Addicts who hit rock bottom often turn to 12 Step programs to begin their recovery and to turn their lives around. They seek new beginnings and ways to find meaning and purpose in their lives. They must learn how to how to live without drinking and how to exist in a world where others still drink.
You may be surprised by the parallels between retirees and those in recovery. After losing their work identity, retirees must also seek new beginnings and find ways to create meaning and purpose in their lives. They must adjust to not working and being around others who still are working. Retirees, like recovering addicts, may feel adrift, isolated, confused, angry, and depressed. They may feel like their life is over, and in some ways it is. Both addicts and retirees are about to begin the process of leaving their old lives behind and reinventing themselves.
Just as Alcoholics Anonymous has a step-by-step program to transform your identity and transition to a new way of life, What’s Next for Boomers? has a step-by-step process to do the same with regards to retirement. Part of that process is knowing your values.
Step four in the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous says “Made a fearless and searching moral inventory of ourselves.” This is one of the most difficult, yet most rewarding, steps in the process of recovery. Most of us do not truly know ourselves. We rarely stop long enough to examine our strengths, weaknesses, and identify opportunities for growth. We have only a vague sense of the values that drive our behaviors. We have been neither fearless nor searching in our examination of ourselves to determine what values we have and what values we wish to acquire. Many of us are secretly afraid that despite all our accomplishments and acquisitions, we have little worth and we are morally bankrupt.
For most of us, only a major life event (retirement) or crisis (hitting bottom) initiates this searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. Knowing our old way of life is gone, we have no choice but to examine who we are, who we want to become, and to begin to shape our future.
Here are a few questions to help you determine your values and begin a personal inventory:
For additional information on conducting a personal inventory, processing that information, and discovering your existing and aspirational values, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will send you a free step-by-step guide.