When astronauts return from earth’s orbit to the constraints of our planet’s atmosphere, they face a fascinating re-entry. After surviving that intense moment of re-entering the atmosphere, they must learn to adjust to the forces of gravity on their bodies. To life back with their families. To driving. To life on earth.
But astronauts are not alone. We all face various moments of “re-entry” in our lives, those periods where things change and we’re forced to adjust to our new reality. Some are big and some are small, but it’s always helpful to go through life with a plan for dealing with the inevitable change that life brings.
Life is about making adjustments.
- School to work.
- Single to married.
I’m making an adjustment as I write these words. I suspect we all are.
Today, some thoughts on making adjustments as life continues to evolve around us.Life is all about making adjustments. I'm going through one as I write these words. Lessons learned from my latest Re-Entry... Click To Tweet
Last week, in How To RV in Retirement, I mentioned that we had just returned from The Great Escape, a one-month RV trip to Michigan’s Upper Penisula. What I failed to mention was the realities of adjusting to the “RV Life”, and then back to the “Home Life” upon our return. Maybe not as big a change as an astronaut, but an adjustment nonetheless. It’s an interesting experience, and there are some lessons we can all learn from the adaptations we make on both the “outbound” and “inbound” leg.
Some adjustments are self-imposed and minor, like the one I’m currently experiencing during my Re-Entry.
Others are imposed upon us and major, like the many life-changing adjustments we’re all making due to COVID.
Regardless of how we came to face our “Re-Entry” situation, life is full of situations that require us to adapt, adjust and “re-enter” our new reality.
Figuring out how to do it well is a key tool in our toolbox for a successful life.
How I’m Managing My Current Re-Entry
For the past month, my routine has been anything but “normal”. RV’ing has a way of doing that, and it’s good for the soul. Hopefully, I’ve learned a few things during my adjustments that you can adapt and apply to whatever situation you’re currently facing.
First, we should recognize that change is good. We all need to shake things up from time to time. There’s something refreshing about creating a change in our routines. To force adjustments. To view things differently. The Great Escape accomplished those things for me, and it was a welcomed break. It’s one of the main reasons we embrace the RV lifestyle in retirement – it forces change to our routines. Even if your re-entry was imposed upon you, there’s value in maintaining a positive attitude as you work your way through the many adjustments you’ll face in life. Perhaps your “imposed change” will lead to something better in your life.
Change is good. Embrace it.
TIP: Seek out opportunities to embrace the inevitable changes in your life. Routine is boring, change is good.
During the first few days of an RV “outing”, my wife and I are a bit off-kilter. Our “Home Routine” has changed and we haven’t yet adapted to the new one. It’s a reality that even the dogs seem to realize. Things are different. It’s stressful, in spite of the reality that we’re heading out with excitement on a new RV journey. It’s a strange feeling, but we’ve both learned to embrace it, be patient, and allow a few days for our “re-entry” to our new reality. Within 5 days, we’re settled into our new routines and life returns to a new “stable”. With a minor change, only 5 days are required. For some of life’s big changes, months (years?) are often required to complete your re-entry process.
TIP: Be patient, maintain a positive attitude, and find things you enjoy in the change. Give the adjustment time to happen.
Finding things you enjoy – an example: During our “Home Life”, classes at the local gym are a major part of my daily routine. I’ve found a focus on fitness to be one of my true joys in retirement, it means a lot to me. Obviously, during our “RV Life” this reality evaporates (not to mention the 2-month closure of the gym during COVID). I miss Spin Class, but I don’t obsess about it. Instead, I embrace the challenge of finding new ways to exercise. My wife and I treasure our hikes with the dogs in new locales (we love camping in the State Parks due to their many hiking trails). We intentionally book campsites near lakes so I can experience swimming in different water. I strap my mountain bike on the back of the RV and enjoy seeking out new trails to explore. We’ve tried everything to find new ways to weave fitness into our RV lifestyle, and we’ve found a few that “stick”.
TIP: If you’re struggling with a change, continually try new things as you work through the adjustment.
Speaking of swimming, it’s become a joy of mine in the past few years. After being seduced by The Serpentine Swimming Club, I joined them for an outdoor London swim on a chilly 33° morning in November 2016. (If you’re interested in what a “Re-Entry” adjustment to really cold water feels like, you’ll have to check out that link. Those tremors are truly
horrible wonderful.) I’ve used Cold Water Swimming as a personal challenge, and it helps me as I adjust with other re-entry adjustments in my life. When adjusting to the RV Life on our recent trip, for example, I looked forward to knowing that Lake Superior was waiting for me.
She did not disappoint.
Below is a photo taken just prior to my first swim in Lake Superior. I loved it so much, I repeated the swim a mere 18 hours later. Lake Superior’s cool clear water is something amazing to behold. In 10′ of water, the bottom looked close enough to touch. Beautiful (and cold) water!
As a (hopefully) interesting side note, it’s fun to find a way to document your accomplishments. As my ability to explore distant lakes has become a reality in retirement, I’ve started collecting rocks at the completion of each new swim. Looking at my growing “collection” is a fun way to relive the experience, and I’d encourage you to find unique ways to reward your achievements in retirement. (You’ll see Lake Superior’s rock in the lower right of the pic):
Oddly, the re-entry back to “Home Life” is more stressful than the adjustment required when we first hit the road. The feeling of pulling back into our driveway creates a sense of stress as we think about all the things that need to be done. The re-entry has been similar on the return from every RV trip, and I’m becoming familiar with the feeling.
The grass is out of control. Those weeds around our firepit have taken over. I’m WAAAYYY behind on managing this blog due to the month-long sabbatical. We have a list of things to do, and it seems to have grown out of control in our absence.
TIP: Prioritize the tasks most important for your re-entry. Don’t get overwhelmed, just focus on tackling a few things each day, starting with those which are creating the most stress. Give yourself time to work through the backlog.
So…What Does This Have To Do With You?
I’ll be the first to admit that my example of the RV Lifestyle is a MINOR adjustment in life. However, I believe that having a process to manage change can be beneficial to almost any change you’re going through in life and that the tips provided in today’s post can help with whatever re-entry adjustment you’re facing.
Let’s look at one that has impacted all of us, COVID. No one has avoided it’s impact, right?
So, let’s have a look at how these tips could help someone deal with the changes brought about by COVID. Pulling from the tips summarized above:
- Seek out opportunities to embrace the inevitable changes in your life. Routine is boring. Let’s face it, we’re stuck with this thing for a while, so don’t fight it. Find a way to embrace it. You’re able to avoid that commute and work from home? Hooray! (I bet you’re not looking forward to resuming that commute when this is over, right?). Find a way to embrace the change, whatever that looks like for you.
- Be patient, maintain a positive attitude, and find things you enjoy in the change. Give the adjustment time to happen. Do you remember when the COVID shutdowns first hit? It feels a lot different now than it did then, right? You’ve made adjustments and life has gone on. I hope you’ve found the extra time with family to be something you now cherish. It’s possible to find something you enjoy with almost any change, some just require you to look harder than others.
- If you’re struggling with a change, continually try new things as you work through the adjustment. I’ve heard from a lot of readers who have struggled with their retirement in the midst of COVID. That’s certainly understandable. Travel plans abandoned. Family visits canceled, etc. The adjustment to retirement is hard in “normal” times, and I have deep empathy for those who have been forced into an unplanned retirement earlier than planned. However, the advice to “continually try new things” rings true as a valid approach to deal with the situation. Sure, it’s not enough to solve all of your problems, but it certainly isn’t going to hurt. I’ve been asked by several of you to write a post about retirement in the midst of COVID, and it’s in my hopper for potential posts. Stay tuned.
- Create challenges that provide a sense of accomplishment in your new reality. Find a way to push yourself to accomplish something new. Focus on the positives, not the negatives. I’ve heard from many folks about the “To-Do list” items they’ve been able to complete due to COVID. That landscaping project you’ve been wanting to complete? Done. Pat yourself on the back. You took a bad situation and you found a way to accomplish something in spite of the negative circumstances. Felt good, didn’t it?
Before we know it, COVID will (hopefully) be a thing of the past, and we’ll be undergoing yet another re-entry into a new Post-COVID world. While many have enjoyed the ability to work from home these past months, at some point, there will be an inevitable reality that some time will have to be spent in the office. Those commutes were easy to let go, and they’ll be very hard to adjust to in the new re-entry. I’ve got to say, I’m thankful I’m retired and won’t have to deal with that adjustment.
Change will never stop.
It’s up to us to find ways to ease the transitions life will continue to bring.
I realize many people are making some very difficult re-entry adjustments in life, and my RV example is far from the best analogy to discuss how to deal with a major change in your life. Regardless, it’s something that I’m going through as I write these words, and I think it does have wider application for you in whatever situation you’re facing.
I feel deep empathy for those who are facing severe hardship from our current COVID situation. My heart breaks for a friend’s wife who recently found herself widowed, shortly after her husband’s retirement. My Dad has been locked down in his assisted living facility since March. I know my tips are insufficient to address these many deep wounds.
When you’re facing change, especially hard change, you’ve got to do something. You’ve got to find a way to manage your Re-Entry. The only thing constant is change, and it’s not going to stop anytime soon. Hopefully, you can find something in these tips that’s useful for your situation. Continually seek solutions. Learning to manage change, no matter how severe, is something we all need to get better at. So, let’s leverage this blog to help each other out. For that, I’m asking for your help:
Your Turn: What tips can you share about how you’ve learned to manage change in your life? When faced with serious change, what have you found helpful to deal with the situation? Let’s chat in the comments…