The Best of Times, the Worst of Times

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.

Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

The past year’s been a challenge for many of us. Actually, make that the past two years. It’s often been said that the word crisis in Mandarin (危机) contains the characters for danger and opportunity — a claim that unfortunately turns out not to be true. People tend to react to crises like the COVID-19 pandemic in one of five different ways:

  • Succumbing — giving into despair and hopelessness
  • Kindling — over-reacting and thus worsening the problem
  • Suffering — negative feelings of persecution and victimization
  • Surviving — return to sub-optimal functioning; just getting by
  • Thriving — finding new meaning in life and growing stronger

We can’t control a lot of the crap that happens to us in life. But what we can control is our reaction to that crap. For me, this has been a great time for revisiting my coaching practice and changing its focus to working with retirees to help them build remarkable retirements. A lot of people are reinventing themselves and leaving old careers for new; some are retiring early and getting out of the rat race, others are postponing retirement. We’ve all been in what they call a liminal state: in between a world that didn’t know COVID-19 existed, and the coming world that sees the pandemic in the rear view mirror.

Are you taking advantage of this in-between time to look at where you’re going in light of where you’ve been, and make midcourse corrections — or even deciding to go in a different direction?

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