Stop Waiting for Retirement – Start Chasing Your Dreams
American’s are richer than ever. Never have we had so much opportunity. Yet many of us aren’t entirely happy. I know this because I’ve been there. The good news is that change is possible.
The Land of the Free and the Home of the Unhappy
I did some research and found that I wasn’t alone. According to the Better Life Index, Americans are falling behind in the areas of job security, education, life expectancy, and work-life balance. Gallup’s State of the American Workplace study found that “70% of American workers are “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” and are emotionally disconnected from their workplaces.” All of this adds up to stress and a sense of unhappiness.
On top of that, many of us face the U-bend of Life, commonly referred to as the mid-life crisis. Researchers found that “people are at their unhappiest in their 40s and early 50s. The global average is 46.” My experience was mirroring this graph with mounting discontent at age 34.
Up until that point, I had this idea that life was supposed to follow this formula where you work hard, save money, retire, and then pursue all your dreams and passions. I was famous for saying, “when I retire, I’m’onna: volunteer, read, write, teach, garden, hike, kayak, etc.” Other than an occasional hike or boat ride, I did none of these things.
A Moment of Clarity
In a moment of clarity, I realized that I couldn’t continue down this path for another 30 years. It no longer made sense to pursue things that were making me unhappy. It seemed crazy to continue to wait for that magical moment filled with unicorns and a pot of gold at retirement. There was no guarantee that I would be able to do those things in retirement anyway.
That moment of clarity sounds a lot more pleasant than it actually was. It was more like a nightmare where I was being chased and I tried to scream for help but nothing came out. I realized I needed to change and had no idea where to begin.
Over the next four years my husband, Jer, and I worked as a team to build a foundation that allowed us to define and chase our dreams. We learned who we are and how we’re wired. At the same time, we began to do all of those things we were saving for retirement.
Called to Serve
In the middle of that period of change, we began volunteering. We taught classes that showcased our new skills of goal setting, health and wellness, and more. When we shared what we were up to with our peers, I was always amazed at how interested they were in our courses. I had always wanted to start writing again and I saw an opportunity to share our work with a broader audience.
As I began blogging and connecting with my readers, my message evolved. I focused on change and have slowly learned to be more vulnerable. Sharing personal stories isn’t easy for this Minnesota girl.
I wanted to create a plan to help my fellow Gen X Midlifers create change more gracefully. What I came up with isn’t new. The more I learn, the more I realize that there are no new ideas. The newness lies in the lessons and experiences gained while applying these ideas. I hope that sharing these ideas from my point of view will help you create a happier and more fulfilled life.
The 7 Pillars of Personal of Personal Transformation
If you read my earlier blog posts or goal setting workbook, you have seen this before. I initially presented it as the Wheel of Life. Based on my experience, I adapted it from 48 Days to the Work You Love who likely adapted it from Zig Ziglar, who likely adapted it from…
For a midlife change, I thought it made more sense to present each area as a pillar. Some of the pillars are more primal and I saw them as more of a pyramid. For example, until we can make ends meet financially, and are healthy and energetic, we can’t effectively pursue personal development.
This is an important assessment. If you recall the studies from the beginning of this post, we are screaming for more satisfaction in our health, relationships, and recreation. Take a moment to work through your own assessment. Each pillar has a scale through 10, allowing you to measure your satisfaction in that category.
The 10 Principles for Prosperity
As Jer and I worked through the seven pillars, I found 10 principles that were essential to our progress. Of course, we used more than 10 principles, but these had the greatest influence. Some of these are strengths I was born with, like discipline. Others I had to develop, like gratitude. And some I’m still working on like decisiveness.
Over the next three weeks (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) I will walk through each of the seven pillars. I will share our challenges and triumphs along with the resources we found most helpful. After that, I’ll dive into the 10 principles and share how each one helped us achieve our goals. I’ll wrap up the series with a step by step plan to begin your own midlife change adventure.
I know what it’s like to feel stuck and lost. My goal in sharing my personal journey is to help others find hope. My objective is to provide an actionable strategy to create change. If you know someone who needs this message, please share it. My dream is that we all stop waiting for retirement, start chasing our dreams, and start living lives we love.
See you on Monday when we tackle the first pillar – personal finance.
When have you felt your life was unbalanced?
What did you do to create balance?
Share in the comments below.
Stop Waiting for Retirement – Start Chasing Your Dreams
Part I – The Framework
Part II – Personal Finance
Part III – Spirituality
Part IV – Career and Contribution
Part V – Health and Wellness
Part VI – Relationship and Family
Part VII – Social and Recreation
Part VIII – Personal Development
Part IX – 10 Principles of Prosperity
Part X – Life Change Strategy