Here are “ten commandments” to restore joy, a sense of purpose and positive expectations after age 40. No, I’m not attempting to re-write the Old Testiment! Rather these are common-sense nuggets of advice designed to help disheartened Baby Boomers along the path to a better life.
Commandment #1–I Will Not Renew Alone. Although your primary renewal commitment is to yourself, my first ground rule is to renew as part of a team. Similar to any team sport, two or more people pulling together can accomplish far more than the sum of individual efforts. You can offer inspiration to your teammates and teammates can help to motivate you.
Commandment #2–I Will Affirm My Faith in a Power Greater Than Me. This commandment is optional depending upon your religious beliefs. If you do believe in a Supreme Being loving and active in human affairs, I urge you to affirm your faith and to pray from devine intervention. No matter how unfortunate your past or present, ask God to forgive and help you wake up to a clean slate. Our lives will not suddenly become perfect, but bringing God into the picture frees us from sole reliance on our own inadequate resources.
Commandment #3–I Will Affirm Belief in Myself. Every one of us is a unique, cherished member of the human community. Every one of us has latent talent and inner resources far greater than those we are calling upon today. You will not progress far in awakening those resources without first acknowledging your worth as an individual and affirming your potential to conquer new horizons in life’s second half. Once firmly implanted, affirmation of self helps drive fear of failure from the mind.
Commandment #4–I Will Renew as a Two-Step Process. The first step is to seek inner peace and positive emotional balance, affirming favorable aspects of life today and of the direction in which you are heading. The second step is to establish and sustain favorable interpersonal relationships with loved ones, friends, work associates and those you encounter along the way.
Commandment #5–I Will Begin Thinking Outside the Lines. For genuine and lasting midlife renewal, you will need to abandon your present comfort zone and to begin thinking outside the lines. There is a reason you are less than fully satisfied with your life today so it makes no sense to continue patterns of behavior which are not working! In reformulating life at mid-stream, you seek to uncover and lock in an entirely different, uniformly positive stream of consciousness. Begin your search today for creative new outlets to apply your talents and desires.
Commandment #6–I Will Dissassociate Myself from Negative Thoughts and Negative People. Once a positive mindset is implanted deep within, you must remain constantly on-guard to prevent negative thoughts from creeping back in. As a corollary, you must not permit negative individuals around you to replant stress-inducing notions like “I can’t do this.” or “People won’t like me.” I’m not suggesting you summarily divorce your spouse, disown your children or ignore you boss simply because they are not a continual ray of sunshine but you can consciously avoid arguments. refuse to second negative comments and limit interactions when another person is in a bad mood.
Commandment #7–I Will Treat Renewal as a Major Midlife Project. Ask yourself, “Do I have anything better to do?” What would be more wonderful in life’s second half than permanent transformation of primary emotional focus from negative to postive? I suggest you approach midlife renewal as a fundamental life-altering project of highest priority, the same as you did courtship and marriage, starting a family or searching for your first full-time job out of school.
Commandment #8–I Will Renew Both My Body and My Mind. It will be difficult to sustain a positive life outlook and to revitalize mind and soul if you remain trapped in a 50-pound overweight body! Effective midlife transformation must include both mind and body. If out of shape and out of sorts, I suggest you initiate a physician-approved diet and exercise regimen to accompany your mental journey to a brighter tomorrow.
Commandment #9–I Will Begin Behaving Like I Already Have Changed. You needn’t wait until the final results are in. Starting this very day, begin visualizing in your mind the precise image of the positive man or woman you seek to become–then start acting out the part. As a small child, you understood that play acting and imagination really do work. Guess what–it also works for adults! Before you know it, your sub-conscious mind will take over and you will become that self-confident, uniformly positive individual of your dreams.
Commandment #10–I Will Expand My Circles of Cooperation. We’re all in this together and life is not a zero-sum game. You can best advance your positive, post-renewal agenda through a fluid series of ever-expanding networks of transitory and permanent circles of cooperation. You can best achieve this tenth commandment by viewing all challenges, large or small, positive or negative, as potentially cooperative ventures. Link up with others to push cars out of a snowdrift, elect your favorite candidate, launch a new business or help disadvantage youth in your community. Always remember, genuine cooperation requires give and take. You must seek a positive outcome for others as they seek a positive outcome for you.
My final advice: cast off lingering doubts, fears or prior inhibitions. This very day, you can initiate a fundamental mid-course correction which will lead ultimately to peace of mind, joy in living and realistically positive expectations both for today and tomorrow.
For full details on our “ten commendments for renewal” plus a comprehensive roadmap to your very own positive second half of life, please read my book, A Mid-Life Challenge WAKE UP! For a preview, go to our website: www.middleagerenewal.com.