How to Make a Fresh Start

Fresh start
Is your retirement in the doldrums?  Do you sometimes wish you'd never retired at all and feel that your life has taken a downward turn since the day you left your job?  Do you wish you could start your retirement over again - and make a better job of it this time?

Sometimes, you've been looking forward to retirement for so long, that you blow it.  Completely.  

Let me explain.

When you looked ahead to your retirement, you saw the opportunity to chill out, spending leisurely mornings with coffee and the paper bed and, finally, doing only the things you really wanted to do (after a lifetime of doing what your bosses wanted you to do).

So, when retirement arrived, you did just that. You chilled, you read the paper and you watched a lot of TV (or played a lot of golf).  And, even though a niggling voice somewhere inside yourself was telling you that there must be more to retirement than this, you ignored it in favour of 'just a few more days of relaxation'.  Which was followed by 'just a few more days...' until, before you knew it, a couple of years had passed, you'd piled on the pounds from all that sitting around, lost contact with 90% of the people you knew and your world had shrunk to the size of your living room.

Okay, so you’ve thrown your hands up in the air and declared that something must change. You’re ready for a fresh start. While your current situation may be challenging, the intention of making a fresh start is a good sign. It’s much better than giving up and resigning yourself to watching daytime TV for the rest of your life!

What do you need to change? Is it just one area of your life or do you need a complete makeover?

You can make a fresh start in any area of your life:

  1. Home. Consider giving your living arrangements a makeover. You could move to a new home or change your existing home. Move the furniture or purchase new stuff. Paint the walls a new colour. Convert a spare room into a room with a purpose. It could be dedicated to music, arts and crafts, or meditation.

  2. Finances. Create a budget. Get a retirement job. Talk to a financial advisor. Start an online business. Address your debt. Start offering a service that people need. Look at your current financial challenges and finally address them with a detailed, step-by-step plan you can stick to.

  3. Social life. It’s time to say goodbye to the people in your life that drag you down and replace them with those that provide a boost to your life. Meet some new friends and try a few new social activities. Work on your dating skills and catch the partner of your dreams.

  4. Health and body. Hire a personal trainer or join a gym. Find a diet that works for you. Address any health issues you might have. Visit the doctor and the dentist. Try a new sport. Just get out and move your body!

  5. Belief structure. Investigate a new religion or philosophy. Learn how to meditate. Question your beliefs and find a purpose. Read a good book each month and apply what you learn.

These are just a few ideas. You can also address your current relationships, attitude, or fears. It isn’t necessary to change everything at once. In fact, addressing one area at a time will yield better results.

Useful tips for changing your life:

  1. Develop systems that support your desired change. For instance, if you want to meditate daily, create a schedule that ensures you’ll be compliant. Use a timer so you won’t worry about spending too much time or falling asleep.

  2. Visualize the change. See yourself with a healthy body or bank account. Allow yourself to feel successful and proud. Project yourself into the future and enjoy the changes you’ve made.

  3. Be willing to fail from time to time. It’s not easy to change. In fact, your brain is highly resistant to change. You’re doing well enough to be alive, and that’s good enough for your brain. It views any change as potentially dangerous, so it’s not going to allow you to change easily. Expect that you’ll struggle during the process.

  4. Commit to persevering. Make sure that you succeed.

  5. Be kind to yourself. Celebrate each victory, no matter how small. Give yourself a pat on the back when you deserve it. Any progress is great news, so enjoy it.

The decision to make a fresh start can be daunting - especially when we're not as young as we used to be. If you're not happy with the way things are, it's never too late to try something different. Before you do anything irreversible, however, just give careful thought to the changes you want to make. It’s a mistake to believe that any change is a good change. There are many changes you could experience that are worse than your current situation. Make conscious decisions rather than clinging to the first log that floats by.

Making a fresh start can result in a new and exciting experience. Aim high and be diligent. You’ll be glad you did.


Buy Less and Be Happier!

No stuffThe notion of buying less and being happier runs contrary to the more popular concept of 'more (and bigger) is better'. As more and more people become disillusioned with all their 'stuff', the idea that buying less can actually make you happier is beginning to take hold. (And, let's face it, with what's happened to pensions and interest rates over the last few years, some retirees just don't have a choice!) 

Here are some suggestions on how you can buy less and be happier:

1. Distinguish between needs and wants. Before making a purchase, ask yourself why you're buying it. How will your life be better with that particular item in your home? Can you afford it? Does it have a practical use?

2. Spend time, not money, with your family and friends. This is the key to being happier with buying less - you will cultivate more meaningful relationships instead of spending money on stuff. Think in terms of relationships, not things. This may require a shift in priorities and, for some, may mean learning to put people ahead of material items. If you accomplish this, life will be much more fulfilling.

3. Learn (or relearn) to refurbish and fix used items, and learn to create and build. Often, these times of creativity can also be times when you come together with friends and family to get a job done. In other words, DIY can help you be happier! 

4. Pay cash or write a cheque whenever you buy something. This is a safeguard against debt, which is, of course, one of the biggest robbers of happiness there is. You'll be much happier buying less if you can also look at it as way of incurring less debt.

5. Change your perspective about the role of stuff in your life. Think about the big picture before making purchases - will owning this item make me a better person? If I buy this electronic gizmo, will the world (or even just MY world!) be the better for it?

6. Take time to find out what true happiness means to you. When you're not trying to fill some imagined void with material things, it gives you some breathing room to figure out just what makes you tick. Accumulating stuff is probably not what really makes you happy. Dig deep and learn something about yourself. Keep a journal, meditate, spend time alone...

When you begin to cultivate relationships instead of buying more and more stuff, you might just find that you become much happier.


If you're due to retire in the near future, my free eCourse, The 6 Stages of Retirement, will give you a birds-eye view of the retirement process so you know what to expect. It includes a list of the major pitfalls at every stage of the process and self-coaching questions to help you avoid those pitfalls...

Coping strategies for when an elderly parent moves in with you

It can be really hard to cope when you have an elderly parent move in with you. Even if you're fortunate enough to have separate quarters for your aging parent, it's still stressful. For those who have their parent move into a small home that already has little room, it can seem like torture.

What can you do to cope? Here are some tips that may help.

Respite Care

'Respite care' basically means that you get someone to take over while you get some respite. Depending on your aging parent's needs, you may need this daily, weekly, or monthly; but it can be a great relief to have someone else step in for a while.

You can employ a professional caregiver or a trusted friend, once again depending on your parent's level of care. However, experts agree that you should always ask for references before leaving someone alone with your parent.

Find a Creative Outlet

Maybe you could take a dance class, or spend an hour or two each week writing or drawing. Maybe you like making jewelry. Try to find something that you enjoy and make a point of engaging in it regularly. Here are some other ideas:

1.   Start a blog. It doesn't have to be about your experiences with your aging parent (although it certainly could be); it could be a stargazer's blog, or an outlet for humorous writing. Maybe you want to showcase your photography or poetry. Blogs can act as an online journal.

2.  Join a Yoga, Pilates, or belly-dancing class.  Or take up pottery and work out your frustrations on a lump of clay!

3.  Let Go of the Guilt.  You may need counseling to help you with this one, but experts agree that many older children feel guilty about their aging parents' situations. It's natural to feel guilty, but it can be detrimental if you live in the guilt and beat yourself up all the time. Forgive yourself for not having the perfect solutions (no one does), and recognize that you're just doing the best you can.

4.  Find a Support Group.  Connecting with others who are in similar situations can be a wonderful coping mechanism. Such groups can also be excellent resources for other forms of help, such as respite caregivers.

5.  Listen.  If your parent's mental capacity will allow it, take time to talk to and listen to them. Ask your dad how he feels about living with you, and listen to his answers. Ask your mother about what she's thinking about being in your house. Really listen to their concerns and be sympathetic to their situation. They may not want to be burdening you at all, and may have their own sense of guilt about what's going on.

As you talk and listen, you can hopefully work out some 'ground rules' too (again, depending on your parent's mental capacity). Boundaries are important in all areas of life, but they're particularly important when you have to share time, resources, and space with another person.