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Midlife Lessons Learned: Jump Start Your New Year With These Four Effortless Ideas

Quick note: If you haven't heard the previous four episodes, please go back and listen to the "Refresh Your Year" series. These episodes are a fantastic primer for moving into the new year or a new quarter, or any time you're ready for a new start.

Specifically, I wanted to note that the episode right before this one, "Refresh Your Year: Create A Delightful New Year By Taking A Midlife Look Back," has a wonderful exercise to help you close out last year and step into this year.

As we wrap up last year and move into a new year, I thought it would be the perfect time to reflect on some valuable lessons that I learned last year and to set the stage for an incredible new chapter this year. At the end of each lesson, I'll leave you with a simple exercise that you could do to get the most out of them.

Lesson 1: Work with the frustration

Mel Robbins says, "Frustration is a sign you've outgrown something." This resonated with me because when I think back on my life, my frustration has led me to some beautiful things. So I think here's great wisdom in what she said:

Frustration is a sign you've outgrown something. -- Mel Robbins

Here's an example: One of my most recent frustrations was where I was when we were all going through the pandemic. I lived in Fort Worth and didn't have a ton of friends yet, then the pandemic hit. That meant I was sitting alone in my house long?!

I was really frustrated about my lack of friends and not having a church home and not feeling connected to the city like I did in San Antonio. After some thought, I realized I didn't have the energy to start over. I didn't have the energy to start making friends, going to events, networking, and doing all the things required to settle in properly.

So I prayed about it for a while and made a quick move back to San Antonio. When my family came for a visit, my sister-in-law Ester said, "You look so happy."

I responded, "I am happy." Things fell into place for me with this move. I now have a great new church and life group that I love; I'm volunteering; and I'm fully enjoying my friends again.

In spite of al the frustration and the tears and the disappointment, a beautiful thing happened when I realized I had outgrown my situation. With that realization, I was able to take an action.

If you're currently frustrated about something, take a moment to figure out what, exactly, is frustrating you. Ask yourself:

  • Is it a person? Maybe you're trying to grow and spread your wings and you feel like someone is holding you back. Is it time to release them or, at the very least, spend a little less time with them?
  • Is it a place? Have you outgrown your job? Have you outgrown your current home?
  • Is it the way you do something? Have you been doing something the same way for many years,  and it's just not working anymore? Or maybe it has you feeling like you're in a rut?

Figure out what's frustrating you and decide how you can change it, update it, or tweak it in a way that benefit you.

Lesson 2: Take action

A few episodes back, I told you I was stuck. I was in a funk and something needed to happen. I was so stuck and getting so tired of waiting.

I thought, "Just because I'm waiting for an answer in one area, I wonder where I can get a quick win in a different area?"

I started asking these questions: "What am I good at? What do I enjoy? Where can I quickly see progress in my life? How can I improve my health? How can I improve my mindset?"

Ridiculous as it sounds, I realized I'm really good at working out. So I decided to take action and get back to my walking.

I've been a walker for many years but when I moved back to San Antonio, I realized my new neighborhood was made up of deceivingly steep hills.

After the first two weeks, I could barely walk because my knees were hurting so badly. I had to stop walking in June, which was seven months ago.

Granted, I've been doing other activities regularly but when it came to the walking, I was pulling back. I was being overly cautious. Then I thought, "Hey, this isn't me. What am I thinking?"

I normally love pushing my body to its limits, but I was shying away from the walking. I was playing it safe. But then I thought, "Why don't I just hit it hard and see where I land?"

The main thing was that I decided and I followed through, and that's what matters. I took an action. It wasn't a pretty action at first, but I did it. And now, it's helping my body as well as my mindset. I look forward to getting my morning sunshine as I walk because it helps me set the mood for the entire day.

Taking action gives you a new level of confidence even when it's in a completely different area than what you're stuck on. This could be anything from enjoying a hobby to volunteering to babysitting the grandkids. Just decide to do it and follow through with the action.

Lesson 3: Simplify your life

I like simple. Simple is good. Simple is actually great. The simpler, the better is always the right choice as far as I'm concerned. A few ways that I'm simplifying are:

  • Getting back on the decluttering wagon and making a few trips to goodwill and to the dump. Fewer things to manage in my home means fewer things to dust. (Yay!)
  • Another way I'm simplifying is to go back to using a bullet journal instead of using so much technology for my to-dos and other activities.
  • I'm also cutting back dramatically on television time. When I stopped walking, I started watching more Hulu and Netflix. To help me simplify here, I paused my Hulu account for 90 days, which I do pretty regularly. And my Netflix account is generally turned off most of the time. I'll hop on it every four or five months, binge my favorite shows for a month, and then stop my subscription again. This has always worked well for me, and I don't feel like I'm paying for stuff I'm not using.

I'm now giving my brain a daily workout by reading. Reading is so amazing for your brain. It improves your memory, increases your focus, and so much more.

When I say reading, I mean moving your eyes back and forth across a page or screen. I'm not talking about listening to an audiobook.

There's nothing wrong with listening to an audiobook, but listening doesn't benefit your brain the way that reading does. 

Listening is a passive activity; reading is interactive. It requires more brain power on your part, thus the workout for your brain. 

If you want to learn more about the benefits of reading, check out episode 62, "Read Your Way To An Exceptional Life So You Can Relax And Be At Peace, Starting Today."

More reading means more brainpower, and that's all there is to it.

One of the easiest ways I found to read is with a Kindle Paperwhite. I was anti-Kindle for so many years because I was a purist. I said, "I love the feel of a book in my hands, and the pages as I turn them, I will never get a Kindle."

Then I tried a Kindle and realized what I was missing. So now I love my Kindle because it's cute, tiny and it fits perfectly in my purse so I can take it with me anywhere I go.

As an FYI, because I'm such a fan of reading, I've created a Resources page for you. At the top of this page is a link to the Kindle that I'm currently using. I think you're going to absolutely love it.

I also have a number of books I'm recommending for your personal growth and development. I'm still building out the page but for now, you can get your Kindle Paperwhite, download some of the books I've listed, and get reading!

Lesson 4: Allow yourself to be bored

Last year I decided to get really good at doing nothing. Absolutely nothing. By that I mean: no phone, no book, no television, no nothing. Just sitting on my couch or my backyard swing for a few minutes a day, doing my very best to not think, strive, or do anything. Honestly, it takes some effort at the beginning, trying not to busy your mind with something.

It's in these moments of boredom that creativity often strikes.

I've had some pretty incredible "ahas" and creative ideas during these moments of nothing.

If you want to start learning how to be a little bored, schedule some "boredom breaks" into your day. Set the timer for two minutes and take a deep breath, relax your shoulders, relax your mind, and allow yourself to be bored. Who knows what fresh ideas and solutions you can come up with?

As we bid farewell to the challenges and triumphs of the past year, let's step into this year with open hearts and a huge commitment to making this year the best year yet!

Grab your free copy of How To Reclaim Your Energy And Kick Midlife Blues To The Curb: A Simple Guide

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