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Nancy K Schlossberg Ed.D.
Nancy K Schlossberg Ed.D.

A Happiness Strategy: Create a Strong Psychological Portfolio

Your happiness strategy--Pay attention to your Psychological Portfolio.

mark your portfolio

In my previous blog, "My take on Happiness-The Need to Matter" I wrote, "You can have money and jewels, but if you feel sidelined, out of the loop you will be unhappy." The next question becomes "how can I create my own happiness"? I have found a happiness strategy--assess your resources and build on your strengths. In other words, start paying attention to what I call your Psychological Portfolio. Let me make the case.

We track our financial portfolios, agonize over them, modify them, and even change financial advisers. Our portfolios are not static, but reflect the reality of life that is filled with ups and downs.

Similarly, many of us go to our doctors for a yearly physical check up. Have we gained weight? Stopped smoking? Started exercising? Lowered our cholesterol? We keep track of our health.

Wouldn't it make sense to have regular check ups on your Psychological Portfolio? Few of us realize we even have a Psychological Portfolio, let alone have an adviser for it. Yet, we all have a set of resources that can help us negotiate any major transition-whether it is a mid-life career change, a retirement career change, a geographical move, or a relationship change. These potential resources comprise our Psychological Portfolio--our Identity, Relationships and Purpose. As you think about any transition, it is important to consider your emerging Identity; ways to maximize your personal Relationships with friends and family; and approaches that help you figure out your new Purpose in life. Ideally the three parts of the portfolio pie should be of equal strength.

An example is instructive. I interviewed two retired NFL football players about their post football careers. One had gone to law school, part-time, retiring with a law degree. He was able to segue easily into a new life as a legal representative for those in professional sports. His Identity was in tact--he was a lawyer but still identified with professional sports. He maintained Relationships with many in sports and he had a Purpose. Contrast his story with another player who injured himself forcing an unplanned, early retirement. He said, "I don't know what to do now, I did not store enough nuts for winter." He continued, "If I am not a football player, who am I? My teammates were my friends, my companions. I am no longer part of a group. And I don't know if I will ever regain the sense of purpose and commitment I once had."

So whether you are a retiring professional football player, a CEO of a small family business (i.e. a homemaker) facing an empty nest, a retiring blue collar worker or professional, we all need to think about how the transition will change our Identities, Relationships, and Purpose.

Future blogs will take each part of the Psychological Portfolio-Identity, Relationships, and Purpose--and provide suggestions for making each strong in order to deal with life's ups and downs.

Nancy K. Schlossberg
Copyright 2010
Author, Revitalizing Retirement :Reshaping your Identity, Relationships and Purpose

About the Author
Nancy K Schlossberg Ed.D.

Nancy Schlossberg, Ed.D., a Professor Emerita at University of Maryland , where she was a tenured full professor in the counseling psychology area for 28 years .She is the author of ten books, focusing on transitions.

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