Understanding that everything has a life cycle makes it a lot easier to deal with endings that we all have to face, even our own mortality. Do you remember record stores? I used to spend hours in them. What about 8-track tapes? I believe that there is one Blockbuster Video still open somewhere in Alaska, but whatever happened to answering machines? Yes, even voice mail is becoming a thing of the past -- it's all texting now. And these are just examples of solid or digital inventions that got passed over for something better.
Nothing lasts forever, and that fact is what drives us to live life to the fullest. But what happens when something inside or outside of us comes to an end? Sometimes the change is internal. You may become depressed, anxious, traumatized, sleepless, even stop paying your bills. If you recognize that this is happening, it's important to get help. Other changes may be external. For example, you could be laid off from your job. In that case, you'll be far better off if you've aside some savings or have a second source of income.
Our parent's jobs lasted until retirement. Now you can expect to have perhaps a dozen in your lifetime. Many more people are becoming entrepreneurs with internet-based businesses and giving themselves a leg up as well as a safety net if their day job gets invented out of business.
If you have a good job, there is money in the bank, and your 401(k) is doing more than OK, you may wonder why you need a backup plan? But just look at the life cycles of what has driven the economy, and you'll see every decade it's something different. This decade it's technology, and before that it was energy; simply put, what you are doing now may not exist in ten years, so how can you best protect yourself? It's something to think about and to also consider on an emotional basis.
I identify as a writer and licensed psychotherapist. Having that identity is important to my sense of being, and if either were to end, it would be very hard. That being said, I'll probably continue seeing clients and writing for as long as I can, but maybe it will be in ways I haven't thought of before. For example, I am doing much more teletherapy online than I ever thought possible. I didn't think it could be effective, but after using it in a couple of emergency situations, it worked so well that I continued the practice. And the fact that clients can reach me or their medical doctors more easily in an emergency is very comforting for everyone.
I wrote my new book in a completely different manner from previous books, as a result of technological innovations. At first, this change made me uncomfortable. I stalked it like a cougar in a cage, but after I warmed up to the idea, my writing flowed better than it has in years. So, for me, embracing change has helped maintain that part of my life's work.
I no longer sell CDs after my talks or send postcards to readers when coming to town for a book signing. My teaching takes place in a studio instead of a classroom, and my major personal interaction with students is at a school snack program some Rotary friends and I started.
Ultimately, it is that kind of interaction that we need the most. Even though the world is forever changing, sharing our bond as human beings is one of the things that keeps us together mentally and emotionally. Let's make sure that continues.
(Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author of "The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time." Follow his daily insights on Twitter at @BartonGoldsmith, or email him at Barton@bartongoldsmith.com.)
(c)2020 Barton Goldsmith
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