Thinking About Making A Change in Midlife? Ask Yourself These 4 Questions
This blog is about rediscovering yourself and figuring out what YOU WANT for your life now that you are at this midlife point. So, naturally this will entail some CHANGE. Yes – change. Ok, you may be thinking, why would I want to change my life at age 50; I’m settled.
Ok, but if you’re here and reading this, you’re probably also thinking that there is MORE that you want to do in this life. There’s something eating at you and making you feel like you NEED a change. You may also know deep down that it is TIME to make changes that you’ve been meaning to make… for a long time.
So, here I am again – to help you (and myself) decide to make changes and even thrive in the midst of these changes.
They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”
Some things that people often want to change, and especially during midlife, are:
- Unhealthy habits – like eating crap, smoking, not drinking enough water, or getting little to no exercise.
- Job/career – we get to this point and think, but I wanted to do something different. Or, I can’t do this job forever and do NOT want to retire doing this same thing that really doesn’t bring me joy or fulfillment anymore.
- Spending/saving habits – will you have “enough” to retire or will you ever actually be able to retire?
- Time spent traveling – there’s a whole world out there to explore and you’ve been busy with career and parenting and running your household to do much traveling; maybe it’s time!
- Time spent working – you realize 50-60 hour work weeks are not how you want to spend your time; you want to spend more time with your loved ones!
- A long term relationship – some of us may have “stayed” for the kids or out of convenience and no longer want to live this way.
But, change isn’t easy.
Why Does Change Seem So Hard Anyway
Change is hard at any age, but if you’re trying to change your life after age 50 or so, it can seem even harder.
Change takes effort. When you think of change, you may think, “I don’t have the energy to do one more thing, let alone change my life.” Seriously, we ARE tired from all of our daily responsibilities plus the fact that a lot of us don’t sleep well at this age. We may even struggle with depression, which makes any effort seem too big.
Change can cause anxiety. What if I fail? What if I succeed? If I succeed, then people will expect things of me. Will I be able to meet those expectations?
There is comfort in knowing what to expect. Uncertainty is scary. Some changes are huge like making a career change or leaving a long term relationship. You know what life is like now, but who knows what your new co-workers will be like or if the job will even be something you enjoy.
And won’t you be overwhelmed and lonely without a partner to share life and responsibilities? (Being alone after many years in a relationship was definitely a big adjustment for me. But there was also a lot of heaviness that was released.)
Change may lead to loss. We may fear that we will lose something important. When I changed my job after 17 years, I knew I would be starting from zero with my accrued paid time off (vacation time). My old job was also very flexible. I was losing “freedom” when I took a new job, which was very important to me. (I found out that my new boss was easy going and the job was also flexible. And, in no time, I had paid time off too.)
Habits and routines can be like an addiction. I remember when I smoked, I thought – how can I possibly have a phone conversation without smoking? What will I do in the mornings when I have my coffee? I won’t even be able to enjoy that. (Currently drinking my coffee and have zero need for a smoke.) There’s a physical feeling inside your body when you struggle with change; the resistance makes it uncomfortable.
How Can We Best to Deal with Difficulties Related to Change and Set Ourselves Up For Success?
Feeling good about making the change will really make a difference. So, how do you get to that place where you feel ready and confident enough to go for it? Start by asking yourself some questions. (I suggest writing/journaling your thoughts on these 4 questions.)
#1 – What is the worst that can happen?
The worst is that you won’t change. And you’ll be where you are now. You haven’t lost anything. In fact, you’ve gained insight into yourself – maybe this isn’t the best time to make the change or maybe your efforts went against your natural instincts or maybe you just learned that this particular way to go about making the change isn’t best for you.
Always always always take the insights you gain and use them to your advantage. There is no need to dwell on what didn’t work. Try something different next time, and be easy on yourself. There is never a reason to beat yourself up.
#2 – What is true about this situation?
If you are worried about what might happen, or how hard it might be to make the change, you might be ruminating too much – overthinking things. We know there is a lot of uncertainty with change, so that in itself means that your worries are unnecessary. What is true is that you want to make this change. What you don’t know is what the outcome will be, how easy or hard it will be, what others will think (not any of your concern anyway), that you won’t be successful, etc. etc.
The only way you won’t succeed is if you quit trying. So, if you decide it’s not something you want to do, that’s not quitting, it’s making a decision to do something else. However, if you “fall off the wagon” for a minute/a day/a month – whatever – don’t tell yourself that you’ve failed and give up – just get back on. No road is so smooth that there is never a bump here and there.
#3 – Am I wrong or weak for feeling fear?
Please don’t judge yourself for having feelings about the change. When you feel stress or anxiety, I’ve learned, through mindfulness, that it’s helpful to sit with the feeling and acknowledge it. Let the feeling pass through your body. Notice and accept the feeling without judgment. You’re not “wrong” or “weak” for feeling these things. These feelings are normal. They don’t have to hold you back though. They just are.
#4 – Next year at this time, would I wish I would have made this change already?
Think about this. You may not want to wait or put off making the change. You don’t have to dwell, overthink, or worry about it; just consider this question.
So, after considering the questions above and you’re starting to feel good about making the change – go for it! Remember, in order to thrive during the whole change process:
Change happens in the here and now. It can’t happen anywhere else – not in the past (already done, can’t go back in time) – not in the future (you’re not there yet, can’t time travel).
You aren’t perfect; don’t expect that you’ll never mess up – you will – but then you just get back on track.
Most of all – remember there is no such thing as failure. It’s just an opportunity to learn…learn about you, what works for you, what doesn’t work for you, what you
Change doesn’t happen overnight; any movement forward creates momentum; small steps do add up. It’s basic math!
Recognize your efforts regularly. Celebrate the little things. Know that you are amazing!
What changes have you made? What changes are you thinking you may want to make in midlife? Let us know! We are here to support one another while we change our lives – and embark on some cool midlife pursuits!
(I would LOVE to hear from you! Let me know what you think or if you have midlife pursuits to share – email me anytime.)