We have spent a lot of time over the last year encouraging everyone who follows olderhood.com to get up and make changes in their lives. We have offered advice on everything from pension structures to selling your family home to improving your diet.
Throughout all of this we have been your cheerful, well informed cheer leaders; urging and supporting and constantly saying “You can do this”. But what we have not discussed up to this point is managing the change itself.
I remember calling to check on one of my girlfriends on moving day. She had sold her house and was moving to Florida and she had her retired fireman friend there to assist, so I wasn’t really concerned …
Boy was I wrong.
At three in the afternoon I discovered that they had had a falling out. He was sulking in the garage and she was sitting cross legged on the living room floor amid a pile of mismatched shoes.
As funny as it was to see them pouting like children, it was also tragic. They had left everything that needed to be done until the last day and were both exhausted and overwhelmed. I perked them up with a bit of vodka and key lime pie, and frantically shoved piles of stuff into boxes while they recovered. They finally made it out the door around 10:00 pm to start a 2000 mile drive in a rented truck that they had decided to drive themselves.
As much as this tale of woe is about moving, the lesson here is universal: Recognize that you are not sixteen any more. Change is exhausting and time consuming and requires a manageable plan.
It really doesn’t matter whether you are contemplating selling your house, going on a long trip, starting a new home business or looking after grandchildren on weekdays. Life as you know it is going to be permanently changed – you are going to be more exhausted than you expect and all the other things in your life (like the grocery shopping or fixing the toilet) are still going to have to get done. You are going to have to look at all the things that you usually do (or don’t do if you are a couch potato) and re-evaluate how you are spending your time.
Start by making a chart of how you typically spend your day, or your week depending on what you are going to change. Now take a hard look at what you have written day and think about your situation.
Can you realistically put an infant crib in the spare bedroom on your second floor if you normally only go up and down stairs once a day? Can you move from a house to a condo without having a yard sale to de-clutter? Is watching seven hours of television a day really good for you?
How long is it going to take you to transition from your daily life now, to the change in your life that you are going to make? Think it through calmly and then make a plan working backwards from “you in your new situation” to you sitting at the kitchen table with your chart. Now make a list of everything you need to do and then look at it again tomorrow to see if you missed anything. Don’t worry if the list is long, or in some way scary – just stick to your plan and start marking things off as you complete your steps.
You can do this and Bill and I are here to cheer you on!