We repeat all the time: “Time flies”, and it does if we think so. I remember the time when I just turned into my 30s, and I felt that this wonderful summertime full of pleasure and opportunities will never end. However, time is out of our control, and at about 40 years old, most people (I am one of them) are faced with a fear that everything will be over soon, and deep anxiety begins to overtake us.
Fortunately, everything is not so scary and quite amenable to analysis. If you look fear in the eye, you can keep it under control. It is your choice what to do: survive or live the second half of your life. The difference is a leap of faith. If you are brave enough and ready to deal with your fears, you have a real chance to get back to that summertime in your life. In my experience, the best way to overcome fears and doubts is to find people who have successfully solved this problem and get inspired by their stories.
Nowadays there are enough resources that can help you in your endeavours, such as books, events, social media, etc. I have tried all of them and here is my suggestion – start with the books. The good news is you can find plenty of various authors who basically write about the same but in different “languages”.
I started with one very simple and funny book by Australian author Andrew Matthews “How life works”. Even though this book looks childish, Matthew’s recommendations work perfectly for adults. He somehow simplifies things that seem complicated. Then there were “The 7 habits of highly effective people” by Stephen R. Covey, “The psychology of achievement” by Brian Tracy, “Rich dad, poor dad” by Robert T. Kiyosaki and many-many others. You can find a book that is right for you here: Bookauthority.org. I was also inspired by the stories of people who built their empires and became highly successful after the age of 40. Take a look here to find out: 25 people who became highly successful after age 40.
From these books and stories, I got to know the importance of surrounding yourself with the right people. A social media was not in place at that time (the end of the 90s), the only way to meet new people was to attend social events and workshops that were available. So, I started this journey and found a lot of like-minded people there with whom I am still friends. It is much easier today to find like-minded people through different applications such as Meetup, Bumble BFF, Atleto, Friender, RealU, Yubo, etc. For more information, check this link out: 13 Best Apps for Making New Friends in 2021
Having read enough books and surrounding yourself with interesting people, you will most likely want to change your life even more. What are your options here?
#1 Find a new hobby or change your job
The simplest (for all its complexity) “breakaway” at the age of 40-45+ is a change of place of work or field of activity in general. However, if the prospect of looking for a new job is fearful and desperate, you can start with the less daunting thing – finding new hobbies, as I did. Apart from professional courses, I started taking classes ranging from cooking and sewing to sommelier and art critic. With great enthusiasm, I found a new hobby every month and really enjoyed all my new activities. Yet after 5 years of such a busy life I realised that I still feel uncomfortable inside and I needed more significant changes. As a result, I began to fly from one company to another (to be honest, it did not work out for me either, but that is another story).
If you cannot find a hobby that works for you, it is completely OK, you should not do it just because the world of social media regularly reports that everyone is passionate about some fancy hobby. You may have enough work that you are sincerely passionate about, or those leisure activities that you prefer in your free time – theatre, cinema, walking, running, travelling – can enrich your life perfectly. However, if you really want to have a hobby, but just cannot find specifically yours, here is a great option – you can spend each vacation in a different place. Take a look here at Best Travel Blogs From Around The World To Inspire You or here Adventure in you, I am sure you can find some really interesting ideas there.
In case you feel that only a job change can satisfy you, but even thinking about it causes fear and despair, most likely it is because you are under the influence of powerful social clichés such as “I cannot find anything good at this age”, or your level of professional self-confidence is at a low degree. I felt the same way and tried different techniques to help overcome such negative thinking. I will write about these techniques in one of my next articles, but for now, you can use the basic approach that someone calls effect tunnel vision, where the focus of attention is your goal only and everything unnecessary is discarded. Just repeat to yourself: ‘I see the goal; I see no obstacle’.
If an issue is related to self-esteem, please, do not get despaired. There are many ways to improve it. The better start here: 19 Simple Ways to Boost Your Self-Esteem Quickly.
#2 Move to another city or even country
Another option for rebooting your life after 45 requires more courage. The reasons for such a decision can be different. Perhaps you want a higher level of comfort or a better climate, or you need a social lift and better education for children, or better medical care for future you, or maybe you are about reuniting with your family or a loved one. No matter what are the reasons, if your thoughts on this topic began to grow with the confidence of a real desire, it means this is really achievable for you, I guarantee, because it happened to me.
My recommendation is to start with a little step – to live in another country for at least 2-3 months or so and then decide whether you are ready to move away from your home for a long time or not. For example, before moving to Australia, I lived in London for almost 4 months. It helped me to realise that there are much more opportunities in this life than I could have imagined before. I was surrounded by very interesting and progressive people from all over the world and I felt that such an international atmosphere provided the best conditions for broadening my horizons and opening my potential. That London trip was a remarkable turning point for me. It changed me forever. You can read more about my London Trip. When I got back home from London, I knew for sure that I was capable and ready to move to another country. Moreover, I felt I have to.
It is quite clear that it is crucial to study the city or country of your dreams as much as possible and not to mix up tourism with emigration. The fear of the unknown is defeated by good preparation – it is important to accurately imagine the new conditions: where and what you will live on, what to do, with whom to communicate, what resources to rely on, etc. The good news is that the main resource is faith in yourself: you managed to win earlier, and you will succeed now! Furthermore, you can find support and advice from those who live in your dream location. In my case, moving to Australia was completely a leap of faith, I had never been there before, I did not know people there who could help me, and I was not prepared properly. But I survived and you will too! About my Australian experience, you can read here: Broaden Horizons: My Australian Journey Has Begun.
The same story with the divorce (I decided not to make a separate paragraph for divorce). At the age of 35-45 could suddenly arise a feeling that you need to change your partner no matter how perfect he/she is. However, the cost of changing partners is much higher than the cost of moving. My suggestion here is to think it over, maybe even take a consultation with a family phycologist, simply because the human relationship is a subtle sphere, the territory of “glitches” that we create by reticence and accumulated irritation. It can turn out that the thirst for drastic changes may be just an illusion of the beginning of a new life, temptation and self-deception.
Obviously, divorce or relocation is always a breaking point. The question is which way the break is – to the right or to the left. When initiating such changes, you must be aware that it will not be easy, you cannot rely on the law of averages here. The momentum is not enough, a conscious calculation of your strength, a willingness to build something new and overcome difficulties must prevail. And lastly, never regret what you have done.
#3 Survival mode
‘Survival’ has a deeply rooted concept behind it. This model is stitched in our subcortex and the bad news is that the ancient firmware changes much more slowly than the time of new opportunities comes. However, the good news is that the times when the main task of the family was to ensure survival and the weakest became ballast are gradually receding under the onslaught of progress and medical advances. We can choose whether to follow the experience of our ancestors or, having accepted their life strategies with gratitude, develop new ones, correlating them with the requirements of the current time. The choice is yours, but do not blame yourself if you find yourself in survival mode. Sometimes, in order to fly high, you need to fall to the very bottom and push off from it.
The great news is you have baggage with your personal achievements, it makes your ‘membership’ in the ‘second half of the life’ club is more confident. You already know a lot and still can do anything. You are in that period of life when everything has already been proven to others, the basic life obligations have already been fulfilled, and now you owe only yourself. You are free, not in the sense of “get out”, but in the sense of “at ease” – anything is possible and you can bring into life something new that was not allowed before. This is the real thrill that can last as long as you like.
“The eyes are afraid, but the hands are doing,” my grandma used to say, and this can be a good motto in a situation where you have to go, but the first step has not yet been taken. Even a small step will do an amazing thing for you – it will switch you from hold mode to action mode. And in the latter, the most interesting thing happens, at least, this mode is life itself. So, what are you waiting for?