The Long Game of Changing Direction After 60, for Better or Worse
Just when I thought this side of 60 my life could be more predictable, an unexpected storm blew in and changed everything. I shouldn’t have been caught so off guard.
At the time, I was reading productivity coach David Allen’s Ready for Anything. In the first chapter, he asks readers to write on their calendar four weeks in the future this statement: “David Allen said a month ago that something was coming I couldn’t foresee that would affect me significantly.”
When my calendar notation came back a month later, my life had turned inside out. My reaction to circumstances that happened over those past four weeks affected me so deeply, I questioned the value of my last 30 years.
I’m going through a life change that scares the crap out of me. I’m 62 – not a bad age for starting over. Right? Here’s where I should paste a crazy face emoji.
Is This the Best Direction?
Few of us reach this side of 60 naïve enough to believe we ever grow out of problems and challenges. As we deep-dive into our lives at this stage of the game, many of us are not where we thought we’d be or even want to be – hardly a surprise considering life’s unpredictability.
Some of our biggest life challenges and reasons for change are caused by life circumstances beyond our control: death of a spouse, child, or dear friend; health issues that change our quality of life; an emotional rollercoaster we can’t seem to get off of.
In my ‘work’ as a life reporter, I meet people every day whose circumstances have caused their life changes. Some have it easier than others.
Sometimes, the skids are greased by a loving partner, a chunky nest egg, hobbies we can get lost in. Others have huge disadvantages: no support system, abuse issues, children who can’t seem to love them.
When life tells us the path we’re on is wrong, our first reaction often is, “I’ve made my bed.” But what if we realize that by staying put we’re damaging our self-respect and jeopardizing our future happiness?
How do we know when it’s time to get unstuck, and at what cost? If we want to be ready for anything in the years and decades ahead of us, it might be time to buck up.
Making the Decision Is a Relief
Whenever we have relationship problems, it’s good to ask three questions: Is this something I can fix? Should I put up and shut up? Is it time to walk away?
We seldom act when we first question a relationship, and that’s how it should be. The answers will differ at different crossroads. But when the answers stay the same year after year, it’s game time.
I often search Sixty and Me for advice and ideas. So, it shouldn’t have surprised me when an article I wrote about decisions popped up. As I scrolled through my own words, I knew it was time to act. Here’s what I wrote seven months ago.
“Decision by indecision limits our choices and often costs more or has bigger life consequences than being decisive in the first place. Typically, when we go ahead and decide, we feel so much better right away and save ourselves a lot of unhealthy stress.”
Let me tell you, I feel so much better now that my decision is made. I’ve moved on to the how’s and what’s of planning my future. Now that family and friends understand I haven’t lost my marbles and this direction is best for me, I’m on a roll.
Ready for Anything
Back to David Allen’s point in Ready for Anything. How ready are we for unforeseen challenges or the flip side of the coin – opportunity? He suggests we approach it on two levels.
First, we should look at it spiritually: “If God is all, and you’re part of that, just relax.”
Well, that certainly makes me feel better.
Then, he tells us to look at all the rest: “For this you must get your act together, so you can shift gears as required.” And that’s where I am now. But I worry. Down the road, after all the pain and moving past, will I be happier? Will my life be better?
These questions cause so many sleepless nights, especially when there’s heartache. But until we make the decision – fix it, put up with it, or leave it – we won’t understand our motive to a) go back and stay the same, or b) be a steamroller, baby, and have a future that rocks.
Envision the Absolute Best
Not all endings and beginnings are welcome, which is why we put change off. It’s downright scary. The future can be frightening when we can’t picture it. Sometimes all we can foresee is the worst that can happen.
For me, the worst was over after I talked with my 88-year-old mom. She reminded me she will never outgrow her love and worry for me. She’s a keeper, and I know how lucky I am to have her. So, booking a flight to see her in a few weeks was a first step in my vision.
We worry about disappointing other people. We fear being alone. We wonder if there really is ‘more’. Only one way to find out, sisters. Ask the right questions. Find your true answers. Make your decision your own. Go for it!
What hard decision are you facing right now? What do the answers to your questions tell you? Whatever your circumstance, are you going to fix it, leave it, or put up with it? Let’s hear your stories below and grow stronger together!