Today, I want to help you get started on planning your Midlife Comeback with a small weekday starter kit.
But first – a word about my kids.
I’m raising teenagers. One of the lessons you get to repeat a zillion times before your kid leaves the house is the idea of “delayed gratification.” Again and again and again I get to have conversations with my kids about
* playing after the homework is done
* eating a treat after you finish your good-for-you dinner
* working on that long-term project today, even though you want to go hang with your friends and the project’s not technically due for 3 more weeks.
I’m on my third son, so I’ve been teaching this lesson for a REALLY long time.
So far, I’m the only one who gets it.
Matter of fact, it turns out that I’m sort of an EXPERT at delayed gratification. I’ve gotten so good at it, in fact, you might say I’ve stayed a little too long at the Delayed Gratification Fair.
It wasn’t until last year, in fact, that I realized that I delayed the majority of fun in life for . . . well, basically my whole life.
I kept meaning to get around to it. My own fun, I mean.
But it was “fun enough” to be basketball mom, and field trip mom. It was “fun enough” to be on this committee at work or go to that dinner function with my significant other’s friends.
It was all sort of “fun enough.”
But as I found myself staring down the barrel at 50, I realized that all this delayed gratification was sort of pointless and disappointing. I was no longer sated by the “near-beer” of happiness.
I loved my people. I loved my life with them. But my very own Uniquely You life? The one that was just for Jennifer Boykin?
Well, I delayed launching it for so long, I forgot to remember not to forget to begin.
And so, just over a year ago, I started planning my comeback. And a year after that, I launched our midlife reinvention space here at Life After Tampons. And now I have you and this space, and my dream – my “Jennifer Boykin Dream” – is fully in play.
As I get ready to teach our first “Craft Your Comeback” workshop, (click the link for deets) — I came up with a handful of easy adjustments you can incorporate in your life today. (with or without the workshop).
Planning a comeback at midlife – for women, at least – can be a tricky thing. For most of us, the people we are committed to are PART of our Uniquely You dream. It’s just that, over time, they’ve sort of become the whole of it, and we need to scale back just a bit.
But that’s tricky. We love these people. We’ve made commitments to them. They’ve come to rely on us. And most of us don’t really feel comfortable just ripping that out, cold turkey.
(One day soon, we’ll take a look at if we’ve trained them to be just a little too reliant on us. You know what I mean — that part where you neeeeeeed people to need you. And so you get all these people hangin’ all over ya and you are just drowning/smothered/resentful of the situation you created your very own damn self? Anyway,we’ll come back to that lesson.)
For most of us, if we’re doing anything at all for ourselves, we’ve probably become Menopausal Contortionists to make it happen. We’re likely getting our own life in by playing some funky Family Chicken Limbo where we can get our needs met, as long as we contort ourselves and our wants in some kind of yogini backbend around everyone else’s needs.
If all that sounds just too hard, or if you have back issues that don’t allow you to play, there are changes you can put in play right now that will help you move a bit of your own vision forward.
Here are five suggestions to start your comeback. Try one a day for each of the next five days.
1. Go for easy wins. Every day, find one small new thing to do that is just for you. Make it so easy to accomplish you can’t not succeed. The reason here is that you’ve probably lied to yourself a LOT in the past about changes you were going to make in your life: weight you were gonna lose, money you were gonna save, places you were gonna explore, etc. The purpose of starting with easy wins is that you need to build up some credibility with your unconscious mind who is no doubt even now tapping her self-righteous little foot and muttering sotto voce, “Here we go again. Poor dear thinks this time it will be different.
2. Get a tribe. You need your own cheerleading squad. If you can, work your comeback plan with a friend. At the very least, you can post your daily successes on our Facebook page. Our Facebook page is really critical to our success as a tribe and as individuals. It’s free, it’s simple, it connects us all no matter where we are, and it’s a ready-made tribe of support. Really, truly. Make sure you “like” the page and then just post something about what you’re doing each day toward your comeback plan.
3. Get a comeback journal. You may also want some really cool pens. I have a thing for pens. I’m actually kind of prissy about my pens, in fact. I carry a little zipper pack of cool colored Sharpies to write in my Comeback Journal as well as stars and heart stickers. Your Comeback Journal is for nestling in with your dreams. Tape in that really cool fortune cookie message. Make a sketch of that interesting person sitting at the coffee shop, then write a short-story about their imaginary life. I also plot out imaginary supper menus in my journal, because feeding people is so important to me. Whatever is YOUR THING – keep track of it in your journal.
4. Take yourself on a weekly comeback date. Spend no more than $20 a date. Your comeback date is your hour or two each week that is specifically earmarked for exploration. Maybe you go to a really cool hardware store and go up and down each aisle looking for inspiration. Maybe you travel to a nearby lake and take pictures of what you find at the shoreline. Or maybe you hit that cool little jazz club – alone – just to see what that feels like. What you choose isn’t as important as that it be something fresh, new, a bit risky, and different. Afterwards, record your experience in your journal.
5. Get lots of exercise. And fresh air. Every day, get out in the world. Most of us our living our lives all up in our heads. We spend a lot of time thinking about what we “have to do” or how things did or didn’t go in the past. The purpose of the daily walk, beyond the exercise of course, is to practice training ourselves to be in the moment. This moment. While it is actually happening. Start small – just 5 or 10 minutes if you are new to this. But try and train your mind to be in the walk with you. While it is actually happening.
Let us know, in the comments below, how you are progressing. And, if you’re ready for “next steps,” take a look at our Craft Your Comeback workshop to see if you think it will be helpful. We start mid-June.
Thanks for sharing your journey with me.