can come in very handy, and I want to share some of the tips that stand out for me to help you. What I really love about this information is that author William Bridges of Managing Transitions prepares you with the three phases you will go thru and how to cope with them. Phase I - Endings This first phase of transition begins when people identify what they are losing and learn how to manage these losses. They determine what is over and being left behind, and what they will keep. These may include relationships, processes, team members or locations. For me, daily relationships I had cultivated over many years were ending. They were my work "family" and I still miss seeing them every day. And even tho I still stay in contact with them, it is only infrequently, so it is a real loss for me. In addition, not having a place to go everyday to connect with people and feel a sense of purpose caused me to feel lost without an anchor. I lost my team as well whom I relied on for varying points of view and support with my programs. And finally, once I started my new solo-wellness business I had to replace all the services I had come to rely on like a marketing department, copy center, business supplies, etc. The act of "letting go" was challenging. What losses will you regret when you retire? Personal: Professional: Phase 2: Neutral Zone People go through an "uncomfortable" in-between time when the old is gone - and so is your identity - but the new isn't fully operational. It's a time for processing what your future could be like. I did several things to bridge the gap. I looked for part-time work (because I knew I couldn't just sit around with nothing to do) but felt discrimination because I had grey hair. Yes, age discrimination is alive and well! I was open to possibilities to expand my training into areas I didn't know existed, like wellness coaching, and found an avenue to get certified which led to an opportunity to coach employees of a fortune 100 company. That led to another connection with a reputable company I could align with that provided me with a business model, training, coaching and wellness programming I could use to create my own wellness business. So in this neutral zone I found many opportunities to play with until something felt right and I was on my way again. What ideas have you been playing with that could be new directions for you in your retirement? Who are resource people you can talk to about new possibilities for yourself? Who do you know who is already retired and can you pick their brain about what their experience was? Phase 3 - New Beginnings New beginnings are marked by a release of energy in a new direction - they are an expression of a fresh identity, new understandings, new values, new attitudes. I will admit that my energy was low after I left my job, I felt a sense of depression and I was not excited about what could be next. In fact I didn't even have a clue about what could be next. But once I received some great coaching from a fellow nurse coach and got a foothold in something tied to my passion (wellness) that was new and exciting, I felt like I was starting all over again with new interest, energy and meaning. I still feel like I'm in a starting-over phase. It's not only challenging but makes me feel a lot younger than I am. A very cool and unexpected side effect! How do you see yourself once you are retired? What do you see yourself doing that brings you energy and joy? What will you be doing that will leave your mark on the world? So thanks for joining me on this pre-retirement journey of blogs. Hopefully it has been useful and has provided you with insights and tools to make the transition easier, more hopeful and filled with anticipation. Looking forward to blogging with you again! Please share your thoughts.
  2. Carol Ebert

    Having the Time (Line) of Your Life

    I saw patterns in the type of nursing work I chose As I looked at my timeline, I realized that I always had a desire to educate people on staying well. As a nursing assistant in high school I taught infection control, I loved my student rotation thru OB because I got to teach new Moms about baby care and nursing, I was frustrated taking care of sick people and migrated into school nursing where I could create lesson plans to teach kids and parents; as a college health nurse I also taught students how to be well and prevent health issues facing them in college. So all of this led to becoming a wellness coordinator in a major medical center and finally to start my own wellness business. I have accomplished a lot - even when faced with what I thought were impossible odds I never believed I was smart enough to get a Master's Degree (a self-imposed false belief and major roadblock) but when I embarked on taking classes about disease prevention, I got hooked on the course work and my mentor challenged my false belief and encouraged me to complete the Master's program in Health Education. Because of her belief in me and support, I accomplished that goal. The duration of each of my nursing roles was based on my satisfaction with the work I was doing as well as the management style of my boss The nursing positions I took that were related to patient care were short lived and the ones with a focus on prevention and wellness lasted longer. However I did notice that even if the work was what I loved, if the way I did my work (being micro-managed) did not fit how I do my best work, (tell me what you want me to accomplish then leave me alone to do that) then the time I spent in that position was much less. I took risks with my career and appreciated the reasons for taking those risks I remember taking a big pay cut when I left my hospital nursing position to take a position as school nurse, knowing it would be more satisfying for me and was a step in the direction of health education that I was seeking. In another instance, I quit my college health position, even tho I loved it, because of poor morale in my department. I did have to scramble to find two part-time jobs for income but both positions were pivotal in my getting my next job as a hospital wellness coordinator. I discovered I love to work and don't want to stop, but want to work on my own terms I left my last job after 18 years because of a new "micro-managing" boss which was the impetus to start my own wellness business - which has become everything I ever wanted. Being my own boss, working my own hours, creating my own programs, and living my life the way I want. I see that being free from corporate restraints allows me to continue seeking opportunities to help people improve their health and their lives, and what better use of my time as I continue doing what I love to do. So there is a lot to be learned when you examine your own journey, and create your own time-line. Ready to "line" everything up? Here's how to proceed: Review your resume' or journal if you have one so you don't forget significant events and dates. Sit at a table with a long piece of paper and draw a straight line from left to right. Put 0 at the beginning of the line, and put 120 at the end. (that is the current lifespan of the oldest person who has lived, and since we don't know how long we will be living, assume you are going to make it to 120.) Start writing in all the milestones of your life along the line. Reflect on your journey Note: accomplishments, patterns, risks, rewards, and other revelations Celebrate all that you have done and appreciate how great you are! If you are around 60, then you have 60 years left to live. That's a lot of time to be just sitting around, so what will that next journey look like for you? Feel free to share.
  3. Carol Ebert

    Listen up - Your Gut is Speaking!

    It's called your INTUITION and everyone has it but not everyone uses it. I can think of three different times in my career where my intuition spoke very loudly to me - and fortunately I was listening - and it changed the course of my life. First - Before I even graduated from nursing school, I was already thinking - "Is this all there is? I don't want to just sling bedpans all my life. There must be something more." That gut feeling led me into joining the Navy and becoming a war-time military nurse, a very different course than my fellow nursing grads. Second - Once I fulfilled that commitment, and feeling very grateful for that experience, I returned to bedside nursing and once again my gut was speaking to me - "This is not where you belong. You need to prevent what you are taking care of every day and make a bigger impact on helping people stay well". That feeling led me into becoming a school nurse, getting a Master's degree in health education and birthed my passion for wellness which has brought me great joy. Finally - After working for several bosses in several wellness positions, my loudest intuitive hit came when I was nearing retirement age. I still wanted to keep working, but knew it couldn't be under some else's control, so I decided to go out on my own. That was the scariest move I ever made as I would be leaving the security of a paycheck and benefits to strike out on my own. But I had faith that all would be OK because I had followed my intuition in the past and success followed. Once I was secure in that belief, the door opened for having my own wellness business that I would never have thought possible. I often wonder, what if I hadn't paid attention to my intuition and followed the guidance it gave me? Where would I be now? After all, a gut feeling - or a hunch - is that unconscious reasoning that propels us to do something without telling us why or how. Sophy Burnham, bestselling author of The Art of Intuition says "It's different from thinking, it's different from logic or analysis ... It's a knowing without knowing." And Steve Jobs even said intuition is more powerful than intellect! As I see it, GUT FEELING = INTUITION = OPPORTUNITY. What's not to like about that pathway? So how can this impact your decisions about your next life choices toward retirement, or any change you are facing? Here are some ideas to help you polish up and utilize your own intuitive nature. Recognize it Recognize when you have a gut feeling and take some quiet time to explore the meaning behind it. The key here is to be aware of gut feelings, and not pass them off as irrelevant. Notice when coincidences happen or unusual thoughts occur and write them in a journal and watch for patterns to emerge. Feel it How does it feel physically and emotionally when you ponder it. Do you feel open and joyful or closed and uncomfortable. In life we are supposed to be on a path of joy and feeling good so that can be a gauge for you to determine if your intuition is telling you YES or NO to this opportunity. Accept it Don't analyze your gut feeling too much. Go with your first thought because that is the truth shining thru. Just like when you take a multiple choice test and they tell you never to change your answer, because most likely your first thought is the best. Practice it Few things stifle intuition as easily as constant busyness, multitasking, connectivity to digital devices and stress and burnout. Schedule down-time to practice mindfulness to become more relaxed and creative as you ponder the gut feelings you are having. By going deeper into the feeling you will learn more about how this can impact your life and clarify if this is a pathway to bring you the satisfaction and joy you are after. Follow it Now it is up to you. How will you open yourself to the intuitive hits you are receiving right now about what you want your future to look like? You are getting hits, but do you recognize them? If not, start today by paying attention to any coincidences, or repeated suggestions, or just hunches about what could be next in your life and make note. This could be the start of something big for you and your future.
  4. James Prochaska, author of Changing for Good: A Revolutionary Six-Stage Program for Overcoming Bad Habits and Moving Your Life Positively Forward outlines predictable stages we go through when making a change. Are you in denial about making a change? Thinking about it? Planning how you will do it? In the process of making the change? Have you already completed it? Or looking forward to making another one? Once you decide what stage you are in, it's time to look at the BARRIERS that are holding you back from embracing change. For me, this is the biggest stumbling block so I have created a process for you to try. First grab a blank piece of paper. Determine what change lies ahead for you and write it as a Desire Statement on the top of the page. Ex: My desire is to retire in 5 years. My desire is to change jobs. My desire is to create my own nursing business. My desire is to travel the world. Create 2 columns below the Desire Statement. Title column #1 " Barriers". Title Column #2 "Possibilities" In column #1, list 10 reasons why you can't have what you desire. Ex: I can't quit my job because I won't have enough money to live on. Now read this list and note how you feel. Not great right? In column #2, re-word each statement from column #1 as if it could happen. Ex: There are many different ways to make money that don't require working for a boss. Now read this list and note how you feel. Better, right? Fold the paper so the Barrier list faces back and the Possibilities list faces forward. Hang this up where you will see it every day so you will be focusing on what is possible instead of what is holding you back. "In my life I've discovered that if I cling to the notion that something's not possible, I'm arguing in favor of limitation. And if I argue for my limitations, I get to keep them." Gay Hendricks, The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level If you know anything about the Law of Attraction, "like attracts like" and if you focus on positive possibilities you will naturally attract positivity into your life. And the best bonus of all, you will have changed your attitude from negative to positive and will be attracting more positive people into your life as well. Check out the book Ask and It is Given by Esther Hicks. Doubt this could happen? Just try it out for 2 weeks and keep a record of all the progress you are making. Start a "breaking barriers" journal. You will be amazed at how those barriers will stop influencing you. Here are more great reminders as you tackle each BARRIER in your life. B - Believe in yourself and the gifts you have to share with the world. Only you have these gifts and others are waiting for you to share. A - Adjust to living in a world where change happens all the time and is business as usual R - Resist the temptation to be stuck in a job you don't like because of the security of having a paycheck and benefits when there are other ways to achieve this R - Resolve to listen to your intuition and what your body and mind are telling you to do I - Invest in the time to assess your situation, learn about other opportunities and take care of yourself E - Examine barriers you are facing and determine if they are valid or negotiable R - Rejoice in the fact that you have choices in life and you can be whomever you want to be and can do whatever you want to do to have a great life. Now over to you. What barriers have you overcome and what strategies did you use? Would love to have you share so we all can learn what works!
  5. I hate to say it, but the cure is to quit your job and go to bed. Of course that may not be an option, but I can tell you since I now am self-employed and can dictate my own hours, getting enough sleep is within my control and I think I have actually "caught up" after years of being sleep deprived. So let's delve into this sleepy issue and find out what is really happening when you don't get enough sleep. And don't worry - I will leave you with R & R tips so you don't have to quit your job just to get some rest. Did you know the amount of sleep you get is instrumental in quality of life issues such as ... Cell renewal and rejuvenation Management of stress hormones Gut health Weight gain Chronic disease development Cognitive functioning Safety Who knew all of this was going on while we are sleeping? Unfortunately, we get so sleep deprived we don't fully realize these benefits, and often start relying on drugs to get and stay asleep, setting us up for dependence and negative side effects. I remember working straight nights for about 3 years and fell into the trap of taking Seconal so I could sleep during the day, but quit that drug right away because I was so groggy at work I couldn't function. So I switched to Benadryl, and got hooked psychologically leading to years of thinking I couldn't sleep without it. But I finally stopped one day and found I could actually sleep without it! Big surprise! And I have never taken another sleep med again. So is sleep a problem for you? Here's how to find out. Dr. Michael Breus, the "Sleep Doctor" www.thesleepdoctor.com uses the RULE OF 3: 3 nights per week - you have trouble falling or staying asleep 30 + minutes/night - you stay awake before sleeping 3 weeks - all of this lasts 3 weeks in a row So what causes sleep problems in the first place? Here are the most common reasons ... Too much cortisol from Being over-committed, over-stimulated, not enough down time Anxiety and depression Wired and Tired Diet containing too much high glycemic foods, sugar, and gluten Gut ailments that lead to inflammation. You can't sleep with a belly ache! Overexposure to EMFs (electro-magnetic frequencies like cell phones, computers, etc) leading to restlessness, can't sleep well, and waking up tired, groggy or feeling hung over. So what can you do about all of this? It is obviously a serious situation, but the good news is as you enter your new life with more control over your time - and more time that you can control - you can take some action steps toward living a wellness lifestyle. Here are tips from my Wellness Prescription for Sleep that you can start working on right now! Emotional Wellness - Reduce your stress level Write down what you are grateful for at the end of the day so you feel good Take a relaxing bath before bed Decrease EMFs by removing electronics from your bedroom Darken bedroom with black-out curtains or use eye mask Use "white noise" machine to block out distractions Physical Wellness - Take care of your body Don't exercise 2-3 hours before bed - Increases your temp, cortisol, hunger Take pharmaceutical grade supplements Melatonin ½-1mg 90 mins before sleep Magnesium - calming and relaxing mineral found in a good multivitamin/multimineral Balance your blood sugar all day long Eat protein with every meal to prevent sugar spikes No sugar before bed Intellectual Wellness Investigate causes of gut problems by eliminating food sensitivities Calculate your best sleep time using the Sleep Doctor's method Count back 7 ½ hours from when you wake up and that is when you need to go to bed Experiment with some light reading 1 hr before bed Social Wellness Stay on a sleep schedule that is the same time every day, even weekends Disengage from electronics 1 hr before bed Decrease alcohol 3 hrs before bed - alcohol prevents deeper sleep Occupational Wellness If you are still working, challenge the system to consider these ideas Nap rooms at work Stress relieving breaks during the day Flexible work hours Consider changing jobs if it's too stressful, or maybe this is the time you really do consider retiring! Spiritual Wellness Meditation Prayer Relaxing music Which of these tips will you be willing to work on right now to finally get a good night's sleep! And if you have successful sleep tips for us, please share.
  6. VivaLasViejas

    No Experience Necessary

    I don't know about you, but I find perusing the job listings at my friendly local unemployment office to be quite entertaining. Where else could I find "opportunities" like working on an Alaskan fishing boat......becoming a cannery worker......learning how to make dentures? I wonder: who does that stuff? I worked on an assembly line in my way-back days and there simply wasn't enough in the job to occupy the mind (hence my frequent attempts to inject some interest into the days by spiking the water cooler with vodka or gluing the plant manager's phone receiver down so when he picked it up the whole phone would come with it and subsequently crash onto the desk). I was hell on wheels, but I managed to keep the same job for almost five years despite multiple write-ups and inter-department transfers. Fast-forward a couple of decades to my first nursing position, which lasted a little over three months. Still, it was a job I could really sink my teeth into---a job where I could use my hands AND my smarts---and I enjoyed being a nurse even if I wasn't too keen on being an employee. Unfortunately, however, the intellectual stimulation eventually became too much for my disorderly brain, and now I need to get out of clinical nursing because I can't handle the constant barrage of information that comes at one from all directions. So I've found myself in the unenviable position of changing course in late mid-life......and that's how I wound up at the unemployment office, scanning the hundreds of jobs available. Hmmm, this one sounds interesting: "Ticket Taker for XYZ University football games, 10 hrs/week, $8.95 per hour." Yep, I could deal with that---spending my Saturdays standing out in 45-degree temps and getting rained on while dealing with college kids who are full of attitude and beer......all for minimum wage. Wow. Better jump on that one before it's gone. Wonder if I could get into the games for free? Here's another: "Appointment setter for dynamic local business, 5 evenings/week, hourly wage + commission." Translated, it means being a telemarketer who gets cussed out and threatened by strangers. Wait a minute---as a nurse I put up with the same crap, and for about $25 more an hour. Guess I can cross THAT one off the list. Still another: "Earn While You Learn! Become An Exterminator at Kritters, Inc." Uh-huh. I can just imagine my arachnophobic, 54-year-old self crawling under houses with nothing but a hazmat suit and a ginormous container full of chemicals on my back to protect me. Do we know any more jokes? And look, here's a REAL winner: "No Experience Necessary! Work from home selling the nation's No. 1 cookware! Generous commission and incentives. Demo set $200, refundable after initial sales goal met. Call today!" I mean, what could go wrong? No, this business of changing careers---aw, let's just call it what it is, changing focus---at this stage of the game is some pretty tricky stuff, and I'm just an amateur in a world of professional job-hunters. In other words......I'm DOOMED. Maybe I should just stick with my happy, little, very part-time job doing admissions at my SNF and call it good. It's not real nursing, but it sure pays like it, and it doesn't tax my brain to the point of overloading and shorting out.....which beats Wally World in a landslide. Onward and upward!
  7. Carol Ebert

    Optimize Before Your Demise

    I have heard many stories of the health toll that working as a nurse has taken but we often don't prioritize it as an issue. We just succumb to taking meds for issues like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, weight gain, stress, or for whatever the health issue might be. What if I told you that there is a new direction toward healthy living that involves less drugs and more insights about what can be corrected so you can set yourself up for an OPTIMAL state of wellbeing in your next half of life. It's called Functional Medicine and it is the up and coming medical specialty that will be the next big thing to help take us to the next level of wellness. I was first introduced to this concept when I attended a nutrition training at Sanoviv Medical Institute in Rosarito Mexico, the first accredited functional medicine hospital in the world and a true healing environment. What an eye opener! At the time I wondered why we haven't embraced this concept in our country. So I want to share why this is different from what we currently do in the U.S. and how this concept might provide you with the answers you are looking for when you want to truly heal yourself after all these years of working and wearing yourself out. Here's how the two systems compare. Functional Medicine Conventional Medicine Health oriented Disease oriented Patient centered Doctor centered Biochemical individuality Everyone is treated the same way Holistic Specialized Cost Effective Expensive Looks at underlying causes of disease Diagnosis based on symptoms Preventative approach Early detection of disease High touch/high tech High tech After reflecting on these two lists, which one do you think supports OPTIMAL health? Let me share how all this played out in my life. My issue: Heart Palpitations. The first time I experienced this I was premenopausal, didn't know it and neither did my doctor so I had an EKG which was normal. He wanted to put me on an anti-anxiety med, but I refused. I then read about palpitations in Dr. Christiane Northrup's book Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom and realized it was a normal phenomenon. So I went on with my life. The next time I experienced palpitations was in the past 2 years and because I was going to Sanoviv Holistic Healing Center for some nutrition training, I asked to be checked out. They performed a very non-invasive stress test, Max Pulse Stress Test and discovered my sympathetic nervous system was on overdrive, my parasympathetic nervous system was almost non-existent and I had borderline adrenal fatigue. I never would have got a test like this from my healthcare provider, and therefore would never have known the underlying cause. As luck would have it, I was in the right place at the right time so I could start taking action on my own to resolve it. All the healing modalities were available to me there, so I jumped in with both feet and felt what true healing was all about. Most of those practices were already part of my life but I had been slacking off and could feel it! So when I got back home, here is what I did to get back on the path to OPTIMAL health. Reduced Stress This is the BIG one! Daily Tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique) to break up energy blocks and reduce cortisol Daily Chi Machine to balance the flow of energy in my body Weekly massages Scheduled more "down" time Got more rest, 7-8 hours/night is still the recommendation for optimal health Monthly Chiropractic sessions Improved Nutrition Got back to eating low-glycemic, lots of fresh produce Gluten-free, dairy-free, no sugar Organic whenever possible Nutritional supplements customized to my needs Exercised Jazzercise 4x/wk Walking on opposite days Guess what happened once I was back on track again - the palpitations went away - and without drugs! As a wellness professional, I already spend most of my time in the Functional Medicine world, but know there are times when I still need to use the services of Conventional Medicine. But it is only for a temporary fix, and the rest of the time it is up to me to be in control of striving for OPTIMAL health. So if you are thinking about retiring, where will you get the most helpful health information about what messages your body is sending you, what they mean, plus a roadmap to OPTIMAL health? Both Functional and Traditional Medicine have value, but to be honest in the world of Functional Medicine, you are empowered to achieve OPTIMAL health using their best practices for your next best years ahead. Drugs aren't always the answer. So what path are you willing to take and how healthy do you truly want to be? Would love to have you share.
  8. I love the SOSPIE model of the National Wellness Institute (my go-to organization for personal and professional renewal. nationalwelllness.org) which uses a holistic model of living with YOU in the driver's seat. SOCIAL As you embark on a new path after leaving nursing, how does this affect you socially? What networks and friendships will you leave behind and how will life be without them? After all, your work-mates are as much a family as your own relatives. What current relationships do you have outside of work that will fill in the gaps? What new relationships will you be cultivating to fill in the gaps? OCCUPATIONAL You might be leaving your career as you know it today, but is that really what you want? If you are like me you still want to be of service in new and interesting ways. What interests do you have that you might like to cultivate for pleasure? Or do you need to earn extra money to supplement your retirement funds - and in some cases (like me) lack of retirement funds. Many of us either did not save for retirement or just don't have enough available to live the lifestyle we desire. In that case, investigating occupational options might be a real concern for you. What work would be pleasurable for you? SPIRITUAL How would the meaning of your life change if you were retired since your identity is wrapped up in nursing? It is your status and you hold a place of authority while you are working. But what happens when that ends? Do you lose your self worth and self esteem? Do you feel lost without a purpose for your life? Most of us feel spiritually alive when we have meaning and purpose in our life. How will you manifest meaning and purpose for yourself? PHYSICAL Is your body beaten down from all the years of hard labor? It is never too late to bring your body back in shape for the next half of life. And the good news is you have plenty of time available to make health and fitness the priority it deserves. When I left my job and moved on, I declared that going to Jazzercise would be my top priority because now I was in charge of my schedule and there were no more excuses for not exercising. So I write it on my calendar before anything else takes away my time and after 10 years, it is working great! What would you be willing to do to get your body moving on a regular basis? INTELLECTUAL You've been functioning at a highly cognitive level and when that challenge is over it could result again in that lost feeling and even depression. What can you engage in that keeps your brain awake and working and being challenged daily. I am still addicted to learning about health so I migrate toward documentaries, read health articles, watch health shows, listen to health webinars and write health blogs. My brain is getting healthier daily learning more as the health field expands in new and exciting areas. How will you keep your brain engaged as you age? EMOTIONAL I've mentioned a few emotional hits you might take once you are retired. This is an area to really pay attention to and examine for yourself. I really thought I was in control of my life and very resilient while I was working at a job so I thought all would be well - and even better - when I retired. To my surprise I experienced all of the BIG 4 issues - feeling lost, depression, loss of connection with friends, loss of self worth and self esteem. They hit me in the face and I really had the blues. So it can happen even if you think it could never happen to you. Since I believe in preventing problems before they arise, here are questions for you to address before you enter your next phase of your great life. What does my role as nurse mean to me and how will I manage myself without having that role? What steps do I need to take to prepare for a smooth transition out of nursing? What does the next half of my life look like and how will it make me feel? (Very good I hope!) What successful first steps have you taken toward retirement and how did it work out for you?
  9. Carol Ebert

    Unleash Your Truth and Set Yourself Free

    I remember how bottled up I was in my nursing career. Half of me was being real and the other half was cautious and nonrevealing. I always knew I had more to say but kept it quiet because of fear of consequences. I'm not really sure what the reasons were for not unleashing my truth. Was it because I grew up in an authoritarian home where having an opinion was not encouraged, and maybe not really valued? Was it because I had low self esteem as a kid and never felt I could be as good as my smart brother or my smart classmates, or as popular as my best friend? Was it because I started my nursing career in the Navy where I did not speak up because I was outranked and deemed subservient? It's probably a combination of factors but it certainly fed into my inability to even know how to present my truth when I had opportunities. I would often defer to someone else's ideas so I didn't have to be singled out. I truly felt my truth was not worthy of attention. Can you relate? What factors have caused you to hold back? I remember an experience that happened close to my last days working for a boss. I was in a meeting with managers and the topic of male employees came up. I spoke up about how that felt in my department that the men seemed to be free to do whatever they wanted (we also had a male boss) and females were overly scrutinized and I felt it was not fair. Of course silence descended on the group and no one else chimed in with their experience in their departments. I knew I had opened a can of worms. At that point the fact that I unleashed my truth also felt like I had brought into the open an "unspoken truth" and others were afraid to express their feelings as well. Lesson learned. Must be time to move on to being my own boss so I could freely express my true opinions. What makes the workplace so difficult for us to speak up with what we believe? Since I now am semi-retired and work and answer to myself, I don't feel constrained by being politically correct and can speak my mind without fear. I must admit it does take getting used to because if feels like you are hanging out there "bare" with no safety net. But with time and practice it gets a lot easier. I am now "free to be me". I continually unleash the truth, as I see it, even though it may not be popular or politically correct. And it actually feels good to have that role when others are still unable, hesitant, or still in the early stages of practicing. I have also had the role of being a pioneer in wellness, and now I guess I am a pioneer in the art of unleashing your truth as you start coming into your own in later life. I used to wonder how my mother (retired nurse) got so mouthy in her old age, and now I know it's an "age thing". We mature into it! Here are some tips to fortify your ability to "unleash your truth" and set yourself free T - Telling it like it is R - Right over wrong U - Unafraid of consequences T - Trusting your instincts H - Heartfelt communication So what about you? Have you crossed over to "unleashing your truth? What examples can you share when you have stepped into your own personal power and what were the consequences, if any?
  10. Carol Ebert

    Letting Go and Moving On

    After 3 years as a Navy Nurse stationed on a military base, I had to let go and rejoin civilian life in Colorado (because that is where all young people seemed to migrate at that time). Believe me that was not easy. I wanted to re-enlist right after I got out because I felt lost in this non-structured, non-authoritarian and free lifestyle. Plus if you know anyone who has been in the military, it is a life-long club and the bonds are very strong. Even when I don't know a new person I am meeting, if she has been in the military we are immediately bonded. So leaving the military environment led to difficulty "letting go" but over time I moved on. Six years after moving to Colorado, we decided to move to Minnesota and had to "let go" of the close bonds we had with our friends there. It was difficult again, and I remember calling them from my new home to check in and then over time feeling like the bond had been broken and the calls stopped coming and going. Again there was sadness as our life there was no longer and we were losing close friends once more. But over time, we moved on. And then the big one happened when I left my last job and went into the so-called "retirement zone". This was the most profound change for me because not only was I "letting go" of my nursing and health education career which I had committed to for over 40 years, was leaving my work mates whom I had been with for over 20 years and also lost my safety net of a paycheck and benefits. This is the triple threat of retirement. I definitely felt the loss and emptiness and loneliness that comes, but once again I had to go thru the process of letting go. And because I had past experiences that reminded me how it felt and how you can still survive, I was able to move thru the pain and came out on the other side whole and healthy and eager to create my next new life. Yes - this is how life works. And if you are facing retirement or just thinking about it, prepare yourself before it sneaks up on you and slaps you in the face. Borrowing from Psychology Today as an inspiration, here are 6 steps customized to what you can do to make "letting go" a meaningful and healthy process. Anchor yourself in the future List 3 positive things about looking ahead and imagine they are happening right now. Make yourself a vision board of what your future might look like. Discard Get rid of the things that might be holding you back. Make a list of what you don't need to carry with you as you move forward, and then burn it as a symbolic message that you have let go Purge your work environment and start thinning out the "stuff" you have accumulated that has no meaning in your future. Repair Make a list of "broken relationships" from the past and make amends so they don't keep popping up and sabotaging your new emerging bright future. I know this can be challenging. A wise person told me once if you can't meet them face to face, then pray for their well-being and that old stuff will resolve. I've done this and it works! Transform Your Narrative What is the story you are telling yourself about what lies ahead? Can you re-tell your story? From: I have no life ahead, I'll be lost without my work and my friends, I won't be valuable anymore. To: I've had a great career and helped a lot of people and now I am moving on to a new and exciting future. Forgive What resentments are you storing that can hold you back? That your career wasn't what you thought it would be? That you felt you weren't treated well? That you didn't get that promotion you thought you deserved? Whatever it might be, it's time to forgive and change your feelings to one of gratitude for all the experiences and personal growth you gained from your career. Learn to Be Present When your thoughts are in the NOW - called "present moment thinking" - all is right with the world. It's also called mindfulness and is a practice that keeps us aware, centered, grounded, relaxed and empowered. And in that state you are much more able to create a future that is the best it can be for YOU. Now let us know your thoughts! In closing, here are some words of wisdom from the movie Frozen. It's funny how some distance Makes everything seem small And the fears that once controlled me Can't get to me at all Let it go!
  11. Carol Ebert

    The Happiness Factor Can Save Your Life!

    Now that you are on the cusp of your retirement years, or contemplating jumping out of nursing, what does the Happiness Factor have to do with this? Well guess what - Everything! You were put on this earth to be happy and feel good, and if that is not happening for you, then your next phase of life is a great chance to have a do-over and seek out what truly makes you happy again and then go after it! So Let's start building a case for why you need to activate your happiness factor before you enter your next stage of life. If you are happy your physical health improves and you live longer, and I know that is an issue as you age! Here's what The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley says about why being happy is so important to your well-being. Lowers risk of heart disease and blood pressure and reduces heart rate Lowers cortisol (stress hormone) so you are better able to deflect stress and not let it get to you Combats disease and disability and you have fewer aches and pains ·Improves immunity so you are less likely to get sick and, if you do, you have fewer symptoms And from Dr. James D. Baird, author of Happiness Genes, Happiness can alter your genes! The new science of epigenetics reveals there are reserves of natural happiness within your DNA that can be controlled by you, by your emotions, beliefs and behavioral choices. Yes you are in charge of your own happiness and if you activate it, your well-being improves. But wait - there's more! If you live a healthy lifestyle you will be rewarded with the release of Happy Hormones. Serotonin - regulates mood, prevents depression, makes you feel happy Endorphins - makes you feel good, reduces anxiety and sensitivity to pain Dopamine - makes you feel mentally alert Are you impressed with these benefits of being happy? And you can achieve this with NO DRUGS! So as you face your next chapter in life, arm yourself with "happiness" so whatever you choose to pursue, you will be ready, willing, able and "happy" to do it. Let me help you get started by sharing my 10-Step Prescription for a Happier Life. Mindfulness. Being in the moment allows you to correct any negative situation right on the spot and shift your thinking toward positivity. Connect socially, especially if you are retiring and feel like you are leaving your support network behind. This is a great time to join new groups and expand your circle of friends. And try to find "happy" people while you're at it! Exercise daily. This is a great stress reliever and provides that endorphin rush which is one of those happy hormones. Balance your blood sugar by eating frequent small meals of organic, mostly raw, low glycemic foods and healthy fats like coconut oil and avocado. YUM! Practice forgiveness. Free yourself from past grudges. After all, the person you hold a grudge against may not even know you are carrying around all that angst, so guess who suffers? YOU not them. Let it go. Practice loving yourself. Be selfish and put yourself first (finally) and ease up on that caretaker role that always puts you second. This is your time to shine! Pursue goals that excite you, bring you joy, reveal your true gifts and make you want to get up every morning in anticipation of having fun. Surround yourself with positive people so you can catch the wave. Live a life of meaning and purpose. You have already done that in your nursing career, but this time it's on your own terms so go out there and set the world on fire! Start every day with a happy practice. Write down 3 things you will do during the day that will make you happy, and your days will be filled with happiness. Now it is your turn to take action on what will make you happy. Which one, or more will you select and how will you put it into action? Or maybe you already have adopted a life of happiness. We would love to hear what you are doing and what difference that has made in your life. Please share your thoughts!
  12. ThePrincessBride

    PSA: Don't forget to invest!

    I guess this is more of a public service announcement/reminder... I was talking to a bunch of coworkers and became deeply disturbed by a certain trend: many Americans are completely ignorant in regards to retirement planning and investing and too many are not saving enough for their golden years. Some fear the stock market and refuse to participate in it, others feel that social security will take care of them (ha ha), while a decent amount stick their heads in the sand. This post isn't directed to those who are living in destitute and can't afford to save anything. Obviously, not everyone will be able to put forth anything in an IRA or 403b. This is more towards those who are living above their means and/or aren't adequately saving for retirement: don't forget to invest for your future! Unfortunately, many hospitals and other facilities are cutting back on retirement benefits. Defined benefit pensions are disappearing, and some employers do not contribute anything to their workers' retirement plans at all; my employer has reduced its 403b matching savings for new hires while keeping wages stagnant. While I realize that some people are scared of the market (and that is completely justified) and find investing confusing, understand that historically, the stock market has always rebounded, with the S&P making average returns of 11%. And with feds keeping the interest rates low, it is even more crucial to involve oneself in the market, less one keeps real estate, wins the lottery or has a rich dead uncle somewhere. What does this have to do with nursing, you may ask? Everything. Nurses have such a high rate of burnout and on-the-job, career-ending injuries that it is imperative that we save now so that we aren't suffering in our older age. But how to get started in retirement planning? First, look to make sure that your employer has a retirement benefit. Most healthcare facilities should have a tax-deferred account, also known as a 401k or 403b (for the non-profit sector), available. In this year, anyone under the age of 50 can contribute 18k of pre-tax dollars, with people over the age of 50 being able to contribute an additional 6k per year. A 403b gives an advantage to workers by allowing them to save taxes upfront, letting their money grow, and then withdrawing the money presumably at a time when their tax liability is lower. Also, depending on certain circumstances, contributing to your 403b may not change you take-home pay. Awesome? I think so! When choosing investments, however, make sure you diversify (never put your eggs in one basket!) and check your 401k/403b expense ratios, as fees can erode your returns. Don't have access to a 403b? NO EXCUSE. Low-fee brokerage companies offer individual retirement accounts, also known as IRAs. The max is lower (5500 for those under and 6500 for those over 50), but both the Roth and Traditional offer tax perks to those looking to invest in their future. Taxable accounts, though not as advantageous as Roth or Traditional accounts, also provide avenues for those looking to participate in the market. And don't feel as though investing is an all-or-nothing. Most people who participate in their company program cannot afford to or don't max out their accounts and still manage to save enough to meet their post-work needs. The key is to start early, save often and be consistent. Start by getting enough to capture your employer's match (if they offer one)...NEVER leave "free" money on the table! Once you have an emergency of six or so months of living expenses and have all high-interest debt paid off, work up to at least saving 15% of your income, the percent that many financial experts agree will help you exit the workforce at the traditional retirement age...more if you started later and maybe less if you started saving early. Above all else, just save. The sooner you start, the more your money can compound and work for you!
  13. Carol Ebert

    A New Life Review for YOU

    What are you grateful for from all your experiences in nursing that have made you the person you are now, and even set the stage for the person you will be tomorrow when you no longer report to work every day? It's all about doing a life review of what you have learned and what you still have to offer. A bit like preparing yourself for a job interview, only now it is a life review as you prepare for your next - and hopefully - best time of your life. One thing I've learned about being grateful is that it changes your attitude from negative to positive, makes you feel a whole lot better and gives you an appreciation of everything you have and have done. It's like taking a happy pill without using drugs! So here are my thoughts and the thoughts of others to inspire and challenge your thinking about the power of the gratitude you may have from your nursing career to guide you as you move forward. Begin by making the statement - "I am grateful for" - and see how the rest of this flows for you: G - Giving to others from my heart and soul for the betterment of all I have served R - Relationships with co-workers who shared all the joys and sorrows of my profession and became a second family to me. A - Administering the healing touch of a nurse has more power than can be expressed and makes a huge difference in the lives of my patients T - Teachers from my past, not only in nursing school but daily at work who modeled what great nursing care and what great nurses are all about I - Intuitive hits that came once I had my feet on the ground with the profession and then following my intuition as another powerful nursing skill to use. T - Transitioning patients from illness to wellness through caring presence, compassion and competence U - Understanding the many facets of the human condition - body, mind and spirit - and learning how to heal the body holistically from adverse circumstances D - Deciding moment by moment the right course of action to achieve the best results for patients, family, and me E - Enlightenment about the power that nurses have to administer and heal and how incredibly important that role is for those in need How does this list feel for you to read? Does it make you feel better and more grateful for all you've done and who you are? I'm sure you could create your own gratitude list of how powerful this nursing career has been in your life. Please share some of them with us so we can all get in on that boost of positive energy that comes from gratitude being expressed!
  14. Carol Ebert

    Network or Die!

    Meeting new patients and colleagues, listening to learn more about who they are, serving them without expecting any payback, checking in on them regularly to see how they are doing, sharing your expertise, providing them with resources for whatever their needs are, and building relationships whether temporary or permanent. Guess what! That nursing work is called NETWORKING. And from my standpoint as a wellness business owner, this is how I do my business. It's all about providing great customer service. So back to my original question. NETWORKING has everything to do with retirement. When you finally leave your current job and walk away, you start losing a lot of things that may need to be rebuilt for your wellbeing. Close relationships with co-workers Day-to-day interactions with lots of people Meaningful and productive work Staying current in your field Your title and status as a health professional Your following by others who respect and support you Your busy schedule that puts you in touch with others and experiences regularly Socializing with work mates Attending work events I'm sure you can think of other things that come with working as a health professional. I experienced the loss of all of this both physically and emotionally - and it most likely will happen to you too! When the door closes for the last time, your life will be different, and if you are like me, I like being with people or I wouldn't have gone into nursing. There is a lot of loss when you retire, especially the loss of regular contact with lots of people. And remember, if we lose touch with human contact, we might die. You know this. It's called failure to thrive. Newborns denied physical contact with other humans can actually die from lack of physical contact, even when provided with proper nutrition and shelter. Older people who lack social contacts may be at increased risk of death if acute symptoms develop, because there is less of a network of confidantes to prompt medical attention. So what are you going to do about this? I will admit I wallowed in all that negativity for a few months, but after receiving some life coaching from another nurse, I turned that all around and now have a thriving business as a solo business owner. And what makes that all work? NETWORKING! It's my most important business-building tool. I make time to attend networking groups regularly so I can meet new people, build relationships, share my expertise and attract new customers and team members. And even when I doubt my abilities to be an effective networker, I just put myself back into my nursing shoes and remember I did this all the time in my career. Here are some tips from another blog I wrote on networking for business owners. See if any of this can be used in your situation so you don't find yourself being alone and lonely. And if you are already thinking ahead about what you might do in your future (like I did starting my own wellness business) this information may help you as you manifest that dream. N - new connections are made with new people who may need your services E - enjoyment happens when you learn about people's hopes and dreams T - trust develops when you connect with people on a regular basis W - wonderful conversations often lead to friendships O - opportunities arise to find even more people whom you can meet and serve R - rewards come from being able to help someone improve their life K - kindred spirits show up the more people you meet I - intimate conversations can lead to deeper relationships N - notice what happens when you give the gift of listening to another person G - great things occur when great people get together And finally, from the Harvard Health Blog Harvard Health Blog - Harvard Health Publications Is retirement good for health or bad for it? When researchers asked study participants 80 and older what made retirement enjoyable, healthy, and rewarding, here is the first of the four key elements: Forge a new social network. You don't just retire from a job-you retire from daily contact with friends and colleagues. Establishing a new social network is good for both mental and physical health. So now is the time to think about the power of NETWORKING as a tool for health in your upcoming retirement. Be well on your journey and please share your thoughts.
  15. Mitch Tuchman

    Nurses and Kids Going to College?

    Most of us must choose and that's not an easy thing to do - but it could be crucial to your retirement. Many Americans, nurses included, will find that they will have to delay retirement and work longer to reach their financial goals. We are living years longer and it takes more money to make that work. A principal reason retirement is delayed, too, is that too many parents prioritize saving into a child's college fund over their own retirement plans. Putting money into future college classes isn't going to help your kid if they end up having to support you in your old age - right when they should be saving for their own retirements. It can be a difficult conversation, one I have often with clients, and it's no easier a conversation between clients and their own kids. Who wants to deprive their children of their dreams? Nurses especially have a tough time of it. The hours are long and the opportunity to learn about investing are few. After working long shifts, parenting and the grind of a commute there isn't much mental energy for thinking about money. Here's the quick version: Don't put money in a 529 account for your child. Put it in a retirement account for yourself. Your son or daughter can get a loan for college. You can't get a loan to pay for your retirement. The big reason is time. You cannot make more of it, while your kids have nothing but time. The whole reason that saving regularly for retirement works is compound interest, and that requires serious time, decades. The money you set aside today into a tax-deferred IRA will grow and compound over the years. Compound growth is like magic. A dollar saved turns into two, then four, then eight. Prudently invested money cannot help but grow into a major nest egg. Picture a pond. It has one lily pad on it. The lily pad doubles every week. There are two lily pads, then four, then eight. The pond is filling up all by itself. In the second-to-last week, the lily pads cover half the pond. By the very next week, the entire pond is covered! Remember, the lilies are doubling. All of them. That's how compound interest works. You need to save early and consistently, but by the end of your saving years the amount of money in your account can be enormous. People underestimate how powerful and important time is to long-term investments. They chase immediate priorities, then fail to use that time when they are young to get started saving and investing. It costs them big in the long run. Yes, buy a house if you like. Pay off your student debts, of course. But definitely make retirement saving a priority, and you should make it a higher priority than higher ed for your children. You can always help your kids later, when your retirement is secure. Give them tax-free cash (the IRS allows it) that you don't need to spend. Buy them cars or vacations if you like, anything. Just don't give them those dollars now, while that money could be invested and compounding into real retirement security for you. If you end up not needing it all, they'll get it anyway, right? I often tell my clients that choosing retirement over higher education doesn't mean that you can't help your children financially. It doesn't mean you are a bad parent. It does mean that you are taking your own future seriously, and that's a powerful lesson for any child at any age.
  16. VivaLasViejas

    Where Do I Go From Here?

    Isn't it always the way that once you've gotten one HUGE problem under a semblance of control, another rears its ugly head? My husband and I just received a new lease on life......and now I have to figure out what to do about work. I had a very honest--and very upsetting--talk with my boss on the phone yesterday after we'd gotten the great news from the university hospital about hubby's stage IV pancreatic cancer being treatable after all. Frankly, I'm shocked that all this emotional whipsawing hasn't triggered my bipolar illness--I feel like I'm on the rollercoaster ride from Hell--but my daily gut-checks tell me that I'm only experiencing the normal ups and downs associated with major life changes. Which is a good thing, even as uncomfortable as it is. Knowing this does not solve my dilemma, however. Yesterday I had to say No to picking up several floor shifts at the beginning of September, much to the dismay of my friend the DON at my facility.....and once again, I found myself having to explain why I couldn't do it. To say the least, I feel awful about it--as the fill-in, I feel like I've left her totally in the lurch, and from my own DON experiences, I know all too well what that's like. She's invested a lot of time (and company funds) in my orientation and training, so it's only natural that she's disappointed. She deserves better, and so do the staff and residents. Then came the phrase that ended any hope of extricating myself from this awkward situation with a modicum of grace. She said that she'd had so many plans for me "because of how great you were".......and with her emphasis on that one tiny word, she summarized everything that's gone wrong with me in regards to my career. Yeah, I was a great nurse. I'm not a great nurse anymore. I'm not even a good one now. In fact, I'm really not even a nurse at all anymore, even though I still possess a valid license that says I am, and I still hold a nursing job of sorts. But I know I'll never work as a floor-running, wound-bandaging, IV-starting, doctor-calling, shot-giving NURSE again.....and that absolutely INFURIATES me! I wish people could understand how hard it is for me to say "I can't do it". I wish they could understand how much it hurts to admit--even to myself--that my career is essentially over. What I don't say, of course, is that I am sick and tired of losing parts of me to bipolar disorder. I lost the job that I'd planned to retire from someday. I've lost a good deal of my dignity and self-respect. I've lost my ability to concentrate, to get and stay organized, to cope with ever-changing priorities. I can do resident admissions and paperwork, but that's it......and a trained high-school graduate could almost do that much. Bottom line, I'm losing a big chunk of my identity. Who am I, if not a nurse? Yes, I'm a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a sister; but so much of my substance has been inextricably linked to my work that I don't know how to untangle what I do from who I am. And where do I go from here? What do former nurses do to keep a decent roof over their heads and give themselves a sense of purpose? I've received several excellent suggestions from friends and family that, unfortunately, are difficult to pursue in a rural area, so my options are somewhat limited. (And since relocating is not on the table, I'm going to have to get creative.) Like me, a couple of these friends had to give up active nursing because of their own mental illnesses; they did it because they knew that even with medication and therapy, they were unable to practice safely. And much to their credit, they were honest enough with themselves to admit it before they committed a serious med error or missed a critical assessment that could have resulted in harm to a patient. I'm proud of them for having the courage to do that. Heck, I'm proud of ME for having the courage to do that. So why do I feel so bad?
  17. Mitch Tuchman

    Four Ways to Secure a Comfortable Retirement

    Our son, Jack, who has a rare genetic disorder called Pitt Hopkins, is non-verbal. One day, he was in the bathtub and the water ran hotter than we expected - and no one noticed until Jack was writhing in pain. We didn't understand the severity of these burns at first, but the nurses who saw him did. They cared for him for two weeks as he recovered from third-degree burns. It was early on that I realized that as a nurse, you are on the front lines every day working selflessly to help your patients. Every nurse we have met as parents has been amazing, providing guidance and offering heartfelt support that got us through every broken bone and childhood sickness. Our children, as well as my wife and I, couldn't have made it without them. With all that they do for us, nurses too often are on their own when it comes to making retirement investment choices. In fact, as nursing education programs do not usually offer investment or finance classes, nurses are at a disadvantage when it comes to making these crucial long-term financial decisions. In confirming this finding, I reviewed a recent Fidelity study that surveyed 365 nurses of which 56 percent felt they lacked confidence when making financial decisions, and that includes investing for retirement. I work with many nurses and I see many parallels between being a good nurse and investing for a good retirement. When it comes to investing I think it's paramount to keep in mind the following: Two Hours To Learn Many people naturally assume that learning about investing is too time-consuming and so they don't get around to it. Ironically, being a successful investor is not about technique; mostly it's about understanding how to invest and avoid mistakes. Take the time to learn about where your money is going. There are easy-to-read investment handbooks like Burt Malkiel's The Elements of Investing that can help you learn the basics of finance and help you to be more informed so you can start to comfortably make decisions on your finances. Simple Is Better The best approach for the ordinary person trying to retire comfortably is to invest simply and conservatively. You can still invest in high quality assets while keeping costs low. Don't be too tricky with your choices and just let the markets do what they do. Evidence Based There are many investment schemes out there. I believe it best to dismiss the get-rich-quick schemes out there that over promise and under deliver; work only with investment professionals who provide evidence-based investing methods, and who keep your long term financial health in mind. "Do No Harm" Advisors Trust is key and when it comes to choosing the right advisor to help you manage your money, you need an advisor held to a "fiduciary standard." Advisors who are fiduciaries follow a "do not harm" approach and always put their client's best interest first, as opposed to financial advisors that work primarily off a commission based structure whose best interest are not aligned with your own. If you are like many of the nurses I've met - helping everyone except yourself - remember that like all of us, your golden years will soon be upon you. You must be sure to make the most of the money you save. Spend a little time, get smart about investing, and set yourself up for a great retirement. You might want to sip margaritas in Hawaii, go to a yoga retreat or help your grandkids get through college. Whatever your plans, you deserve a happy and prosperous retirement!
  18. judybsn

    Retirement Bliss

    Retirement, is something we dream about and look forward to for many years. I'm here to say it isn't really all it's cracked up to be. In fact for me it was quite miserable and resulted in depression, as absolutely nothing could fill the huge void that absence of nursing had left. I had liked the idea of retiring early at 55, it appealed to me. I was retired for a year and a half before I went running back to nursing. I think sometimes we underestimate how much our work does for us. We come home overtired and dream of a day when we no longer have to do the daily grind. When I retired I hadn't given much though to how I would thrive emotionally without the career which I had done since I was barely out of my teens. Because retirement is such a normative life event people are expected to adapt with little difficulty and to be happy about their new found freedom. Failure to adapt is seen as a personal failure, in spite of the fact that not everyone retires happily. Something rarely heard at those financial retirement seminars is that the road to happy retirement takes more than just wise financial planning. According to Zelinski in his book "How To Retire Happy, Wild and Free", every job (including low paying, low status jobs) provides 1) purpose, 2) structure and 3) community. Most jobs also provide a sense of self-worth, status, recognition, identity and a sense of challenge, achievement and personal growth. Understanding this can help clarify why retirement could potentially cause a crisis, if nothing is found to fill the void after the job is gone. Back to Zelinski's top three things that a job provides Purpose Playing golf or watching TV just won't be enough in the long run. There has to be something to live for, an over-riding purpose that gives meaning to life. Sometimes if you've been nursing for many years and have honed that skill to the exclusion of pursuing other aspects of your life, retirement can leave you feeling empty and quite lost. That being said, retirement is the perfect time to get in touch with the essence of who you are deep down inside. It gives you the freedom to pursue intellectual, creative or spiritual goals, and to self-actualize and grow as a person. This might involve going back to school, writing a book, becoming a nature photographer or artist, volunteering or maybe even going on mission trips and using your nursing skills there. It's a great time to do some of the things you've always dreamed of doing. Structure Humans are creatures of habit and we love structure. It is important to have some type of structure to hang the day on after retirement. Some ways of putting structure back into life could be to walk regularly for an hour every morning, take a course, volunteer, join a club or make a commitment to write for several hours every day. Some people structure their day around their favorite TV show or their work out at the gym. Community One of the things I missed the very most about work was the camaraderie with my co-workers. When I retired that built in community disappeared over night. Relationships don't just happen; they take time and effort to built. It is unrealistic to expect your family to step in and suddenly meet all your social needs. Too much time together with your partner can cause problems too. It is important to have a mix of solo and joint activities and to maintain a sense of individuality. No one wants someone clinging to them and following them everywhere they go. Each person needs their own interests, purpose and retirement identity. Sometimes it takes some time for couples to work out a happy balance in this regard. Having that purpose and identity to fall back on when work ends is crucial. People with no hobbies, interests or friends outside of work are left with a tremendous void when their work is gone. With nothing meaningful to do, retirement becomes like falling into space and the feeling of loss can become overwhelming. Planning is probably the most important thing that precedes successful retirement. Waiting for fate to show the way just doesn't work. The more one expects from retirement with no effort on their part, the more likely they are to be unhappy, bored and depressed. As you prepare to retire get involved in activities that give you a sense of purpose and meaning, find some key things to add structure to your days and look for social outlets and experiences that involve community and you will do well.
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