When was the last time you took inventory of your life? The last time you found a moment in your busy schedule to ask yourself, why is my schedule so busy?

For Anne, a client of mine in the heart of her middlescence, a hard-worker who’d spent 25 years climbing the corporate ladder at Gap and Esprit, it had been far too long.

I met Anne at a retreat I hosted two years ago. She told me she was at a crossroads: She’d spent her entire adult life pursuing a particular career, then one day she woke up and realized she didn’t know why. She didn’t like it. It was soulless. And in all that time, it had never occurred to Anne to question things.

 
 

Why was this her life? Why hadn’t she pursued her passions – or even pursued trying to figure out what her passions might be?

I love meeting people like Anne, because I love delivering good news. Society has taught us that at a certain age, the decisions we’ve made about our lives are the decisions we’re going to have to live with. And that’s flatly untrue.

Curating the Gallery of Your Life

She said, “To consciously curate our lives is to take inventory of the people, activities, causes and beliefs that fill our lives and invest our most valuable asset – ourselves.”

Once conscious of these things, it’s time to curate, to pick the things that make us happy and fulfilled, and leave the others behind. The good news, I told Anne, is that it’s never too late.

Evaluate

For Anne, this step was the easy one. Her job was the culprit – a soul and energy drain like no other. For some of us it’s not so easy. People, activities and causes that we’ve invested in for so many years can feel like they are part of our DNA.

It’s up to us to evaluate with a critical eye, because the time will come when we want to add an exciting, new exhibit to the gallery of our lives, and we’re going to need some wall space.

Explore

This step is when things start getting fun, but only if you’ve committed to exploring a world of options with enthusiasm and courage. Still juggling her fulltime corporate job, Anne committed to exploration and made the time to enroll in a mixed media art class, even though she hadn’t done anything, in her words, “even vaguely artistic,” since she was a child. She loved it!

Within months, Anne hadn’t just compiled an impressive artistic portfolio, she’d taught herself how to build a website. And, well, the results speak for themselves.

Engage

Once you’ve evaluated what’s filled your life in the past, and explored what might fill it in the future, it’s time to engage with the present. If you are curating the Louvre, you don’t expect to show up for work one day and find your work completed. It’s a process. And so is curating your life.

Anne was thrilled to discover her passion for art, but she didn’t stop there. She also sought to curate her life with people who inspired her, and so she found The Hivery, a women’s co-working space and “inspiration lab” just down the street from her house. Rather than spending her days alone, Anne fills them with the company of like-minded women, eager to help and inspire one another.

For Anne, the next step is a website called A is for Art: Art Therapy for the Soul. With it, she hopes to inspire women to channel their creative instincts to find greater meaning in their lives.

For any of us, the next step could be anything. Middlescence throws open the doors for growth and change. Conscious curation is a compass that directs us. Would you like help with your next step? Sign up for the Middlescence Factor newsletter today!

What are the most important things in your life? Have you taken an inventory of the people, activities, causes and beliefs that are most important to you? What interests have you begun exploring? In what ways do you engage with new ideas? Please share in the comments.

Barbara WaxmanBarbara Waxman is a gerontologist, leadership coach, speaker and author whose insights are illuminating a crucial stage in our personal and professional lives – Middlescence. On her Facebook page and website, Barbara inspires clients and audiences with insights and practical ideas they can put to work for themselves, their families, workplaces and the world.

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