Head games. Don’t ya just hate the way they mess with your brain?
I’m a type-A personality who has a to-do list a mile long. I can get more done in an hour than some can accomplish in a week. I don’t think small; I plan BIG. When I was starting my first novel, I never thought “one.” Nope, right from the start, I had a series of books planned, with more outlines than I could ever write.
Maybe that’s why I’ve started several businesses, authored over two dozen books, and reinvented myself over and over again. I love the thrill!
But there’s something about midlife that’s stopped me in my tracks more than once.
I’m good at research. I dive deep into all sorts of topics online. I love learning, and follow dozens of people just to keep myself on the cutting edge.
But this past year has brought up something new. I’m not out and about like I used to be. (Hello, pandemic.) And though I’ve been a part of some fantastic groups, took part in a virtual conference with brand new technology, and filtered through classes that helped me improve my skills on everything from cooking to gaining Instagram followers, I noticed a new feeling I haven’t experienced before.
I watched a movie a few months ago where the mom happily moved about her life, saying and doing anything she pleased. Her daughter chastised her at one point, telling her she couldn’t speak freely and tell people what she really thought; society doesn’t work that way. The mom just smiled and said, “Sure, I can. I’m invisible. Nobody pays attention to a woman my age.”
That stuck with me. It wasn’t the first time I heard about midlife women feeling like they are invisible.
But I never had that feeling myself, until this year.
Suddenly, there are young businesswomen – millennials – everywhere doing very well online. I started following one woman a year ago who reminded me of me, twenty-five years ago. She’s busy talking about business, photography, marriage, starting a family – all of the things I brought to my very first business when I started it – twenty-five years ago!
And I’ve felt this pang of ineptness more than once as I’ve followed her actions.
When did I lose my drive? When did I lose my desire to go BIG?
Why am I in this place – the waiting place – where I’m not quite sure what to do?
I’ve had success – BIG success. I’m leading a very good life.
But I’m at a “been there, done that” point where I’ve built businesses, a family, and have all the things you’re supposed to have in midlife.
I also have caregiving responsibilities, helping family members with life-threatening diseases, questions about my own second act – all of it is hitting me at a time when I also feel my growing invisibility.
2021 has done this to me. This is all a new feeling.
Sounds like I’m wallowing, doesn’t it?
But I have noticed it. So I’ve developed a plan to stop it in its tracks, every time I find that feeling creeping into my days.
I start reminding myself of what a fabulous time it is to be alive.
Mindset is everything, my friend.
And I know, that the only way I keep my head up each and every day, is to have an arsenal of self-esteem tools at my disposal to bring into my life when I feel that “invisibility shadow” creeping in.
Age is a wonderful thing. I’m a strong believer in proaging, and I’m doing my best to bring people on board.
If you find yourself saying any of these things to yourself, here’s what I’ve found helps me.
Everyone is doing better than me
This one is huge. I think it’s part of our “in your face” society. With live updates on everyone’s life through social media sites, it’s easy to feel left behind. After all, your friends post photos of their “perfect” lives. Instagram feeds remind you of all the things you’re not accomplishing. That “rah-rah” email you signed up for is only there to shout at you about stuff you’re not following through on. And the “zero to one million” feel-good stories leave you feeling anything but feeling good.
It’s easy to assume you’re the only one who isn’t having great successes.
What you don’t see is the behind-the-scenes of everyone else’s life.
We all have our share of problems. No matter how good someone’s life appears, they are facing issues of their own.
I know this. I’ve seen it time and time again.
That’s why I’ve learned to focus on what I’m doing well instead. A gratitude journal has helped me look at my life with positivity, and to celebrate every WIN I have, even if the only win I can think of each day is something small – a walk in the park, enjoying a mug of tea, or finishing a great book.
It puts me in a healthy mindset to continue on with my days.
I need to do everything
Hello, perfectionist. I’m talking to you. (Or, in this case, to myself.)
Yep, I’m a recovering perfectionist. In many ways, I think it’s a common trait among women everywhere. We learn quickly that it’s easier to do it ourselves in order for it to get done at all. And over time, that adds a lot of weight to our shoulders.
I had a conversation with my adult daughter the other day about dividing up household chores. When I was newly married, we each started taking responsibility for specific tasks. At one point, my husband folded the towels and put them away. He did it wrong. I tried to correct him, and teach him the “proper” way to fold towels. He told me if I didn’t like it, I could do it myself.
It was an eye-opening experience. What does “correct” mean? Did it really matter how the towels were folded? As long as they were clean and put away, wasn’t that the end game?
A two-year-old loves to help, but they can never “fold” correctly. You can coach them, but you also have to accept the results. A ten-year-old does a better job simply through years of practice. And by the time they hit adulthood, the pattern is there.
Compromise; it works with almost everything we need to do in our lives. There are almost always multiple ways of getting the same results. It’s okay if not everyone takes the same path.
Releasing is a hard thing to do, especially if you have taken control for so long. I’ve learned not to invest in the process, only that the outcome is complete. Asking for and receiving help is everything.
If I’m not doing it now, it means I’ll never have the opportunity
There’s too much belief that we reach a certain age, and drift off into the sunset. What!?
I once had lunch with a woman in her mid-50s, who had retirement on her calendar in just a few years. So she fell into “biding her time” mode at work. She said she let the younger people do the tough jobs. She found ways to do as little as possible, just counting down the days. And as a result, she didn’t feel her best. Her mind wasn’t active. Her body felt weak. She just wanted retirement to get here, so that she could do something else.
That’s a destructive mindset to fall into.
What if you lived to be 75? What about 100? Or 125?
A while back, I calculated what midlife really means.
I consider my adulthood began at 22. That’s when I graduated college, got married, and started a life of my own. If I live to 82 – which is average – that will give me 60 years of adulthood. The middle would be 30 years – or 52 years old. At 52, half my life is behind me, but half of my life is still in front of me.
Look at all I’ve done in 30 years!
What if I could do that much with the 30 I have left?
I don’t know about you, but I have no intention of sitting in a nursing home for ten years. That is nowhere on my goal list.
So I do everything I can to ensure that doesn’t happen.
While we have no idea what will happen in our future – 2020 has shown us that – we can do everything possible today to ensure we have a shot at the best future possible.
That’s my approach.
I have to find my purpose
Ohmigosh, this one is huge! We’ve all been convinced that we need to find our purpose here in life. And now that we’ve hit midlife, it’s more important than ever because we’re running out of time …
There’s a quote that says: Life isn’t an endpoint, it’s all about the journey.
I think passion is the same.
It’s not about finding your passion, it’s about enjoying the experience along the way.
What makes you happy? What are you good at? What do you want more of?
Don’t focus on passion. Focus on lifestyle instead. What do you want your lifestyle to look like if it were built exclusively for you?
I wake early, before anyone else rises. I LOVE my alone time.
I meditate. I journal. I read. I explore my thoughts.
And then, I write. Write. Write. Write. Write. Write.
I recently looked at my 2020 goals. My word for the year was all about #2020Vision and #2020Clarity. I had very specific things I wanted to accomplish.
We all know how 2020 went – nobody could have predicted what happened.
But when I sat down in December to do my annual review and choose my word for 2021, I was surprised at how much success I had with my 2020 goals.
That’s because the more you refine your life, the more you work on your mindset, the fewer adjustments you need to create a happy life.
Happiness comes when you choose to be happy. It pushes everything else aside.
Including the focus on your age.
Age is a good thing. Proage is even better.
By accepting who you are, what you’ve accomplished, and focusing on what your best self looks like today, you’re less likely to wallow in potential.
You make it instead of dreaming about it.
And isn’t that a perfect way to enjoy midlife? To make your next 30 years the best years possible?
I think so.