It can be damn unsettling to be at a point of major transition and life or career reinvention in our 40s, 50s and 60s. And yet, reinvention at this point in life is unbelievably common. Take heart, you are not alone!
There are more Americans between the ages of 45 and 65 than any other age block in our country AND a whole heck of a lot of us are in the midst of big life transitions and changes.
One of the best ways to harness change as a path to peace and empowerment is to take a deep and honest look at the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves and the world. We all consume stories by media and pop culture and our own families and we wind up attaching to some of these stories and accepting them as truth even when that might not be the case.
For example, pop-culture media is filled with images and stories of celebrity success and accomplishment that are mostly airbrushed illusion. Sensationalist news media pours heavy doses of fear into the mix, enticing us to compare ourselves to those airbrushed images in order to get our attention and willingness to spend money on their advertisers’ products. None of this has anything much to do with depth, substance or real life.
The stories we buy into about ourselves, life, limitations, are just that, stories. But they are immensely powerful: they literally shape our experience of life.
When I was forced out of a career I’d spent my whole life building, I felt utterly adrift, heartbroken, terrified and really pissed off. I was also unable to do anything to get back what I had lost. After raging around for a time in anger, resistance and despair, I finally made a decision to take control of what I could which was the way I chose to view the situation. Instead of sticking with the story (however justifiable it might have been) that I had been unfairly targeted and taken out, I chose to view it as an unasked for sabbatical to explore other areas of life and myself.
I wound up growing and expanding so much that when the dust settled and the reshaped landscape of my life came into view, I realized I didn’t even want to do what I’d been doing before! I had grown into new dimensions and directions. In fact, that’s what led to me developing the Launch Your Next Chapter and Jedi Activist programs and doing work that I LOVE.
In recent years I’ve worked with many, many people in the process of reinventing at mid-life. Like all of us they started out pretty afraid but as they began to let go of the old scripts and write new stories they have gone on to launch new businesses and non-profit organizations, find beautiful new loving relationships, sort out difficult financial situations and even boldly pick up and move to new countries they’d always wanted to experience.
One of the most disempowering stories we buy into is that we are supposed to be in a certain place at a certain stage in life. It’s the false story that we “should have done thus and so by now” and are too old to do (fill in the blank), now. For the most part, that is garbage. Just consider:
- Mother Teresa was forty years old when she founded the Missionaries of Charity.
- Jack Nicklaus was forty-six years old when he shot 65 in the final round, and 30 on the back nine, to win the Masters.
- Henry Ford was fifty years old when he started his first manufacturing assembly line.
- Ray Kroc was a fifty-two-year-old milkshake machine salesman when he bought out Mac and Dick McDonald and officially started McDonald’s.
- Pablo Picasso was fifty-five years old when he painted Guernica.
- Dom Pérignon was fifty-six years old when he first produced champagne.
- Oscar Hammerstein II was sixty-four years old when he wrote the lyrics for The Sound of Music.
- Winston Churchill was sixty-five years old when he became Britain’s Prime Minister.
- Nelson Mandela was seventy-one years old when he was released from a South African prison. Four years later he was elected president of South Africa.
- Michelangelo was seventy-two years old when he designed the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
- Auguste Rodin was seventy-six years old when he finally married Rose Beuret, whom he met when he was twenty-three.
- Benjamin Franklin was seventy-nine years old when he invented bifocal eyeglasses.
- Frank Lloyd Wright was ninety-one years old when he completed his work on the Guggenheim Museum.
- Dimitrion Yordanidis was ninety-eight years old when he ran a marathon in seven hours and thirty three minutes, in Athens, Greece.
- Ichijirou Araya was one hundred years old when he climbed Mount Fuji.
The truth is there are myriad possibilities in every situation and most of them we are unaware of, until … we aren’t! How many times has life delivered an opening you never saw coming? That doesn’t end as we progress through it. In fact, the experience and seasoning we gain along the way broadens the options for what’s possible.
What stories are you telling yourself about yourself and the options before you? Are you certain those stories are accurate? Are they serving you? Remember, you have the power and the right to write your own story.