By the time we reach retirement age, we’ve seen and experienced much in life. These experiences might have left us jaded, disillusioned or even cynical about life and human nature.
We have also spent a lifetime chasing the illusory idea of certainty and predictability for the purpose of helping us to feel in control of our lives. Much of our working careers have been spent developing strategies, goals and the plans to help us achieve these. We believe in the power of logic and analysis. There is no room for ambiguity.
Yet, occasionally we get a fleeting glimpse of what we may call luck. I also call it the magic of life. Otherwise known as serendipity. As much as science worships at the alter of logic and reason, many of its discoveries can be attributed to serendipity. The history of science is peppered with such happenstance events; the discovery of penicillin, the microwave, the reliable Post-it note and if like me you are a lover of champagne, one of the finest results of serendipity!
If we take time to reflect on our lives, we may begin to see how people, places and events in our lives appeared as if by chance. However, these lucky events may seem rare. However, psychology confirms that we make our own luck and can create an environment for lady luck to call more often.
The number one rule in creating luck is to break out of routine, which is the enemy of serendipity. Cultivate a mindset that is open to unexpected surprises. Stop sleepwalking through life and consciously embrace unfamiliar situations, engage with equally unfamiliar people and ideas. Luck happens to people who not only go looking for it, but also expect to find it.
Think lucky and learn to look at situations differently through positive expectations. Perception is key and will go a long way in creating self-fulfilling prophecies. We get what we expect. Rekindle an interest in undirected play and experimentation, which is squeezed out of us as we grow up. Life is serious with no room for play, we are told. Occasionally listen to and follow your intuition and you will be surprised at what you might find.
Retirement, semi-retirement or a change of direction is that perfect time to cultivate more serendipity. We have the opportunity to create more calm in our lives, letting go of stress and anxiety that prevents us from hearing the quiet knock of serendipity. We can slow down and embrace a more flexible approach to life, gaining a more healthy perspective as to what is and isn’t important. We are more open to what is in front of us when we are relaxed.
Now is the time to take risks by doing things differently and changing old habits. Listen to the little voice and act on those impulses. What is the worst thing that can happen? Serendipity smiles on those with a more relaxed approach to life. Let go of anxiety or at least put it in perspective as it gives us tunnel vision.
There is some truth in the belief that older people are less flexible. As we get older, we become a lot more crystallized in our thinking and lose the openness and curiosity to life and others we had in our youth. However, it doesn’t need to be so. We have the freedom to change our attitude. There are no rigid rules of how we should behave or think as we get older. It is up to us to break the rules and create new ones.
Cultivate a fearlessness that encourages you to try something new or different. Instead of thinking of all the things that could go wrong, another symptom of getting older, be bold and give it a try.