I’ve had a lot of clients (many in the fifty plus age group) lately who due to various crises, are facing the stark and rather terrifying fact that if they’re going to survive they’re going to have to radically reinvent themselves and their lives—fast.
It’s a pretty shocking and intimidating realization at any stage of life—but doubly so in later years. The ground beneath your feet isn’t supposed to give way just when you thought you had life figured out. Just when you thought you were on the home run. Now you’re facing the reality that you may well have to start from scratch again; often without the confidence, energy levels and time you had in your youth—and all too frequently without much material security to cushion a crash landing.
Aaaaargh…you scream, as you free fall into the void!
Sleepless nights often become the norm—tossing and turning and wondering what you can do, where you can do it, how you’re going to come up with the capital, and how you’re going to acquire skills you never thought you’d need. Where do you begin to make such massive adjustments to lifelong expectations—of who you are and what you are capable of?
Your instinctive response is often to apportion blame; find a scapegoat. But sooner or later you realize that b-lame does just that—renders you lame, drains your energy; sucks you into a stress spiral, making the likelihood of finding solutions to this escalating nightmare slimmer by the minute. When you’ve stopped reeling from the initial shock, you realize that it doesn’t matter whose “fault” it is. It just IS.
The only guarantee in life is that nothing is guaranteed! You only have to visit a cemetery to be reminded of this.
Although for the fifty plus age group there are additional issues that arise, the fact remains that many people ‘die’ early. They’re just not buried for a few decades—except in the rut they’ve got stuck in.
You know the job that’s as fulfilling as watching paint dry, the budget that’s lost it’s elasticity, the relationship that’s become as exciting as last week’s dirty laundry, or the body that’s reflecting neglect—the daily struggle with stress and anxiety, too many demands and too little energy, lack of self confidence, choices, direction, freedom and joy.
You see comfort and contentment are wonderful—for a while, but they don’t require anything of you and if you’re inactive for long enough, your ‘confidence muscles’ atrophy through lack of use. Then along comes a crisis to shake things up. It gives you no option but to let go of what WAS, and start dealing with what IS. We can read all the books, do all the courses and attend all the seminars (all of it valuable), but typically it’s a personal crisis that forces us to commit to ACTION. There’s nothing to go back to or cling to.
Yes, it’s scary as hell!
I’ve been there—a few times. At first I was paralyzed with shock. But once I started to move on, (very tentatively at first), this forward movement gathered momentum. I wouldn’t have done any of the awesome things I am so proud of today, if I hadn’t been forced into it. I wouldn’t be anything like the person I am—and I wouldn’t be able to help so many others become the best they can be.
There’s been a lot of risk, sacrifice, and growth; money, time and effort spent; a lot of trial and error, and yes, my fair share of self doubt. The biggest gift by far is that personal crises forced me to take responsibility for my life. In doing so it taught me that I am in charge of my destiny. I decide whether I succeed or fail and what my unique definition of that is.
I know I have the power to change my circumstances and have confidence and trust in my ability to do this.
Crises force you to reach out to ‘life belts’ like mentors and coaches. When you’re catapulted into a new situation that requires knowledge and skills you don’t have, there’s only one way to learn—from those who have survived something similar, and ultimately thrived.
Whether you have the power to change your destiny is no longer an academic question for debate. You have no option. You have to make irrevocable spur of the moment decisions, before you fall too far into that chasm.
Those help, I can’t do this thoughts just mean you haven’t done this YET. You hadn’t thought of it as a possibility. But then the chances are you didn’t think of this crisis as a possibility either.
And maybe you’re not as ill equipped as you thought you were.
Stop and think about it for a moment. The nature of life is change. You have faced, embraced and adapted to a multitude of changes during the course of your life—new schools, new teachers, college, university, different work environments, different homes, loss of friends and relationships, the start of new ones, betrayals, rejections, relocating or raising a family with all its attendant challenges.
Reinventing yourself isn’t new to you. You’ve been doing it all your life—acquiring new skills out of necessity or choice, and adapting to new circumstances. So, give me one good reason why, when you’ve spent a lifetime mastering change management, you should feel so inadequate now?
When you’re finding the prospect of reinvention overwhelming the first step is to mentally step back from the problems—and focus relentlessly on digging deep to find out who you really are and what you really may be capable of. It’s a bit like giving your car a major service before setting off on an overland journey. You could have the most amazing destination and tour itinerary planned down to the last detail, but if your car isn’t in top form, you’re not going to get far.
This may sound counter intuitive, but building self-awareness and self-trust has to be your first priority.
Here’s a highly effective three step ACTION PLAN:
1. RELAX! Yes, a tall order I know. But when you’re in panic mode you’re brain is biologically unable to think, plan, evaluate and make sound decisions. Get into the habit of going somewhere quiet to reclaim your brain. Get as comfortable as you can and focus completely on developing a calm, steady breathing rhythm. Now use your mental zoom out key to put the problem back into perspective. Put your emotions on the back burner for a moment and study the situation calmly and objectively, as though you were watching a movie. Now, when you’re feeling more in control….
2. MAKE AN INVENTORY of all your positive personal qualities and achievements. Yes, ALL of them! Every single one. Nobody else will or can hand you a prescription. You are the expert on you. And if you’re not, this is a great opportunity to become one. Break down everything you’ve ever done and list the qualities and skills you needed to do them. Ask yourself (and others) what you’re good at. Don’t discount anything. Read this list to yourself every day in front of a mirror—then high five yourself!
Now just as an actor prepares himself for different roles in different movies, prepare yourself mentally, emotionally and physically for a different role. Look and act the part. Make sure you’re fit, presentable and exude confidence and enthusiasm. Yes, you may well have to fake it ‘til you make it—I’ve done this often. Why? Because if you’re not convincing yourself how valuable you are, you won’t be able to convince anyone else will you?
Exploit the qualities you already have; that define you. Then all you have to do is expand them, legitimize them if necessary with qualifications, believe in their value, and target market them. You don’t have to try and change the product (you). All you have to do is believe in your value—and match that to a specific market.
3. NOW YOU KNOW YOU HAVE A VALUABLE PRODUCT (YOU), what’s the best way to market it? Get creative. Leave no stone unturned. Get noticed, and make sure you stay noticed. Yes, this can be daunting if you’re an introvert or lack social confidence, haven’t played this type of role before or let your pride or fear of failure get in the way. Yup, been there and done that too! But it’s a skill like any other. I learned to master it. You can too. Don’t assume people know how good you are—show them.
Think of all the potential openings that aren’t generally advertised—or create one, whether it’s a temporary fix, or a future career. One of the benefits of having been in this game of life longer is that you build a bigger network. Get back in touch with friends and acquaintances you haven’t connected with for a while. Form new connections, especially those that are in positions to help you. Look at openings that aren’t advertised. Develop an elevator pitch with punch. If you don’t know how to do this, go here and I will help you.
Think outside the box. Letting your imagination loose works wonders! Do research on the internet to give you ideas. The most unlikely niches have turned into lucrative businesses. There are a lot more people than you think in a similar position to yours. Create a tribe. Connect and collaborate. What seems impossible alone can be very possible with a team. Use social media and join groups and blogs—or start one yourself. Look into courses to expand the skills you already have. Remember this bit of Wayne Dyer wisdom:
What comes out of you when you are squeezed is what is inside of you.
Imagine you’re trying to find a place you’ve never been to before, and you’re lost.
Would you continue driving in circles, while the stress levels rise—or would you consult a GPS or ask for directions?
A coach has a birds-eye view of your life or your business, so they’re able to pinpoint problems, solutions and opportunities easily and accurately.
If you’re feeling lost and your stress levels are rising—click here.