A CASE STUDY IN LIFE CHALLENGES: I recently received a LinkedIn message from a buddy in Amsterdam: “I’m facing a mid-life crisis. I’ve done all the ‘What matters to me’ stuff and still…nothing. Can you inspire and challenge me out of it?” Here are the highlights of my response. If you’re facing your own mid-life moment, perhaps this will help.
First, accept that you already know the answer: While most anyone can challenge or inspire you…Things will only happen when YOU inspire or challenge you!
And that won’t happen until addressing this mid-life “crisis” is truly a priority for you.
A small example: Since high school, I’ve had an ongoing battle with my pear-shaped body. And the older I get, the more work the battle takes. Right now this is crucial to me cuz we’re about to leave for the beaches of Thailand. But if I’m completely honest with myself…my mini-”crisis” of weight loss still isn’t a priority for me. If it were, I would find a way to put down the ice cream and get on my damn bike instead! Same thing happens with big things, like “What will inspire and fulfill me for the rest of my life?” If we are honest with ourselves, we will probably have to admit that many of mid-life’s nagging challenges/problems that exist for us, are still there because they’re not really a priority…yet.
The good news is: I can guarantee that as soon as it is truly time for this crisis to be addressed, your drive will kick into high gear, and you will address it!
So, what to do in the meantime? Some suggestions…
1. Treat right now and the short term as Pre-Work Time. Embrace that sometime in the near future, you absolutely WILL be changing the course of your life…But that now is the time you should be PREPPING for that change. This is a MIND-SET shift. It means that all that work that you’ve done so far — asking yourself questions like what you’re passionate about, etc. — and all the work you will do… is not yet supposed to yield anything. Stop looking for answers! Start enjoying being a STUDENT! This will make your “searching” phase a lot more fun! Which leads to the suggested next step…
2. Stop focusing on yourself! Focus on how OTHERS dealt with or are dealing with the same challenge you have. Suggestion: Take ten friends out to dinner (one at a time!) and ask them about their journey towards figuring out what they’re passionate about, etc. Another guarantee: As soon as you are focusing on others’ journeys, and sincerely are interested in learning about how they struggled with this, you will discover amazing things will start happening for YOU…you will start “connecting the dots” between their journey and yours…e.g. “Mary’s situation five years ago is just like mine now…That gives me an idea…” Which leads to…
3. Enjoying being a student leads to: What matters is JOURNALING YOUR JOURNEY. Focus on your journey (…what you’re discovering while you’re searching for the answer…), NOT on your destination (…whatever the solution is). Get passionate about journaling all your interviews with friends, all the things you’ve read in books and online. More important than the main, detailed entries are the “notes in the margins”— the one-line Aha’s you’ll write down while recording the detailed notes. Those marginal Aha notes are how you personalized what others said or did for yourself. Then, after several months of doing that, try to reduce everything you’ve written down to just one half page…three to five things. If magic doesn’t happen the first time, treat it as a practice run and come back several months later. Repeat as often as needed. At some point, magic absolutely will happen!!!!! You will have three to five principles/driving forces/passions/whatever that you can use for the rest of your life!!!
(Not into Old School pen-and-notebook journaling? There are many mind-mapping software tools, and then sharing tools, which are definitely Web 2.0-ish. Also, check out a download from my book, What Is Your Life’s Work, for what to journal…Old School or 2.0!)
So, a Mr. Simplicity recap…
Focus on the journey, not the destination, and you’ll find that you’ll actually arrive at the destination a lot faster and a lot easier than you thought was possible!
The better you get at journaling your journey and…eventually…recapping it in three-to-five-things form…the clearer and more empowering everything will be once you arrive at your destination!
Hope that was a help!