We all want to live lives of meaning. We want to find a purpose for our days and feel fulfilled in knowing we give something to the world. We also want to enjoy our time and enjoy the fruit of the labors we have worked long and hard for.
We don’t want to settle for less. We don’t want to end up living a life of regret. Yet we often struggle to let go of the familiar in order to move into something new and potentially better. We settle for comfortable, okay, easy. The usual, the average, and the known is safe.
It’s like clothing. I have and wear a basic blue t-shirt. It is well worn, soft, and comfortable. It is easy and doesn’t require thought. Does it thrill me? No. Does it make me feel amazing? No. Does it tell the world who I am and what I came for? No and no.
It is serviceable. It is fine.
There is nothing wrong with wearing a blue t-shirt every now and again. It serves a purpose. But if we only ever wear the t-shirt, it can also hold us back, and limit us from experiencing something even better.
Maybe I would look and feel more confident in a silk blouse. Maybe I would feel happier in yellow. I’ll never know if I just settle for the blue t-shirt.
The t-shirt can be an analogy for our lives. If we stick to the easy and safe things, the things that require no risk or change, what we end up with is serviceable. It is fine.
I don’t want to live a life that is serviceable and fine. I want more, and I think you do too.
So, what’s stopping us? Why don’t we jump into the pool of life with both feet? Why do we settle instead of pursing something amazing?
We’ve got fears, habits, and beliefs that stop us in our tracks. We can move past those life-sucking limitations if we understand them and learn how to change or replace them.
Here are 5 reasons why it is so difficult to redesign our lives and what we can do to turn that around.
This stage of life is often more freeing and open than anything you experienced before. In the past, you probably worked toward typical life goals. You worked towards a career. You had visions of a home and a family. Those things had typical paths and trajectories that you followed.
In your 60s and beyond, work and life goals are more varied. Do you want to travel? Start a business? Spend more time with family? Become a master gardener?
Think of what you love and what gives you meaning. What have you always wanted to do? Now is your time.
When you have a career, you have a title and job description. Our work often becomes a part of our identity. We also have titles and roles in our personal life – mother, father, daughter, son, wife, husband, friend. These roles also change as we age.
The loss of a title often means a struggle with our identity.
I was a college professor, and when I left my job, I struggled with what to call myself. Likewise, when my parents died, I felt a loss of the word “daughter.” If you divorce or your spouse dies, you lose a title and gain a different one at the same time. It can be unsettling.
As your familiar titles change, know that you can re-define yourself as you are now. What you were does not have to be who you are. I became a writer and entrepreneur.
Will you become an adventure nomad? A Glamma? How do you want to be known? You get to decide.
The past is comfortable because it is a known entity. We’ve learned lessons that we can apply to our current lives.
We know what has worked for us in the past. We’ve had successes, and we like to repeat what has worked. This is all well and good; however, we need to understand that to get new and different things, we are also going to need to do new and different things.
The diet and exercise plan that served you for years might not be the right one now. For optimal health now, you may need to try new foods or a new form of exercise.
We also often carry around some heavy baggage that can limit how well we move into the future.
We’ve had struggles and failures. We havedeepscars and wounds. Holding on to negative experiences can prevent us from moving forward.
The relationships you have had with people in the past might not be serving you. They are not set in stone. You can have difficult conversations, redefine boundaries, or change how you react to someone.
We may need to let go, forgive, and move past to move on. You may need some professional help with this; if so, give yourself the gift of help.
Reframing our past negative experiences as lessons rather than failures can give us the energy to learn from them, and then let them go.
In our 60s and beyond, we often have the time and opportunity to try new things. You may want to explore new countries or develop new hobbies. You may dream of starting a new non-profit or becoming a photographer.
The problem with new things is, we haven’t done them before and we might not know how to do them.
Where there is a will, there is a way.
My husband and I wanted to learn how to sail. We did not come from sailing backgrounds and had no friends who sailed. We worried that we might be too old to learn, or that the physicality of sailing might be too difficult for us. To top it off, we did not have a boat.
We joined a local group that offered lessons and use of a boat. We read books and watched videos. We talked to sailors hanging around the marina. We haven’t mastered sailing, but we have had fun learning and have spent some great hours out on the water.
There are classes, both in person and on-line, that will teach you almost anything. Get some books at the library. YouTube videos are a gold mine for learning how to do things. I built my first website by watching a YouTube video and then following the process step-by-step.
You are never too old to learn. Remember that you won’t master everything at first, and don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle or end.
Most of us are pretty good at celebrating the big things. You honor birthdays, anniversaries, and weddings. That’s as it should be.
We also need to celebrate the little things. Our lives are spent in the everyday moments, not just in the big ones. Take a few minutes to watch the sunset. Notice the chipmunks chasing in the yard. Buy or pick a fresh flower for your windowsill.
Gratitude for the small sparks of light in our lives help to remind us that there are extraordinary things all around us. Find the good in the everyday. It will bring you positivity, and positivity breeds more positivity.
Examine your life. What is stopping you from taking action towards something that you would love to do or be? What have you done to conquer your fears? I’d love to hear thoughts, so make sure to drop a comment below!
Tags Reinventing Yourself
You’re right about all of it. But my problem lies in what to do with the results. Maybe I didn’t word that right so I’ll explain.
If I become a writer, for example, what do I do with the writing? If I become an artist, what do I do when I have lots of paintings or crafts and no one wants any more? If I take beautiful photographs what do I do with them?
That type of thinking keeps me from doing many things I’d like to do. And I ask myself, “What’s the purpose of doing it?”
I know it’s for my own enjoyment. But many hobbies are expensive to start without recouping a bit of your investment. Investments such as buying the items to make the art or crafts, or taking the classes to learn how to write.
Some things can be sold online or at craft shows, etc. But what about the hobbies like writing, playing an instrument, or photography?
Thanks for your article. Very thought provoking.
I once read a quote, dont know who said it, but it inspires me every time I read it. It’s this ” If you want to discover new horizons, you have to let go of the shore”