Getting Older & Bolder – You’ll Never Yearn to Be Twenty Again – Fifty Plus is Much More Fun
By Karen Sands
Without warning, our rules for “the game of life” have become invalid, and it’s up to us to develop a new game plan. Disturbing questions begin to bubble up: “Is this all there is? What’s missing? What’s next? Where do I go from here? Why haven’t I found my passion by now? Is it too late for me?”
The midlife transition begins once we’ve lived long enough to realize some of our childhood dreams only to find that what we thought we wanted is just not enough. To our surprise we learn that we really don’t want the corner office or the PhD. The dream home, the devoted spouse, the children who are “high achievers” are still desirable, but they have somehow lost the power to motivate us.
This shift in perspective and values kicks off an exciting, revealing adventure of self-assessment, re-invention and renewal that leads us to self-actualization and fulfillment. As intensely as the first part of life is focused on building and managing our outer world, the second part of life espouses an intense, impassioned exploration and discovery of our inner world. We discover work that has purpose and meaning; we learn to see beauty in a body that’s no longer youthful; we arrive at an emotional balance; we move to new levels of sexuality and sensuality; we discover what matters in life; we re-ignite our passions and discern our life’s purpose.
A key part of our mid-life journey is the shift from being “outer directed” to being “inner directed”. Tapping into our encoded, eternal wisdom we unleash our “Conscious Feminine” and begin listening to our bodies, our intuition and our hearts, relying less and less on logic and reason. Marion Woodman, a Jungian analyst and writer, describes the aging process as one that elevates “the shadow” – those aspects of ourselves that we have not yet discovered or engaged.
Conscious utilization of our latent aspects is a cornerstone of the midlife transition. It is particularly important for those of us who, having spent years leveraging our looks to achieve our objectives to come to terms with the loss of our youthful beauty. Mary, still a striking woman at 60, bemoans the fact that: “Men used to whistle at me when I drove past in my classic 240 SL convertible. Now they admire the car!” I know this struggle only too well! I remember back to when I was a corporate VP and I caught myself peering coyly at the “Big Duomo” I was meeting with, trying to fan his ego to get what I wanted. How ridiculous! In a flash of “consciousness” I was able to shift my awareness back into the role of respected colleague -and get what I wanted!
It’s true that as we age, we no longer possess the vast indiscriminate energy levels of our youth. Yet I’ve observed that when we focus on soul-felt projects that ignite our passions, we have more than enough energy to: write our books, deliver a series of international lectures, develop and build a new business, start a second career, go back to school and earn a Masters or PhD– even enough to develop or rebuild family relationships that have foundered or frayed! It’s not that we can’t pull an all-nighter like we did at 22– we can – (Although it takes us longer to recover!). We simply choose not to! As we become more conscious of our energy, we become more discerning in its allocation, focusing on what’s important to us and refusing to be all things to all people – a role that age and wisdom naturally disallow!
In the US, the average age of widowhood is 55, so this time is often one of endings and beginnings, of richness, depth, connection and loss. It is a time when we come face to face with our own mortality. As the new “elders,” we choose to simplify our existence, discarding what we want no more of and focusing our energies on what fulfills and “fuels” us. We ask ourselves about:
Relationships: Am I with the right person? Did I make the right choice in leaving my partner? Will I find the right person?
Friendships: Who can I trust to support me? Who will inspire me? Who will energize me? Who understands me and loves me for who I am?
Money: Do I have enough to live well through retirement? Will someone show up to rescue/take care of me? How can I make more, if it’s really up to me?
Life Quality: Why am I spending my time with people/on things I don’t care about? What must I have in my life to be satisfied? What can I give up/get out of?
Death/Loss: How long have I got? Will I outlive my partner? Will I outlive my children? Will I outlive my friends? How will I live without my partner/children /friends? What will my quality of life be without my…? Where will I live if my partner dies? Do I have enough money to maintain my quality of life if I’m alone?
Retirement: What will I do? Where will I live? How do I want to spend my last years? Will I be healthy? Will I be alone?
Health: Will I be healthy enough to enjoy my old age? Can I afford to be well cared for if I’m not well? Will I become caretaker to my partner or parents? Will I become a burden on my partner or children?
Leadership/Leaving a Legacy: How can I make a difference? How can I improve the world for future generations…for my children and theirs?
At this point you may be saying to yourself, “Yes, I am definitely thinking though all these questions, so I guess I’m on the right track. Now how do I accelerate the process?” Finding the path to self-actualization and fulfillment involves understanding who you are and what you want, and that’s easier said than done. Yet, having helped hundreds of people through this transition over the last 30 years, I can assure you that if you focus on living consciously, you will find your path and you will find fulfillment. Enjoy your unique journey through this exciting stage of life. You’ll never yearn to be twenty again, as fifty plus is FAR more fun!
©1988-2009 Karen Sands/Future Works Institute, Ltd. Future Works® is the registered trademark of Future Works Institute, Ltd. Karen Sands, MCC: Your Ultimate Guide to the Future, Master Coach, Professional Futurist, Career & Midlife Expert for People Ready to Change Their World & the Future, Speaker & Author. Sign up for your free monthly ezine, “Future Works® Gazette”. Learn more about tools for positively transforming yourself and the world, visit http://www.FutureWorksInstitute.com. Join Karen on Twitter, LinkedIn & Facebook.