Fifty is the new twenty.
If your first reaction was – What?! – stay with me for a minute.
First, let’s talk about consciously living before we move forward.
I define consciously living as taking control of your life. It’s thinking about each decision before you make it, and how it will fit into your life. It’s about saying YES when it’s right for you, NO equally as often when it doesn’t push you forward in the direction of your choosing.
Sounds easy enough. Yet it’s not something most people do.
- Are you in a job you don’t enjoy, counting down the days until you can leave?
- Are you planning a party because someone said “you’re the best” … even though you’d rather do something else?
- Are you on a committee because someone pulled you in?
- Are you working on projects that don’t excite you?
- Are you worried about retirement, not sure if it will ever be possible?
- Do you have a “big dream” you’ve been dreaming about for years?
- Do you wish for more time to spend with the people you love?
- Do you strive for better health, yet keep doing what you’ve always done?
- Do you focus on what’s happening in the world rather than focusing on your most important goals?
- Do you often feel out of control?
Welcome to living UNconsciously.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could change all of that around?
Creating conscious living in your own life
There’s only one way to create conscious living in your life: Be conscious about everything you do.
It sounds simple, but it’s one of the most challenging things for women to do, especially as we hit midlife. We’ve had years to create a life that works on autopilot. And in many cases, we’ve never had role models for teaching us how to change it up.
My grandmother had an eight grade education. After high school, my mother went to secretarial school, to learn enough skills to work until she married, had children, and stayed home. My mom knew what a college degree would have done for her life, so she pushed my sister and me towards school. She pushed for us to get a degree, but offered little support in choosing a direction.
Yet without role models around me, and little direction for what women could do, I fell into job after job, without regard for what I wanted to do. I climbed ladders I hated, jumping back down and trying others to get where I am today.
These changes woke me up early in life, and taught me how to make better decisions. And better decisions lead to a more conscious life.
Conscious living is about creating your idea of a “perfect” life. It’s not perfect by any means. There are still hardships along the way. But I feel it’s because you’ve learned to be conscious that helps you get through hard times faster. It teaches you to look for ways out, rather than wallow with what has been given.
Do you see yourself in any of this? Have you “fallen” into your life without planning for what you have? Have you wished your life away in any way, because it’s not your idea of a “perfect” life?
Then maybe it’s time to shift tracks, and do something about it.
Strategies to help you create conscious living in your own life
Consciously living isn’t something you can accomplish overnight. This is a lifestyle change. It’s a skill you develop over time.
It starts by realizing you want change. As you recognize the areas of your life that don’t excite you, that aren’t allowing you to live fully, you can start changing them one by one.
It takes effort and constant attentiveness to recognize those areas of life that aren’t truly nurturing your soul, and having the guts to do something about it.
Here are some things that work for me.
Daily reflection helps you create a regular routine. I journal at least once a day, reflecting on what’s happening in my life. It’s a way for me to review the things that excite me, reflect on the things that aren’t working, and give thought of ways to change.
Create yearly reviews. I work on this a couple of times per year – at the end of each year, and on my birthday. I review life goals, write down what’s worked and what hasn’t, and evaluate the changes I wish to make in my life in the coming year. I create action steps to ensure I stick with my plans.
Review relationships. Are the people around you for a reason? Or are they there because they’ve always been there? Sometimes it’s important to let relationships go if they no longer serve you. You are the accumulation of the five people you spend the most amount of time with. People enter our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. Where disappointment and contentment come from is when we try and force a relationship beyond its purpose. Recognize it, and have the guts to say: Goodbye.
Look at what’s currently in your life. Stuff will never make you happy. Yet in the western world, we’re overrun with stuff. So much so, that one in ten households uses a storage unit to hold more stuff. All of that stuff takes a toll on us. Is your life overrun by stuff – you need a bigger house to hold more stuff. You need more hangers to hang more clothes. Tubs to fill with more stuff as you move it to storage. You have to clean it, move it, arrange it … and start all over again. I’ve found the more stuff I have, the more stress I have. A clean environment helps you focus on what’s truly important. It’s time to clean up, and move stuff out of your life. To get back to what’s truly important.
Reviewing money. Buying is a part of who we are. We buy all the time, without considering the true cost of filling our lives. If you stop by Starbucks on the way to work, pick up a new dress just because, and splurge on take-out because you don’t have time, it’s time to take another look at your money. Is “buying” the best use of your funds? What could you do instead? What if you saved to help create a lifestyle instead?
Where time goes. Time is the most precious commodity we have. We realize that the older we get. Yet if you haven’t audited how you spend your days, you might be shocked at where your time is going. How many hours do you spend making conscious decisions – who is in your life, what you do, where you go? How much of it slips away without a second thought? This can also help you learn to be present, focused on the things that bring you the most joy.
Ask more questions. It’s easy to fall into a pattern where you do things “just because”. When you start questioning what’s happening around you, it allows you to start making wiser choices.
In conclusion …
When we were in our twenties, life happened. I was the first woman in my family to get a college degree. I didn’t have many role models to follow.
But I did learn early on to be present and make conscious choices. Here in my fifties, I feel like it’s the one thing I do quite well.
Midlife is here, telling me I have several decades left to live. And since I’m more focused, more consistent with what I do in my life, I have more possibility of making my goals happen.
Your fifties are the new twenties. Right here, right now, we have potential to do anything we choose. I have my path defined, and am consciously making the right choices … for me.