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One of our readers responded to our post about successful retirement with a tale of woe. Her life has not worked out as she would have hoped. Marriage, financial plans and retirement do not appear to be lining up as she had expected. She asked if she was a hopeless case, but longed to hear that perhaps she was not.

The path on which we start is often not the one on which we end. We come out of school to a career we end up hating. We begin a marriage which ends on a sour note. We raise children who do not appear to appreciate us. We invest money into things which do not provide the pleasure or reward we had hoped for. So now what?

Do we climb into bed and just sleep it away? One of my college teammates used long-term sleeping as a coping mechanism when things just weren’t going right. I am sure her life worked out fine in the long run, but in the short run I really did not see how this method advanced her quest to improve her situation.

The greatest successes I have seen adjusting to unfortunate circumstances seem to have followed the steps outlined here:

  1. First, wallow deeply in self-pity, but for a set period of time. Kick, punch, throw, scream, cry and get it all out. If you are a golfer or play tennis go out and whack some balls and consider a nice “auummm” with each strike to release some extra tension.
  2. Second, become familiar with all the varieties of Bens and Jerrys you can find. There are sugar free options for diabetics, low fat options for those with cholesterol issues and flavors for all pallets. It is during this stage that we get to have a really nice pity party. Again, set a time frame to stay on track.
  3. Now we are ready to put on our armor of discipline and begin to address where we stand. It is here that we need to assess what is left, not what has been lost. What financial resources do we have? How is our health? Are we pursuing a career we love? What can we do to feel good again?
  4. Last, we need to create a plan of action. If we are living beyond our means we need to stop doing that. If we are acting against our own best interests (read taking self-destructive actions) we need to take ourselves in hand and establish some ground rules. This is the stage where we either succeed or fail, this is where our discipline either creates structure or we do self-destruct.

Determining what we have, what we need and how best to reach our goals become daily challenges, but ones we can achieve. We need to listen carefully for the advice that is whispered on the wind around us. We all know what to do. We each have resources for the details we need to achieve our objectives. We just need to reach for the courage and the wisdom that we have embedded deeply within ourselves.

If you would like assistance in making a plan, contact us at Czajkowski Dumpel & Associates – We always have some Ben & Jerry’s!