I have a love/hate relationship with this time of the year. It’s one of my favorite times – the lights, the music, spending time with friends and family.
And then there are the emails. Every single blog I follow sends out their annual – My 10 Most Popular Posts. Ugh. I get it. None of us want to work over the holidays, so it’s the easiest way to send something without a ton of work. No writing. Just login to your backend system, pull your stats, copy/paste, done.
And in some ways I get it. It’s a great way to remind your readers of posts they enjoyed throughout the year. Maybe even kick them into action with old, albeit sound advice.
I pulled up several of those lists last week as I was contemplating my new year goals. I have a plan. I do it every year. I always look back and see what worked over the past twelve months, what didn’t, incorporate my wishes and desires for the new year, and then carefully lay out what I hope to accomplish in the next twelve months. It works for me.
But what I’ve also noticed is that somewhere in the middle of the year, I tend to get sidetracked. Granted, I set hefty goals. I’m a “sure, I can write one 50,000 word book every month” kind of gal. I’m working on my overachiever side. But this past year, I felt more “meh” throughout the year than ever before. And these last few months, I’ve really been asking why.
Maybe it wasn’t my goals. I really do love what I do.
Maybe it was the questions I asked myself that got me here.
Fifty-ish is a strange place to be.
On the one hand, I’ve been an adult for over thirty years. I’ve found my prince charming, made a life together for thirty-one years. We’ve had the family, moved in and out of various careers, made life-changing decisions. Whew! We’ve done a lot.
Society tells me that fifties are a time to slow down. It’s time to think about retirement.
But I’m in the frame of mind where I’m just getting started. With science and medicinal changes, the average human could easily live 125 years or longer. And if that’s the case, I’m just getting started.
I don’t want to slow down. I just want to perfect what I have. I want the next thirty years to be my very best yet. Then when I’m in my eighties, I’ll reevaluate again.
So at this point in my life, it’s time for a little reinvention. This is going to be my year!
1. What’s the shittiest job I love?
Everything sucks part of the time. There is no such thing as a perfect, happy life.
There are days I get up … and I turn around and go back to bed. I feel bad. And my approach to everything is even worse. I get emails that flat out suck. Hate mail? Yep.
But even on my worst days, I can’t imagine doing anything else.
Because on most days I love what I do. It makes those nasty emails, or the not-so-nice reviews I find a little more manageable.
I’ve built a life I love … most of the time. And I want more of it. Even with the shittiest of days, I still love what I do.
2. What have I totally screwed up over the last thirty years and how can I use that in my favor for my next thirty years?
Every single day of my adult life I’ve learned something new. Every task, every thought, every learning curve I’ve faced has made me into who I am today.
And when I look back, I see huge gaping holes where I’ve made BIG mistakes.
I live by the adage: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
As I move into my next thirty years, I’m heading into it taking my own advice.
I’ll take more chances. I can’t tell you how many times I sat back and watched rather than jumping in. YES will be the key to my future.
I’ll move to more places. I had several opportunities to move during my first thirty years. I always said no. I thought my reasons were good; turns out they weren’t. I said no to moves to stay close to family and friends I no longer speak with – why didn’t I go? I said no to moves to keep my daughter in her school – who would she be if we would have moved anyway?
I’ll save more. The first thirty years, money flowed like water. It often went out as quickly as it came in. I was comfortable at throwing money at any idea, just to try. Now I’m more conservative. I pay me first. I know savings will make my next thirty years even better. So I’m careful about where I spend. And I hold back unless I know all the risks.
3. Right now, what does perfection look like? Give it to me, baby.
Part of the fun of being fifty-ish is finally standing up and saying “I’m not going to take this shit anymore.” I’ve turned down jobs that aren’t fun. I’ve quit working with clients I no longer enjoy. I’ve said goodbye to friends and family that no longer work for me. I’ve moved away from everything I no longer want to do.
Instead, I put all of my energy into what I DO want to do.
For example, I’ve had a lot of mentors over the last couple of years tell me I should start a podcast. And if you’ve noticed, A LOT of sites are now offering podcasts.
I get it. They make sense. Years ago, I invested in a lot of heavy equipment – microphones, editing software – I have it all. I’ve recorded a ton of audio over the years. But you know what? I hate it.
I live in a small place. My office is my dining room table. Or a coffee shop. My workstation consists of my laptop. All of that equipment is tucked away in a box. And the thought of dragging it out, setting up AND committing to recording something every single week – ugh. Double ugh.
I’ve actually had “start a podcast” on my goal lists for several years. But ohmigod, it just sounds like TOO MUCH WORK. So forget it. I don’t want to play that game. I like to write.
My perfect day is to get up very early in the morning. It’s quiet. I do a little meditation, a little journaling, a few yoga stretches. And then I write. WRITE! I can get thousands of words out in just a couple of hours.
And then I do all of the other things I love. Like walk with my friends. Have lunch with my husband. Take a hike. Go to my Nia class. Hop on a plane and go someplace new. Or simply take a drive and enjoy the scenery.
A good meal. A glass of wine. And I’ve got my perfect day.
And it doesn’t include podcasting. 😉
I’ve found perfection by saying YES to what I love. And telling what I don’t want where to go.
4. Hell Yes!
There’s yes. And then there’s Hell Yes!
Yes is when you agree to something just because. Maybe a friend is pushing you. Maybe someone made a recommendation. Maybe it sounds a little interesting – but you’re waffling between yes and no.
Then there’s Hell Yes!
With Hell Yes!, you feel it in your gut. It’s a burning desire. It’s something you want so bad you can taste it.
I love that Hell Yes! feeling.
I have it when I know beyond a doubt that I’m on the right track.
I have it when I no longer pursue things that I’m only so-so about.
I have it when I have no boundaries – all I want to say is YES!
I have it when I know exactly where I stand, with everyone and everything around me. I’m ME! I can do whatever I choose, and everyone around me wants to do it too.
Hell Yes! It’s the best feeling in the world.
5. How can I totally embarrass myself and make people say: What the … ?
I come from a long line of worker bees. My husband too.
Everyone in our families worked for a living. Our friends too. Entrepreneurship didn’t exist.
So we had no role models.
When we got this crazy idea of starting up a photography studio, the questions never stopped. We can’t do this, can we? Will we succeed? What will we lose? What if we fail? What if we look like idiots? What if we lose it all?
And trust me, some of the people around us only added to our fears.
But eventually, I separated myself from the herd mentality. I started leading instead of following. And I was no longer afraid of what I discovered. I was no longer afraid of what people think.
Nothing in life can ever be that bad. It all adds to who I am. And helps create an even stronger, better person for my next thirty years.
6. What can I do to shock the world?
Have you looked around lately? The world is … shocking. There are shock factors everywhere. The news. The economy. Politics. Insurance. Education. I could go on and on.
The thing with shocking is it soon becomes the norm. None of it is really your problem anyway.
Except for that little thing you care about.
When I first sold off my photography business and started writing on reinvention, I had no idea what it would turn into. I just knew I wanted to write about what was happening in my own life.
Slowly, I started developing strong ideas. Slowly, my ideas came together.
I don’t have to speak to the world. I only have to speak to people in my tribe.
The people that find my writings and say … WOW!
The people that read my writings and DO!
Is that you?!
7. If this is my last year on earth, what do I want to do?
Most of us don’t like to think about death. I’m kind of different in that respect.
I think it has to do with my father dying so young.
It’s always been there, this number calling out to me. “What if you die at 54?”
It became even more real when I turned 53. What if I only had one more year left on earth? Did I do everything I set out to do? What’s missing?
It gave me perspective.
I have no problem saying no.
I only say yes when it’s something important to me; when it meets my core values.
I know I’m not going to be the next Bill Gates or JK Rowling. And that’s okay.
But what if one post touches one life … and it changes the world?
What if one lunch with someone I love makes their day … and it sets the world on fire?
There’s no greater gift I can give the world than to do exactly what I’m supposed to do … today. If I don’t, I’m merely wasting time.
But if I listen very carefully and do what I’m meant to do, it can be electrifying. It can be the change the world really needs right now.
So that’s why I do what I do.
It’s all I have.
And it’s my way of reinventing my life to be the best yet.