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by Donna Bennett
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Grit and Gratitude: Moving to a New Phase of Life

Thresholds. Transitions. Transformations. Moving into a new phase of life calls for courage, guidance, sustenance, and more. Some call it having "true grit." Life beyond career used to be all laid out for us. We followed those who went before - parents, grandparents, and great grandparents. As a society, we ended our careers by stepping out of one way of life and into another. Like it or not, the majority followed the societal course. They left work behind, and replaced it with leisure. It was the way to retire.

Society, however, is shifting and changing in the wake of the Baby Boomers. As Boomers have changed the course of society in each stage of their human development, they also demand a new way to "retire." The old model no longer works. Careers are phased out, rather than ended, and people now look for ways to recycle their personal gifts and resources.

The new retirement has no rules. For one, it is no longer called retirement. Rather, it is more current to use titles such as encore careers, the second half of life, and similar versions that are a better fit. With no rules or precedence to guide us, we must create our own way. So, now there are options. We can do what we want with the life we have left. Where to begin?

There are many valued resources available, but one we often overlook in the process of transition is gratitude. Feeling rudderless, filled with doubt and fear, we typically focus on things outside ourselves and forget to look within. Giving gratitude is one way to do that. It can help us refocus, work out some of the stress, and see things in a new light.

Begin by taking time to look back at your career, your activities, and your relationships. Uncover the places for gratitude. This can be both a humbling and rewarding experience. Find a journal or a notebook and write your answers to the following questions:

What has worked for you in the past? What were your successes, your accomplishments? What gave you energy and a feeling of purpose and worth? Who did you learn from? Who learned from you? How was that learning applied? How did you recover from setbacks, disappointments, and change? What processes did you follow that, looking back, worked well for you? What were you proud of? Where did you receive support? What surprised you about yourself? What do you do naturally that serves you as a strength? If you were to ask five people across the spectrum of your life, what would they say you are consistently known for?

With your gratitude list in tow, revisit any doubt or fear you have about entering a new, unknown phase of life. Your doubt and your list will both serve you. One gives you the grit to stay on edge and focused. The other reminds you to operate from a place of gratitude.

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