Stepping Beyond Your Comfort Zone by Robin Trimingham
Is your retirement starting to feel like a well-worn trail in which you move from one thing to the next and days become blurred to the point that you are not sure when you last changed the bedsheets, let alone what day it is? Or maybe you reading this from the comfort of your cozy office cubicle which has been home for the last ten years dreading the day that you have to give up your well established daily routine. Or maybe it’s three in the morning and you are surfing the web to avoid thinking about going to sleep alone for the first time in forty years.
No matter what point in the journey you find yourself, stepping out of your comfort zone, no matter how painful or uncomfortable it may seem initially is good for your mind, body, and soul. That may sound like a trite platitude if you are still desperately clinging to the remnants of a life that you knew for so long, so instead of cursing and moving on, go get pen and a blank notepad or a few sheets of paper and meet me back here in a couple of minutes. Yes, you could do this on your laptop, but scribbling helps curb anxiety so trust me and go find actual paper.
Still reading? Good.
Now … draw five vertical equally sized columns on the top page and head each of the columns with a day of the week placing Monday on the extreme left and (you guessed it) Friday on the extreme right. Next make a series of horizontal lines across the page to divide the columns into enough boxes to provide an hour for at least the eight hours from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Your mission now is to fill all the empty boxes with an activity of some sort so that when you are done, all of your time will be committed for eight hours a day from Monday to Friday. Those of you who are “over achievers” (you know who you are!) can extend your day to start as early as 5:00 am or as late as 10:00 pm. To be clear – in an ideal world, you “should” be sleeping from at least 11:00 pm to 5:00 am. I realize that this may be unrealistic for some of you at present, but if you are going to improve your sleeping habits you need to at least schedule time for it to happen.
Ok – back to the activities. Don’t freak out staring at a blank piece of paper. Start by filling in one hour a day for lunch. Yes, it can be the same time, in the same place every day (or not, you choose).
Got that? Good.
Now schedule at least one mid-morning coffee break, or afternoon tea break every day (or both if you are a keener) just as long as they are not in the same place as where you eat lunch!
Now do you have a dog that needs walking? Or a weekly personal grooming appointment? Do you do your grocery shopping daily or weekly? Do you have a yoga class or a gym membership that you attend at the same time every week? Fill all that stuff in.
Now for the stepping beyond your comfort zone part...
First, sit back and breathe. If you followed the steps above, you are now looking at a grid with some committed time and some un-committed time. Do you really want to be “on the go” all day every day; or would you like some free time, to read the news online, or experiment with new recipes, or learn to grow cactus? Fill those things in.
Now look at the remaining blank spaces and think about exactly how much of the remaining time you want to be filled, and make a note of the times of day or days of the week that most need attention.
Finally - take another sheet of paper and start making a list of things that you “could” schedule for the mornings and a separate list of things that you “might” schedule for the afternoon (yes scheduling a nap is ok provided that you have also scheduled something exerting earlier in the day that you would need a rest to recover from). Don’t worry whether the list is practical or silly for the time being – it’s just a list.
Don’t worry whether it takes you a day or a week to make the list – “working on the list” can become a daily activity until you complete your list! See how this works?
Lastly, realize that changing any habit takes about 6-12 weeks and making a transition from the work world to retirement is going to be a process. Having a schedule to get you up and going is a good way to take your mind off the things you would otherwise worry about. If you are used to deadlines and pressure and you like those things – plan big big projects. If you think of things you would rather being doing once you get yourself going – change your schedule (because guess what? It’s your life now and you can change anything you want).
By Robin Trimingham