Let me ask you a question.
What if someone right now, told you all the answers to your reinvention questions existed in a little place called Sucre, Bolivia. You should travel there immediately, and your plan will magically fall into place. You’ll find your passion. You’ll learn what you’re supposed to do with your second act. You’ll come back a different person.
Would you go?
It sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Most of us laugh at the thought. It’s like those email scams some people fall for. The ones that promise you a million bucks if you only contribute a few hundred to the cause. Send it right away to this account, they tell you, and we “promise” you the million will magically appear.
We know in our hearts that we can’t solve our quest for wanting more, just by taking someone’s two-second advice. You can’t show up and have it magically appear. We know it takes soul searching, that we have to put in the work ourselves.
And yet we want help.
Ever asked someone closest to you to “just tell me what to do?”
Ever pondered the question: “what’s next?”
Of course. That’s why you’re here.
Two Approaches, Quick and Slow
We’re a society that loves fast action.
Maybe that’s been built by our entertainment. Define a problem and find the solution in less than two hours. Because of Hollywood, we’ve defeated villains, fought wars, and solved major world problems in two hours or less.
Of course, that’s not reality. But somehow that all gets tangled up inside. That’s why we say things like:
I should know what to do. I’m a grown up.
I want this, and I want it now.
We’ve been preconditioned to expect results quickly. But is that truly reality?
Let me give you an example.
A number of years ago, I was failing at everything. But I was an idea person. I came up with new business ideas like nobody’s business. Every day I’d change my approach. I came up with new marketing tools, wrote new guides and books, even started a couple of websites with my ideas. But months (or weeks) later, nothing. I’d let the idea die a quick death, and move onto something else.
This drove me crazy for a long time. I had no idea what was wrong. All I knew was my bank account was failing right along with my approach to business.
As a part of the process, I eventually came across the concept of coaching, and hired a coach to help. Within minutes, she defined the problem. “You move on so fast to new ideas, you never give anything a chance to work. What would you like to do ten years from now? Put a plan in place today to make that happen. Then let nothing stand in your way. Only do things that will make that ten year plan a reality. Let it work.”
It sounds easy writing it down today. I did it in two paragraphs.
But I’m willing to bet you’ve had something like that happen to you. You spent months agonizing over something. When you finally figured it out, it took a few minutes to define and put into place. And it changed everything.
I think this comes down to the quick/slow approach.
Humans – especially Americans – want everything fast. We want it solved today. That’s why we’ve allowed so much “wrong” to enter our lives.
Slow It Down
There are so many things we say that showcase our quick thinking approach to life.
Can’t you just give me a pill?
I’ll take a “99-cent heart attack” to go.
Solve this for me.
Just tell me what to do.
Or maybe you’ve heard your friends say things like:
I can sleep when I’m dead.
I just don’t have the time.
I wish I could clone myself to get everything done.
Yep, I’m guilty. I’ve said all of this and more.
Until the side effects started kicking in. I started having health problems, sleep issues, anxiety, financial issues. Yep, the full gamut. But I also did what a lot of people don’t – I went looking for solutions.
You can’t work yourself into exhaustion. Sleep deprivation impacted Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington so strongly, she wrote a book about the importance of sleep. After passing out from exhaustion and waking up in a pool of her own blood, she discovered just how important her health really was.
That was her moment that changed everything. I’ve had plenty of them over my lifetime. We all need that internal “a-ha” moment to jar us back into what is really important.
The Quick/Slow Approach to Second Act Reinvention
Sometime in our 40s or 50s, we get the itch to do something else, BE somebody we’ve never been before.
We look at all we’ve done in the past, and decide we want something more. But something holds us back. It’s that ol’ quick/slow approach once again. I was reminded of it again this past week when I was chatting with a friend.
“I’ve always wanted to write. I would love to publish a book like you have. Someday. I just don’t have time now. The kids are finally out of the house and into their own apartments. But my dad needs help, and I have a few committees I’m chairing at work. We’re trying to squeeze in a trip, just the two of us, before the summer begins. And that’s when things will really get busy … Maybe when things slow down.”
Funny, things seem to be going faster now than ever before. You too?
I’m 54. I graduated from college 32 years ago, married, and started creating my life. In 32 years, I’ll be 86. That’s possible. And if I have anything to say about it, I’ll be a very healthy 86 year old doing all of the things I love. That includes writing, traveling, exercising, laughing with friends, enjoying life.
Thirty two years goes by in a blink of an eye. Yet it’s also a very slow process. It’s 11,680 days filled with all of the things I love.
If I start something today, I have more than enough time to put it into my life and make it my reality. I can choose where I go, who I go with, what I accomplish.
But I do have to choose. Consciously choose.
And that, my friend, is what I consider the quick/slow approach to reinventing your second act.
You can’t solve all of your problems in two hours. But you can make one decision and put it into action.
If you want to write, write. Buy a journal. Carve out an hour in your day to sit down and write. Buy a book on writing. Sign up for a class.
Of course, you can also go looking for a little bit of magic. I’m also a firm believer in seeing the world. It’ll change you in ways you never even imagined.
Ever heard of Sucre, Bolivia? Interested in going? It made a travel site’s “12 best places to travel to that you’ve never heard of.”
I’d never heard of it, at least until I wrote this article. Now I’m thinking, it might be time to go. There might be a person waiting there, ready to tell me all I need to know about my future. Someone who will give me the answers to all of my questions.
Or not. 😉