I just turned 52 years young, that's right, young. Every birthday I take some time to reflect on my year-- the good, the bad, the ugly. This year was a turning point for me. When I turned 50, it was a difficult birthday because I felt time was ticking away so fast and that I had so much more to accomplish--my midlife crisis. Now, 2 years later, time is still ticking faster and faster, but I am taking a more active role in my life's journey instead of passively sitting back, waiting for the right time to make changes.
I know time moves at the same pace for everyone but I am always amazed how time does fly as we age. When we are young, time moves at a snail's pace because we only want to be older. We cannot wait until we can drive, vote, legally drink alcohol (stop, do not judge me, you know that is a true statement), make our own decisions, get married, work on our careers, etc. However, once we hit our 40's time speeds by. Why is this? I decided to ask my son who understands things that I cannot even comprehend--he is a nuclear physicist. I know what you're thinking, what kind of person becomes a nuclear physicist? All I can say is that he is a runner, hiker, travels, goes out with friends, is in a relationship so we are fairly confident he is normal.
I called him up and asked him his thoughts about the concept of time seemingly moving different speeds depending on one's age. I was looking forward to the insightful answers he would have for me. Here is his response. First he told me that time appears fast when we are old because life is more boring. That makes no sense on so many levels. Besides, wouldn't that make time seem slower? When I challenged his answer, he gave it a bit more thought and told me that when people get older they need more naps therefore missing out of more things. Say what? That makes even less sense. Maybe he is not as normal as I thought.
I believe that time begins to fly as we age because we begin to reassess our lives and become more aware of our mortality. One could call this the midlife crisis...I prefer to call it the midlife transition; a less harsh word and more welcoming. Besides, only around 10% of people have a true midlife crisis. Between our own life experiences, personal needs, family needs, and our ever-changing culture, how can we not transform? This transformation does not have to be a "crisis", it can be a personal growth; all you need to do is think differently.
My generation, the baby boomers, tend to stay at the same company for many years even if unhappy, work extra hours, and put their job first over family. They strive to be the best, believe perfection is a possibility and work hard trying to master this impossible concept. This way of life can impair their physical and emotional health, not to mention their personal lives. I wonder if those aged 30 and younger will have a less difficult time with this. They seem to evaluate their lives more frequently starting at a younger age. They also consider their needs more freely. I used to think the younger generation just had a poor work ethic, but now, I think the younger generation evaluates their life constantly and makes changes so that they can have their work and life too. Maybe this is a healthier way of life.
Here is my list of 6 things that has helped me live a healthier life, both physically and psychologically during my midlife crisis:
Decide what changes you want to make. Change can be difficult and scary, please do not let that be a barrier to your happiness. Pick a quiet time and just sit and relax. Give your subconscious a chance to wake up. When your mind is open, thoughts/feelings are easier to surface. You will gain new insights about yourself and what you would like to change. If you do not have a quiet time...you need to make time for yourself because no one else will do it for you. I also journal which helps me bring my thoughts out of my subconscious. The hardest part is being honest with yourself.
Everyone has regrets whether it is with relationships, priorities, or careers. There are things we can change, and things we cannot. When you reevaluate your life, forgive yourself for the things that you cannot change otherwise you will never have inner peace.
Make a plan for the items that you can modify and prioritize them; your bucket list. Everyone should have a bucket list, I wish I started mine sooner. You can go back to school, reconnect with old friends, work on strained relationships, whatever it is, it is never too late.
Make a f**k it list--the things that you won't do. I got tired of feeling obligated to accomplish things at the cost of my happiness and well being. Click here to see my list.
Find a passion. I love to cook, I call it my therapy. Not only do I benefit from this but so do my friends because I share my creations with them.
Don't be afraid to seek out help. If you find that you are having a difficult time coping there are people that can help. Whether it is your midlife crisis/transition or any other issue, see your health care provider or a psychotherapist. Therapists specialize in helping people work through life issues that have become too overwhelming. They can also aid in helping people develop new healthy coping strategies. This does not make you a failure thinking that you should be able to do this yourself, on the contrary, this makes you a person who wants to live a life that is worthwhile, fulfilling, and with as little angst as possible.
I chose my birthday to be my reflection date, however, you can choose whatever date you like. I know this much, I no longer can sit back and let the world turn while I stay stagnant. What I can do is work hard trying to live my life with no would haves, should haves, and could haves. I hope to have many more birthdays and I do understand there will be some regrets. I will, however, work hard in making every tick on my clock count. My question to you is--what will you do with the ticks on your clock?
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