Planning For Transition by Brenda J. Thomas Ph.D.

We spend our lives planning for the future, sometimes life throws us a curve and we are forced to change the plan. During the early years of our career my husband and I spent our vacations exploring different cities that we felt might be good places for us to make our retirement home. Our goal was to find a place that had a warm climate, preferably a college town with a major league basketball team in driving distance from both our hometowns. After many years of searching we thought we had found the perfect place. Not only did it meet our desired criteria an added benefit of our selected city was we had good friends who already lived there!

With lots of excitement we spent most vacations visiting our intended future home city exploring everything it had to offer. We found the community we wanted to live in and purchased a lot on the lake. We toured the city museums and exhibits, attended concerts and sports events, famous restaurants, college theatre; you get the picture. We had found our little piece of retirement heaven.

Fast forward to our actual retirement and time for us to make the move to our new city. Life threw us a curve! We were forced to abandon our well thought out and researched retirement plan due to unforeseen family issues. What we envisioned as a smooth transition to a new city turned out to be a move filled with problems and frustrations. First there were legal issues that had to be resolved on the lot we purchased. Next the bottom fell out of the retail market in our area. Finally, we found serious structural problems in our home that required repair before we could put it on the market for sale.

As I reflect on my journey to my new city and home, I realize although it’s not what we had planned, it’s just right. Here are a few key learnings that I think are helpful to anyone who is confronted with transition.

Be flexible – No matter how thorough the planning, issues can arise that mean you have to pivot and develop a new plan.

Maintain a positive attitude – Always see the glass as half full. No matter how bad the situation it could always be worse. And it will be worse if all you see are the downsides!

Expect the unexpected – We can never anticipate everything, keep an open mind so you are able to respond to unforeseen occurrences.