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How Will You Spend Your Midlife Hours?
This article explores the value of pausing at the brink of this major life transition to reflect on your life and what can help you craft your most compelling midlife chapter.
Some journeys are direct, and some are circuitous; some are heroic, and some are fearful and muddled. But every journey, honestly undertaken, stands a chance of taking us toward the place where our deep gladness meets the world's deep need.
-Parker J. Palmer (Let Your Life Speak)
Have you found that place, that Palmer describes? Or are you still searching for one or the other?
If you’re new to this life season, do you notice any of the following:
Do you feel lost and confused, wondering, what the future holds for you?
Does it seem like you’re stagnating in a job that doesn't align with your deeper passions and full potential, but you don’t know how to make a change?
Are your dreams gathering dust while you play it safe with your goals for fear of trying something different and failing?
Do you feel out of sync with your natural gifts and abilities while watching others flourish in theirs?
Are you unclear about what possibilities are available to you now or if you’re too late to even think about starting something new?
Do most days feel like you’re existing, but not fully living?
Moments like these, when we reach major life shifts, call for a pause to reflect on your life. If you take a moment to slow down and tune out the noise, there’s so much to hear in the stillness.
In doing so, you’ll notice several things:
You’ve made it through six of eight life stages.
You brought with you a lifetime of wisdom and insights you gained through your many experiences.
Likewise, you’ve acquired a range of skills and resources to help you craft your most compelling new chapter yet.
Your arrival in midlife is a milestone worth acknowledging and celebrating, particularly when filtered through recent and ongoing global challenges.
Reflecting on your journey is also an opportunity to:
Notice where you’ve been and how you spent your time.
Notice what parts of your journey are worth acknowledging and celebrating.
Note what goals you reached and what helped you get there.
Recall the people who joined you along the way and notice who stayed for a season and what they taught you.
Also, notice how you’ve impacted others’ lives.
Notice if you have any regrets about some of your choices and how are you framing these. Are you viewing these in shame and self-blame, or can you re-frame regrets as opportunities for growth and renewal?
Finally, consider the future, and decide what’s left that you’d like to explore. Notice what’s holding you back and what resources or support can help you get there.
In my midlife transition, I faced a crossroads. It was to either stay in my comfort zone where everything felt familiar and predictable. Having lived that way for half my life, I was also aware that nothing new could sprout there. It’s also why I answered, yes, to the first six questions listed earlier. The other choice was to dust one of those untapped dreams and slowly unveil it.
What you may find if you choose courage over fear is that midlife holds a mystery of unexpected possibilities and opportunities. The only way to uncover what’s available and possible for you in your unique life context is a willingness to take one, small, brave step outside your comfort zone.
Doing this can feel like finding missing pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that you’ve been searching for your entire life. Once you feel that newfound sense of wholeness, you become more open to stepping into this new life stage with a newfound freedom and courage to explore everything it has to offer to help you thrive on purpose in midlife.
What Does It Mean to Thrive on Purpose in Midlife?
You embrace the gifts and tasks of midlife.
You enjoy the freedom to be beautiful, quirky, and unique self without worrying about what others think.
You tap into your internal and external resources to cope with life's inevitable challenges and opportunities.
You honour your needs, dreams, and goals along with the needs of others.
You cultivate and enjoy healthier relationships with clearer boundaries.
You are connected to your essential self and aligned with your innate strengths, natural abilities, and deeper life callings.
Ultimately, it can lead you to the place Palmer describes – the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.
For more about how to embrace this life season, check out my self-paced digital resource, The Midlife Roadmap: Six Guideposts to Thrive on Purpose in Midlife. I share my midlife story which includes examples of the circuitous, fearful, and heroic steps it took to get unstuck from self-limiting beliefs. It also details how to shift from a place of existing in fear and helplessness, onto a path to fully living.
Until next time, travel gently on your midlife journey.
The Midlife Introvert