Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Midlife Defined

I cannot recall who said this line but it is the most perfect definition of midlife that I have seen. Midlife is the time when you no longer look at how old you are but instead you count the years you have left. Up until now, I had never thought of how many years I had left. Now it is how I view my life.

When you think of how many years you have left and then feel your power to fill those years with content of your own choosing, it is quite exhilarating and intimidating at the same time.

I can all of a sudden identify women in my life who have moved through this experience at different ages. One friend left a high paying job, climbed Kilimanjaro and then went to school for her PhD. Another friend went to the Philippines and when she returned she left her husband and is now considering other changes in her life.

Women want changes that matter. It is not a new man or a new car that satisfies our deepest longings but rather the things that feel right, satisfy our need for authenticity and the things that touch our heart songs.

I did an exercise with a coach once and she asked to me list 30 personal qualities that were important to me. I listed 8 and could not think of anymore. When we spoke she encouraged me to extend the list. I did get to 30 eventually and then she asked me to choose the 3-4 that were most important to me. Then, ironically, I had trouble shortening the list to 4. Here is what I ended up with:

Personal Power defined as strength, belief in myself, clarity.

Authenticity defined as friendship, trust and being my authentic self.

Continuous Learning defined as Knowledge, Achievement and Trying New Things.

Freedom defined as Adventure, Choice and Variety.

At any point in our lives that list will change and grow and some choices that did not make the final list will now move up the list. Try to create your list of 30 things and you will see how interesting and difficult it is. And then shorten it. It is a great exercise in clarity. Your list will also point you in the right direction as you evaluate your ideas against the things that matter most to you.

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