Have you ever had the realization of where you are in life hit you over the head?
I had it happen to me again recently.
My daughter was packing up, getting ready to fly 7,300 miles from home to live for a year. This was it. She’s out of college, ready to take on the world. I knew in my heart, when she left this time, she’ll never come back. Not like she has in the past anyway. Sure, she’ll come back to visit. Like other twenty-somethings, she may move in for weeks or even months at a time as she contemplates her own journey in this world.
What I’m talking about is I’m not her adult/child support system anymore. She’ll never live under my roof as my “little girl.” The one who needs me to take her to school, pay for her braces, bandage her boo-boos, or be a shoulder to cry on when she has a rough day at school.
My job is “done.” I’ve mom’d. And I did my job well. I released an amazing person into the world.
I realize “once a mom, always a mom.” We’ll always have each other. But there’s something different when your daughter moves away after “growing up.”
Have you ever been in the same situation?
I sat there watching her puttering around, putting things here and there. And this overwhelming feeling hit me. I sucked in air, trying desperately to keep my sobs at bay. The feeling reached every fiber of my being, from my fingers to my toes.
I was scared for her, scared for me. What would my life look like now that she would no longer be around, in my home, every day?
But I’d had this feeling before.
When my dad died. When I quit my corporate job in favor of an entrepreneur lifestyle. When I sold my forever home for a chance to slow travel.
This was more than your average fear. This was “ohmigod-my-world-is-changing-in-a-very-big-way” kind of fear.
I’ve had practice with this kind of fear. I’ve handled it before. So I let the feeling wash over me. I accepted it. Then I took care of me.
Because I know fear is a necessary feeling to kick me in the pants and help me move on.
If I’m not scared, I’m complacent. If I’m not scared, I’m not ready to reinvent.
1. There’s a lot more to be afraid of
I had lunch with an old friend I’ve known for years. We happened to be in the same city at the same time, and we’d settled on an afternoon we could spend a few hours together.
She looked at me and said: “I really admire how much you’ve changed over the past five years. You wanted to change, wanted to move, start a new career … and you did it! I’ve wanted that for the past fifteen, and everything in my life is still the same. I’m just always a little afraid to leave everything behind.”
That sums up how many react to midlife. We’ve achieved a lot by the time we hit midlife. And after several decades of building it all up, we’re supposed to throw it all away?
I remember when I was several years into my first career, before I’d abandoned it all for the entrepreneurial lifestyle. I sat around a conference table with several others my age. None of us liked our jobs. We were all at risk of being downsized or potentially forced to move back to headquarters a couple thousand miles away. But the pay and benefits were “good”; that’s why many hung on. One woman my age said: “Five years down, thirty-five to go.”
I’ve never forgotten that.
I never want to wish even a moment of my life away. Especially when the wishing is FAR greater than what’s behind me. It all goes so quickly anyway.
Her comment led me to where I am today.
Fear comes in many sizes and shapes. You have to choose what fear you want to overcome. When you start realizing it’s much scarier NOT to revinent yourself and to stay where you are – for years, decades – you’ll start looking for the best ways to change your life.
I analyze my fears all the time. What am I afraid of? What can I do to lessen the pain? Can I change my fear to make a better life for myself? Is my fear unwarranted and keeping my dreams at bay?
2. I’m too old
I love reading about late bloomers and all they achieve late in life. In fact, I’ve recently created a Pinterest board called Fabulous Women in Midlife dedicated to women who find their biggest successes after the age of 40.
For some reason, we get it into our heads that we shouldn’t change directions once we reach a certain age. My response: Why the hell not?
I’m older. I’m smarter. I’ve done more things. I have more knowledge. I have more experience. I have more education. I have more reasoning power. I have more control. I have more money. I have more connections.
All of that makes this the best time of my life to move forward in new ways.
While there is always a little unknown in everything we do, there’s also more control.
I no longer have to “jump without a parachute.” My years of experience has taught me to do all of the research necessary to ensure I move ahead as safely as possible.
I like the adage: Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Because it’s true.
If you don’t take a step forward and do what you really want today, how can you be your best tomorrow?
3. I’ve made a lot of mistakes
Yep, we all have. But here’s the thing. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but every one of them have taught me how to move forward in a better, more positive way.
I wouldn’t be who I am today without the mistakes I made along the way.
I also wouldn’t be who I am today without the regrets I have from the last fifty years.
Mistakes are things I tried that didn’t meet my expectations.
Regrets are the things I didn’t try because I was scared.
There’s a big difference.
I also recognize the difference – some people never do.
4. The “should have” monster is always knocking on the door
Your regrets often come in the form of “should haves.”
I should have taken that other job.
I should have moved when I had the chance.
I should have said yes more often throughout my career.
I should have stopped that relationship when it started to turn bad.
Yep, I can look back at my life and say every one of those “should haves” and more.
But there are other kind of “should haves” as well. These are the kind you ignore, but eventually add up.
I know I should have chosen the salad, but I really wanted the fish and chips.
You’ll never regret these decisions – you’ll often forget they existed.
Yet these should haves set the pattern for your life and make you into the person you’re becoming.
Should haves are habit forming. Should haves happen because we grow lazy.
The only way to change should haves around is to recognize them and find ways to move past them.
5. Deep down, I know what I really want to do
Have you been caught up in the Mega Million lottery craze? It’s easy to do when one winning ticket could make you a billionaire.
Of course, I’ve had multiple conversations with different people about winning.
A friend would pay for all of her grandkids college educations.
Another friend would travel around the world.
Another would start a business she’s had in the back of her mind for years.
Me? I’d find a way to give a lot of it away in the form of angel investing. To help other entrepreneurs come up with great inventions that can literally change the world – yep, that’s high on my list. It could keep me excited about life for a very long time. I’d be doing what I love to do.
Have you ever played the “what if” game yourself? If you were the winner of a billion dollar lottery, what would you do with the rest of your life?
Why aren’t you working to make it a reality?
See, my goal is to help others and give back some of the knowledge I’ve accumulated over the past two decades as a serial entrepreneur. I’ve been walking that path for many years; adding money would just change my approach.
Can you say the same?
To your success,
p.s. Have you invested in my latest: The Successful Woman In Midlife? I’ve shared everything I’ve learned in the past few years about downsizing and simplifying your life to be the best yet! Here’s what people are saying.