The 5 Rules Of Reinventing Your Life At Any Age

Health

The 5 Rules Of Reinventing Your Life At Any Age

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1. Fall apart.

Midlife isn’t a number, says Jett Psaris, an Oakland, CA, therapist and author of Taking the Midlife Leap, One Step at a Time; it’s the onset of the feeling that nothing is working anymore.

Participants in her workshops often arrive because a pileup of challenges—health problems, job loss, retirement—has stripped away their identities, so they simply can’t be the people they were before.

It’s alarming, says Psaris, but for those who can give in to it, breakdown clears the way for deep change like nothing else can. (Lose up to 25 pounds in 2 months—and look more radiant than ever—with Prevention’s new Younger in 8 Weeks plan!)

   
2. You don’t need a passion—just do something.

Passion is a buzzword of the reinvention movement, but having a rigid idea of what your passion is, in the abstract, can actually hurt you, because it may not translate into something you enjoy doing in real life, says Marc Freedman, social entrepreneur and founder and CEO of Encore.org. Far better to find your way by experimenting: Do something you think you might like; ask yourself whether you really do like it; retool; repeat.

Grab an opportunity that’s barreling past—even if it’s not your passion, it will get you moving. Have absolutely no interests whatsoever, just a nagging wish for change? Begin with your health. (Start by eating healthfully and adding these 7 foods to your diet.)

3. Embrace your fears.

Around midlife, many people are seized by a new interest that’s not just unexpected, it’s positively out of character. A surprising number turn to something that used to terrify or intimidate them, says Psaris.

The shy take up public speaking, those without confidence in their intelligence go back to school, and those with two left feet dance. Often, these interests arise from serendipity—a chance encounter that turns into an obsession.

4. Mine the past.

Look more deeply at a dramatic reinvention, says Freedman, and what you’ll often find is actually a homecoming of a sort. People use second- and third-career transformations to return to interests that were strong in childhood or adolescence but passed over at the time for something more practical.

Though they may lie dormant for years, these interests often remain vital and strong—and ready for rediscovery later in life. When she was in high school, Vicki Thomas—now director of communications for a nonprofit that helps disabled veterans—became a vocal opponent of the Vietnam War.

She wound up as a PR and marketing executive, but in her 60s, when she was feeling a lack of purpose in her work, she saw a news story about an organization started by two Iraq War veterans. She knew immediately that she wanted to be part of it.

5. Play the long game.

When she counsels would-be career changers, reinvention coach Pamela Mitchell often hears the complaint, “But I’m too old.” She reminds the worried that the average American today will live to be 80, up from 47 in 1900.

The most successful self-reinventors are those who understand that they have time and are willing to use it to invest in their own skills and education. That means effort, often money, and—hardest of all for many adults—the willingness to lay aside the mantle of success and be a beginner all over again.

Mitchell’s client Kendra Cunningham was a sales assistant when she decided she wanted to be a stand-up comedian. Other comics told her it would take 10 years to find her voice. Not me, thought Cunningham. I’ll do it faster. But they were right.

It was frustrating, but she told herself that honing her craft every evening beat simply hoping for change. About 10 years later, successes started rolling in—including appearing on the TV show Last Comic Standing—all the result of her ability to take the long view.

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