💭 Nearing Middle Age or Older?
Noticing Opportunities to Reimagine Your Possibilities!
Nearing middle age and beyond can be a great time to try new things and explore life’s possibilities.
Whatever our age, according to experts, how we think and what we think about can greatly impact our ability to respond to life’s opportunities and challenges (Staudinger, 2020; Diehl, 2020).
How can we build a transformational bridge from where we’ve been and toward new possibilities? Life’s personal and professional transitions are ripe with opportunities to let go of self-imposed and societal limitations, as we reimagine what’s next in this season of our lives.
🤔 What negative stereotypes do you hold about getting older?
Holding negative stereotypes about aging can reduce your openness to new experiences (Levy, 2009). With knowledge comes power, as you recognize the limiting ideas you have been carrying. You can choose to let go of stereotypes and inaccuracies as you reimagine possibilities for what’s next.
Dr. Viktor Frankl, renowned psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, taught that between what happens and how you respond, you have the freedom to choose your attitude. Frankl’s life experiences, including surviving imprisonment in a Nazi death camp, taught him that with choice comes the possibility to search for meaning.
In this season of your life how can you live in a more expansive way that affirms what’s meaningful to you and empowers you in ways you might not have imagined?
One way is to be open to new experiences (Staudinger 2020). Invite flexibility. Increase your motivation to engage in new and varied adventures in learning, personal development, relationships, physical exercise, and work tasks. According to experts, these kinds of choices can strengthen your ability to respond to life’s challenges and also stave off declines as you get older (Staudinger, 2020; Luchetti, Terracciano, Stephan & Sutin, 2016).
What personal or professional transition is calling you to respond? What opportunities are opening for you? Are your kids nearing college age or leaving the nest? Have you been thinking about new opportunities in your life-work balance? If you’re dealing with retirement, how can you transition between a pre-retirement identity and your next chapter?
Transitioning to a new life stage can be a time to rewire parts of your life and work. You might reimagine how to use skills from the workplace in new ways, lean into new or existing relationships, learn new competencies, or create space for activities you may have thought about, but not yet gotten to. It can be helpful to scope out what’s ahead, anticipating what your daily schedule might look like as you build new life structures (Amabile, 2019).
Expanding your creativity can be another way to rewire. Creativity can evolve from a tension, need, internal conflict or yearning, and a path involving openness, curiosity, attention, and perseverance (Csikszentmihalyi, 1996).
🍂 Each season of life can offer a unique environment to respond creatively as you try new things, re-discover old interests, and explore life’s wellspring of choices.
How can you courageously build a bridge to your next steps? Here are a few questions to consider:
- What do you know from the deepest part of yourself?
- What have you always wanted to get to, but have not yet explored?
- How do you want to empower yourself to grow from life as you’ve known it toward your next steps?
- What’s your next right step?
© 2022 Ilene Berns-Zare, LLC, All Rights Reserved
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. No content is a substitute for consulting with a qualified mental health or healthcare professional.
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- Amabile, T.M. (2019). Understanding retirement requires getting inside people’s stories: A call for more qualitative research. Aging and Retirement 5(3), 207-211.
- Arnett, J.J., Robinson, O. & Lachman, M.E. (2020). Rethinking adult development: Introduction to the special issue., American Psychologist, 75(3), 425-430.
- Csikszentmihali, M. (1996). Creativity: Flow and the psychology of discovery and invention. New York, NY: Harper & Row.
- Diehl, M., Smyer, MA. & Mehrotra, C.M. (2020). Optimizing aging: A call for a new narrative. American Psychologist, 75(4), 577-589.
- Levy B. (2009). Stereotype Embodiment: A psychosocial approach to aging. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 18(6), 332–336.
- Luchetti, M., Terracciano, A., Stephan, Y. & Sutin, A.R. (2016). Personality and cognitive decline in older adults: Data from a longitudinal sample and meta-analysis, The Journals of Gerontology: Series B, 71(3), 591–601.
- Staudinger, U.M. (2020). The positive plasticity of adult development: Potential for the 21st century. American Psychologist, 75(4), 540-553.
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Ilene Berns-Zare, PsyD, PCC, CEC, is an Executive and Personal Coach and Speaker. Ilene helps people live their best personal and professional lives by bringing mind, body, and spirit into flow with strengths, purpose, and potential. She inspires clients to find fresh perspectives and access their full potential as creative, resourceful, whole persons. Find Ilene online, set up a free discovery coaching consultation, and access free resources at https://ibzcoaching.com/.
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