Hello everybody, welcome to episode 193 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. Today's question is on having the courage for midlife change.
I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino reminding you before we begin that if you have a question you would like help with on the show, we welcome you to email it to us at advice AT oldpodcast.com
And today we’ve got a question from a woman who, at 55, has no interest in slowing down and riding out what she deems the “2nd half” of her life. She finds herself at a crossroads in which she wants to pursue more – some big, revitalizing changes. She’s having a hard time summoning the courage, however. Let’s take a look at this question and see if we can uncover ways to approach such feelings at any age. Here’s what she has to say…
QUESTION: “Might you have resources you could recommend for people going through midlife or a change of life? At 55, it seems I’ve reached a crossroads in which I feel suddenly stuck – trying to work up the courage to seek a new life in my ‘2nd half’, including perhaps going back to school and pursuing a new career.“
Embarking on A New Path
I love receiving questions from people who are looking ahead to embark on an entirely new path! What fun!
Thanks for sending this in and letting me a small part of the journey.
We’ve had a few questions like this so I do recommend going through the archives for more.
Episodes 3, 148 and 165 would help. 150 and 151, our only two-parter to date, may be of use as well. (The embedded episode links are peppered throughout this post.)
But let’s get into your question, because of course it has its nuances.
Midlife Change: Your Why
I think for you (or anyone) to seek a new life, it’s going to be important to know what the “why” is that’s driving the decisions.
It’ll be important to get a little introspective and decipher whether you have specific goals you want to pursue that mean a lot to you, or if you simply feel antsy and want to change something mostly because you worry that you’re running out of time to make big and exciting changes.
Ideally, you want it to be the former. You want your actions en route to this new life to be rooted in things that you believe in, rather than just acting because you’re feeling agitated and stagnant – it goes without saying that whatever changes you make should be reflective of your values and things you care about.
But even if it’s the latter, and you just want a shakeup, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Shakeups and actions that aren’t super premeditated can lead to great things, and maybe going into a new adventure that isn’t totally planned would be refreshing for you.
Midlife Change vs. Midlife Crisis
Realistically, the only risk involved would be the impact this new life has on the things that you’ve maybe taken for granted – things many of us take for granted. These would include your family, a stable job, etc.
You may have zest for a new lifestyle that you can barely contain, or you might just be bored and restless. Either way, it’ll be imperative to consider the ramifications that a new lifestyle have on the smooth and steady aspects of your current lifestyle.
Damage done to these parts of your life is likely the worst thing you could have for yourself, especially at this age. This is the stuff midlife crises are made of, and we don’t want that.
Maximize Passion Without Interrupting Stability
With that being said, I think that, whatever changes you make, the formula has to be maximizing passion, but only so far as to not interrupt the stable parts of your life that you have enjoyed and will continue to serve you long term.
And following this rule really prevents the need to work up all of this courage as you mentioned, because you’re ensuring that the important stuff that makes for a lot of the foundation of your identity isn’t being put into question.
For example, say travel is really on your list of things to highlight in this part 2 of life, but you’ve still got a teenager at home that needs to be raised. Traveling for a year right now probably isn’t the best move. Rather, you can schedule weekend trips more often, as well as bigger trips while they’re on summer vacation. And meanwhile. You can plan a longer trip for a few years from now when they’re off to college.
But maybe you don’t care much about travel. Maybe you’ve forgotten what your passions are. You ask for resources; in this case a life coach would be a great place to start (a good life coach that is, be careful for the posers out there).
But really, trained life coaches are sort of tailored to help you create a plan and steps to create a new future for yourself.
You can still do a lot of this work on your own, however.
Midlife Change: Questions to Ask Yourself
Start by asking yourself some of the following questions:
- What causes are you passionate about or who do you want to help?
- What passions did you have when you were younger that you passed up on, and can now modify to coexist with the constants in your life that you enjoy and don’t want to put at risk?
- What do you want your legacy to be based on?
- What things have you not done that you feel are important for everyone to do before they die?
Asking questions like these should help you get a sense of direction and specificity if you don’t already have one, and specificity is important.
The more vivid imagery you can come up with as a result of these questions, the easier it will be for you to create big goals. From there, you can work backwards from them or find small ways to start integrating parts of these new lifestyles into your current life.
Midlife Change and Courage: Conclusion
Either way, there’s no need to blow the whole thing up – a reminder that I’d think would only make finding that courage even easier for you since you know that your whole life isn’t going to be flipped on its side right away.
You’re still calling the shots, and whatever you try that doesn’t work can easily be undone as long as you move into this steadily and with flexibility, rather than diving in headfirst. Your whole life so far has been a series of changes, hasn’t it?
The same will be true in part 2.
Don’t worry about committing to changes that you have to stick for the rest of your life. Hasn’t worked that way so far, and it’s not going to work that way going forward.
Thanks once more to the asker for submitting this really wonderful question. You know, it can be so tempting to try to plan out the rest of our lives – put things in place that we feel like will always be there and can rely on for consistency.
I certainly fall victim to this myself, and it’s questions like these that remind me of how fleeting each situation is and how the security we try to put in place for ourselves is always in question. And not only is it forever in question, but if it does hold up for long, things can get boring.
We need the blend of certainty and uncertainty, and regularly looking to carve out new paths alongside that which we keep stable in our lives is really a way of finding value at every stage – never to feel as though you’re at a point at which the fun or adventure is over. This is important and something I hope we can all navigate gracefully.
And on that note, time to get out of here for today. I appreciate you all sticking through to the end, and I hope the asker found what she was looking for today. If she or anyone else has follow up questions, you all know where to find me. Have a great rest of your day everyone, take care, and I’ll look forward to talking to you next time in the Friday show. See you there.