What do you do when you find yourself in your 30s or 40s and feel as if everything is all wrong?At this stage, the last thing you want to think about is starting over. There just isn’t time. You feel you should be set in your career and major life choices at this point. However, you’re terrified because life’s in no way shaping up the way you thought it would.
But is it that life really didn’t unfold as expected? I think few of us actually plan for the future in any comprehensive way. We just expect that it will all work out. You go to high school and then college. Somewhere between high school and college, you meet the love of your life, graduate, land the perfect job, get married, get the car, house in the suburbs, have 1.5 kids, enter your 30s in complete bliss and sail right on into old age and retirement. There are the lucky few who do experience this utopia. However, or most of us…not so much.
Maybe Your Just a Dreamer
It’s easy to dream and fantasize. The problem is usually in the execution. Yes, some things that are out of our control. We can’t wiggle our noses and poof, our ideal life partner appears. But many of us seem to be content with wishful thinking. You could sit on the couch stuffing your face with a bag of chips while watching some hot celebrity and wishing you had those abs or thighs. Or, you could ditch the bag of chips, get your butt off the couch and start working out.
Too many people find it easy to wish and dream and hope. Yeah, hard work is no fun—but that’s how you reap the rewards. Similarly, many of those winning at life are busy burning the midnight oil, while you whine at anything that gets in the way of your "me time.".
Bridging the Gap
You’ll need to assess your dreams. Maybe you were hoping for the wrong things or going about them the wrong way. So, as with goals, dreams need to be SMART.
1. Were those dreams specific? Did you identify all you need to accomplish to live your best life and decide on a course of action, For example, I will learn French using that new fancy app.
2. Were your dreams measurable? Are there quantifiable steps or actions involved in making the dream a reality? — I’m going to learn at least five French words every day.
3. Is the dream achievable and relevant or realistic? Will you be able to fit the studies into your current schedule? Do you have the right resources? Is there a point to learning French or are you just putting undue pressure on yourself?
4. Is it time-oriented? — If I keep at this pace, I expect to be fluent in French within two years. You can celebrate with a well-deserved Parisian getaway.
It’s easy to have a vague idea of what you want to do. However, you are more likely to see results if you throw in some “smarts” and a lot of elbow grease. If your dreams haven’t materialized, did you have them in focus? Can you honestly say you put in the effort and made good choices?
This So-Called Life
Barring unfortunate circumstances, we’re likely to achieve our goals with planning and effort. It’s always good to put your thoughts in writing, which often means you’ll be more likely to put them into action. Even if you’re not one of those “vision board” types, there is value in having a constant reminder of what you want to accomplish and how you’ll get it done.
However, for most of us, life is roller coaster. Not “like a roller coaster.” It is a roller coaster. And then it ebbs and flows, detours, screeches to a sickening halt, punches us in the gut, and stomps on our hearts. From illnesses to bad relationships, even the best-laid plans can go awry.
Live With Purpose
Quite often, our feelings and emotions get in the way. At some point, we have to acknowledge how we sabotage ourselves. Or maybe we can get real and call it what it is: unadulterated laziness. I totally understand how, in some cases, fear is a paralyzing force.
What I’ve come to realize though, is, if I ever intend to live up to my potential I have to rise above fear, laziness, doubt—all of it. Turn off the mind and the feelings and act. Otherwise, it means I’m willing to settle for a subpar life. I’ve frankly had enough of that.
Shine Bright Like a Diamond
My mother always tells me that I “hide my light.” The first time she said this, I was in high school. A couple of decades later, not much has changed. However, at some point, you really have to get tired of being tired.
I’ve lived a marginal life, skating by on excuses to justify why I haven’t lived up to the promise of the academic trophies and awards my mother polishes daily and still displays in my childhood home. Things happen. Learn. Move on. Otherwise, all you’ll continue being is a victim of people who don’t even remember you exist and circumstances that you cannot undo.
It Aint Over ‘Til It’s Over
As we’re drawing closer to the end of the year, it’s not a bad time to do some soul-searching. Make the decision to put an end to the feeling of hopelessness. For the first time in maybe ever, I’m finally feeling a sense of purpose—finally seeing how I can get my dreams to sync with reality.
I’m understanding that I cannot fight life. I will do the best with what I have, be realistic, grow up and work for what I want. One thing I’ve decided: I ain’t going out like this, and to prevent that from happening, I’ve got to get out, do, and LIVE! Here’s hoping you too, will find your way.