I recently had an amazing conversation with a friend back in my hometown who was feeling more than a little frustrated about her mid-life slump. Life is feeling dry. There are no exciting prospects, not even the feeling of something great to look forward to.
Another friend of mine spoke with me about the disappointing aspect of mid-life, and we both realized WHY it feels like such a slump.
Here’s what we realized:
When you are in grade school, there is something to look forward to – every year. You look forward to spring break, Christmas, summer break, Halloween trick-or-treating, birthday parties, the school year being over, the next school year starting up again, so on, so forth. In middle school, you look forward to when you finally get a boyfriend. When you’re in high school, you have real goals. You start to feel like your life is about to begin and you get excited! You get excited about your career goals, wondering what’s going to happen. The future is one big, open, exciting question mark! College gets intense – you feel right on the cusp of finally getting the life you are hoping for – a great career started, or at least your first real job! After you graduate and you begin your first jobs toward your career, you look forward to finding the perfect partner to marry, and fantasize about having a family. And then you experience the joys and miracles of having children.
… What now?… What now? You ask yourself.
You find yourself in what feels like a pit of nothingness, depressed, because you have no idea what there is to look forward to next. Retirement may never be an option, and even if it is, it’s over 20 years away. So… so what is the next goal? The next thing? The next piece of your life to hope and look forward to?
I really see this a lot in people. It’s an easy place to find yourself if you’ve never really done anything more than what has been expected of you. It’s a very frustrating place to be.
One of my friends decided to make a new name for her “mid-life crisis” – renaming it her “MID-LIFE THRIVING.” I freakin’ LOVE that. Ingenious!!!
What I’ve been doing to get through it is continuously work on the things I always told myself “I CAN’T DO.”
My “I CAN’T” LIST:
- I can’t write without having complete and utter solitude, so I’ll never be able to finish my books.
- I can’t get my writing published.
- I can’t focus on my work with distractions around me.
- I can’t be a teacher.
- I can’t work with kids – they scare me.
- I can’t do belly dancing.
- I can’t be a good cook.
- I can’t make time to do the things I want to do.
Write out YOUR “I CAN’T list, and try REWRITING your “I CAN’T” into “MAYBE I CAN…”
- Maybe I CAN write without having complete and utter solitude, so I can finish my books! I should try!
- Maybe I CAN get my writing published! Hey, what about trying self publishing, or guest blogging to start with?
- Maybe I CAN focus on my work with distractions around me. I am getting used to tuning things out. It’s worth a try!
- Maybe I CAN be a teacher! I should try and see if I like it or not.
- Maybe I CAN work with kids! I do have two of my own, and THEY think I’m funny.
- Maybe I CAN do belly dancing. I could take a class and just try it out to see if it’s any fun.
- Maybe I CAN be a good cook. I should try cooking more things I would order in a restaurant.
- Maybe I CAN make time to do the things I want to do. Even little bits of time could be helpful!
You’ll notice that every “maybe I CAN” also ends with an idea of what to TRY OUT. Really work on figuring out what you could do to FIND OUT if you can turn that “I can’t” into an “I can!”
All the things on the list above are real for me – I faced them and continue to work on turning those “I can’ts” around!
Share in a comment what you would like to try turning around!
I’d love to hear it, and promise to answer you with positive encouragement!