Two years ago, after a summer of extreme downsizing, I moved from a small town to the city. I cut my hair, sold my piano, stopped updating my blog. Maybe it was my age. I had just turned 57, the beginning of a new 7-year cycle. Maybe it was the aftermath of losing both parents in one year. Maybe it was teacher burnout. Whatever the reason, I
wanted needed a fresh start!
The years between 56 and 63 are supposed to be our years of self-actualization. Carl Jung described this as individuation. This is when we finally unlock our full potential and become the person we were meant to be. Unlike the cycle that began at age 49 where we’re still trying to prove something to others and make a name for ourselves, when we reach 56 we’re ready to let go of everything that has been, and to take on a whole new life style.
I found that after the move, life settled back into a routine.
Different city, different job, and now a new blog. But had life really changed? Recently I’ve been wondering if I had squandered my opportunity for that fresh start.
Was there change that still needed to take place at a deeper level? Had I really let go of everything? Was I truly open to expansion? Meeting new challenges and finally unlocking my full potential?
It didn’t seem that way.
Of course this wonderful time of growth and expansion just happens to be scheduled for when our life is at its most chaotic. When we can’t find a minute to ourselves, let alone an hour to think, write and dream.
But nevertheless, I’ve been working at it. In the meantime, I’ve come up with 5 ideas I’d like to share.
5 tips for moving towards authentic change and experiencing real growth.
I truly believe that one of the best ways to stay young is to always be learning. In the last few years, online learning has grown by leaps and bounds. Just today I learned that LinkedIn has acquired Lynda, offering its members their choice of thousands of design, business and tech courses. This will make life very interesting for those boomers who are crafting their LinkedIn profile to land their Second Act dream job. It makes sense that LinkedIn will soon be making suggestions for online classes to round out your new employment profile.
I’m a big fan of Codecademy. The classes are free and very user friendly. I’ve taken the HTML and CSS class and I’m working my way through Ruby. Even if you don’t consider yourself a techie, try a class. Coding is like reading. It’s fun, it’s creative. And it’s never too late to learn. If you just want to get your feet wet, I suggest you try the free 10-Day Bootcamp at Skillcrush, a great overview of HTML, complete with cheat-sheets, and an intro to CSS and other programming topics.
Skillshare is another site that offers over a thousand classes (via video) for creatives and business people. Many of the classes are free, but in any case, they offer a free 30-day trial where you can take unlimited classes.
It’s almost impossible to get a fresh start in life if we’re stressed out. Did you know that there is actually something in the forest air that calms our nervous system? I have to admit, I never really thought about the benefits of being out with nature (I’ve never even been camping) until I interviewed my friend Janice. She says:
“When I got laid off from my job, I felt fearful and despondent. Along with the support from family and friends, I felt the time outdoors helped me find the strength to carry on. Sometimes my self talk can turn sour, so the noises of nature, be it a tree creaking, a bird singing, or my feet shuffling through the leaves, helps soothe my soul.”
When was the last time you threw a frisbee, pulled out a sketch pad and some crayons, or picked up a hula hoop? Messy, no expectations, good old fashioned play is not just for kids.
Tim Brown, CEO and president of IDEO, has presented a terrific TED Talk on the topic of creativity and play. He talks about how businesses are beginning to realize the importance of play, trust, and friendship in the workplace. A sense of trust and relaxation in the workplace encourages the employees to think creatively without fear of judgement.
Todd Henry, author of Die Empty and The Accidental Creative, talks about Unnecessary Creating. This is when you’re engaging in creative activities just for you, not for money. No one is looking over your shoulder or judging you. You are free to take risks, try new activities, and explore hunches. He compares engaging in creative activities to building a portfolio of risks.
In 2012 I decided to record one piano piece a week. For years I wouldn’t play in front of people because I was comparing myself to others, and worse — I was comparing myself to my twenty-something self when I was in peak shape. It wasn’t until I was about 9 months into the project that I finally started letting go of that perfectionism and self-consciousness and began to look forward to my Sunday nights at the piano. By posting my music for anyone to listen to, I was back to where I started as a child when I was ready to sit down to perform at a moment’s notice. I called this my “Go Play” project, before I even realized how important the word Play was to the actual project.
Every day we’re bombarded with useless and distracting information. Junk food for the mind. Over the past year I’ve been trying to become more selective in what I read and what I listen to.
When I’m going through a ‘do over’ phase my favorite genres are biographies and autobiographies (and screenplays). However, the last book I read that really hit home for me was James Altucher’s Choose Yourself. Since then I’ve been listening to his podcast interviews on my morning commute. I love his interviews with people who’ve made creative, and sometimes drastic, changes in their lives.
If you want a little taste of Altucher’s writing, Google “James Altucher Reinvention.”
The older I get, the more I realize how important writing is. When there’s something bothering you, a thought that keeps running around in your head, an old grievance, or regret — write it down and get it out of your system. Sometimes called therapeutic letter-writing, or just plain journaling, writing clears your head. It helps put order to looping and repetitive thoughts. Maybe more importantly writing provides us with insight. Because, after all who are we talking to when we write?
In addition to journal writing, creative writing also brings clarity. I’ve written a few screenplays and I’m always surprised when I take a step back and look at the main character and realize how similar they are to me. I’ve actually learned a thing or two from them.
Do you have any tips for getting a fresh start in life? I’d love to hear from you. Comment below! (If you don’t see the comment section click on the header of this blog post to go to the full screen post. Comments can be added on that page!) Thank you!