I was talking to an old friend the other day, and he was feeling very low. He’s in his mid-sixties, not quite retired, single, and was a victim of the employment upheavals of the past few years – “downsized”, and now under-employed in a low paying job outside of his field of expertise. Never one to complain or even talk about himself much, he admitted to being worried about what the rest of his life would look like.
I suddenly realized that the tried and true responses need a little editing when it comes to the many folks in this position. For years, we have looked to the future as being limitless, full of possibilities and wonderful new opportunities. But now, things have changed. In a practical sense, few of us are likely to have dream jobs dropped in our lap, and our visions of world travel and adventure may be unrealistic. How do we adjust our expectations without “giving up” or wallowing in self pity?
I don’t have answers, except to offer what is beginning to work for me. Sounds like a platitude, but I think we need to dream different dreams. In many cases, the old ones may not look as wonderful as they once did – I really don’t want to be the resident grandma in a children’s foster care group home (one of my dreams for retirement) after all. Maybe my friend will find that he truly likes living alone, instead of wistfully looking for Mrs. Right.
What do we want that is attainable and still exciting? How does a perfect day look from our new vantage point? For me, I think it is at least partly facilitating a forum for communication and new ideas – hence Spokane Boomers. For my friend, it just might be taking some classes to hone his writing skills and starting that book that has been noodling around in his head – and maybe meeting a muse in the process.
How do you see your future? Or even the next few months?