How many times have you said to yourself, thought, or heard someone say, “It’s my time!” What is it about mid-life that makes us begin to think this way? Is it because of life’s time-clock slowly ticking away? Thoughts or our life passing us by too quickly? Are some of us just a step away from making irrational decisions because of this? Take a deep breath…slow down. We’ve got you covered. The following 6 keys to spending your time more wisely will help you unlock the doors ahead of you leading into a more rational way of thinking.
An interesting thing happens as we approach our mid-years. We start to develop an appreciation for who and where we are in life. We start to let go of things that no longer serve us or bring us joy. We stop worrying about what others think of us or what we “should” be doing. We make changes we never before had the courage to make. Our family and friends sometimes think we’ve lost our minds. Sound familiar?
You’ve surely seen the memes, commercials and ads that tell us that “50 is the new 30”, “it’s never too late”, “if not now, when?” and other such sentiments. There’s some truth here.
- As a whole, we are living longer than previous generations.
- Our health is generally better thanks to modern medicine and an increasing appreciation for wellness practices of all kinds.
- We are much more mobile as a society and certainly more connected thanks to technology.
These factors contribute to a sense of well-being, connectedness and optimism.
There’s another factor that contributes to the shift and what some describe as a restlessness or a sense of urgency. About the time of mid-life, we start to unexpectedly lose people around our age. It can shake our sense of stability. It starts us thinking about our own mortality and reminds us that our time is limited. How much time do we really have?
There’s More To Life
These factors all come together to create a sense that there’s more to life than what we’ve done so far. We’ve spent so much time doing for others. We still have hopes and dreams. There are things we want to do…and time is marching on. This shift can be gradual or it can come on suddenly. But for most of us, this sense of “it’s my time now” comes.
So does this mind-shift mean that we walk away from jobs, responsibilities, relationships and anything else that just doesn’t “fit” anymore? No. That’s the perfect way to blow your life up and spend the next 20 years trying to put it back together. What it means is shifting your perspective and laying out a plan that allows you to fully embrace “your time”. Your choices will influence whether “your time” is pleasant and fulfilling, or stressful and leaving you longing for the “way it used to be”.
JJ and Jane’s Story
Meet JJ and Jane, a couple in their mid-fifties who married right after college and started a family. JJ has spent his career in business. He traveled quite a bit and worked hard to build a good life for his family. Jane was a stay-at-home-mom who dreamed of one day owning a business of her own. Recently, they’ve experienced a lot of changes. JJ had a health scare that almost ended his life. Their youngest child finished school and moved out.
As her youngest moved out, Jane felt ready to launch her business and experienced some early success. Just as Jane’s business began to take off, JJ also made a decision. He quit his job, taking an early retirement. This was not the plan and Jane was taken by surprise.
JJ decided it was time to travel, to see the world and do the things there was never time to do. He felt the urgency of “now or never”.Jane was now facing giving up the business she’d waited for so long. It wasn’t long before she began struggling with feelings of resentment. This was not the plan. How would they manage? They were now faced with issues they didn’t expect to be dealing with at this point. Wasn’t this supposed to be their time to embrace their passions and dreams?
Sure, it sounds awesome to wake up one day and decide, it’s my time now. But is it realistic? The key to successfully embracing this next phase of life and making the most of your time is planning and making decisions that move you forward.
The Six Keys
Key #1: Have A Realistic Plan
We all feel the tug of freedom and need for release from the responsibilities of early adulthood. You might have visions of jetting off to Fiji and living out your days on the beach. Is that a realistic option? Are you prepared to walk away from your life here?
Having a plan, even a general one, allows you to approach this time of transition with hope and optimism. A plan can reduce the inevitable anxiety that comes with any big life change. It can be exhilarating and scary as hell all at the same time. If you don’t have a plan, how do you know where you’re going or how to get there? Knowing you at least have a plan for your next adventure keeps you grounded and moving forward.
Key #2: Include Your Partner & Loved Ones
You have a grand plan. Have you told anyone? Is Fiji your partner’s idea of living your best life?
If you have a partner, they need to be included in the planning and be on board. Otherwise, you have a partner who may not be on board with your vision. Your partner may have a vision of their own. Then what? You might find yourself on Fiji all alone. Probably not part of your vision.
The same holds true for loved ones. Does your plan include them? Are they on board? If you’ll be away, how will you nurture those important relationships? Again, planning and communication will keep your connections strong.
Key #3: Look Before You Leap
Before you decide to take action, take time to think about what your next chapter might look like. Do you have what you need to pursue your goals? If not, what can you do to prepare? You might need funds. You might need training in a new field. What you need will depend on what your goals are.
The idea of taking a blind leap into your next adventure sounds romantic and exciting. They make movies about it! The fact is, blind leaps often lead to hard landings. Think about where you want to go and be smart about getting there. You want to touch down softly.
Key #4: Embrace Your Age
Sometimes our need for something new and exciting is enmeshed with wanting to recapture part of our youth. We can’t go back and honestly, would you really want to? You know so much more now about life and living life than any time previously. You’re now in a place where you have the wisdom that comes with experience and the ability to move forward confidently towards your desires. This is where your true power lies.
Key #5: Getting To Know You
You’ve likely spent most of your adult life so far doing for others, working for others and taking care of others. You probably haven’t spent much time with yourself. With all the demands, there’s generally not a lot “me time”.
As we enter midlife, responsibilities and priorities start to shift and ease just a bit. This is a good time to start re-introducing yourself to the inner you – the one with the hopes, dreams and aspirations that were set aside earlier in life. Who are you now? What are your dreams and goals? Where do you want your journey to take you? It may sound silly but spending time reconnecting with your true self will help guide you as you look towards your next chapter.
Key #6: Shift Your Perspective
The idea of “my time now” can sometimes feel like running away from something – a job you dislike, a situation that bogs you down, stifled creativity. That need to get away can leave you feeling anxious and even a little desperate. It feeds the need to leap right now.
What would happen if you allowed yourself to embrace the moment and appreciate where you are. You’ve lived quite a life until now. You have experiences and knowledge you’ve never had before. You bring a maturity and wisdom to the table. Embracing life in the moment, with all that you bring, can inspire and empower you to take the next steps confidently, knowing that your life until this point has given you all that you need to find the joy and happiness you seek.
Midlife can bring us a sense of freedom and empowerment. This can truly be a time in your life of new adventures and realizing dreams you may have forgotten you had. The secret is to step boldly and confidently into this time with a roadmap for your journey. When you remove the barriers and trust your plan, you can allow yourself the luxury of having the life you’ve imagined.
So what happened to JJ and Jane?
In the beginning, they struggled. Neither wanted to give up their respective dreams and there were quite a few skirmishes. It seemed hopeless. After some much-needed discussion, rethinking and planning, they were able to find a middle ground. Jane kept her dream business. She hired some help. JJ decided retirement was too quiet. He got a flexible, part-time job teaching what he loved. Jane and JJ decided on a few places and started traveling regularly. This compromise allowed them both to realize their dreams while still maintaining stability.
The desire to claim your time, to chase your dreams and to live life on your own terms doesn’t have to require a dramatic upheaval. With a little planning, you can step confidently into whatever the next chapter of your life brings. The key is smart planning and making choices that move you forward along your path. Where will your journey take you next?
Dr. Dawn Ferrara has over twenty years of clinical experience in the mental health field. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist as well as a Certified Health Coach. Dr. Ferrara is passionate about helping her clients find solutions that work and believes that every person has the power and ability to be successful. When not working, she can usually be found in the gym or spending time with her husband and their silly Black Lab, Riley, enjoying the sights and sounds of South Louisiana.