This post is the first of a three-part series on learning to change one’s mindset and actions in order to shift from a life that has become stagnant and sluggish to a one that is vibrant and constantly evolving towards happiness and fulfillment.
“You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old”– George Burns
As I am typing this quote, I am thinking that if you’re thirty-something, you likely won’t know who George Burns is, but that if you do know who I am talking about, then you are part of the age segment this post is targeting. Specifically, I am looking at the women who are in the 55+ range, and who are at an important crossroad in life.
Whether you know George or not, you have to admit that he is right! Just because you sport grey hair now, may have a slower walk, and don’t like loud music unless its tunes from the 70s and 80s it doesn’t mean that the best part of life is over. You should be embracing your inner youth, and looking to live life to the fullest.
The most recent statistics released in 2019 found that life expectancy in Canada for men was 80 years old, and 84 years for women.
If you are at this crossroad of life, and you are feeling you have lost your zest for life, maybe you’re feeling stuck in a loop, just going through the motions, and trapped in a routine that does not fill you with excitement in the morning, then its time to take recalibrate, and SHIFT.
There are all sorts of reasons why you are where you are – that is what life does. You take a path, different than the one your childhood friend took, and you end up elsewhere, living a life with different outcomes. This very concept is extremely mind-boggling and exciting! Think about it!! Almost 8 billion humans live on the planet, and everyone is living a different and unique set of circumstances.
The great thing about life and choices, is that you don’t need to stay stuck, if the direction no longer suits you. You don’t like your house? Move. Don’t like your bank? Change it. Your routine is not exciting? Spice it up!
You just need to point your compass forward and decide where you go from here.
So, you are here. And you want to go……….there!
Consider that we live our lives in three big stages:
- Childhood – including the tumultuously emotional teen years,
- Adulthood – part one where we are forming families, and contributing to the economy
- Adulthood – part two where you are empty-nesters, possibly retired, possibly with a different marital status . Based on the statistics for life-expectancy in Canada, you have approximately 20-30 years of living still to do when you are at stage 3.
I wager that figuring out how to occupy your time for the twenty or thirty years of stage 3 may be keeping you up at night! If not, good for you – I would love to hear what you have going on! Drop us a line in the comments about how you fill your days as it may give some ideas to others who are struggling.
I covered this in my post of December 2, 2019 “It Was In the Cards” where I felt lost after having retired, and completed my travel dreams. Having always been a busy person, I suddenly found myself spending hours if not days, playing games on my device, waiting for an appropriate time to have a glass of wine, and hanging out on Facebook.
It really was a stagnant period, and I was scared at the prospects of not having anything to look forward to anymore. Was that it? Why get out of bed? Why bother?
Here’s what I did to get back to living:
- I made a list of things I really enjoyed doing but had no one to do it with.
- I made a list of things I did not enjoy doing, but that had to get done.
- I wrote down all sorts of activities I had thought of trying, or that peaked my interest
- I started thinking about the kind of commitment I was willing to make
- I decided that I would have fun
Of all the things I listed, I selected a few that appealed more to me. Some required little effort and were easy to stick with and brought me a lot of enjoyment. My cards group for example. Okay, we haven’t gotten together since the pandemic, but I look forward to starting up our bi-weekly card date soon.
Some required more effort to make them a habit, like journaling in my gratitude journal, going through my positive intentions and getting into a meditation routine, but I stuck to it, and eventually it became part of the reason I get up in the morning.
Speaking of habits – I strongly recommend a book written by James Clear entitled Atomic Habits – An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones. His method recommends starting with tiny changes in your routine, that really require a low level of effort, but cumulatively will result in big changes over time.
“It is so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making small implements on a daily basis. Too often, we convince ourselves that massive success requires massive action.”
“Whether it is losing weight, building a business, writing a book, winning a championship or achieving any other goal, we put pressure on ourselves to make some earth-shattering implements that everyone will talk about.”– James Clear, Atomic Habits
As I added little improvements in my day, like planning and preparing healthy meals, and exercising regularly, my life began to get better. I was feeling better, busier and feeling more settled in a routine that offers a blend of activities that bring me joy, and leaves me a lot more fulfilled than when I was spending days on my tablet. I still have some of those days and they are a treat!
By the way – don’t forget to schedule some time for boredom. Being bored can be good for you. Think of when we were kids, and bored on rainy days. We often ended up inventing a game, or finding things to do that were a result of putting our imagination to work. Being bored can help foster creativity. Try it!
The first step to getting unstuck, is to decide you don’t want to stay stuck, and make a list of ideas that get you excited, and choosing a few you would be willing to explore. Remember, even in small increments, change is positive and can yield big results. You have to start somewhere – why not here, and now?