Are Stop Signs Holding You Back After 60? Here’s How to Knock Them Down!
We’ve all watched television shows, read articles and consumed books telling us how to make changes in our lives. Bookstore shelves are filled with self-help books that promise “the answer” to whatever problem we have. Large sections are dedicated to the best and latest diet program anyone would need.
Not Every Worthy Accomplishment is News Worthy
Occasionally we hear about someone who started and finished college in their 80s or began an exercise program that led them to the Senior Olympics. It’s not too newsworthy however for a publication to write about Jim or Jane who veered off the path they were on to make a change in their personal life’s direction.
We don’t hear anything about the woman in her 60s who used every ounce of strength and courage to walk through the fear of leaving an abusive marriage and start a new life. Nor do we hear news about the woman who never thought she was smart enough to go to college but who walked towards her dream of a degree and teaching children when she retired from her 9-5 office job.
There is the woman who retired from her job, happy to never set her alarm clock for work. This is the woman who suddenly faced with diminishing purpose in life unconsciously started to overeat or drink to fill the hours. I may have made up the scenarios and exaggerated a little, but I’d bet these situations are happening every day to women – especially older women – in cities around our country.
Our Birth Certificate Isn’t a Dictator
Regardless of age, taking positive, healthy actions, no matter how difficult the task, is the first step towards a fulfilled, contented life.
Whatever dream or goal swirls around in the mind can be worked towards. The year on our birth certificate tells us how many candles are needed on a cake not whether we can or can’t take a step forward.
Do I believe it is possible to make a change, move towards an impossible dream, a fantasy or a goal? Of course! I also know it takes courage and faith in the unknown. I also know that:
No matter how much we want to do something, we must act. No one can do it for us.
There were many times in my life where it was possible to make a turn and walk down a different path. Sometimes I made the turn, sometimes I didn’t.
Do we have a built-in yield sign that allows for a small divergence from the safety of our path if we remain on solid ground? Personally, my yield sign allows me time to mediate, journal, share with confidants and then decide about a change in direction.
The Power of Excuses and Rationalizations
At some point, many women have erected a stop sign in place of a yield sign. The sign doesn’t allow for any deviation from their tried and true path regardless of the terrain.
I’ve named it the “soggy potato chip theory.” A soggy potato chip is still better than no potato chip. Even when a woman voices the desire to try something new or make a bigger change, logical excuses and rationalizations are given to cover up the real reasons she may not even know about.
Do You Have a Personal Stop Sign?
The sign may not necessarily be octagonal with the words STOP. It may be square or round with the word FEAR.
Does something stop you from doing something different?
It doesn’t have to be what someone else would consider big or major. It could be going to dinner or a movie without a friend for company when you’ve never done it before.
All the answers we ever need are within. No one else can access them for us.
Start a Journaling Practice
As an advocate of journaling, it’s always my first suggestion to anyone who wants to explore a yield or stop sign issue. All that’s needed to start a journaling practice is an open mind knowing there is no right or wrong way to do it. And, there are no journal police judging what’s on the paper. The physical, emotional and spiritual benefits and on-going rewards are beyond one’s wildest dreams.
Start journaling with a piece of paper or the back of an envelope or brown bag. The key is to just start with no expectations in mind.
Note any excuses and rationalizations that may surface in your thoughts while writing. Put them on the paper without debating whether you should or shouldn’t.
Journaling for physical, emotional and spiritual well-being takes time and effort. It doesn’t happen overnight because you want it to.
There will be lots of hits to the pole holding up the stop sign as you continue. But one day, as the pole gets shakier and shakier, the sign will come crashing down.
What is holding you back from getting more from life these days? Money? Fear? Health issues? Something else? What barriers have you created to stop yourself from achieving your full potential in your sixties? What steps are you ready to take that will create the best YOU there can be?
Eileen Marin is “life credentialed” to share experiences on facing challenges of choice and those presented by the Universe. Her first book, Chemotherapy Gives New Meaning to a Bad Hair Day© addressed cancer with humor and inspiration; recently published, Color Outside the Lines© is an innovative hybrid book-journal. Eileen celebrated her 60th birthday as a Peace Corps volunteer. As a speaker, she focuses on dealing with life crises with humor, journaling, and visualization/meditation techniques. You can visit her website at www.liveyourdays.com.