Guest writer Barbara Waxman is editor of How to Love Your Retirement: The Guide to the Best of Your life. She has been dubbed ‘America’s favorite coach for adults, midlife and better.’ You can learn more on her website.
As a coach, I have the privilege of working with people as they literally design their lives. It’s powerful, it’s effective, and the process often follows a relatively consistent path. One of the first things we do is an energy assessment of the physical, emotional, purposeful and intellectual aspects of one’s life. A helpful way to think of this is checking your Mojo. Originally thought to be an African word for an amulet that conveyed special powers, we now tend to think of it as a state of charisma and energy. Mojo describes that state of being when you feel you are at your best. You know when you have it, and you can just sense when someone you meet has it going on.
5 Lessons For Restarting Your Midlife Mojo
1. Embrace Aging
The first lesson is the simple but powerful realization that aging is not only something we must accept, but that aging is, in fact, a good thing. If you are part of today’s baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, then you are part of a national phenomenon. Boomers have never accepted the status quo. We’ve changed American culture at every step along the journey of our development.
Have you noticed that we are beginning to shift from a youth-oriented society to one that appreciates the wisdom that comes with age? One of the most obvious places to see this change is in mainstream media. Take a look at how many ads have silver haired, youthful boomers. How many movies are about midlife issues? This appreciation for aging is also showing up in the workplace. Believe it or not, employers are beginning to bemoan the exodus of “mature” talent. And if media and workforce possibilities don’t convince you that aging does have a positive side, think about this; studies show that our self-reported feelings about happiness seem to peak in our 50’s—that’s right, 50’s. So appreciate that you are like a fine wine and look for ways to appreciate each birthday.
Finally, there is the wisdom factor that is far too underrated. As we age, we tend to become exceedingly clear about who and how we want to show up in the world. The challenge is to translate that into your life plan.
2. Live Life in Stages, Not Ages
There is a myth that learning is for the young, that romance is for the youthful and that aging is a steady downhill trend. This view of how to live a life is simply old-school thinking. Our lives today are lived in cycles that come and go according to our interests and abilities more than being related to chronological rules.
Don’t live your life chronologically; live it according to what feels like your next best step. One of my favorite clients, Mary, is 76 years old. Like many retreat participants, she was given a gift certificate to attend by her gentleman friend. He wanted her to learn better time management skills. If you met Mary, you would know that time management was not her challenge. She was still engaged in part-time work; she danced every week and had an active social life. So why did Mary come? Mary wanted to develop better communication skills so that she could effectively break it to this gentleman friend that she was also seeing someone else and therefore didn’t have as much time for him!
3. Practice Resiliency
The third lesson about developing your mojo has to do with attachment. Think about the last time you felt as though you were living your best life—all pistons firing—your mojo at work. If you are like most folks, soon thereafter something changed and that whole feeling seemed to come unglued. You, like the rest of us, may suffer from a tendency to want to attach to those really good things and those really good times. If you hold on tightly enough, this will continue, right? Unfortunately, life isn’t like that.
There is one constant we can depend upon—change—and not the kind of change we control. This is not the kind of change George Carlin joked about when he said, “I put a dollar in a change machine. Nothing happened!”
The third rule is to fully understand and accept that situations change; that you need to avoid becoming a fugitive from yourself and rely upon what you know are your internal constants. Anticipate that just about everything else will shift, perhaps when you least expect it.
4. Re-pot Yourself
We are more like plants than you might think. Regardless of our age, we are growing and expanding (hopefully more in the experiential and not the physical sense!). When endings turn into beginnings, it’s time to step back and re-pot. Sometimes that means taking a day to think about consciously changing how you live or where you work. Other times re-potting calls for a more outrageous change—like moving to Tuscany for a year. That’s right, Tuscany. In four years, when our kids have all left home and launched their own lives, my husband and I are planning to re-pot in Tuscany. We’ll figure out how to work from there, we’ll learn the language and surround ourselves by such a new environment that we will be free to dream, change and to re-pot in ways we can’t even imagine from where we sit now. So take a few moments and ask yourself what kind of pot you’d like to move into?
5. Stick to the KISS Principle (Keep It Super Simple)
When life goals feel too challenging, it’s hard to imagine ever getting your mojo back again. Not so.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What are three things that are present when you feel at your best?
- What haven’t you acted upon that you have always wanted to do?
- What do you want people to say about you?
- What is one thing you can do to move towards feeling your best?
Now, find an accountability partner—someone who believes in you and will hold you to your commitments—and begin to make a plan.