In such a difficult and challenging time, we can sometimes question what our next step might be.
One thing I keep hearing from clients is that they are feeling “COVID burnout” and are searching for the energy and motivation to move forward. They also want to do something meaningful with their lives but wonder if they are too late to pursue a dream that has been sitting on the back burner for quite sometime.
One of the messages in this episode of The Creative Penn podcast is that midlife is a time of transition-not crisis. If you are hearing constant whispers telling you it is time for a change, it may be time to listen.
Enjoy hearing some strong voices from people who are creating their purposeful futures in the present moment and in the “middle” of their lives!
We are ushering a new decade, which means it is a great time to reflect on the past while preparing for the future! It is easy to move on to the next goal, intention or resolution; however, I encourage all of you to take the time to remember, honor and celebrate what you have already achieved – in the last 10 years. Yes, you read that correctly – the last 10 years!
What 100 Things Have You Accomplished in the Last 10 Years?
Why 10 years? This decade stretching coaching exercise is designed to tap into your memory banks while providing a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment. Investing time and effort into this process will also strengthen your motivation and confidence. This can be especially important for high-achieving individuals who feel like they are getting older and are interested in or working towards a life transition or transformation. Achievers tend to move quickly and overlook what they have accomplished. This exercise was intentionally designed as a slow, yet insightful, process that helps us see how much we have grown and changed over the course of a decade.
The first few may or may not come easily to you. Expect the process to get a little more challenging as you add more accomplishments. Ten years goes by quickly, and we tend to forget all we have experienced and achieved. If you get stuck, refer to your planner, calendar and pictures for ideas. Use your social media accounts, colleagues and friends to trigger your memories. Think back to fun times and feelings of joy. And, think broadly! This is not an exercise focused only on work or career. Think about the whole of your life as you go through this exercise. Below are a few thinking prompts:
How did you invest in yourself?
Where were you, and what were you doing, 10 years ago?
Where are you, and what are you doing, now?
What experiences did you enjoy?
Did you have a child(ren) or grandchild(ren)?
Did you try a new hair color?
What type of physical exercise did you try or grow?
Did you write your first blog post or record a podcast?
What romantic encounters did you experience?
What vacations did you experience?
What classes did you take?
What hobbies did you develop?
How did you volunteer or freely contribute your talents?
What did you do for exercise or self-care?
Stretch your thinking and have some fun with this exercise. You may just surprise yourself! Download the 100 Things I Have Accomplished in the Last 10 Years Coaching Tool below by clicking on either the text or the 100 graphic. Make the time to complete the list, and then let us know all about the 100 accomplishments you have achieved in the comment section below. We look forward to hearing from you!
The end of the year – and in this case the beginning of a new decade – is a great time to take stock of where you have been and where you want to go!
Milestones in time create the ideal moments to clear the challenges of the past, celebrate our wonderful memories and launch our dreams. Listen to your internal compass. Maybe you have been feeling stuck or have an internal knowing that it is time to do something different. If so, it is time to give yourself permission to consciously create and pursue the future you truly desire.
One of the first lessons we cover in F * School is giving ourselves permission to do whatever we truly want to experience, try or pursue on the path to our preferred future – the future we truly desire.
I have noticed the need to “give permission” in both individuals and in organizations, so I created a lesson to address this need. Many people tend to keep themselves mentally stuck or wait for someone else to give them permission to move forward with an idea, project or vacation (Yes-sometimes leaders really struggle with taking time off to recharge and renew).
I have been guilty of choosing to stay stuck at times. My amazing executive coach, Elise Auxier, pointed this out to me as I transitioned from my job to my business. Instead of waiting for some external person or force to give me permission to leave a long-time career that was no longer serving me, I had to take ownership of my life and do it myself. It took a series of bold, baby steps. And, it took a lot of support. Ultimately, I had to be the one to take action. I gave myself permission every step of the way. Was it always easy? No. Has it been totally worth it? Yes!
The process of giving yourself permission to move forward with your dreams and desires can be especially important if you are going through a time of change or transformation. I used the Permission Slip several times to help with my midlife metamorphosis. It took me a year to leave the place I had been at for twenty-five years. As a mentioned earlier, it was a process of bold, baby steps. It has taken some time; however, I am finally emerging as the person I have always wanted to truly become.
Give yourself permission to take steps forward, no matter how big or small, to experience your dreams and desires. Don’t choose to pursue what I call the Purposeless Future.
The Purposeless Future
Too many people keep their desires inside of them. They pursue what I call the Purposeless Future. This is the future that “just happens” because people opt to stay on the hamster wheel of life rather than taking the time to develop and pursue a purposeful future that they truly desire.
The future is not a straight path forward. Rather, there are many alternative futures. In the world of strategic foresight (futuring), we us a tool called the Cone of Possibilities to help people understand this concept. In the cone, there are multiple futures that can be described as:
Preferred: The desired future we choose to pursue
Possible: The wide range of events and possibilities over the course of time
Plausible: Futures that are possible but unlikely
Probable: Events and future scenarios that are likely to happen
Purposeless: The future that occurs without conscious intention
There are also two key assumptions about the future:
There are multiple futures. It is important to clarify your preferred future through a visioning process; however, you must also be willing to change course when necessary. Remember, life is not simply about achieving in the future — it is also about enjoying the present.
You influence the future through your true intent. Once you establish your preferred future, you must develop the beliefs, behaviors, mindset and actions to make it happen. If you do not truly believe in your preferred future, you will not consciously or subconsciously pursue it with true intent.
The Power of Honest Intentions
Our honest intentions are naturally supported by our beliefs and actions; therefore, all true intent is realized. Intentions become the outcome — they become your future. Your intentions serve as motivation and the source of actions and behaviors. Setting and pursuing false intentions can lead to a lack of interest and motivation, which typically ends in feelings of failure and self-doubt. Feelings of failure and self-doubt can seriously erode confidence and our sense of self-empowerment and success. Be genuine about your desired future and your intent to pursue it. If you honestly and consciously establish your true intentions, your beliefs, behaviors and mindset will align to create the outcome.
Dealing with Wild Cards
Sometimes, we experience Wild Cards — those unpredictable, unexpected and unforeseen happenings that can impact our present and future. We might lose a job or have an unexpected health emergency. We might inherit a large sum of money or land a big client.
Wild Cards are a part of life, and we have to learn to deal with what comes our way.
Life is Not a Straight Line
There is no straight line to any future. As leaders of our own lives, it is important to take risks, learn from the challenges and celebrate the successes. Our preferred futures may ultimately look and feel a little different than we imagined; however, they may be even better than what our minds are capable of creating!
The Pace of Change
Wild Cards are unpredictable, unexpected and unforeseen happenings that we must deal with throughout the course of our lives; however, we are also living in a time of unprecedented change. Not only is technology evolving faster than ever – life is too. We are living longer and experiencing careers and families differently than ever before. We also feel like we need to always be “on” as we are constantly bombarded with the demands of life. This is especially true for people who are creating new ways of living and working.
All of this change can feel overwhelming and cause stress that undermines your potential. Don’t give into the hype! Change will continue to happen. The intention here is to create the positive change, and preferred future, that works best for you and your life. So, get give yourself permission to pursue your desired future!
WIN with Action!
Giving yourself permission to pursue your dream future is not about striving, working hard or struggling to make it happen. It is about the freedom to make decisions that work best for you. This exercise is about exploring how you personally WIN, and by WIN I mean let the process feel —
W = Wild = Free, Fulfilling and Fun!
You have the freedom to choose how to spend your life. Put your ego, external validation and the thoughts of others aside so you can be totally free and honest with yourself. Let your transformation be guided by self-honesty, personal fulfillment joy and fun!
I = Inspired = Explore with Energy and Excitement!
Anytime is a great time to explore new possibilities, so pursue your desired future in a way that gives you energy and feels exciting! If you are feeling a bit stuck, start asking yourself some questions designed to increase your self-awareness:
Where does your energy naturally flow?
What saps your energy?
What do you want to let go of doing, feeling or thinking?
What have you always wanted to do but have not yet tried?
This should be a process of experimenting and exploring. Remember, your true intentions will naturally lead to inspired actions.
N = Natural= Totally You.
Have you ever tried on a piece of clothing, looked in the mirror and thought, “Wow! This looks amazing!” It fit perfectly and the color made your face light up naturally. That is what the “N” in WIN should feel and be like. Write, do and explore what feels totally and completely like you. What comes to you without thinking about it? What have you been covering up or avoiding that is begging to be set free? What comes to you naturally — without effort or striving? What makes you feel alive and excited — taps into your intuition (that inner wisdom we all possess) and aligns with your soul?
It’s Time to WIN!
Download and complete the Permission Slip below. Take the time to give yourself permission to consciously create your future and experience your life by taking big leaps or bold, baby steps. Do whatever you need to do to give yourself permission to WIN and pursue your desired future!
Use extra Permission Slips if you need them. After you finish giving yourself permission to take consciously create your future by intentionally taking action, share your thoughts and ideas in the comment section below! What steps did you decide to take? How did it feel? Whatever you want to share is absolutely welcome!
I look forward to hearing what you gave yourself permission to do, feel and experience to make your desired future a reality!
I have to admit that I was super excited to do an interview with Nicole Jansen as part of her Leaders of Transformation Podcast. We talk about the future, the importance of a vision and how work and leadership are evolving; however, my biggest moment was actually diving into my own transition! I have not said or written a lot about why and how I left a twenty-five year career to pursue my own desired future. Honestly, it has been a hard to talk about for a number of reasons. We discuss it a bit in this interview, and it felt awesome just to voice my truth as well as my new adventure in midlife!
Enjoy the show, and let me know what you think! I would love to know what topics you want to know more about in the future. Make sure to download the free
Start creating your desired future today by enjoy the Dream Life 2025 exercise that is mentioned in podcast! After you complete the Dream Life 2025 exercise, let me know what your desired future looks like in the comments section below!
Gen X, the generation often ignored by researchers, employers or even in basic conversations and presentations about generational differences, had a very different upbringing when compared to their parents or their children. We are an ambitious generation that created successful companies but also struggled in careers while figuring out how to “balance” work, family and gender dynamics. Many remained unmarried and childless by choice. Others married and had children much later in life than previous generations-yes, that’s me!
Midlife has changed, and there is little understanding of midlife challenges and opportunities in the modern era. I agree with Calhoun about many of the challenges (underemployment, regret about life decisions, etc). However, I also think our bold and courageous generation continues to shape the world in many positive ways. Gen X continues to shape organizations, businesses and communities with their independence, work ethic and drive to have a personal life.
The pressure many Gen Xers put on themselves can be a blessing but also a curse. One key to a more positive midlife is letting go of regret and so much self-censoring while making life more of an adventure. Generally speaking, many of us were bold and independent in our youth. We are the generation of big hair, shaved sides, multiple piercings, video games, loud music and mohawks. If there is any generation who can find ways to enjoy it all more-it is ours. Gen X has done more for this country than most people realize without receiving or even needing the credit for their accomplishments. We have been leading under the radar for most of our lives, and it is time to raise our hands and voices to audaciously shape the future, especially for women (more on this in a later post).
What does this more modern midlife look like to you? How are you dealing with the challenges, pressures and stress? What great adventures are you having in your midlife? What new opportunities are you pursing? Let us know by leaving a comment. We would enjoy hearing from you!