Goals can be placed in three separate categories:
Easy goals are what we accomplish every day. I set a goal to finish my laundry today, and guess what? I accomplished it. Easy goals are so ingrained in our lives, we sometimes don’t even think about them.
In midlife, we’ve performed them so frequently, we move on autopilot to check them off.
Then we move to challenging goals. These are more difficult. These are the goals we have to spend time with, plan out, work to accomplish them. They don’t come naturally. We have to do something new in order to get them off of our lists.
As you can imagine, how we define “easy” and “challenging” adjusts with age. Graduating from high school seemed monumental to my ten-year-old self, for example. But as I watched my daughter grow and change as she moved through the different grades, it seemed to occur in a blink of an eye.
And therein lies part of the problem.
The older you are, the more reference points you have in your life. The more you can compare your today to what you took on before. And it can mess with your mind.
Something happens in midlife …
Think about the goals from when you were just graduating from high school.
The world is your oyster, they say.
With so much time ahead of you, you can do anything. So you start setting goals that follow the societal blueprint for a life well-lived.
Think about what they sell you:
- Go to school so
- You can get a good job so
- You can start a family so
- You can live a happy adult life so
- You can prepare for when the kids leave and you’ll face the empty nest so
- You can reach retirement and sit back and relax
Yep, that’s the implication.
Nobody ever fills the blank in while you’re young for what you’re supposed to do after your kids grow up.
Yet that’s where we are today.
You lose your sense of adventure because you become complacent about where you are in life.
You’ve made your choice in a job or career – you’re too close to retirement to change now.
You’ve set the stage for your health and well-being – you might be overweight and unhealthy.
You’ve chased all of your relationships away – you didn’t have time for friends, and you no longer know the spouse or partner who sits beside you.
Guess what? All the worthy goals in your life are past you! You have nothing left to look forward to.
At this point, you’ve missed your chance to get healthy – the last doctor visit confirmed that. You’ve lost your chance at changing careers – you have only a few more years to go. Wealthy? Yeah, right. You live paycheck to paycheck, trying to keep up with the mortgage, the car payments, college tuition for the kids, picking up things for your parents, worrying about caring for them and what that will cost, the credit card bills, the … You get it.
Remember when you used to dream about a breakthrough – a significant change in your life that would be so monumental, your life would change in immeasurable ways?
Now the only thing left is to self-medicate so you can slog along, trying to escape the hand you’ve been dealt. You don’t want to get rid of your late night fast food binges. Or grabbing a candybar (or two) and indulging (binging) your favorite Netflix show.
All that’s left are impossible goals. So why not numb the feeling?
Start by finding your motivation
A few years back, when Twitter was newer and taking the world by storm, I read a story about a 100 year old woman in a nursing home tweeting her heart out. She loved life and shared cute little sayings as she moved throughout her days.
I will never forget her.
Because she knew the secret to a life well-lived. No matter what her abilities, she set goals for herself. Easy goals and challenging goals. She ignored impossibilities.
How many 100 year olds say they’ll never learn technology? Or try out social sites like Twitter or Instagram when they’re brand new? Others are simply doing it.
There is an endless supply of people who get tired of the status quo and just do it.
I’ve been fascinated this year with Train With Joan. In three years, she’s gone from a 70 year old, 198 pound woman moving quickly downhill, to a woman with a half-million followers on Instagram enthralled with her journey of transformation.
Did I mention she was 70 when she started on this latest journey?
Right now, grab a sticky note (I love sticky notes, I can put them everywhere as gentle reminders 😉 ) or a piece of paper and write down one thing you want, but you’ve convinced yourself you can’t have.
You can do it. I’ll even give you a few suggestions:
- I want to lose weight
- I want a job I like
- I want to learn Spanish
- I want to paint
- I want to hike
- I want to start a blog
- I want to start a rock band
It can be small or big. Doesn’t matter.
Now assume your best years AREN’T behind you.
If you want to lose weight, follow Train With Joan. Want to learn Spanish? Find the course catalog for your local community college and sign up for the next class. Want to hike? Put on your walking shoes and head outside.
It starts with a first step. That’s all.
Put that sticky note up where you’ll see it every day. And do something to make that goal come true, TODAY!