What is a midlife mantra?
And do you have one?
Slow it all down….. run slower, breathe slower, eat slower, have sex slower. Talk slower, listen slower, watch slower, think slower.
This is not because you’re getting old but because you’re living young. At 53 I am living younger and longer than any generation before me. When you were younger you did everything faster, not appreciating the whispers of the wind beside you as you whistled down the road at warp speed with the mentality that everything had to be experienced NOW! and done NOW!
Now, no need for caps and exclamation marks - now you can live younger longer with the wisdom of age; you can walk slower because the leaves bring you delight and because you realise you are not in a race, you just want to keep your body moving and love the trees that are moving alongside you.
You talk slower because it’s not about being heard by everyone else anymore; it’s about being heard by yourself and listening more. Make everything slower because doing so makes it count - not because you’re older but because you are living younger. Because you want to experience the love of reading a book in the sun, of delving into early morning water, stopping and staring out at a view for no other reason than to take a breath and look at the beauty.
Slowing down is not about giving up and not doing enough; slowing down is about understanding that the pace of your life should be dictated by you, not that idea that you can only be happy or successful when you’re BUSY, or at the pace dictated by ‘society’. Slow down because you get to choose the pace of your life even when you’ve a lot to do, even when you have a lot of responsibility. You get to choose the pace of your life and that is what living young is all about.
This is what I wrote to myself recently, the pen slowing down as I wrote…. my pen normally creating smoke on a page because I think faster than I can write. But I was learning a really important lesson of midlife, one that has been simmering and simpering in the background of my thoughts for a while, but felt so seismic, so radical I didn’t let the space form to let the idea formulate.
My eldest daughter turned 18 last weekend. I took a moment in the midst of celebrating her life, and her leap into adulthood, to give myself a nod for getting us both here. Raising a whole human to adulthood. That’s a moment to savour. (And I remember being impressed during pregnancy that I’d apparently just made eyelashes one week.)
Of course, most of her amazingness is due to her (It’s so easy for us parents to take all the credit for the good stuff and then blame all the challenging choices and behaviours on the terrible Twos, Teenagedom and TikTok.) But I will take a beat to sigh a little with relief that we made it, and to acknowledge the work that went into this relationship.
Not the laundry. Although that was a lot.
And not the food production. That was also a lot.
But the sustained levels of love, because and despite the situations. The relentlessness of the pressure to keep parenting, even when my own world was exploding and imploding and every permeatation in between. The energy I invested in just trying to understand her needs, never mind meet them. I got a lot wrong. I got a lot right. And I’ve more to get wrong and right.
As she leaps headfirst into the future she wants to live, making choices about college, drawing up that CheckList of Success from which she will try to hang her life, it reminds me of my own Checklist all those years ago, and how far from it I have travelled. How long life is, and how fast.
It’s really easy to mosey through life, head full of To-Do lists and worries… reacting to all the external demands and expectations, we forget that the last time we actually checked in to see what we want and where we want to go was when we filled in our college applications. Or when we created our original Check List of Success as we entered adulthood. It’s easy to be so focused on checking those boxes, we forget to check if it’s still valid.
Especially at midlife. When responsibility gets heaped on responsibility and all those ambitions get muffled under the piles of laundry (most of which isn’t yours).
At the end of coaching a client, I often ask what they want their midlife mantra to be. This can be an essay, a sentence, bullet points, a mind-map, a string of consciousness, no punctuation required…. the only rule is that it should be the vibe they want to bring - with curiosity and intention - into their life, whether they are in their 40’s, 50’s or 60’s.
We’ll have done a lot of work by that stage, they’ll have really reconnected back to themselves, connected to the current version of themselves with all the experience of loving, losing, learning and laughing since that college application, or original Check List.
It is less about being another or replacement checklist, and more of a GPS, a compass point, an intention for how they want to live their life moving forward.
It’s no longer based on what they want their life to look like, and based more on what they want their life to feel like.
And as my daughter heads into adulthood, I’m checking in on my mid-ulthood and course correcting. Deciding that the pace of my life need to be on my terms, on my clock. Being, not just living, day to day.
I’ve been running a free 5 day Happier Habits Challenge this week and over a hundred women have signed up to try and get a grip on that conundrum. As I’ve taken them through the week, I’ve been giving simple prompts and tasks to help them direct their energy and thoughts in ways that will enrich and support them, rather than be constantly hijacked by those external demands and expectations. The camaraderie of this group has been wonderful to watch, as they share their stories of overwhelm, underwhelm, loss of direction, and all the pressures that come our way. But what has been the most lovely to see, is the growing realisation that no-one is coming to save them. Like my daughter heading off into the great unknown, I hope I’ve given her the right tools to read the right maps, fill her backpack with emergency bars of chocolate and all the equipment she’ll need to live as much of her life directed by her internal needs.
And that’s what we all need to do… at 18, at 28, at 38, at 48, at 58, at 68 and beyond.
Review the checklist. Review our emergency backpack and see what else we need; But most of all, to make sure our GPS is directing us to the place and life we want to be living.
As for my midlife mantra, it goes something like this:
Have adventure (and always distinguish it from drama)
Make a life as well as a living - they are equally important
Grow and connect to me - invest in evolving
What is yours?
I’m opening ip my next group online coaching programme which will help you press refresh on your plans if you feel you need to review your mid-ulthood.
I’m calling it Refresh, because it’s a chance to press refresh on your life, like you might on a computer, to update the software (your goals and desires) and get rid of any malware (out-dated expectations, self-limiting beliefs). To really connect back in to yourself, checking in with where and who you are now, and what you need next, to reboot before the silly season and enter the new year with a refreshed approach to running your life on your terms, not being run down by it.
It’s 6 weeks and each Monday I’ll drop a coaching idea and exercise, which you can then do in your own time. There’ll be a group WhatsApp as you go through the work where I can answer questions and there is shared support. Every Thursday I’ll do a live zoom to see how you’re getting on and do some live coaching. There will also be a 45 minute 1:1 coaching session with me during the 6 weeks.
The goal is to get some breathing space to think about you and your life and how you want to feel. To get some clarity and confidence on what’s next and start the new year with renewed intention and awareness that life isn’t just about being a human doing, but about being a human being, to thrive and invest in yourself.
Details are here if you are interested!
For my paid subscribers below I’m giving you a little exercise to check in with where you are and help you start to define your midlife mantra.