External Changes
At the beginning of the 21st Century we have become familiar with the concept of change. A lot of our conversations both at home and at work are focussed on how physical things have changed over the last five, ten, fifteen years or longer. We have grown to realise that our social and physical environment will change whether we accept it, resist it or simply dislike it.

Personal Changes.
From the moment we are born we start to experience personal change and development. It is part of the common human condition. Shakespeare identified The Seven Stages of Man in As You Like It :
The infant, the schoolboy, the lover, a soldier, the justice, the lean and slippered pantaloon, and the final stage sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything. www.uvic.ca/shakespeare/Library/SLT/life/lifesubj+1.htm
A few centuries later Freud decided that there were different stages in human psychological development. This idea was taken up by Erik Erikson who found that there were eight stages - each of which had a specific task and developed its own characteristics. A detailed description of Erikson's work can be found at: www.ship.edu/~cgboeree/erikson.html
Even these periods of life are changing in themselves. For many there appears to have emerged a stage between adolescence and maturity where the 'student' lifestyle, post school and college, continues. (The average woman in the UK has her first child at 30. About 30% of men are living at home at the same age.) At the other end of life Erikson's 8th Stage is disputed in that the middle adult period can extend to 80 and beyond before the last stage begins.
Other changes in an individualís life may be quicker and unplanned, triggering deeper emotional reactions.

The Schedule of Recent Life Experiences or Social Readjustment Scale, invented by Holmes and Rahe, records the stress value of life changes. It is used by American insurance companies to estimate the amount of stress an individual has experienced in the previous year before deciding whether to provide medical insurance cover. The greater the number of points accrued the greater the risk of a serious health problem and the higher the medical insurance premium. There is no difference between happy and sad events for these purposes - they each carry their stress points. At the top of the scale is the death of a spouse which rates 100. Retirement is worth 45 which is below marriage = 50 and Divorce = 73, but above pregnancy which is worth 40. At the bottom is the Christmas season which rates 12 and holidays which rate 13.

HOLMES-RAHE SCALE (Holmes and Rahe 1967.)



The Coping with Change Model, was developed for the former UK Health Education Authority and analyses the emotional content of a life event and provides an insight in to what is occurring during the experience.

An individual can experience all or some emotions with varying intensity. The length of time for which they are felt also varies from individual to individual. Most common feelings are shock, euphoria, anger, guilt and self doubt. These feelings usually pass with time but in some circumstances self doubt can lead to depression. Particular emphasis is paid to the later phases of gradual acceptance and letting go. Letting go is essential before the next phase of life can progress. Letting go, after retirement, can be particularly difficult for those who have always been employed and have established their lives around work.

Shock                                                                                                                     Transition complete


                    Searching                                                                              Letting go   


                                             Guilt                                         Gradual acceptance

                                    Self doubt



The Transition Model was created by William Bridges after working with people who experienced difficulty with divorce, redundancy, career change, etc. His model demonstrates how a Life Event starts with an Ending which is also an opportunity.

It moves through a period of Neutrality which is an unproductive period but allows time for recuperation and reassessment while the inner self adjusts to the new circumstances. The Beginning is the start of new activity after the self has overcome the effects of the Life Event. You can find a detailed analysis of the Transition process on: www.colostate.edu/Depts/CoopExt/PUBS/CONSUMER/10214.html

Consider, alone, a life event that you have experienced and assess how you coped with it at the time. Without disclosing details of the event, discuss with a partner, techniques or behaviour that you used then for letting go. Then discuss, with the knowledge of that experience, how you will manage the Letting Go process after retirement


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