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5 Absurd Thoughts That Keep People In Midlife From Pursuing Their Dream

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what happens in a midlife crisis

Some people, who are in the midlife stage of life, will not pursue their dream in life. This might sound pessimistic but it is the reality. According to this report,  80% of people who are over 40 have thought about a career transition and only 6% who actually follow through; what does that tell you?

Having spoken to a number of midlife professionals, it’s amazing to hear the reasons they give as to why they feel so stuck in life. I believe that the term “midlife crisis” was coined for their reasons. It describes people who feel stuck in midlife,not knowing what to do or fearing taking the steps to do what they need to do.

Having gone through this myself, I believe these 5 absurd thoughts summarizes why some people at midlife never attempt to pursue their dream and thereby remain stuck:

1. The thought that it’s too late

This idea of it’s too late is one of the top reasons given. The thinking is that they don’t have enough time to do what they really want to do. “It’s going to take too long” is one of the underlying beliefs.

When they do the math and look at where they are, after so many years of working, it just doesn’t add up. In their mind, it’s frightening to think they would have to start all over again at their age.

But who says they need to be a start over? Imagine, with what they now know and the skills that they have accrued over the years, why on earth should it take as long to surpass where they are now?

With the advancements in technology and the incredible access to the world through the Internet, the chances of surpassing their current situation is much higher. This knowledge, changes the “it’s too late” concept. As one who went back to grad school at 47 years of age and transitioned from a 21 year career into starting my own business at 51 years of age, I know it’s not too late.

“It’s never too late to give up what you are doing and start doing what you love.” – Hans Rosling

2. The thought that they don’t know enough

This is one of the big hold-backs for many. There is that thought that to pursue their dream at this stage, requires more knowledge. There is that lurking imposter syndrome mentality that handcuffs one to their current situation. Any attempt to break free, creates a sudden yank that serves as a reminder to get back to their “corner” and stay there.

There’s always going to be the “I could know more or learn more” at any given time. To accept that as the reality, will be helpful in normalizing this feeling. By thinking of it this way, you know enough to help someone else.

If you’ve been asked a question about something, you know what the other person who is asking doesn’t know. To them, you are an expert. Bottom-line is, you know enough to get started. That’s all you need to focus on right now.

 

3. The thought of what others might think

Having had a long career and earned a certain status in life, creates a sense of pride and accomplishment. To let go of that, isn’t easy. Some people see this as the one thing they can show for their years of labor. I get it. It makes sense, at least somewhat.Some people would not know who they are without their work. Some have gained the respect of their peers and family members because of what they do.

To relinquish this position, would mean they no longer will get the recognition they currently enjoy. Not to mention what they might hear: Are you crazy? Are you going to give up your good secure job for the uncertain?

Hearing this especially from close friends and families is not comforting or encouraging. To avoid the possibility of such loss and ridicule while holding onto a miserable yet comfortable job, becomes easier.

This leads to the continuation of settling and discontent. Is it any wonder, according to a Gallup poll, 87% of workers are either unhappy with their job or simply hate it.

 

4. The thought that it’s too risky

What is more risky? Working for someone who decides whether you provide food and clothing for you and your family, or you making that decision?

To me, it’s more risky when someone is in charge of your overall well-being and what happens to your future. It’s less risky when you are the one who decides when, how, what and where.

“To know what life is worth, you have to risk it once in a while.” – Jean-Paul Sartre

5. The thought that it wasn’t meant to be

This is sometimes a cop-out for the lazy person’s way of staying put. What’s not meant to be? Is it not meant to be that you live a fulfilling and satisfying life? Is it not meant to be that you live to your full potential? Is that what is being suggested here?

To me, what’s not meant to be is going through a miserable existence. What a way to live your life, where you hate what you do or simply, don’t care for it.

What if you decide that it was “meant to be” and do what is necessary to create the life you so longed for and deserve? What if you started today?

Share your thoughts in the comment section below on which of these 5 reasons resonated with you or that you’ve heard the most.

Kingsley Grant is a Professional Speaker, Corporate Trainer, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, Certified Mindset & Communication Coach, Host of the Midlife Launch On-Demand Online Radio (Podcast), and a published Author. He focuses primarily on helping midlife professionals leverage their experience and expertise to financially support the lifestyle they want for themselves. Kingsley writes for the Huffington Post and The Goodmen Project and is a national and international speaker. He is a proud dad, husband, a man of faith and an entrepreneur at heart. Join him at www.kingsleygrant.com and at his podcast site: www.themidlifelaunch.com/podcast.

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Jay Polk

    Jan 2, 2017 at 3:57 pm

    This was a really good article. This is exactly me right now. They all resonated with me. This gives me some real food for thought. Thanks for posting.

  2. Benjamin de Graaf

    Oct 8, 2016 at 4:12 am

    Great post I have recently become self employed and my world is all about music and people. Many of these thoughts creep into my head but I am glad I can say I am apart of the 6%.

    I will keep pushing till I get to where I want to be.

  3. Bertie

    May 24, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    Great post!

    For me the most important points are 1 and 4. But as you say, you’re not starting over. What you have in your head, your experience, is yours. With age comes that kind of wisdom that it’s not just ‘operative knowledge’, but a kind of intuition that allows you to properly assess every difficult situation you can find when running a business – and there can be lots of them!. It’s been proved in psychological studies that many capabilities actually improve with age: pattern recognition, language abilities among others.

    I’m 47, and after a life of working for firms in the IT field, I started my own business. In the back of my head, that was what I really wanted to do since I was a teenager, but my environment pressured me to play it (supposedly) safe so I delayed my projects year after year. Until I found myself in a situation where my company was taking some absurd decisions, and it was becoming clear that its business model was collapsing. So I got a real kick in the butt to jump start a consulting venture. All the network I had built in the previous years proved to be my greatest asset. Sure, it was quite frightening at times, but overall it’s going well and now I cannot imagine working in any other way. Maybe one doesn’t have the same energy as in the 20’s and cannot pull a 24-hour coding marathon, but you can do the same work in a fraction of the time, just because you have already learned what works and what doesn’t and in many cases you can ‘get it right the first time’.

  4. Matthew

    May 24, 2016 at 4:13 am

    4/5 of anything is self-belief … a little faith goes a long way!

  5. Tim Denning

    May 23, 2016 at 6:47 pm

    Kingsley I just checked out your website and will be having a listen to your podcast – looks cool. Point number one resonated with me the most. I believe it’s never too late to do anything. I’ve heard stories of older men and women achieving what most think is impossible. What they have achieved is not impossible, it’s possible because they have a healthy mindset towards their pursuit.

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3 Simple Hacks That Can Recharge Your Willpower and Help You Perform Better at Work

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How many times did you wake up feeling like you could conquer the world? You set ambitious goals for the day, you put on your best attire and walked out the door with a big smile on your face but eventually, life took over. Traffic, emails, work, family, and everything else you have around slowly but steadily started to drain your energy and made you feel exhausted.

You run out of battery, and the only solution that seemed viable was to rely on more caffeine. When that stopped working, all the temptations around you started to look much more appealing, and that sense of drive and commitment you had before slowly faded away. This is you running out of willpower.

Willpower: what is it? Why is it limited?

The American Psychology Association describes willpower as “the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals.” In the book “The Willpower Instinct”, Dr. Kelly McGonigal, explains how every person’s willpower is limited, and slowly depletes throughout the day. The more “willpower challenges” you face, the quicker your reserve drains. Dr. McGonigal divided the different types of willpower challenges you might encounter in three categories:

  • I will: We face this type of challenge whenever we should do something, but we simply don’t feel like getting it done right now.
  • I won’t: We face this challenge when we try to resist temptation, or we try to keep cool in stressful situations.
  • I want: This is a particular type of challenge where we keep track of our long term goals, dreams, and desires. In this instance, we feel like we should take action right now to come one step closer to the goal. 

It’s easy to recognize it when you face a willpower challenge because you literally “feel it in your body.” Imagine being really hungry and walking in front of a bakery. The sight and the smell of pastries quickly triggers an “I won’t” type of challenge, and it takes a severe amount of effort and energy to walk away.

Every time you manage to win one of those challenges, a little bit of your willpower reserve gets used. The more challenges you face daily, the harder it will be to stay true to your goals.

Can you train or recharge your willpower?

A growing body of research suggests that willpower should be considered a muscle. To strengthen it, you should exercise it regularly, but you should not overwork it. Therefore, we shouldn’t try to “be good” at all times. Instead, we should learn how to relax and recharge our willpower.

The general advice on how to improve willpower involves sleep, proper nutrition, and regular exercise. This broad and general recommendation is often not downright applicable by most, because it consists of changing various daily habits. Luckily, three very effective hacks have been discovered, that have an immediate effect on our willpower and take just a few minutes to apply.

Here are the 3 ways to refill your willpower reserves:

1. Focused breathing

Breathing, when done correctly, can stimulate the release of calming hormones while reducing the release of stress hormones like cortisol and catecholamines. To make this effective, you should deeply and slowly inhale through the nose for at least five seconds. Fill your belly with air first, then your chest, and when there’s no more space for air, still try to do tiny inhalations through the nose.

You should feel a pulling sensation around your neck and trapezius muscles. Once your lungs are full, try to hold the breath for five seconds, then slowly exhale through the mouth for at least five seconds. If you repeat this process ten to twenty times, you should feel dramatically more relaxed. Use this method several times a day, especially when you’re experiencing high levels of stress or anxiety.

2. Reward yourself when you accomplish a micro goal

According to a recent study, frequent instant rewards can boost motivation, and therefore, willpower. Creating your own reward system can help you to accomplish your to-do list, and also resist temptations. Since every individual has different tastes, you should come up with creative ideas about the small and frequent rewards you will give yourself upon winning any willpower challenge.

You can see this hack in practice in Apps like the popular Duolinguo, where after completing each lesson you get presented with a chance to open a treasure chest. This rewarding system seems to keep the users much more likely to keep learning new lessons.

3. Taking cold showers

Your body has an autonomic response to cold water. Getting into a cold shower is a difficult (but minor) willpower challenge on its own. As I previously mentioned, winning a willpower challenge strengthens your willpower muscle. Having a morning cold shower, on top of having multiple health benefits, will set you up for a positive winning streak of further challenges.

High performance is the sum of many small habits. Successful people don’t have an unlimited reserve of willpower, but they do have a set of daily rituals that made them succeed. These three hacks are some of the most effective techniques to develop willpower, but some of them may not fit every individual. You should try to find the perfect mix of daily practices that best fits your lifestyle and likes, so that you can strengthen your willpower muscle and perform better at work.

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