I still find it difficult to reconcile the order of events in my life. I always believed my quest was to find that one career or type of job which would satisfy my needs for a lifetime. The pressure I put on myself to find this one thing was intense. It had to be interesting enough to hold my interest and keep me motivated as I grew and changed over time. I’m not sure anything can live up to those kind of expectations.
Cue the second act. Except, that was never supposed to be, for me. I wanted to be a single act play. I never wanted the challenge of many curtain calls. Who has the energy for that? Learning a whole new set of skills, going backwards to move forward. Sounds exhausting. Seems like a young persons game.
All that is true. I’m not going to sugar coat it. Even so, I found myself on the shores of the limits for where my first career was going to take me. At least in so far as the method I was using to build it. I had my sights set on the next promotion, more money, higher status and so on. I was not interested in what I could learn or might give to others. I wasn’t even so bothered about who I interacted with. It was enough to get the job done. As one can imagine, a recipe for burnout.
I prepared to make a big shift. No, it is not as easy as it sounds. But it is possible. I’ve written about that process in detail. After 25 years, why I walked away from my beloved career. There were some dark days. A bunch of soul-searching. Lots of forgiving to do, including myself. Once I began to move through the really tough stuff, there was a break in the clouds. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. It took me a year to find freedom, a love story.
My second act hinges on a central idea – how to design a lifestyle we don’t need a vacation from? I still want to explore the world and even splurge with a little luxury as a contrast to my normal life. But, I don’t want that to feel so desperately needed, whereby if I don’t get to vacation I might breakdown from the stress in my life. I never want to be in that place again. That pressure cooker is really a killer. It was not until I stood outside of it, did I realize what was happening to me. What I was letting my life become.
It is a common story. People realize their lives are too stressful, they drop out of everything they know, sell it all and travel. It turns out this lifestyle change of uprooting and upsetting the status quo is mostly done by the young. Those who have very little attachments. Not so much by those in midlife. Those folks are generally over the hump and heading down the back half of life towards retirement. But, I couldn’t make it. I had to change. Living in stress, moving to relaxation, looking for ikigai.
I had fully planned on being well down the path of my second act during my year of travel. I am an excellent process and project manager. I figured the shift was no bigger of a deal than much of what I easily accomplished in my previous work life. Imagine my surprise when the methods I counted on did not produce the results I had expected! It was not going to be possible to transition into the next stage without some completely new tools. I had to completely let go of my need for security and embrace the unknown. My heroine’s journey, a road less travelled describes some of what I had to learn.
At the core, I had to become well. In other words, I had to turn inwards and examine myself. I knew I had once been in a happier place. But, I always fought anxiety, even from a young age. So there was nothing to completely return to. I had to almost pretend I was graduating from high school, standing on very firm ground. I had to enter the second act by keeping everything good from my experience and with a breath of comfort, blow away everything bad.
I gave up all my relationships on a day-to-day basis, except my husband and children. I ended up with enough time to try on my new self, while watching my family do the same thing in their own ways. From the outside, we transformed ourselves into slightly different people. On the inside, I felt like I was re-born.
By focusing inwards and having the time and space I needed, free of pressure, distractions and excessive responsibilities, my sense of well-being is better than I imagined. I am pleasantly surprised. My attitude has shifted towards service. I think of how I can help others, far more often than I used to. I feel grateful in my heart. Even if I repeat the same words, over and over again, the positive effect is not diminished. While my brain craves novelty, it doesn’t need a new gratitude everyday! I practice kinder self-talk. When I realize I am starting to berate myself about something, I pause and course correct.
While I am not ‘launched’ into my second act yet, my mini retirement has cleared the decks. I am emotionally prepared to continue my learning, planning and doing. All the stuff I did in order to become successful in my first career, but with a much greater sense of self-awareness, maturity, gratitude and kindness. I know this second act is being built on a strong foundation of core values, rather on the fleeting whims of my youth.
Join me in this creative journey. I am on a mission to start a global movement, focusing on the importance of creativity in our daily lives. Together, let us see where we can take this. I look forward to hearing from you! Please share your thoughts. Feel free to send an email to: Christine@dailycreatives.com #creaspatreat
My creative year:
: : Developing, testing and enjoying a life I don’t need a vacation from while working in an office and commuting on public transit!
: : This is where my ideas for creaspatreat will come to life. Don’t miss any of it by joining us!
: : Check out new projects on my youtube channel called creative wandering. #dailycreatives
: : “Fruitless at 40: Rediscovering My Creative Power”
Would you like a free download of….
: : The first chapter from Fruitless at 40 and
: : My tried and true packing list, developed from long-term, around the world travel?
: : Join us!
Daily Creatives Resources:
: : Travel changes a person
: : Anthropocene, Living in the Future’s Past and Daring to Lead
: : Teach women, invest in a community
: : Crea.spa.treat. what do you think it means?
: : Living in stress, moving to relaxation, looking for ikigai
Latest posts by Christine Westermark (see all)
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