Reimagine Your Life before Others Do It for You
Face it, at some point you may no longer have your current job. You might be pushed out. Downsized. Aged out. Displaced. Replaced. It’s increasingly likely that something is going to happen to radically change your work life, so why wait until that “something” happens to you? More than 40 million Americans experienced this as their lives were turned upside down during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some were hired back by their employers, but many found themselves laid off permanently, trying to figure out what to do next.
It’s increasingly likely that something is going to happen to radically change your work life, so why wait until that “something” happens to you? We need to be in a constant state of reimagining, thinking through the next phase of every aspect of our lives. You can start that process at any time, if you are committed to true change. Why not reimagine yourself before someone or something “reimagines” your life for you?
With all the reimagineers the author studied, there are a few recurring themes that emerged, lessons and questions for everyone who is contemplating a change:
- Be true to yourself. It is time to throw off self-imposed restrictions, as well as those placed on you by your spouse, your family, or your community. Are you being true to yourself? What kinds of restrictions are holding you back? Spend time reflecting and journaling your thoughts. Make a list of all the things that are preventing you from living an authentic life. Getting clear and being honest is a powerful first step to change.
- Time is running out. If you don’t do it now, you will stay in the same rut and be stuck in an unhappy place. Are you ready to become a reimagineer? Start by envisioning what a reimagineer is to you. Are there people you admire who are reimagineer role models? Look to them for inspiration and ideas.
- It takes time. Most everyone who pivots has thought it through over a one-to-two-year period before starting the journey. Can you make that commitment? Write that commitment into a personal mission statement and put it somewhere so you see it every day.
- Personal passion is a powerful motivator for fulfillment, whether you find it in your work or what you need in a relationship or in the place where you live. What brings you joy? Think back on your childhood dreams and ambitions. Write them down. Is there one that speaks to your heart right now?
The most successful people who have created change in midlife have an insatiable curiosity about the world and are lifelong learners. Make a list of what you are curious about, and then check out your local library or community college and the internet for more information on how you can learn more.
Reimagine Your Favorite Future—Then Live It
Banish the word retire. Instead, rewire and refire!
If that little voice in your head keeps telling you that you need a shift in life, listen to it! It will get louder and louder until you are forced to pay attention.
Take yourself out of a bad situation and write your own narrative. Want to quit a job? Make your plan and build your next step. Only you have the power to “rewrite” your future!
Confused about what to do next? What did you want to be when you were ten, twelve, fifteen years old? Your inner child is still there, seeking your attention; take time each day to reconnect, whether through meditation or quiet time.
Don’t avoid the roadblocks or let setbacks stop you from pursuing your dreams—the only way out is to go in deep!
Start to plan your future two to three years before you embark on it. Write it down. Study it. Is it the track you want to take? You might live to be ninety, so this should be something you do for the rest of your life. Make a change at sixty and be empowered to make one at seventy or eighty!
Envision the future self you want to be. Vision-board it; write the future story of your life. What do you want later generations to know about you? How do you want to be remembered?
Own Your Numbers
Your numbers help to define your well-being. The biological part of you is your own unique set of stats. Keep tabs on your blood pressure, heart rate, cholesterol. Your numbers are the road map to a long and healthy life. And with medical histories in digital format now, it’s much easier to keep tabs on your health facts.
Your financial security is in your hands. Manage “smart debt” and pay yourself first through a 401(k) or other savings. Do you have a traditional pension? What is your calculated Social Security payout at various ages? What’s your net worth number right now? Are you happy with where you are and where you are going? Work your numbers!
Age doesn’t mean anything anymore. If you are fifty, you have reached a milestone! Every year is a gift. Celebrate it and flex those wisdom-and-experience muscles to accomplish even more. Better yet, share that wisdom with your loved ones or as a mentor to others.
You can’t realize your goals unless you write them down and monitor your own progress. If you have spent a whole year and haven’t moved any of them forward, you only have yourself to blame. Have a monthly check-in on your goals. If the same ones keep showing up and nothing has happened, ask yourself why.
We may want to ignore it, deny it, or fight it, but we are all going to die. Your mission should be finding peace with it now and shaping the rest of your life. How do you want to be remembered? Write your own eulogy and read it to yourself. Are you the person you set out to be? If not, make the time you have right now count!
Own Your Wins, Strengths, Opportunities, and Successes
Know your SWOT: your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Recognize that these are always changing as you learn more, as the world changes around you, and as new opportunities come your way. It’s all what makes you an exciting individual.
If you are a bit lost, spend some time doing the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test or the RichardStep Strengths and Weaknesses Aptitude Test (RSWAT). These are two examples of ways to help you focus.
Every one of us has a creative gene that needs to be expressed. It might be rooted in your childhood or discovered later in life. Nurture it. Grow it. Let it become the natural extension of who you are. It can also be your lifelong pursuit.
Every day, new opportunities present themselves to you—in work, life, love, lifestyle. You know when the right one presents itself. Seize the moment and take the opportunity that is right for you.
Role models are all around you, people who have changed it up and are thriving. Learn from their stories. Be inspired by them, ask them for advice and support. Make your moves, and then pay it forward.
Own Your Losses, Weaknesses, Failures, and Threats
We all put barriers in front of us, telling ourselves that we’re not good at this or that. Pick one thing you have consistently told yourself that you are not good at, and decide to tackle it head- on. You might be surprised by what you discover.
What if a perceived weakness is actually a strength? If someone tells you that you are too emotional, why must that be seen as a weakness? Put that trait to work for you in a place that values it. Know your own EQ, your emotional intelligence quotient.
Failure, loss, or a divorce can be the jumping-off point to your next move. Take a deep breath, have faith, and start anew. This can happen at any age and any time.
In your life so far, you’ve had to cope with myriad situations. Use what you learned to get to the other side of a tough period in the past. Can you identify what helped you move beyond those times? Write down those attributes. Keep those skills handy and use them as you confront new problems.
Act Courageous and Don’t Look Back
Courage takes many forms, and it is the courageous ones who show us that all things are possible. Recall an act of courage in your own life. What was the circumstance? What did you do? How did it make you feel? Let your act of courage inspire you!
If you had a serious health diagnosis, how would you change your life? What would you do differently with the time you have? Write it down. Now that you know what you want, why wait for that diagnosis?
Make a decision to start something brand new. A new business, a new relationship, a new city to live in, a new workshop or class, a new hobby—these are all moves that will set you on a path to discovery.
Never lose sight of your vision for yourself. You may have twists and turns, but if you stay devoted to your goal to write that book or build that new company—you will do it. Obstacles are a natural part of life, and they can be overcome! Step around them and through them. Better yet, jump over them.
Act with Focus, Know When to Edit, and Be Present
Everyday distractions keep people from the focus —your own truth for what you want. Is it a new career, a new love, a new start somewhere else? Give it the time and attention that it needs, nurture it, and it will grow. Start by having a twenty-four-hour digital-free life. Take a walk in the park. Read a physical book. Have an in-person, face-to-face conversation.
Do you really need to be on four social media platforms? Why? Step away from some of them, and you’ll see that your life will be better. Decide what digital outlets or things you can live without. Edit out the extraneous, the things that bring no true meaning. Start to edit now!
Focus. Focus. After editing what doesn’t work for you anymore, attend to what is working. If you have a burgeoning relationship, focus on it fast. It will bring you the most satisfaction in the long run.
In 2019, there were over 90,000 centenarians in the United States alone. That figure is expected to increase to 589,000 in the year 2060. And there will be many more people in their eighties and nineties who are going to redefine what it means to be “older.” We will have to come up with better descriptors for them too, as they continue to find ways to reimagine what it is like to be a dynamic individual at that age. Actually, there are a lot of them among us already, including Johanna Quaas, the oldest active gymnast in the world at eighty-eight, the Japanese climber Yūichiro Miura, who climbed Mt. Everest at eighty, as well as my friend Carmen Dell’Orefice, who continues to model at age ninety!
So, if you think that making a major pivot at fifty is the end, it is actually the beginning of many other stages of reimagining that you will have to do in your life. You may have a twenty-year run in a new career until you are seventy, but then start another career that will last until you are ninety. You may have a second or even a third love in your life. Why not build a house at eighty or get a puppy at eighty-five? Why limit your life with self-imposed ageist thinking that says, Oh, I can’t do that, I’m too old?