Midlife is such a unique phase of life, and it's a time when many of us start asking "what now?" or "what's next?" So today we're going to explore three life hacks that can help you find clarity on what's next for you in midlife.
You can use one or all three of these midlife hacks, so see which ones resonate most with you and start there. I'll be giving you examples and suggestions as we go, and I'll leave you with a couple of exercises to help you get the clarity you need to start exploring and experimenting with things.
In midlife, we have a tendency to lose touch with the things that once brought us joy and fulfillment, and that generally happens in the hustle and bustle of life. Whether you're focused on your career or on raising your children, somehow those passions seem to fizzle, don't they? We all have something that we're passionate about. Let me ask you:
If you lost touch with those passions when things got busy, where did they go? What happened to them?
Well, they're still inside you, friend, and they're waiting to be reignited. It's time to light that spark again. We're going to blow on that little ember to move it into a full-on flame.
So grab your favorite beverage, find a comfortable place to sit and take a moment to think. Take a minute to reflect on your past interests and hobbies.
Reconnect with those passions, whether it's painting or gardening or writing or something entirely different. Carve out time in your schedule to pursue them.
But here's the key: Approach them with a fresh perspective. For example, I used to love doing improv with ComedySportz. I loved performing with some of my favorite people in the entire world. We were like family, and these were some of the happiest times of my life.
But now when I think about going back to it, I feel meh. I feel much more indifferent about it than I would've ever thought possible. I thought I would always be in love with this type of improv, which is called short-form, and I thought it was always going to be a part of me.
I asked myself: "Michelle, do you want to spend that much time on something you feel meh about?"
Obviously the answer came back as a "hard no" pretty quickly, and I was okay with that. I was surprised about it, but I was okay. It felt like I had outgrown it. I know the amount of time and energy it takes, and I realized I just don't have that anymore.
Wait, let me clarify. A better way to say it is:
I realized I'm not willing to put that much time and energy into something I'm not passionate about.
Have you ever had that happen? It's surreal when it happens but it forced me to think about what I want at this point in my life.
I discovered that I'm still interested in improv. It's fun. But it's going to look different than before. That's because I realized I don't have to stick to this type of improv. There are other types of improv that I'm more interested in at this point.
Maybe it's a class. Maybe it's joining a group that doesn't perform as often. I don't know yet; I'm still percolating on it. But when I think about things looking different, that's what ignites my passion and gets me excited. Granted, it's the same interest and passion I had before. It just has a little spin on it, and it's going to look different. It's the same thing with you. Your passions may evolve, and that's perfectly okay.
Exploring what you used to love can be a powerful source of clarity on what you love today, and that's going to help you figure out what's next for you in midlife.
By midlife, you've accumulated a wealth of knowledge and skills and experiences. It's time to recognize and leverage those strengths to shape your future. So start by taking an inventory of your talents and abilities. Ask yourself questions like:
Now, don't be modest. This is a time to celebrate your strengths. This is the time to brag on yourself to yourself for a little while. Write the list that's just for you. No one else is going to see this.
These unique strengths are your secret weapon for creating a fulfilling next chapter for yourself. Once you've identified them, consider how you can apply them in new and exciting ways.
It could be anything from starting a new business to mentoring others or volunteering in a field that aligns with those passions that you may have discovered in step one.
I recently talked to a friend who is considering retirement, but she's not quite sure what she wants to do next. As we were talking, she said she really enjoyed teaching. She's not a teacher by profession or even in her hobbies, but teaching others creates great meaning in her life.
So we talked a little bit longer, and now she has a few ideas that she can percolate on as she's moving forward on her retirement plan. She's talented at a number of different things, so I can easily see her having a second career (maybe even a third!) where she's teaching one or two of the many topics that she's good at.
So embracing your strengths can create the clarity you need to craft a life that's purposeful and fulfilling and as beautiful as you want it to be.
As we age, it's easy to fall into a fixed mindset. We start believing we're too old to learn or adapt. You may even think you're too old to change, but nothing could be further from the truth.
A growth mindset is basically the belief that you can develop your abilities and your talents.
A growth mindset is about embracing challenges, seeking opportunities for growth, and seeing failures as nothing more than stepping stones to your ultimate success. To develop a growth mindset, start by challenging your own limiting beliefs. I've said it before, friend, and I'll say it again: Your mind is the best anti-aging tool you have so be intentional when you're using it.
Replace thoughts like, "Ugh, I'm too old for this" with thoughts like "I'm capable of learning and growing." At any age, start getting out of your comfort zone with Easy Aging® fun-sized actions. Then, pay attention, catch the negative thought, and replace it with a positive thought. Then you do it again and again. These are small actions to start changing up your mindset.
You know I'm a lifelong learner, so I love learning new things. But I know there are a lot of you who don't like the beginner stage of things because you make a lot of mistakes and it gets frustrating. I get it.
But what about being able to enjoy learning simply for the sake of learning? When I learn something new, I don't just learn about the topic. I also learn a little more about myself. Over the years, I've discovered what I like and what I don't like. I figured out what intrigues me.
I've also figured out what I find so incredibly boring that I can't believe people actually care about this stuff. So even finding that out has been extremely helpful in what I want to focus on and what I don't.
You can cultivate a growth mindset simply by following your curiosity. Here's the key to success:
If you're intrigued and you want to learn more about a topic or an activity, don't go into it with any expectations. Don't expect to master it immediately. Just let your curiosity lead the way, see where you land and see what you can glean from it.
If it doesn't interest you, move on. No big deal.
So that's it for today. Three life hacks to help you discover what's next in midlife. Do one or all of these three life hacks so you can get clarity and make this little adventure we call midlife rich, fulfilling and, of course, fun!