Thriving in Midlife: Use Experience, Wisdom and Passion
We should be celebrating our life Experience, Wisdom and Passions as we enter life after 50. Recognising that we are women of value and substance and with so much to offer. My guest this week in the Over 50 & Thriving Series is Michele from Life Redesign 101. I have known Michele for a couple of years through blogging and always enjoy her thoughts on Midlife & Beyond.
I’m excited to bring you Michele’s contribution to the series as she discusses what it takes to thrive in Midlife. You can read more about Michele at the end of her article and also I would encourage you to connect with her through her website and social media.
What does it take to thrive at midlife? We each get one life and midlife is a good time to reflect on where we have been and even more importantly, to think about where we are going.
The way I see it, midlife is your chance to get it right. What “it” is varies widely; we all have different hopes and dreams. Midlife practically screams at us- “don’t settle.” More than ever before, this is your time.
Midlife means it is time to make it happen for ourselves. If not now, when?
The reality is that we have used up a good amount of our time on this earth, and the time to do what we want and be who we want is now. Our biological clocks have been replaced by an internal timepiece that tells us that we are mortal and that our lives are passing
Fortunately, we still have time. My mentor Barbara Sher says, “it’s only too late if you don’t start now.”
I’ve made some drastic changes while redefining my own life in midlife, and I’ve spoken with hundreds of others who are doing the same. Here are some things I’ve learned about thriving in midlife:
Thriving at midlife means accepting change.
Change is inevitable at midlife. Our children grow up and move out. Loved ones leave us through death or divorce. Leaving the work force or changing jobs causes unexpected stress. Many people downsize or move into different homes. Dealing with years’ worth of possessions becomes daunting, whether they are our own possessions or those of our parents.
Sometimes you have to give up what was familiar and comfortable in order to move forward. Change can be hard, but it can also be good. No life is stagnant and accepting that things will change makes the transitions easier.
I have had a lot of change in my life in the past few years. I was a college professor. I celebrated my fiftieth birthday by getting my Ph.D. I earned tenure and promotion, and then promptly quit my job.
It wasn’t that my life was bad. I loved my work and found fulfillment there. But there was always a little nagging voice in my head that told me that there was something else I was supposed to do. I knew that I had to figure it out.
We sold our big house in the country and moved to a new city. I experience the deaths of my parents. I had several surgeries. Ultimately, I started a new business. It was a time of massive change, some of it through choice and some of it was thrust upon me. I understood and accepted that I was in a pattern of change.
You can go through tremendous change and thrive through it. Yes, sometimes it is difficult, but sometimes it is also wonderful. It is easy to see the losses that come with change but change also brings new opportunity.
Know yourself deeply.
Many of us have spent years being busy and focusing on others far more than ourselves. The joys of midlife will come when you take the time to think about who you really are and what you really want. Explore your talents, strengths, and loves. Call up those long-lost hopes and dreams. Remember what you loved as a child. Try new things and figure out what you love now.
Be able to sit with uncertainty for a time. Understanding yourself is a process. Take the time to figure it out. You deserve it.
I spent the better part of a year getting reacquainted with myself. I tried new forms of exercise, looking for one I liked. I did a lot of personality tests such as StrengthFinder, Disc, and the Enneagram. I read and listened to podcasts. I worked with a coach to help me sort through my options for the next phase of my life. The result was a much deeper understanding of who I am, and what I wanted for the next phase of my life.
Know what you want.
One of the things I love most about midlife is that I know what I want. Taking time to understand myself led me to think about my heart’s desires, which led me to new vision and goals.
Once you figure out what it is that you really want, create a vision of it in your mind. Picture it like a movie going through your head. See it, smell it, hear it. The more vividly you can see it, the more real it becomes.
My visions are very clear to me. For example, in one of them, I see my family, gathered together around a holiday table. We are laughing, the smell of good food drifting in from the kitchen. Later, we are out on the patio, wrapped in blankets, as we watch the sunset over the lake. A fire is roaring in the fire pit. I feel calm and contented.
I also have visions and goals for other parts of my life. I love the fact that I have something that I can plan and create and I am not just aimlessly drifting through my life.
Yogi Berra famously once said, “if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll wind up someplace else.” I believe that we can create the life we want and a life that we love.
Get the support you need.
Many of us are used to supporting others. The reality is though, that we all need support. Most of us have our families and friends to offer us support, but we may need professional support as well. Be open to the possibility of getting additional support for the new things you want to achieve in your life. I have a life coach, and a nutritionist on my support team, as well as a mastermind group and a book club full of people who keep me engaged with good ideas.
If you are trying new things, you will likely need some help along the way. You can find a group, take a class or read a book. You can also hire people to help you get the skills you want or need. Maybe you need a trainer or a mentor or an accountability partner. Maybe you need medical professionals. Whatever you need, give yourself the luxury of support.
Make a plan.
Once you have discovered the dreams for your life, you are on your way. A dream, written down becomes a goal. A goal broken down into action steps becomes a plan. A plan backed by action, becomes reality.
Maybe you want to become a master gardener or move to a different country or make award winning quilts. Make a plan for whatever it is and take action.
Having a plan doesn’t mean that you are locked into actions. You don’t need to know every step along the way, which leaves room for spontaneity and discovery. You just need to know the next few steps and take action in a direction that will move you to where you want to go.
You will make missteps. I certainly did. I thought I would be a freelance writer. I got the first freelance gig I applied for. I was thrilled to discover that I could actually make money writing. I did a few more jobs and then realized that it wasn’t the kind of writing I wanted to do. I had to reevaluate and adjust my plan.
Every step forward is moving me closer to making my dreams come true. I love the fact that I am taking ownership of my life. I have a strong sense of purpose and things that make me excited to get up in the morning. I think that is a recipe for a good life.
At midlife, we can take all of our experience, wisdom and passions from the past with us into the next phase of our life. When you understand what you were made for and what fuels you, you are setting yourself up to live an amazing, fulfilling life.
Michele Meier Vosberg, Ph.D. is a writer, speaker and freelance educator. Her life’s passion is to help others become the best version of themselves. She lives with her husband and two cats in Madison, Wisconsin. She has two grown daughters and is in the process of planning both of their weddings. Michele loves to travel, whether it is to give a presentation or to explore new places. In her free time, Michele loves reading, gardening, swimming and sailing. She also loves to interact with people from throughout the world on her blog, Life Redesign 101.com.
Connect with Michele
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