When I prepare messages for my blog, I often have a dozen or more ideas started and in some form. When I sit down to write out my post for the week, I look through my ideas. Different things catch my eye, and off I’ll go writing my message out for you for the week.
Then there are days like today … Over a dozen posts ready and waiting to be finished. But I wasn’t feeling any of them.
Because I don’t know about you, but if you’re a writer, some days just hit you with new ideas.
That happened to me today as I received a package in the mail. It was filled with all kinds of goodies I’ll be sharing at some point in the future. And – whooshhhh – there I went with an entirely new idea. One I felt so strongly, I knew I could quickly type it out.
Here’s the thing; this past year has been a doozy. I’ve referenced that many times in my posts over the last few months. And I know I’m not alone.
Being a Gen Xer is rough right now. All of the things we normally face as a 40 or 50-ish woman have been multiplied by the fact that we’re doing it with an unbelievable amount of stress. Chaos that nobody else in our current world has ever faced before. (Hello, pandemic, I’m talking to you.)
Sometimes it’s all overwhelming. It stops us in our tracks. And at those times, it’s important for little reminders to tell you:
- YOU CAN take back your power.
- YOU CAN have all those things you’ve been planning for years.
- YOU CAN shift your current energy.
- YOU CAN recreate the dream. (That dream you’ve been carrying for years, even if you kinda sorta forgot it’s there. Or it’s morphed into something even better.)
Midlife is a time when a lot of us reach a plateau, only to find ourselves scratching our heads, wondering how the hell we got here.
Is this it?
Is this all there is?
I wanted it all … and now, I’m not so sure …
Been there. Done that. You too?
I remember very distinctly hitting that wall. I was driving in my car heading up to a weekend retreat when the tears started flowing. I was sobbing (and actually had to pull over for a bit.)
I’d been working so hard to have it all. Or at least what I’d convinced myself fully defined “my all.” I was there. I made it. And in my car that day, I would have happily given it all away.
I’d dreamed, and dreamed big. I had a lot of checkmarks by my life goals. And to be fair, I was proud of my accomplishments.
I just felt like I should have loved where I’d arrived. And that was missing … BIG TIME.
All I kept thinking was: What’s next?
Because I knew I couldn’t keep up with my current pace. I didn’t want to. And I didn’t think my body could do it anymore.
Something. Had. To. Give.
That’s when it hit me. I created this. I can pull myself out of this. But I had to do it on my own.
And I did it with a few little tough-love assignments you might find interesting yourself.
Tough-Love Tip #1: you’re in charge of your future …
Have you ever noticed how most self-help advice seems overly simple? You read it and go: yeah, yeah. Whatever.
But here’s the thing: the best advice is decidedly simple. We just work to overcomplicate everything in our lives.
And boy, was that true in my case. I was busy, morning, noon, and night. I got up before anyone else in my home, and usually stayed up hours after everyone else was in bed. Why? To fit it all in, of course.
Until one day, a woman looked at me and said: Overachieve much?
It wasn’t like that was something I’d never considered before; I knew that was who I was. It’s the way she said it, with a twinkle in her eye. As if she were sharing a secret that she knew all-too-well.
And “I got it.”
I was busy because I chose to be busy.
And just as easily, I could give myself the freedom I was craving.
Tough-Love Tip #2: energy controls your approach
Have you ever been in this situation?
- You do something because your spouse doesn’t do it right.
- You do something because you do it better than your kids.
- You do something for the office because they tell you “nobody does it like you do.”
Guess what? They’re right.
Because you’ve made sure that you’re the only one who can do the little things in your life. Trouble is, when you do all the little things, you no longer have the energy to do the things that matter most.
You are in control of your energy. You’re also accountable for your energy. And if you give it to a million tiny little things each day, you’ll have nothing left to devote to the big things that really matter to you.
What’s next? You get to decide. But when you use up all of your energy doing little things for everybody, you can’t take the time you need to decide what to do FOR YOU.
I know. You LOVE doing things for people. It’s your spouse, your kids, your family, your friends. And you LOVE them.
But when did it get so out of whack that it drains you of ALL of your energy? There’s a fine line …
It’s up to you to take it back. Just a fraction of it to truly define what’s MOST important to you.
Tough-Love Tip #3: something is better than nothing
Have you ever jumped up and down, screaming, “I just want a little time for myself!” (Okay, maybe that tantrum was just me 😉 ) But I’m an all-or-nothing kind of person.
When I decided to write romance novels, I started with an entire series in mind.
When I started a business, It quickly expanded to not one, not two, but three.
Yep, I didn’t get to my overachiever status without a lot of hard work.
But I also felt myself falling into a pattern of stalling out, procrastinating, and not finishing large projects. Why? Because if I couldn’t get the big goal, why do anything at all?
And there it is.
Especially as women in midlife, we’re used to doing it all. So we’ve developed this “all or nothing” mindset because it’s been our approach for so long.
That’s also why dreams disappear. We put them aside, saying “someday” … But someday rarely comes.
Instead of someday, do SOMETHING.
- If you can’t get in a one-hour workout, spend 15 minutes dancing.
- If you can’t finish all of the laundry, throw one load in before you leave for work.
- If you can’t have dinner with a friend, text her that you’re thinking of her.
- And if you can’t write the whole freaking book, just write a chapter.
It’s hard for the perfectionist way deep down inside to admit you can’t do it all. I’m an EXPERT at that. But I’ve also become a realist over the past few years, and have tracked all of my LITTLE things and noticed that very quickly, they add up to BIG CHANGE.
Whatever your What’s Next is:
- from finding a new relationship,
- to moving to a different country,
- to starting up a business,
- to just enjoying a new hobby,
Do one thing today. Write it down in your journal. Track it. And see how quickly it grows into something BIG in a few weeks or months down the road.
Tough-Love Tip #4: what matters most
We’ve all faced disappointment.
Maybe a lot of disappointment these past two years.
We have friends we no longer speak to. Dreams we no longer hope will come true.
We’ve changed in big ways.
But I bet right now, you’ve changed in good ways too. New friends who are simply amazing. New dreams that give you direction and motivation.
And that’s what truly matters most.
We’ve learned that hair color, gorgeous wardrobes, or flashy cars don’t matter.
What matters most is the way we FEEL about who we are and what we’re doing in the world.
I was never much into material objects before. Now, they matter even less.
Because at the end of the day, how much money in my bank account, what brand name I’m wearing, or what drives me around town doesn’t matter to the people that mean the most to me.
What matters is who I am and the way I feel about ME.
I work hard on myself, because that’s what matters. To ME and to those I love the most.
Tough-love in midlife … show YOU what YOU need MOST!
I hope you can use these four tough-love tips in your own life. For me, self-care right now is a HUGE motivator to help me build for my future. I’m always striving to be a smidge better, a little big happier, and just a touch healthier.
However, life throws you curveballs equally as fast.
That’s where tough-love comes into play. I feel the more you have in your tool kit, the more you can reach for when you feel blah, and you aren’t sure quite what to do.
Because the real magic comes when YOU pick yourself up, and turn your life around.
Even if it’s just to go out and smell the roses on a walk to your favorite coffee shop.
That can be all it takes to have the making of a tough-love, super-duper, fantastic day.
Love ya and take care!