Do you ever look at yourself and wonder ‘Who is that looking back at you?’. Reaching 50 can mean so many new beginnings for us. We face life as an ’empty nester’, change careers, look towards retirement and perhaps even form new relationships or face life alone.
For most of our life we have been defined by external factors – daughter, wife/partner, mother, career person, carer. Along the way we lose ourselves. We lose our individuality and forget the person we used to be.
Today, in my Over 50 & Thriving Series, I’m delighted to introduce Linda from Hello Sweet Life © – Practical Solutions & Inspiration for Living Your Best Life. I have recently met Linda on-line and she is a powerhouse of motivation and inspiration for Women Over 50. You can read more and connect with Linda at the end of her article and I encourage you to definitely reach out to her through her website.
In her contribution to Over 50 & Thriving, Linda discusses, how after some reflection to rediscover herself after 50, she found ‘The New You is the Original You’.
Rediscovering Yourself After 50
Over 50 and thriving, to me, means becoming more of who I am. Discovering who I am was the first task! Maybe you can relate?
I always said that I would never “retire”. I thrive on being engaged in a variety of projects and I constantly have several going at once. I have worked for myself for 28 years simultaneously in my solo law practice and as sole manager of a rental property portfolio. While stepping away from my law practice is possible and desirable, stepping away from the property management is not. To shift my life into a lower gear, a mindshift was necessary rather than an official retirement from a job.
The End of an Era
This year marked my mindshift from working full time at my “job” to working full time at my life. My law practice has always been a labor of love rather than merely a job as I helped families adopt children. I never saw myself wanting to step away from that, but this year it happened. I realized the high level of stress involved in practicing law, which I used to thrive on, was truly stressful and no longer served me. I realized it was time to make a change. It was time to give myself permission to find a new creative outlet.
I think one reason we tend to stay longer in a job than we perhaps should is because we realize we need something to take its place and we are unsure about what else could be as fulfilling and meaningful. To some extent, we derive our identity from our job. To step away from a career means to step away from who we have been for so many years. For those who must retire early and suddenly due to a health issue or other involuntary reason, this change can be quite a shock.
I feel fortunate that I have had time to slowly come to the realization that I was ready to make a change and to decide what that change needed be. This involved consciously choosing to change how I perceived myself in my new life role on my own timetable. If you’ve done it, you know this is no simple or easy task no matter whether you must do it fast or have the luxury of easing into it slowly!
Shifting into a new gear means to find equilibrium and “flow” at a new speed. To make life the joy ride I desire it to be requires putting creativity into overdrive. I have written about the link between creativity and happiness. Shifting gears for me requires finding new ways to be creative while helping others. The trick is to find the right vehicle for that!
Reflect Back to Move Forward
We can reflect back on what made us happiest when we were children to rediscover the roots of our happiness. I have always loved to write and share wisdom to help others discover and free their innate gifts and talents so they can live life to the fullest.
- True Confession #1: When I was young, I fantasized about becoming an advice columnist like “Dear Abby” who for decades wrote a syndicated newspaper column in which she dispensed sage advice in answer to readers’ questions about how to solve their problems.
- True Confession #2: Before I was a lawyer, I was a teacher and mentor to gifted and talented students.
A theme emerged!
The New You is the Original You
I don’t remember actually deciding to start a blog to help women over 50 thrive and feel alive. It was such a natural choice for me, it seems like the blog was always there just waiting for me to step into it. So now I identify as being a writer. Although I am still a lawyer, when asked, I introduce myself as a writer. And it feels good.
I don’t feel as if I have “retired”. I have simply changed my choice of activities that fulfill me and allow me to express my creativity. I rediscovered the un’adult’erated me of my youth – before I had to take on different identities in order to fit into adulthood and the workplace. By doing so, I realized the interests and pursuits that made me happiest then haven’t changed. Who I am hasn’t changed.
Joy, Peace and Fulfillment
By throwing off the shackles of the identities we chose to assume to meet our then current needs, we are able to get back to our true selves. Through translucent retrospection, we can see clearly how our unadulterated self found joy, peace and fulfillment. With this knowledge, we can make choices now to make that state of being a new constant.
For me, being over 50 and thriving means knowing who you are and what makes you happy, and choosing to exercise your freedom to engage in activities that bring you joy and fulfillment every day. I wish that for you!
Are you looking to rediscover yourself? What steps are you taking to find the original YOU? Join the conversation and share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.
Don’t forget to post your Instagram photos using the hashtag #over50andthriving.