You must always be able to predict what’s next and then have the flexibility to evolve. ~ M. Benioff
It is not every day you go into for a routine oil change and find yourself knee deep in a great conversation about the art of staying mentally flexible but that’s exactly that happened the other day. My car is a regular at the mechanic’s shop because I’m one of those ‘gotta change the oil every 3,000 miles’ types. On this glorious morning the errand was made all that much sweeter by my time with an older gentleman who looked to be about 70 and was, to put it mildly, a whole lot older then that. My encounter got me thinking and this week’s post is where I wound up.
In a survey done by Merrill Lynch and Age Wave (a research group), 47% of those who are currently retirement age state they are either working now or plan to be. Of this group, a huge 62% stated they were staying in the work force to say mentally active. Interestingly this same survey found that only 31% of those questioned were staying for financial reasons.
I might speculate about those who felt staying active in the work force for the mental stimulation was beneficial because you know, that’s what I do. In that wondering capacity I would wonder about their lives before their official retirement age. Lots of us see ourselves in terms of the work we do and those lives that intersect with ours as a result of our work; it’s no joke that some spend more hours with the people at the office than with their own families.
This brings us back to my morning conversation about staying flexible. After a long career at a well known company, my conversation partner left his position a bit earlier than he had originally slated. If you recall, we have lived through a number of recessions and this early departure happened in one of those dark times. Here’s the part which we can all learn from; recognizing that staying at home all day wasn’t going to work out too well and playing tennis all day wasn’t going to work either, it was time to come up with a Plan B. Except. Except that Plan B wasn’t really a ‘fit’ either.
Staying flexible meant moving on to Plan C. A wonderful, excellent fit. A Plan that you would have never guessed at 25 years ago. There is joy and gratitude in a Plan that works so well. There was a great deal of mutual admiration between all parties involved in this new Plan.
While it is surely tempting not to be flexible, both literally and figuratively, the end result is not pretty – you either won’t be able to tie your shoelaces or you won’t be willing to explore something new and perhaps really worthwhile. I will repeat to you what was told to me on Friday; you have to stay flexible, darling!
Are you staying flexible? Are you even trying? If you haven’t given it much thought perhaps now would be a good time to do just that ~ ask yourself when was the last time you tried something new or something out of your comfort zone? If you don’t know or found yourself scoffing at the notion can I suggest a huge red flag of warning has been raised in your direction? Flexible doesn’t mean you will like all that you try but it does mean the blows of change might not feel so overwhelming in the long run.
Wishing you all the flexibility in the world this week!