Steps to Take When Trying to Decide What's Next on the "Right Side of 50"May 05, 2021
As we march into our fifties and beyond, we may find ourselves wondering "what's next?" Many of us continue to be busy with family which often now can include grandchildren and senior parents. But, they typically don't need us 24/7 anymore, like they did when we were raising our kids.
We may still be working, but starting to wonder for how much longer?
I love my career working with kiddos on the autism spectrum. But, as I moved into my fifties, I found that my back was hurting a bit more than it used to. And although my job is very flexible in terms of time, I wanted even more flexibility to be able to see and help with my grandchildren whenever I could.
At the same time, I couldn't imagine not working or having something to do each day - a reason to get up each and every morning to do something that I love doing.
As I was driving home from moving my mom to live closer to us, I found myself motivated by a book I was listening to. I made the decision on that drive to begin writing - something I had wanted to do for as long as I could remember and had never made time for.
And there started Life Balance After 50.
BUT, WHAT IF I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I WANT TO DO?
This is quite common. Many of us know we want to keep doing SOMETHING, we just aren't sure what that something is. Here are a few prompts and reflections to get you started.
REFLECT ON YOUR LIFE UP UNTIL NOW
What have you done for work? (And being a stay at home mom is work.) What are your hobbies? How do you spend your days?
And, most importantly, which aspects of your job, family, and days do you love? Which ones do you not love so much?
Linda, grandmother of 4, has been a schoolteacher for her entire life. While she loves her job, she is finding that she's thinking more and more about retirement. She wants to have her days free to be able to spend with her grandchildren. But, she also can't imagine not doing something for herself, as well.
As she works on this exercise, she finds that what she doesn't love about teaching is having to be at work all day every day. She is tired at the end of the day and doesn't have the energy she wants to have to keep up with her grands.
One of Linda's strengths has always been formulating creative, fun activities for the kids around whatever she is supposed to be teaching. She starts to think about starting a blog where teachers can come and get ideas for their classrooms. This way, she'll continue doing something she loves, while being able to have all of the flexibility and energy to keep up with her grandchildren.
REFLECT ON WHAT YOUR IDEAL DAY AND WEEK MIGHT LOOK LIKE
Don't censor yourself. Do a true brain dump. What is your ideal day? Are you laying on a beach? Working? Running a marathon? Playing with your grands?
What time do you get up? Go to bed? Where do you live?
Write down anything and everything. And then picture your ideal week and do the same.
THINK ABOUT THE TYPE OF WOMAN YOU WANT TO BE MOVING FORWARD
Sometimes just picturing the type of person can be can help propel you to move forward with a goal or a plan. Do you picture yourself being active? Running around with grands? Being laid back? More relaxed? Do you wear yoga pants or jeans? Do you eat kale or ice cream? Get up early or sleep in? Busy with friends or other people everyday or more solitary?
MAKE AND START ACTING ON YOUR BUCKET LIST
This will provide you with great information. Again, do not censor. Write down everything you can possibly think of.
The most important step is to then start acting on it. Begin scheduling things and actually doing them. Waiting is a form of procrastinating and actually DOING these things may help you find your niche on the right side of 50!
Lisa, who I interviewed for my series on women redefining after 50 had no idea what she wanted to do. She had been a stay at home mom and was a divorced empty nester after 50. Lisa took a trip to Italy and said to herself, "I'm coming back here to live." Three months later, she did just that. She packed up, moved to Italy, and opened up a travel business targeted to groups of women who wanted to tour Italy.
Planning and goal setting is definitely important, but doing SOMETHING is always better than doing nothing. Too much planning and list making can make us feel busy and productive and actually just be a way for us to continue to procrastinate.
David Stewart, author and speaker, says, "The time is now. That thing that we have been wanting to do, let’s do it. If we’re happy doing what we do, let’s do twice as much of it. And if we don’t like something about our current circumstance, let’s change it or try to adjust it. Don’t wait, don’t settle. This is our life, we only get one, and now is the time to make fullest use of it."