Redefining after 50 Isn't Always About Work

redefining after 50 self-care Nov 06, 2020
desk pink, purple, with flower, keyboard, notebook, pen

As I drove home in February from moving my mom to be closer to us, I listened to an audible book called “Do It Scared” and it got me thinking. I’d always put my family first and loved every minute of it. I was continuing to do that, and that now included senior parents and 5 grandchildren! But, they didn’t need me constantly – it wasn’t the same as when I was going to school and raising my boys.

I loved my job as a behavior analyst working with children and adults on the autism spectrum and planned to continue to do it for as long as I could. But, it was becoming physically taxing, particularly given the worsening arthritis in my neck and shoulders. There was going to be a point (sooner rather than later) where what that job looked like in terms of hours and responsibilities would change.

As I was driving and listening to the book, I reflected on all of these things. And I decided that I was going to start to write. It was something I had always wanted to do and now was the time.

I got home and started Life Balance After 50.

The Evolution of Life Balance

After a couple of days of reflection, visualization, and becoming increasingly excited about finally pursuing my lifelong dream of writing, I had a chat with my husband about what I planned to do. I was nervous about doing this - I was sharing my dream and excitement with him. Being vulnerable and putting myself out there for a possible negative reaction is very difficult for me, as it is for many of us. However, he was nothing but supportive which has always been the case. His support gave me the courage to share with the rest of my family and friends. Although they didn't completely understand what I was planning to do, or what a blog was, exactly, they saw that it made me happy. And that was enough for me.

Next, I set about doing my research. I googled how to start a blog and set up my website. That learning curve was and is huge as I continue to learn all of the technology and vocabulary.

I began writing posts.

And signed up for a blogging course.

I am loving every single second of what I'm doing in this space - even on the days when I want to throw my laptop out the window because I can't figure out how to do something technical.

What else could you redefine other than work?

Anything you want to!

Pam decided when she moved to a new city for her husband's job that she was going to do a new thing every single day in that city. It might be as simple as taking a new way home or as intimidating as eating lunch alone in a brand new restaurant. And now, she meets and interviews all sorts of people for her blog, Who I Met Today.

Judith had always wanted to move from Canada to the Dominican and she did it after 50! And then went on to start her blog and write her book!

Lisa decided at 56 to move from Utah to Tuscany and started a travel business there.

Maybe you want to go on a health journey, run a marathon, lose weight.

Maybe you want to cut back on your job to spend more time with your grandchildren.

Have you always wanted to learn something and never had time to do it? Painting, sewing, gourmet cooking?

Maybe you aren't sure what your "thing" is but you know you that you're ready to engage in something that you love for the next 30+ years.

Where to Start

Decide What Area it is that You want Redefined

You may not be 100% sure of this and that's okay. Sit back and take a look at where you are now in all areas of your life. Reflect on:

  1. Your current life roles - which ones are most important to you and which ones would you love to delegate out if you could;
  2. What a typical day, week and month look like for you.

Think about what you would do if there were NO barriers at all. Brainstorm and dream. Write down everything that comes into your mind. DO NOT DISCARD AN IDEA BECAUSE IT SEEMS IMPOSSIBLE OR FAR FETCHED. WRITE ALL IDEAS DOWN! Remember that our mindsets are our own worst enemies.

Once you've done this, the area that you'd like to redefine should stand out. It will be the thing that when you imagine yourself doing it gives you butterflies in your stomach and makes you so happy to think about. That's your "thing."

Let it "sit" for a day or two in Your Brain

Journal about it. Every day at least once.

Visualize it. Really visualize it. Close your eyes and picture exactly what life would look like if this area was redefined that way that you wanted. Put yourself there.

What are you picturing? Are you crossing the finish line in your first 5K? Studying because you went back to college? Painting in your studio? Writing the great American novel? Maybe you're providing daily day care for your grandchildren? Walking dogs? Or picturing yourself running through an airport with your cup of coffee because you've retired and are traveling.

Get yourself to the place where it's not just a whim anymore. To the place where you'll be disappointed and bummed if you don't take steps to make it happen. Once I had decided on my drive home that I was going to start my blog and write to women like myself, I couldn't have imagined not actually doing it. I'd have felt disappointed and let down.

Tell those Close to you About Your Dream

This is perhaps the scariest step of all. Putting yourself out there and being vulnerable.  The fear of being "shot down." Or laughed at.

Doing this helps make it real and doable. And you will be surprised at how supportive your loved ones will be.

I started with my husband, then told my best friend, and then my sons. They may not all "get it" or understand it but they love me and want me to be happy. So, they're supportive. Which is all I ask or need.

Do Your Research

Block aside time each week to do your research. This is very important. Treat this time like you would any appointment that you need to get to. Put it in your calendar and do it.

Research what you need to learn or do to make the "thing" happen? Google. Join Facebook groups. Talk to people who have done what you want to do. Figure out what courses you need to take or what you need to learn how to do. Watch YouTube videos. Look at your schedule. Listen to books and podcasts while you're cleaning or exercising. Immerse yourself in the "thing."

Plan your Next Steps

Once you've done your research, figure out how to move forward. Some places to start looking might be:

  1. Thinking about conversations that might need to be had with family, friends, and job as you move forward. For example, if you're considering going back to school, you may not be AS available for family as you had been. Or a money discussion might need to be had with your spouse. Maybe you're looking at cutting back on work hours to do the "thing" and need to have a chat with your boss.
  2. Create time and space in your schedule and calendar to allow yourself to do what you need to do. If you're taking a course, block out time to do that work. Training or working on physical fitness? block out time to start the workout routine that you've researched. Wanting to spend more time with family? start blocking out time in your weekly schedule and do that!

Don't Listen to the Mindset Voices

As I've been chatting with women who have redefined after 50 in some way, shape, or form, regardless of what area they're redefining, they've all experienced negative mindset voices in their heads. They've overcome those voices at the outset, but it's an ongoing battle as we move forward. Those voices that scream "imposter syndrome." The ones that make us say "Who do I think I am? I'm not a ______" or "I'm too old."

As you move forward with your plan for the next 30+ years of your life, keep your eye on the prize. Don't rob yourself and others of the gifts that you have left to give.

If you're looking to redefine an aspect of your life and would like guidance as you reflect, be sure to download your "What's Next Journal Prompt" freebie. And grab a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and sit back and dream.

Then get up and start taking your next steps. You got this!