By Guest Author, Tonya Parker – Author, Blogger, and Certified Life Coach
When I was much younger, I envisioned my forties as a fabulous time in my life where things would finally come completely together. It was a glamorous vision for sure, but I honestly never thought past the big 4-0. Did life simply reach a stagnant phase after your Forty and Fabulous party? I really wasn’t sure I had given after 40 much thought, but as I settled into my forties and the newness of it all wore off, what I found was that I wasn't ready to settle at all, and neither were the other 45-and-up women in my circle. In fact, it seemed that most of us were just hitting a new stride.
Many of my stay-at-home mom friends were ready to re-enter the job market. My career-minded girlfriends were making big changes – either going for their corner offices or doing a complete 360 and leaving the 9-5 grind in order to pursue a creative passion. My easygoing friends who once had those hilarious 0.0 bumper stickers on their minivans were now training for marathons. And for some of the other women in my life, relationships were also evolving. So not only were friends making career changes, but I had friends getting divorced and/or remarried and finding that things as a single or newly married woman looked and felt so different in this digital age. We’re now updating our LinkedIn, double tapping on Instagram, and wondering if our meals are going to taste as good as they look on Pinterest.
It is actually pretty exhilarating to see all the transformation! And while the next phase of our lives (or our Second Acts, as many are referring to it now) can be exciting, it can be a little nerve-racking too. A lot has changed since we were in our twenties. But if we’re being honest, we wouldn’t want to go back, because not only have we grown to love the woman we are becoming, we’re also looking forward to what she’s going to do next!
So if you are entering your Second Act, no matter what that looks like for you, here are a few things you can do to make sure you’re physically and mentally ready to take your leap and embrace your next thing too.
Get clear about your vision – I recently heard someone refer to their “confusing twenties.”While being a confused twenty-year-old may or may not have been true for you, midlife is a time to get laser focused. Because we now have so much more at stake, it isn’t really the time to become scattered, distracted, or perplexed about where we are headed. We really need to sit with our vision and create a plan for moving forward. When I decided to make the shift from school counseling to life coaching, I researched the field, chatted with certified coaches I knew, went from full-time to part-time at work, and started a life coaching certification program. I began with the vision of what I wanted my future career to look like and then I took the steps to make it happen. If you have been wanting that promotion, career change, artistic endeavor, or whatever else you've set your sights on, what exactly will that look like when you get it? Start there and then work your way backwards. Having a clear vision for your goal allows you to effectively and strategically move in the direction of your dreams.
Focus on self-care – Getting clear about your vision mentally prepares you for your Second Act but you need to make sure you are physically ready too. At this stage of the game many of us are juggling multiple family obligations and some are working their full-time jobs while nurturing their artistic side hustle, or working late nights in order to be considered for the big promotion. This is all happening while our bodies are entering or preparing to enter their second stage too. We have to make sure we are nurturing ourselves on the inside as well so that we are at peak performance. Now isn’t the time to put self-care on the back burner. In fact, it needs to take center stage. We have to be intentional about our workouts, our nutrition, our supplements, and our me time. For me that means moving away from a self-care Sunday mentality and implementing a daily regimen that includes all of those things. Remember that the positive energy that you create for yourself will help you distribute that good energy over the other areas of your life as well.
Take the risk – At this point you’ve gotten clear about your vision and you’ve made sure you are taking steps to make sure you feel good physically, but there is one more thing you have to do – act! One of my favorite quotes by author Julia Cameron is “Leap and the net will appear.” Many people spend a lot of time dreaming, planning, or even talking about what they want to do next, but you have to do more than that. In order to get to your Second Act, you have to actually take action. There will come a time when you simply have to take that leap. I know it can be frightening. We spend the first half of our lives creating and becoming comfortable in our current state, but moving to the next phase will require us to step out of our comfort zones. When I gave up my full-time job, I was terrified, but I had a plan that I could lean on. And even with a solid plan, it will require a certain level of courage to go beyond your status quo. But if you have done the work, you will know when it’s time.
So, if you’re on the fence about what to do next, it may be time for you to lean in and take the leap too. Because what I’ve discovered is that while transitioning can be nerve-racking, the idea of not making the most of the second half of our lives is even scarier. And keep in mind that everything that we really want is on the other side of forty!