So you’re retired now. You’ve finally reached those golden years at the end of that work-a-day rainbow. Hopefully these October Years are providing you with the time to pursue at least some of the dreams you dreamed on the way to this special place. But while it’s nice to have time for those things, I've heard some of our October peers complain of having too much time on their hands. That, in turn, leads to a different question---one we are sometimes reluctant to face. If you find yourself in that “too much time” space, whose job is it to make better use of the time left to you? (Of course, your plan may be to sit passively in front of your TV, waiting for those days to pass.)
Most of us have learned by now that an hour of June or July time is different than an hour of October time. After all, our world has changed. Our expectations are different. We have new goals to strive for. Our capabilities have probably retreated a bit, perhaps more than a bit. In light of all that why should we expect the same old “going to work” and “raising a family” answers to work now?
Hopefully we learned along the way that when our circumstances change, we must adapt---our responses need to reflect our new reality. I’ll bet you used that logic in your career, your parenting, and your relationships. Well surprise--it also applies in retirement. We are finding that October is a sometimes unfamiliar world, with new rules and new challenges. If ever there was a time to trust our instincts, this is it.
I can think of times when I faced the need to “adapt.” Perhaps you too have found yourself in that space---knowing that the old ways weren’t as effective as they used to be, but unsure how to change them. Truth be told, I’ve probably spent more time than most people focusing on October problems. After all, each of my nine Tanner Chronicles novels deals with one or more of those late-life challenges---situations that I've lived with for weeks, even months as I created the story.
There have been times when I’ve gone to bed feeling so pleased with how a new story idea had come together, how it said exactly what I wanted to say. But how often, when I revisited my efforts the next morning, did it seem the logic I was trying to illustrate had vanished? Something had changed, but I wasn’t sure what. Then, quite by surprise, I stumbled onto what promises to be a new, more accountable sort of “change agent.”
I have included the following disclaimer before in the course of my blogging. I am neither competent nor qualified to be a literary reviewer. So when I mention a book (other than my own) it is because its message has touched me personally. In this case the book I am referring to, the “change agent” I mentioned above, is T D Jakes’ latest title---Instinct.
I was taken by Jakes’ way of addressing the notion of change---at any time of life, even retirement. The change he writes about is not an “off-the-shelf,” “one-size-fits-all” process. Instead, he stresses the uniquely personal nature of change. To be successful it must focus on the individual---taking into account his or her history, preferences, capabilities, expectations, and perhaps surprisingly---his or her instincts. All that, of course, requires serious self-examination, something most of us resist. Yet, without a thorough understanding of what makes us the person we are, how can we expect to create change?
For some people, of course, T D Jakes’ reputation will precede him. He is, after all, a very successful mega-church pastor who often writes on Christian topics. For some that is a red flag. My take on such concerns is pretty simple. If you disagree with Jakes’ treatment of change, and role of instinct in that process, I assure you it won’t be because he has turned his case into a religious rant. There is nothing remotely like a sermon in the whole book---just his straight-forward explanation of the many ways instinct impacts change, or the lack of change.
We who live in an October world know the truth of it---change is inevitable. We can choose to play a part in directing our own change, or simply sit on the sidelines and accept whatever change comes our way. If you decide that you want a voice in the matter, you might consider T D Jakes’ reasons for relying on your own instincts to plot your course toward a new, more age appropriate you.