It doesn’t have to be exactly 50, but it’s normal to re-examine what you want your life to be like when we get to the middle. It’s normal to feel a little bit lost because we have already made the BIG decisions in life and now we are just living them out.
But that doesn’t have to be the end of the story. Once you reach mid-life you actually have more choices and opportunities than you did in your 20s. You might have a little bit of money in the bank and you probably don’t have small kids at home.
You have a lot more control of the time in your day. What do you want to do with it? There is still plenty of time to make the life you want if you don’t have it already. And even if you do have a life you love it might the just the right time to shake things up.
I’ve found the key to my happiness in this phase is centered around these three principles.
- Growth – Keep learning new things and setting new goals.
- Connections – Find and maintain friendships and close relationships.
- Movement – Move my body every day.
Setting New Goals
I think one of the reasons why people feel this despair when they reach mid life is because they look at life as half over, but there is still half left. We need to continue to set new goals for ourselves to make sure the second half is fulfilling.
I’ve read many books on this topic, which I’ll share in an upcoming post, but I have lots of goals that I write down every day to keep them in my mind. I have three different categories of goals: Relationship goals, professional goals and personal goals. You don’t have to do it this way, but for me it make sense.
I feel that relationships are a key part of my happiness and I set goals for my relationships so that I can keep in the front of my mind how I want work on these relationships. For example, one of my goals is to have a close group of friends that I see regularly (even if it’s by zoom). I’ve found the more that I define my goals the more likely they are to happen.
Making and Maintaining Strong Connections
Relationships are one of the most important things in our lives. Not only do they make us happier but they also help us to live longer.
Read more about social relationships and how important they are for longevity according to Scientific American. According to Gretchen Rubin, one of my favorite authors, anything you can do to broaden and deepen our relationships makes us happier.
If you are lucky enough to have a close group of friends, make an effort every single week to see them or at the very least talk to them via phone, zoom or email. Sometimes I use the excuse that I’m too busy. If I aside time to connect with them even when I feel too busy I feel much happier. Try it and tell me if you agree
If you want to add to your friendships because many of your friends have moved or you’ve grown apart, you may feel like it’s harder now. It is! It’s more challenging as we age because we aren’t naturally thrown into groups of new people. We are less likely to start a new job or meet a bunch of parents at school. You have to actively seek out new groups and that can be uncomfortable.
Force yourself to do it.
Movement is Key to Happiness and Health
I say this also believing 100% that I hate to exercise. I have never found an exercise that I love. My philosophy is that the best exercise is one that is finished.
I feel like it’s a necessary evil for two reasons and neither one of them is weight. First, exercise is a great mood boost. I’ve found that if I can get myself to do it for 5 minutes, it changes my entire day. I don’t exercise for more than 30 minutes unless it’s walking with a friend (which I’m not counting as real exercise the way we do it).
If you don’t believe me, read this article from Harvard about exercise and depression. It says that exercise can be as effective as antidepressants for some people.
Second, studies show that exercising 30 minutes a day can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s. If you have anyone in your family with this disease, it can be very motivating.