As I was making the four-hour drive back home after helping my 80-plus-year-old mom pack up and move to live closer to us, I reflected on my current life situation.
Family has always been a priority for me and has continued to be even though my children are grown and gone. My mother-in-law lives with us year round. My stepmom and father live with us over the summer. My mother was now relocating so that she could be closer to us.
In addition, we have five grandchildren with whom we are very involved.
Even with all of this, none of it required the time commitment that it had when my sons were growing up.
At the same time, I was starting to think about slowly fading out of my career as a behavior analyst working with kids and families on the autism spectrum.
When you look up the word “content” in various dictionaries, the word “satisfied” comes up repeatedly. I was more than satisfied at this stage of the game. I was happy. I had a lot to be grateful for and I knew that.
But each time I thought about fading out of my career, I experienced a sense of sadness and anxiety. I loved my career, and I couldn’t imagine what my days and weeks would look like without that role in my life. I knew that I could read and go see my grandchildren. I had my rescue dogs to keep me busy.
All of these were good things. I would be fine!
And this is where my contentment turned into complacency.
My contentment was preventing me from thinking about growing and learning. I was going to just move about my day doing things I enjoyed but with no real purpose, plan, or something in my day, each day, that I was passionate about and that brought me joy. I was giving into the mindset of “Why even bother? My life is just fine the way it is!”
And in my work with women in this community, I see the other fixed mindset thought that says: “I’m too old. Why even bother at this stage of the game?”
When we are complacent, we continue to be satisfied in our current situation. However, there’s often an element of wanting more that we might be pushing down.
On that drive when moving my mom, I made a game changing decision. I knew that my life would be fine as I moved forward with or without my career. But I wanted better than “fine.”
It was on that trip that I decided to do the “thing” I’d always wanted to do throughout my entire life. I was going to be a writer. And even better, I was going to continue to use my training in the fields of counseling and behavior analysis to help other women in my community figure out what their “thing” might be after 50.
The very next day I set about learning how to start a blog. And I was excited.
Suddenly, my after-career future didn’t seem only “fine.” It seemed exciting and rewarding. It was something that I was looking forward to.
And it would allow me to continue to do something I loved while continuing to put my family first.
As I embarked on this journey, there were definitely times where I was less than comfortable. Telling my husband, kids and friends of my plans was a very vulnerable moment for me. How would they react? Would they laugh at me? What would they think?
In addition to that, I’ve always had the fixed mindset thought of: “Who do I think I am, starting a blog? I am horrible at technology.” And that has been reinforced by others around me throughout my entire life. But I pushed through that and learned so many new things both technologically and otherwise. I surprised myself!
Joining communities of likeminded women has been an instrumental step for me. I have my community of women after 50 who are redefining. In addition, I have my blogging community. Both of these communities provide me with women who understand my journey and its ups and downs, hold me accountable, and are a tremendous resource.
Ultimately, the first step out of complacency is to push through any anxiety and take an action step. Any small action step. This will create clarity as you move forward.
Would you say you’re content in your life? Has contentment led to complacency? What is something you’d love to do moving forward? What are some initial steps you can take to make it happen?