How Can I Redefine When My Life's Circumstances Suck?Feb 21, 2021
I was reading an article in an online publication about finding your passion and making it happen at any stage of life, but particularly after 50. It related to a lot of the things I write about in terms of finding that thing you've always wanted to do but never done and taking the steps to make it a reality.
A woman commented on the article and basically said, "that's all well and good and fun to think about, but my husband has Stage 4 lung cancer and we've got medical bills piled up. Yeah, it would be fun to be able to start writing like I've always wanted to but I've got to work to keep us treading water and when I'm not working I'm taking care of him!"
And she's right! She has real external barriers that would make living her dream seem hopeless.
I know there are many women who are reading my blog who are struggling with various things - death of a spouse, issues with adult children, divorce, and caring for aging parents just to name a few. How is it possible for them to be able to take the time to plan out their ideal day, week, and month and start to live their joy after 50?
FINDING YOUR JOY WHEN LIFE IS HANDING YOU LEMONS
And having your spouse battling Stage 4 cancer is more than lemons. I get that.
And, I would argue that there is no better time to start to do something for yourself than when you are in the middle of a crappy situation.
I don't know what it's like to watch your spouse fighting cancer. But, I do know what it's like to lose a spouse suddenly. And, I do know what it's like to watch your spouse go through a health scare. So, I speak from personal experience. And, these strategies, I believe, can be generalized to most any situation.
FIND 2 GROUPS OF PEOPLE TO ASSOCIATE WITH
GROUP 1 - PEOPLE WHO ARE DOING THE THING THAT YOU WANT TO DO
Are you wanting to write? Lose weight? Run a marathon? Quit your job and take care of your grandchildren full time?
Find a group or more of women who are doing those things. Hang out with them. This can be in person or it can be on social media. There are all sorts of meetups all over the country for all interests. If you can't find one that relates to what you want to do, start one!
This group of women will motivate you. They will give you hope. Make you feel empowered and happy while you're interacting and engaged with them. And, most importantly, will provide a safe place to talk about your dreams and goals without fear of being discouraged from them.
GROUP 2 - A SUPPORT TYPE GROUP OF PEOPLE WHO ARE GOING WHAT YOU'RE GOING THROUGH
A place where you can talk to a group of people who understand your daily struggles. Good support groups can:
- help members feel less depressed and isolated
- help members feel a sense of empowerment
- give its members ideas and resources to help them manage the situation.
However, you need to balance the benefits of sharing a struggle with getting bogged down in a sea of negativity. Be sure that there are some positives coming out of your interactions with the support group. And being in the other group can help balance this, as well.
Schedule a time each day to journal and journal everything. Your struggles but also your dreams. Choose a few affirmations and write them in your journal every single day.
TAKE A GOOD CLOSE LOOK AT YOUR SCHEDULE
Find 30-60 minutes each day where you can do something for you. And ideally something that is moving you towards your goal or helping you towards that activity that brings you joy.
For one week, write down how you spent your entire day. You can do this by breaking the day into hour long chunks and at the end of each hour, take a minute and list everything that you did. I guarantee you that some of that time was spent idly scrolling through social media, ruminating on yesterday's text exchanges, or if you're me, probably a good hour each day playing Words With Friends.
I know we are reading and hearing this everywhere, but it really is beneficial. Taking a look at what is going on in your life that's positive does a great deal to put things into perspective.
Journal at the beginning and end of each day on what you are grateful for. It could be as small as that nice hot cup of coffee or as big as the fact that your grandkids are all feeling good.
DO SOMETHING PHYSICAL EVERY DAY
And ideally outdoors. The research is showing that outdoor activity is beneficial in so many ways but a biggie is that it is shown to increase happiness.
Take a 10 minute walk. Put on a video and dance around your living room. Have a relay race with the grands. It will decrease stress and anxiety levels and clear your brain.
Celebrate the Small Wins
Break your big goal down into smaller, attainable goals. For example, if you want to cut back on your work hours and go part time, sit down and brainstorm all of the things you need to do to make that happen. Some of these might be:
- talk to spouse
- talk to boss
- look at budget to see what can be cut out
- look at what day might look like when part time
- brainstorm positives and negatives about going part time
Once you've done this, set goals on when you want to accomplish each step as you move forward towards your big goal.
Be sure to reinforce yourself each time you accomplish a task towards your goal.
There is no question that it is harder to picture moving towards living your joy when you are in the middle of dealing with a crappy life experience. But, it can be done. It will just be on a different timeline.
"No darkness lasts forever. And even there, there are stars." ~Ursula K. Le Guin