Sunday, January 29, 2012

Midlife Whoa!

Retirement can bring on a midlife plateau. Life feels flat—leveled out. No big mountains in sight to climb. No rapidly moving streams that require you to pay attention to every step you take. Nothing grabs your attention quite the same way as when you wereworking. If this describes your life, then it’s time for a “midlife whoa.”

Last summer I took horseback riding lessons. One thing I noticed is that without much effort or direction on my part, the horse started walking around the rink. He had done this routine so often that he knew what to expect as soon as I got on his back…plod around the circle. I’ll admit that I was glad the horse knew where he was going because I certainly didn’t know how to direct him. However, once I got more comfortable with riding, I was ready for a bigger challenge. I got up the courage to say “whoa” and direct the reins toward another course.

Retirement also requires that you say “whoa” to the well-worn path that you know so well. At first this path provides comfort, especially when you’re navigating a new lifestyle, as in retirement. The more you can create your schedule and roles to mimic that of work, the more comfortable you will feel during this time of adjustment. But, eventually the time comes when you need to pull back on the reins and ask, “Where am I going? Is this the path I really want to be on? Is there another path I want to explore?” 

As horses believe, the grass is always greener on the other side. You may be guilty of the same belief system. However, be careful to not be fooled by what looks like the “greener side” of life. The “Whoa” is being willing to question your path—it’s not as drastic as jumping the fence. You don’t need a whole new pasture. Instead you need to pave some new paths in the territory you have already cultivated. Once you’re off the beaten path, then the grass will be fresh, thick, and rich with nutrients that will nourish your body and soul. The plateau will lose its “flatness,” and you will begin to see new vistas for your future.

I encourage you to pull back on the reins—have the courage to say, “Whoa.”