Midlife has long been recognized as a time of change. For a lot of people there’s a significance attached to birthdays which end in a zero which prompts an assessment of how the preceding decade has gone and a focus on what’s to come. It effectively stops ‘Business As Usual’ and prompts the level of introspection that usually follows an unexpected health scare. Coronavirus has inadvertently provided this same opportunity as lockdown effectively pressed pause on our regular lives.
The key difference is that we all experienced this pausing at the same time. I went into lockdown quite happy with the additional three hours a day that I’d gain from not driving kids to school and sports practice. I used the extra time to kick-start my online coaching business, I mean I already speak French and German and had an award winning gluten free sourdough starter. So what else was I going to do? The timing was perfect.
Lockdown forced me to re-evaluate my home environment. We were struggling with both space and bandwidth for five people to easily work from home. The two dogs should have been spoiled for choice with walks from all of us. The reality is that I continued walking them alone, along with occasional support from the husband (usually when the weather was good). This suited me as at least one of the daily walks enabled me to listen to a podcast, plus I valued the time alone after all of that time in the house surrounded by teenagers.
You start to notice things about your house when you’re there all of the time. Like the wall which has needed painting for the last three years, that didn’t even register as I walked past it twenty times a day, but which embarrassed the kids when their friends came over. All of those little projects start to build up into one long ‘Honey Do’ list which we finally had the time to work through. At some point one of us decided that we should probably just move and avoid that three hour driving time when real life restarted. The stamp duty incentive made it a no-brainer.
The effect of stepping off the treadmill of my daily life gave me the opportunity to plan a different future. For example, we’re moving from the suburbs to a small farm. While moving back to a smallholding has always been a dream of mine (I grew up on one), I’d pushed it into the dim and distant land of retirement. Who would have thought that lockdown would have fast-tracked this ambition? I think a key factor of this big change has been driven by my experience of coaching. Every day I’m inspired by seeing the steps that my clients take to create their dreams.
When I worked in recruitment there would be two distinct months when candidates would be more interested to dip their toes into the job market: January and September. The first would be following on from the Christmas break, maybe supported by a New Year’s resolution. The second would be after the traditional down-time of the holiday period when they would have the time and space to actually think about their work life.
Big Bold Dreams
It doesn’t really matter whether it’s a big birthday, a pandemic or a holiday which makes you stop and re-evaluate your life plans and choices. The key is that you take the chance when it raises its head. That midlife ‘crisis’ doesn’t have to be a stereotypical negative experience, it can be a time to selectively plan your future in accordance with your biggest, boldest dreams. You don’t have to wait for January, or the first of the month, or a Monday. There are no rules here. Press Pause, step out of your normal life for a couple of hours and see what comes up for you.