When I tell people my story, I get a lot of “I could never do that”.
Granted, I thrive on change. In fact, I find myself getting a little antsy if I don’t make major changes in my life every few years. And because I’ve changed a lot, I have specific steps I go through when I’m thinking about doing something new.
But human nature as a whole says change is a bad thing. We’re lazy. We like to keep things simple. So we fight change every step of the way.
And by the time we reach midlife, we have that fight pretty well ingrained in our being. Have you ever said:
“Only XXX more years until retirement. I’m going to stick it out.”
“My mortgage will be paid off in XXX years. Why move now?”
Yep, in my book, that’s the I’m-in-midlife-so-I’m-not-going-to-change curse.
We reach a point in time where we have enough to look back on, and we think we should have “learned our lessons” and have things “all figured out” by now. Why take on risk? Why make big changes when all that does is put us at greater risk?
Turn it around. Why not?
Years ago, when I left my first job to jump into my first growing my first business, I started looking at it the other way. I’ve had years to learn and grow and figure things out; why not use what I’ve learned in a new way? I have a lot figured out; why not take what I’ve learned and apply it to something new?
Yep, mindset is everything. [You hear that all the time, don’t you?] Especially right now when parts of your life are all tied together. Your job brings in a healthy income. You’ve reached a point where you could do your job in your sleep. You’re comfortable.
Why the hell would you risk all that?
Because risking it keeps you alive. It makes you thrive.
It sets you on fire!
You don’t have to take risk in an uncalculated manner. In fact, I’m a big proponent of “plan, plan, plan” until you have your future very well defined.
Step 1: Understand your intention
You have to know you want a change before it can happen. And that’s where a lot of us get stuck. We know we want more, but we don’t know what. We have this feeling inside that we can’t get rid of, but we have no idea how to satisfy the urge.
Years ago, I knew I wanted more. I knew travel was a big part of it. But my desire to uproot my life and sell off my forever home didn’t happen overnight. I wanted change. I wanted travel. The rest was a process of accepting and letting go.
Are you ready to accept what’s screaming to be noticed? What does it look like? How far are you willing to go?
Step 2: Let your desires ripen
This is where you start exploring what your new idea means to you.
Travel. That’s what I wanted. So I started searching. I found people doing things that made me say: WOW. I started reading books, searching websites, and going to conventions that connected me up with like minded folks. The more I searched, the more I learned. And very slowly my plan started developing.
Did it happen in one week? Nope. I daydreamed about what I wanted my life to look like. I started putting small pieces together and turning them into reality. And slowly I let go of the old and accepted the new.
Step 3: Move past anxiety
Very quickly you move to the stage of: What? I can’t do that. What will people think? How will I put this all into place?
Yep – negative energy big time. I was there. And trust me, it’s not a good feeling. Sometimes that negative energy wins and your dreams go away forever. Or you can tell that negative energy where to go – !@#$ – and start believing in your idea a little more.
I’m the latter. No matter how scared I got, I pushed through. I’d do one little thing every day that brought me closer to my goal.
Step 4: Stop forcing the idea
Let it go, as the song says. Live with your idea. Let it flow and mold and grow.
Be active in discovering new ideas. For me, it was signing up for travel magazines, attending a travel meetup, and following certain people online who were doing what I wanted to do. I didn’t plan. I didn’t drive myself crazy with what was next. I simply started living in this “new” world I was creating.
And the thing about living in a new world, you start to take action. The “What if’s” start flowing a little freer. And they guide you to the next step you need to take in your life.
Step 5: Start dealing with the resistance
You know those “yeah, but” moments you have? You’ll start having them all the time.
Yeah, but what about my house? Sell it.
Yeah, but what about my stuff? Get rid of it.
Yeah, but what about my current lifestyle? Friends and family will understand. If they’re true friends and family, that is.
I’m not going to lie; you’ll have a LOT of resistance. And some people will make you choose – them or your new road. Only you can decide if the “new you” is more important than fitting into your old world.
Step 6: Start knocking down the resistance
It’s the little things that can hold you back forever.
Start doing it.
Sell the furniture in the basement. Clean up your house one room at a time. Call in a realtor to find out what should be changed before you put it on the market. Then tackle those projects one at a time. Tell your best friend. Share your news one by one. It’s easier dealing with small things here and there than everything all at once.
Step 7: Give yourself deadlines
At some point, you’re going to have to give yourself a few deadlines. And those are hard; they put your new plans in concrete.
At one point, I said out loud: I’m calling the realtor on Friday. And I did it.
You have to give yourself goals to shoot for. And you have to hold yourself accountable to ensure you meet all of those deadlines.
Step 8: Reward your positives
Do you know how good you feel when you have success? Celebrate it!
I remember putting an ad on Craigslist for the very first piece of furniture we sold. It was a curio cabinet – a wedding present from a relative. It had sat in my living room holding lots of precious memories we’d collected over the years. I boxed up the memories and placed the ad. I cried as it left my home. But the new owner was tickled pink. She’d been saving for one to display her own memories, and was more than excited at her find.
I smiled too. It was going to a good home.
So I tackled sale number two. And by the time I reached ad number ten, I was hooked. Selling and clearing away my stuff had never felt so good. Suddenly, I wasn’t tied down to stuff. I only kept what mattered most. It made me happier. It gave me the space to do what I needed to do.
And I celebrated every step of the way.
Step 9: Don’t give in
With each new task, you’re going to feel conflict.
Why am I doing this?
Why is this so difficult?
Why am I uprooting everything?
Wouldn’t it be easier just to slip back to the old ways and breathe a sigh of relief?
This is where people die before they’re dead. This is where people shut down their lives once and for all. This is where regret comes from. This is when people forgo their potential for a life of “ease”. And by ease, I mean one without change and growth. Because nothing about change is easy.
But if you don’t change, you die. And that to me is far worse than change.
Step 10: Reach for more
The best part about change is there’s always room for a little bit more.
The question “What’s next?” keeps creeping into your mind.
How can you embrace a little bit more?
Will you settle into one decision or reach for something more?
Every day, YOU becomes a little stronger, a little clearer, a little more of who you’re meant to be.
Don’t stop her now. Do it all. Be who you’re meant to be.
It’s almost here! I have a new book coming soon. It’s called The Successful Woman In Midlife: 10 Master Strategies to Downsize and Simplify Your Way to a Better Life. I’m super excited about adding this book to my growing Unstuck Books collection. I spell out strategies every woman can use right now to create the life of her dreams. Coming soon