The way I see it, aging is delivered to our doorstep like a beautifully wrapped gift. It’s an opportunity for us to peel off the ribbons and bows, tear open the paper, dive into a lifetime of extraordinary experiences and create new dreams.
Imagine as you gently lift the edges of the gift box open, a movie of your life comes comes flying out and starts rolling on your living room wall. You see flashes from your childhood, teen years, college, relationships, marriage, perhaps divorce, raising your children, building your career, vacations, and detours all along this path called life. And at the end of the film, as the credits roll, you are invited to write the script for whatever time remains.
When I play that film in my head, reflecting with gratitude on a life well lived – bumps and all – I get fired up about the message at the end.
Aging invites us to opt into change in a way that we couldn’t see when we were younger because we were waist deep in the muck of life. As we cross the 50-year line and head toward 60 and beyond, we begin to see the choices that age, experience and wisdom can unlock.
Retirement is the next great adventure in our lives. For me, it’s more like un-retirement and the start of something new. But in order to do that, we need to regroup, recharge and re-launch ourselves in a way that lights us up. Holy hell, we get a do-over!
Be Good to Yourself
Self-forgiveness is under-rated. After 50, a skill we must consciously sharpen is our ability to cut ourselves some slack and shake off the small stuff. Seriously. Who cares if the laundry piles up for a few days or the car is so dirty that the grandkids write “Wash Me” on our back windshields?
We’re human. We’re not perfect, nor were we ever intended to be. Now’s the time we can be self-focused and not feel a lick of guilt about it. Discovering our new life possibilities requires a lot of quiet introspection. Honor yourself with that quiet time to be at peace.
It’s perfectly normal to feel confusion and fear when you are contemplating a significant life change. I certainly did. Big time! Take time to reflect, connect and explore what’s possible for you before making the decision about what’s next.
Be An Explorer
Too many of us focus only on the money issues surrounding retirement, and not enough time asking, “ What’s next for me?” or “Can I contribute to something and make a difference?” If you focus on only the financial side, while that’s important, it’s not the end-all, be-all.
Many newly minted retirees find the easy life rather boring after the newness wears off. They yearn to contribute their well-honed skills and talents to launch their own businesses, perhaps do some consulting at their own pace, or serve on a board or a charitable organization. The options are unlimited when it comes to keeping our minds engaged while easing back on the gas pedal gradually.
You don’t have to do it all at once. Think of yourself as an explorer in your own movie, the Indiana Jones of aging, if you will. Take the first step by believing you are capable of more, rather than less. Create new thought patterns around the possibilities. I think you’ll find the process quite liberating.
Allow Time to Regroup
It takes time to disrupt familiar patterns, to grow personally. That’s why you need to take some time to regroup
By this, I mean expose yourself to new experiences. Try on potential future roles. Some will be awesome. Others may be total duds. This process may actually help bring that thing that you want most into laser-focus.
Next, you have to trust yourself. As we evolve past 50, 60, 70, even thinking about change can bring on bouts of heart-thumping anxiety and doubt. That’s normal. Be OK with it.
Anxiety is the antithesis of trust, and when you make a conscious effort to reduce anxiety, you will begin to trust yourself and the decisions you know are right.
Embrace a “what if” mindset. As yourself, ‘What if I were capable? What if I believed something different about myself? Will bad things happen if I do it? When can I give it a try?’ These simple questions and a swift kick into action can eliminate future regrets.
Bet on Your Gift of Aging
We’re all badasses deep down inside. In fact, we’re bold, badass, Boomers. We already know that aging is NOT for sissies. So why not bet on ourselves and celebrate our new paths?
Simply focus on things that make you come alive. As Jen Sincero (www.jensincero.com) wrote in You Are A Badass, “Give yourself the permission and the means (yes, this includes the money), to be who you are REGARDLESS OF WHAT ANYBODY ELSE THINKS OR BELIEVES IS POSSIBLE.”
Do the stuff that’s scary and challenging. Reveal things that are uncomfortable and do them anyway.In fact, be bold enough to see the greatness in yourself before other people do. Develop the ability to see yourself bigger than you think is possible.
When you do this later in life, you draw from an extraordinary wealth of experience and wisdom that makes a much different movie than you would have seen as a younger person. And when the credits roll, you will leave a remarkable legacy.