As we begin a new year, pause for a few moments to take your emotional temperature. Now that you are firmly entrenched in middle age–over 40, 50, perhaps even 60–do you still celebrate being alive and look forward to a joyful and purposeful second half? I trust you don’t consider yourself trapped in a dull, mind-numbing daily routine. Are idealism, romance and a sense of adventure gone from your life, replaced by a never-ending struggle simply to maintain the status quo? Worst of all, do you worry continually about growing old, anticipating a steady decline physically and mentally, ending life as a whisper in the “Care Center” of your local retirement home?
Negative emotions like those described above are symptomatic of an all-too-common midlife malaise: the curse of lost dreams and diminished expectations! At some point beyond 40, so many of us become haunted by the realization that we are not as young, athletic and physically attractive as we once were, that children who once were the center of our universe are growing up and beginning to tune us out and that our most recent job promotion likely will be our last. Perhaps for the first time, you now acknowledge that those lofty career and lifestyle goals that once seemed so attainable today appear out of reach.
When you’re in a better mood, I trust you reflect upon the many blessings of middle age. Your children are, or soon will be, fully grown and off on their own. Perhaps for the first time in years, you and your spouse or life partner have ample time to spend quality time both alone and together, to broaden personal horizons and to share life-enriching adventures just for two.
Grandchildren have or soon will add a wonderful new dimension. Cable or direct TV, mobile communication devices, the Internet and Social Media bring undreamed of culture, education, self-expression and entertainment right into your home. As empty nesters, you two may be alone in your residence but you can communicate in a heartbeat with offspring, relatives, friends and loved ones all arround the world.
Thanks to years of diligent savings and investment, I trust you have attained financial security you only dreamed of in your twenties and thirties. Your personal resume has been building over the past 20 to 30 years. As a mature adult, you have experienced both the bitter and the sweet and you know how to distinguish true gold from glitter. You routinely avoid the foolish mistakes you might have made 25 years ago. In fact, never before have you been better equipped to take control, set priorities and to joyfully accomplish those essential lifelong goals that really matter to you.
When you think about it, most of your life up to now has been directed by someone else or by circumstances. As a child, your next steps were determined by parents and teachers. In your teen years, social contemporaries and teen influencers had a say. In college, it was professors and fraternity/sorority brothers/sisters; in the military your commanding officer or Sargent and early on in your career, the boss and your employer. After you were married, circumstances–child-bearing, caring for and nurturing infants, toddlers and small children–pretty much determined how you and your spouse spent your time.
Now that you are in middle age, it’s time to take over personal control of life’s next stages. You may still have a boss to report to, but you no longer need to play office politics and you can take far more initiative in prioritizing and defining your workday. Middle age is an ideal point to redefine yourself as an individual–your worth is defined by far more than your position at work. Is your life balanced? What career track do you want to be on? A fresh, positive attitude and the commitment to take primary control of personal destiny can make your 40’s, 50’s and 60’s a period of maximum joy, fulfillment and service to others.
The secret to a joyful, productive and rewarding second half is to recapture a youthful zest for living blended in with the mature judgment of middle age–a winning combination! Once you regain firm control over your emotions and set the gage on ‘positive’, there is absolutely no reason to fear the future. Prepare financially now, then relax, take a deep breath and enjoy the journey. As a positive, self-confident individual pursuing a proactive agenda, you will have no room for lingering bitterness, self-doubt or recrimination.
Here’s a question for you: “Will you take full responsibility for your destiny moving forward?” If your answer is “yes”, please sit back and make yourself three solemn pledges:
- “Starting right now, I no longer will dwell upon past mistakes and seek to blame myself, circumstances or anyone else on where I am today.”
- “As of this moment, I hereby appoint myself as CEO of me.”
- “I solemnly pledge that I will search diligently for new ways to make all my tomorrows positive, focused and productive. Change is not my enemy, I hereby embrace it as my best friend!”
As soon as you clear your mind of regret and stop blaming self and others for things that are “wrong” with your life today, you can fill the void with positive heartfelt images of the renewed creative, forward thinking individual you intend to become. This person is not a total stranger–it is the new, improved you. You are now fully capable of combining the idealism of youth with an irreplaceable wealth of hard-earned knowledge and experience–so who’s to stop you now?
No one can prevent you from believing in yourself 100%. Ladies and gentlemen, wake up! Right now at the beginning of a new calendar year is a great point in time to begin reconstruction of the positive, goal-oriented person you were created to be! Once renewed in mind and spirit, you will join a select vanguard of cutting-edge, midlife winners fully capable of testing boundaries, analyzing problems, promoting creative solutions and enjoying every moment of being alive.
Want to learn more about the art of midlife renewal in the new year? Tune in to the December 29 and January 5 installments of my acclaimed Internet radio program ‘Middle Age Can Be Your Best Age!’ You can find our program link on Google at the top of page 1.