Retirement is a heroic journey. Really. Â It has all the elements of the classic heroic journey, although the story plays out differently for each person. Â The heroic journey is the story that cultures throughout time have used to teach their members how to create or renew a life, a community or an organization. Â An individual life is made up of a series of heroic journeys of which retirement is one of the most important. Â Other journeys can be precipitated by a new job or career, losing a job, marriage or divorce, the death of a loved one, the birth of children, injury or illness, graduation from school, a move to a new community, etc.
Some journeys we initiate and some we don’t ask for, but blunder into or get thrown into. Â Some are small and others are big and very challenging. Â Some are very directed and some involve a lot of wandering.
Retirement, like all heroic journeys involves leaving a known world and going forth to meet a set of challenges. Â Engaging those challenges is the way that we grow and become more whole – more mature and complete as people. Â Those challenges are unique to each individual, but can be placed in five categories:
1. Â Be the author of the experience and not the victim – even if starting out having been victimized.
2. Â Let go of certain things – from roles and identity to relationships, habits and aspects of a life style.
3. Â Discover and master new ways of being to replace what is ending and take advantage of opportunities that may open up
4. Â Deal with “inbetweenity” – the strange land in between endings and beginnings, which can be both unsettling and exciting
5. Â ManageÂ with the “ripple effects” of the changes of retirement (impact on family, friends, groups) and realign all the elements of a life that have been altered
“PIES” – The four levels of challenge. Heroic journeys, like retirement, can test us physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. Â Different journeys will test us in different ways. Â Some retirement journeys will involve more physical challenges or emotional tests. Â Others will be more intellectually or spiritually challenging. Â Retirement is the kind of journey that has the potential to be very challenging in all four areas.
Next: Â Challenge #1 – Be the Author