When I retired I took a dog grooming course – because I wanted to challenge myself by doing something completely different, and (of course!) because I’m a dog lover. I really enjoyed the dog contact, but by the end of the course I was still feeling inadequate to the task of grooming them.
So instead of going further with grooming training, I decided to look for practical experience in a salon, washing dogs and preparing them for grooming.
Luckily my local salon happened to need help one day a week for a few weeks.
It’s a funny thing though. When I was struggling to learn to groom dogs, the prepping side seemed easy. Once prepping was my “job”, it didn’t seem so straightforward. Once again, I felt inadequate!
It got me thinking about how easy it is to lose confidence when you leave behind your career, perhaps the one area in which you really know what you’re doing.
I spent years building up my skills and became a pretty decent lawyer. But now I’m trying to do completely new things, I find myself feeling inadequate a lot of the time. I want to challenge myself and branch out in my retirement, but I also want to feel positive about myself and my new life.
It seems to me that one of the major causes of feeling inadequate is perfectionism.
I had been hoping I’d finally got the perfection monster beaten, but I realise it’s still inside me waiting for an excuse to show itself. (That’s not to say I’m a perfectionist in everything – my housework/cleaning standards for one thing wouldn’t win any awards!) I just sometimes find it hard to deal with doing things less than – well, almost perfectly.
If you share the perfectionist trait of unrelenting high standards, you may want to have a look at this piece on how to change things [cci.health.wa.gov.au].
It recommends identifying one area of life or aspect of perfectionism to work on first to make it more manageable, and to set a timeframe. (By the way procrastination is identified as an aspect of perfectionism, which is what I wrote about here.) Strategies to make coping with the change easier include giving ourselves permission to make mistakes, reminding ourselves of the consequences of our perfectionism, learning to laugh at ourselves, and rewarding ourselves often for the small steps we make towards change.
So I’m going to work on enjoying things I’m not that good at. If I take on something new I want to feel that I don’t have to become an expert at it, that I can relish it just for the enjoyment of doing it.
It’s a hard lesson to learn, but I know it could really help me live a calmer, happier retirement. One in which I can enjoy everything I do more fully, and rise to new challenges.
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