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How Can We Embrace the Shifts That Occur as We Age

By Karen Margaret Kay September 01, 2022 Mindset

Have you experienced shifts in your priorities, your goals, and even your dreams throughout your 60s and beyond?

Shifts are those changes in our thinking and our attitudes that evolve as we age. Sometimes subtle and spontaneous, other times profound and life changing, these shifts can shake us to the very core of our being.

My first experience with what I now call ‘The Shift’ occurred when I was approaching retirement. At age 60, I looked forward with great anticipation to a new life in retirement, still five years away.

I worked diligently to pay off my mortgage and looked forward to spending hours gardening, working out, enjoying time with friends, travelling a little, and having luxurious free time. The vision of this idyllic life propelled me forward for a couple of years.

A Life Change

But then, a shift happened. Changes at work. Some health issues and a body that was indeed slowing down. Fatigue. Cynicism about life and work. A loss of joie-de-vivre, a loss of passion, and a loss of belief in what I was working for (besides that necessary pay cheque).

At 63, I realized I couldn’t go on this way anymore. One morning, as I walked across the parking lot at work with a dear colleague, I confided to her that I felt I just couldn’t “do it” anymore. Her reaction came as a complete surprise to me.

This intelligent and well-respected woman, always composed, articulate, and confident, broke into tears and said, “I know exactly what you mean.” Long story short, we both retired that year, two years before our ‘without penalty’ retirement date.

I guess we had both decided that our mental, spiritual, and physical health were more important than a bigger pension. Neither of us has ever looked backed, despite living now on very restricted retirement budgets.

Transitions Can Be Challenging

That is not to say that early retirement was without its challenges. Going from a crazy-intensive schedule to unlimited, unstructured time was an adjustment.

The thing I missed most at first was the daily interaction with my colleagues – the little chats in the hallway or the bathroom, the shared coffees and the shared laughter and tears, and even the shared griping about work!

I quickly joined my local YMCA and found a new group of acquaintances – mostly recently retired professional women with whom I shared a lot of common ground. These friendships gradually replaced my work relationships.

Another Life Shift?

Now, a handful of years into retirement, I find myself going through another shift. Is this what ageing is all about?

All of a sudden, the cherished home that I worked so hard to pay off is becoming too much for me. The beautiful gardens where I have spent countless hours expressing my creative side are now giving me knee pain.

My back hurts and I am tired. My arthritis flares up in summer after gardening and in winter after snow shoveling. It wasn’t supposed to be this way!

Other changes are happening as well. Neighbourhood density and noise. Inconsiderate neighbours. A lack of respect for the environment. I feel I don’t fit in here anymore.

I am scared! I am on my own with no one to help me. In a few years, my home will need a new roof. Can I afford that?

I have looked at options – downsizing, renting an apartment, moving into a condo, but nothing ‘feels’ right just yet.

Affordability is also an issue. My home is mortgage-free, which makes this lifestyle affordable. What if I sell my home only to regret it later? How will I spend my free time when there are no more gardens to tend and household projects to complete?

Acknowledge the Fear and Talk It Out

Overcome with fear and anxiety, I realize that I just need to breathe. Breathe long and deep! I look to my new-found friendships at the Y.

One woman lost her husband to cancer very suddenly. Another experienced ‘gray divorce’ five years into retirement. And yet another, a woman who is happily married, confessed that she and her husband don’t have a lot of common interests, which presents new problems in retirement.

I look to these women and I see resilience. They are carrying on! They are exercising – looking after their bodies and their minds and their social needs.

We go for coffee sometimes and we laugh, share stories, and even shed a few tears. We are all moving forward and finding new joys in life. We are strong and we are adapting to what life throws at us. We need each other. There is comfort in sharing our stories.

Spirituality and Adjusting My Sails

As I begin to realize that what I am really experiencing is the fear of change and the fear of my unknown future, I turn to spirituality. While I am not Buddhist, I find wisdom in some of the teachings of the Buddha which emphasize that impermanence and change are undeniable truths of our existence.

Life is compared to a river, which is continuously moving and changing. Resistance to change only intensifies the discomfort.

I also find solace in my Christian beliefs and remember that there is a time and a season for everything. I read the Bible and am encouraged. I acknowledge that letting go of that which I can’t control can create space for something new to emerge – even if I don’t yet know what that “something new” is.

Jimmy Dean, the late American country music singer, said, “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” I believe that we are all seeking a destination of happiness, whatever that means to us.

I now resolve that I will adjust my sails and do whatever it takes to move forward with my present circumstances, be happy, and continuously press on to explore new joys and new experiences in this life. It will be worth the effort!

Let’s Have a Conversation:

What shifts have you experienced in your 60s and beyond? What has helped you to adapt to these shifts? What advice would you give to women to continuously move forward and find joy in life regardless of their circumstances? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

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Kathy B

Here I am. Thinking it was just me losing my mind. I understand things a little better.
This is my story, I will try my best to keep it short. Maybe this will help someone, like the one above.
My changes start when my daughters( grown) made a decision (which I was not a part of) to move my youngest grandson to Texas. His first four years he was with me most of the time.
My girls took him while sleeping over night with my middle daughter. When I took him to her, another event happen. That was the last time I saw him.
Now my next one happened so fast, I didn’t have time to breath. I got a call about my parents missing and their home burned down. I found my parents, did I mention they were in their mid 80s. After that my sister was in another state in ICU. My brother in our town was in ICU. He and my sister lived with our parents. I lost my sister and 2 years I lost my brother to cancer.My life changed to taking care of my parents. I couldn’t understand what was happening to me. I started doing research and a lot of reading, and many nights crying and talking to God. One night I was so upset and crying until I felt a hand on my shoulder. But there was no
One there. That is when I knew I could not give up.I studied about Budda and prayed. I haven’t been able to meet new people yet. This story is not. Meant for pitty instead I hope others will find peace within. Mine
Is still in process, I’m in my mid 60s


Being 80 1/2. I have just started working with a trainer. It is hard work but invigorating. I’m slow, stiff and breathless! I’m reading Parker Palmer’s book On The Brink of Everything. He started it at 79 and finished it at 80. Looking at life from that perspective has given me a “dare to live” outlook! I love it. We know we have more behind us than in front of us but that’s okay. I’m busy trying new and old interests. Life is good!

Debbie Lisman

I just turned 69, my sixties are almost over. I’m at a new crossroads, nearly to my 70’s!Oh my gosh! Where did the time go!? I continued to work part time through my 60’s, but now the job that I enjoyed and got me out of the house has ‘evaporated’. I worked for a private school teaching, and dropped down to part time work in the office when I turned 65. I continued to work in the office until this year. Funding for the school has become an issue, and my part time job was eliminated Gus year. My husband and I are financially sound and he is still working by his choice. At 69 years old, I really don’t want to seek out new employment, or a volunteer job. But now my days are long and sometimes lonely. The summer months brings the joy of gardening. But I have no idea what I will do with myself this winter! Thank you ‘Sixty and Me’, I feel better already just being able to vent!


I am 61 and have been experiencing a change in the way I feel based on the aging process. Harder to lose weight and harder to not hurt while exercising. I realize there is always a solution, a different way of doing things. I now exercise in the water and meditate; which I never thought I’d do. What a huge difference in the way I feel physically, spiritually and mentally. I volunteer in my community one day a week for now because I still love my gardening and yard and am looking at things around my house to plan for my future to make things less work. I am putting weed cloth down to keep weeds at a minimum and making rock gardens with plants in pots. My house I am putting grab bars in tubs and showers and changing to tile or carpet so I’m not tripping on throw rugs. Anyway, you get the idea. I love to travel but budget doesn’t allow out of the country anymore but there are plenty of day trips and I’ve taken up photography. There’s always a solution!!!

A Shively

Karen, thanks for an honest and clearly-written article about changing goals and activities. Like you, I was always passionate about having a lovely home and thought I always would be. I pursued different career goals, thinking I would always want to be completely immersed in work. In my early 60s, I have realised that a low-cost, low-maintenance apartment is my best home space now. And the small town I live in is where I can learn and grow and contribute. I don’t need to be on a larger stage or have big ambitions. Sometimes I can’t believe the change in myself, but one day you realise that your view has changed, and changed forever. It comes of itself and doesn’t have to be forced. Thanks again.

The Author

Karen Margaret Kay is a retired Career Counsellor who now enjoys gardening, yoga, writing, and spending time outdoors. Having travelled extensively in the past, she is now seeking simpler pursuits as she adapts to life in her sixties. Karen’s passion is to help women adapt and find happiness during times of transition.

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