Recently I heard two women conversing in the communal gathering area after church. The first lady appeared to be in despair: “Just last month we moved into our beautiful new home with higher mortgage payments and now my husband has lost his job. It couldn’t have come at a worse time!” The second lady looked compassionate but responded kindly to her friend,”We don’t know that yet.”
Most of us over 40 at some point will experience at least one major setback in our lives: loss of job, business failure, divorce, separation or a health emergency. It could happen in 2013! Unless your life today is all that you want it to be, your next big setback may turn out to be a blessing in disguise. It happened to me. When at age 43 I lost my executive position following a company takeover, I thought my world had ended! In hindsight, I probably escaped from another 25 unfulfilling years on the corporate grind followed by a hollow, restless and joyless retirement. I might never have written my two books and I most certainly wouldn’t be performing the activities I cherish so today.
If you haven’t been hit already, why wait for a traumatic setback to serve as your wake-up call? If your house had broken windows, peeling paint and a roof that leaked, would you wait around for the next tornado to strike before you took action to make repairs? The house won’t repair itself and things won’t get better for you without your own conscious effort to “wake up to life!” Year-end is a great time to stop and reflect upon aspects of your life that you may need to change before events reach an ugly climax.
Instead of kicking off the new year with the same-old tired set of resolutions, why not a whole new way of thinking? There’s absolutely no good reason to stay trapped in traditional thought patterns like the following:
- “There’s only one right answer and I have it!”
- “There’s only one good way of doing things and that’s the way I’ve always done them.”
- “We’re right and all the others are wrong! How can they be so misinformed or downright stupid?”
- “The only way to be happy and advance my career is to get that prized raise and promotion with my present employer.”
Does it make sense to spend 2013 bogged down in negative thinking, discouraged by the “same old/same old” in career, relationships and mental outlook? Have you become so wrapped up in the day-to-day challenges of coping, at work and at home, that you no longer see the big picture, think big thoughts or envision a bright future? Perhaps even sadder, do you fear the future and dread growing older, believing your best years are behind you? “Where did all my potential go?”
If you feel trapped or locked in by decisions you made in the past–perhaps even years ago–you may be a victim of outdated “linear thinking.” Have you noticed how the younger generations can multi-task,watching America Idol, playing video games and texting on their i-phone all at the same time? In similar fashion, why can’t those of us in our 40’s, 50’s and 60’s open our minds up to a multitude of new ideas, multiple potential solutions to problems, valid opinions differing from our own and exciting new possiblities outside the box?
Our world is changing at a dizzying pace and we will need to adopt creative new ways of thinking, free from yesterday’s limitations. As a start, challenge yourself early in the new year to truly listen and understand the viewpoint of at least one person with an opinion diametrically opposed to your own. Think about possibilities that would make both you and the other person happy. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and imagine how you would react. Try to come up with a creative “both/and” solution.
Here’s a second idea for the new year. Take time out from today’s hustle and bustle to develop your very own midlife “Plan B”–an alternative career, business venture or lifestyle that would bring you and your loved ones joy, peace of mind and shared bright expectations for the future. Remind yourself that an unpleasant past, even an unhappy present in no way limits your potential for a bright and shining future–it’s all up to you! Also remember, genuine joy, self-satisfaction and peace of mind comes only from what matters to you, not from someone else’s impression of the person you are or who you should become!
To help you consider a new approach for the new year and to find meaning in all of today’s madness, tune into the December 17, 2012 weekly Internet broadcast of “Middle Age Can Be Your Best Age” on WebTalkRadio.net. My guests are noted author Dianne Collins who introduces “Quantum Think” to dispel the notion that there’s only right answer and holistic life coach Dora Nudelman who suggests how to turn your next major setback into a blessing in disguise. Remember, you can listen in at your convenience at any time once my program goes “live” on the Internet on December 17.