When I was in my 30’s, a friend talked me into going with her to a psychic fair. Held at a faux medieval shopping center, it would be great for getting some shots for our photo assignment in a class we were taking.
Amid women dressed like Stevie Nicks, men channeling Mr. Darcy, and smell of patchouli, an elderly medium sat at a card table offering to read palms.
After he read my palm, my friend said, “That’s nothing like the Linda I know.”
My friend hadn’t met the Linda the lines on my palm revealed who had all but disappeared while focusing on marriage, kids, and career. If like me, you’ve got those boxes checked, you too can rediscover yourself 50+.
If we can just figure out who we really want to be now.
Can you handle finding your true self?
Becoming reacquainted with the authentic you isn’t easy. For the last few decades, we gave ourselves some rules that we can now break. But that can be uncomfortable.
I compare it to getting botox – pain with a purpose.
The actions that let you rediscover yourself can feel disorienting. Or even a betrayal of who you thought you were. Your unvarnished self will be peeking out.
Maybe for the first time since you were an unstoppable six-year-old.
Dreams we had back then are waiting to be uncovered along with our wrinkles and disruptive attitudes. There may be pain and anxiety, but like pregnancy and labor, you end up with a new life to cherish
This is what it looks like being born – Mary Morrissey
Rediscovering yourself -heed the clues
When Trader Joe’s came to the Houston area, it was like someone had given me my very own pony.
Whenever I visited my daughter in California, our first stop was the nearest TJ so I could load up on dried mangos with chili power, cheap prosecco and a wonderful grapefruit salt scrub they sold for under $6.
Now I was going to get to visit Trader Joe’s anytime – without spending $600 on airfare.
That first store opened in the Woodlands, a master-planned city forty-minutes north of Houston. I jumped in my Subaru and headed up I-45, giddy to load up my cargo area with all things Trader Joe. No need to worry about extra baggage fees this time.
As I turned off the freeway into the Woodlands, the hairs on my neck tingled. I felt sweaty. I was recoiling physically from the master-planned sameness of this neighborhood.
Which way are those clues pointing?
My discontent was pointing me away from a master-planned life. I was longing for a more free-range existence
Welcome discontent and longing. Those are your life compass points. Unlike GPS, they don’t give us a turn by turn route on how to get back to who we really are or want to be. A compass points us in a direction.
With kids grown and “in the twilight of a mediocre career” as an old boss of mine used to joke, good schools and a short commute no longer mattered as much. Though with my husband still employed, I can’t quite make a move just yet.
But my sister-in-law Pam and her husband did, fighting the rest of the family in the process.
Prepare for pushback
Pam has had life-long health issues. Most recently, a heart attack and frequent ER visits for kidney stones. She’d become lethargic, swollen and susceptible, both due to her health conditions and all the medications she was taking.
So when Pam and her husband decided to leave the world-class medical community in Houston and move to 20 acres in a small town, two hours away, all of us weighed in on how irresponsible the move was.
But the couple wouldn’t budge.
They’d lived in a big city for work and opportunities for their kids, but they’d never felt at home. Now retired, they bought a farm – literally.
Finding themselves through what made them happy and acting on it has seemed to make them healthier.
They’ve reinvented themselves in their four years of country living. Chuck has lost almost 100 pounds. Their adult daughter is flourishing. She met a boyfriend at church, learned the dobro and is now performing with his family’s band.
And Pam has stayed out of the hospital. The relaxation of open spaces has trumped cutting edge medicine.
How to start rediscovering yourself
Take baby steps. Don’t force it. Make yourself open and aware of thoughts, feelings, and circumstances that make you go “yuck” or “woo hoo!” And stop glossing over them.
These are important clues.
Use them to rediscover the dreams you held for yourself before we all got bogged down with career and kids. For women over 50 especially, now is the best time to grow bolder and act on those dreams.
Related: Why women naturally grow bolder 50+
4 Easy Steps to Rediscover yourself and who you want to be now
To help you remember and internalize this practice, use this mnemonic trick built around the word B-O-L-D.
1. B – Be Here, right now
This step has been the hardest change for me. It may be for you too if you are a “do-er” – not a “be-er.” But make this change first, no matter how pitiful you are at it.
Because rediscovering yourself first demands attention to what makes you happy and satisfied in our current everyday life.
“Becoming more aware of the present moment can help us enjoy the world around us more… to experience afresh things that we have been taking for granted.”
A close friend taught me how important it was to find contentment in the moment.
Like most of us who live on the humid Gulf Coast, she suffered from seasonal allergies. On New Year’s Eve, she felt woozy and assumed it was from too much allergy medicine and holiday indulgences.
Two weeks later she was in MD Anderson Cancer Center with stage 4 brain cancer. One day she was well. The next day she wasn’t.
When I visited her at home, she was finding peace looking out at the bay while her cat, Hobie, cuddled at her feet.
We shouldn’t need a crisis to help us tune into what brings us joy. Start by practicing savoring satisfaction in moments like a hot shower on your back, your first sip of coffee in the morning, a bite of 72% chocolate.
Related – How to be here and meditate anywhere
In those moments, a sense of our suppressed self will be most likely to peek through.
2. O- Open to opportunities even disguised as screw-ups
The screw-ups and catastrophes can be yours or someone else’s that affect you. Could be we need to change course, and a catastrophe is what brings that home.
Driving back from a weekend trip, a girlfriend and I were sharing what we wanted in retirement.
“A part-time job with people I like that pays well and give me lots of freedom to travel, “ she said. It was the same answer she’d recently given her boss when he asked her that question.
“You got that right here – whenever you’re ready,” he replied. I told her how lucky she was. Except she didn’t feel lucky twenty years ago when she first started working for this boss. Her husband had left her abruptly. Her daughter had moved out. And her home was sold.
She wrestled with more tragedy. Yet most of it led to the life she has now.
Living in a stylish condo that is compact and uncluttered, she can lock up and leave when she has the chance to travel. And she’s got a job she loves.
But all this required a scary openness in the beginning.
My girlfriend reinvented herself professionally by ditching a secure 9-5 accounting job and took a chance working with three brothers in a tiny plant shop. She discovered her passion there, spending her days among flowers as the color buyer of what grew into a major wholesale nursery.
The divorce and subsequent disruption wasn’t her choice. But staying open to the opportunity led to uncovering a life that makes her happy.
2. L – Learn things outside your comfort zone
Get comfortable with discomfort. That’s the only way to grow bolder and uncover your true self, purpose, and passion. Attempting to learn some new skill will ensure you regularly experience that discomfort.
Good for you.
And it doesn’t have to be a big thing like deciding to go to medical school or climb a mountain. I’m also talking about the little things you’ve written off.
Then make your aspirations known. And watch what happens.
One of my past New Year’s resolutions was to master parallel parking. The other was to learn to how to sing one karaoke song. I jokingly revealed that to someone in my book club who turned out to be a voice teacher.
I learned my go-to-song: “Angel From Montgomery” and a spare: “Leaving on a Jet Plane.”
Then I hit the Karaoke clubs. Everyone there was out of their comfort zones. Getting up on the stage was a big step for me. Check that box.
A year ago, NextDoor posted about a no-commitment/no-audition pop-up choir called Sing!Sing!Sing! My voice teacher and I decided to check it out.
They met in the jumbled upstairs room of an old bar and grill in Houston’s Montrose area. A therapist named Barbara started it and elected herself our choir mom.
She was inspired by a video of a Toronto group called Choir!Choir!Choir! that brought diverse people together for shared fun.
You didn’t need talent, just a willingness to jump in and learn.
A professional voice instructor taught 25-30 strangers to perform Blackbird in three-part harmony – in just two hours. And then post our performance on Soundcloud.
I rediscovered that I like to perform – something I’d buried during my career and kid days. And we’re all benefitting in another way.
The discomfort of learning new things is keeping our brains elastic and open.
2. D – Discard things that weigh you down
Now that you are opening yourself and learning new things, it’s time to make some room in your brain and your life.
I’m not talking about only discarding things. Think about your behaviors, attitudes and responsibilities that weigh you down.
Starting first with concrete items can make the transition to those intangibles easier.
Take your closet. If something comes in, something goes out. For example, buy a blouse – a blouse goes to charity. Apply this discipline to clothes, furniture, any possession. It’s a good practice since what we own can ultimately own us,
Related post: Four ways to clear clutter and still get to shop.
Then move on to reinventing yourself by getting rid of mental clutter you’ve picked up along the way.
For me, that’s behaviors like trashing myself before I go to sleep, criticizing what I said that day or how I acted. Too know-it-all. Offering advice where none was needed. Wearing those weird styles. How could anyone stand me?
I wouldn’t talk to a friend like this. Why do I beat myself up? It was way past time for me (and you too) to dump those behaviors and attitudes.
Besides, these thoughts could be trying to tell us something about what passion we want to pursue. Is my attitude towards those thoughts blinding me to the direction my longing and discontent is pointing me towards?
Or maybe a project stressing you is not your responsibility anymore and needs to be laid down.
Or a friendship or relationship makes you act in ways that feel inauthentic. Diminishes your enjoyment of life when you’re with them. Perhaps you’ve changed your mind about wanting to have that in your life.
Nothing is off limits in this purge.
Or irreversible. You may discard someone or something and later decide that was not the right decision. Nothing prevents you from reestablishing a connection.
The goal is to rediscover what you want and where you want to go.
Test these steps to find yourself again
- Close your eyes and let your mind wander
- What fleeting happiness can you savor by being here in this very moment? Where does that moment lead you?
- Are you open to rediscovering yourself, your longing and your discontent? Is there a clue hiding in a problem that is currently disrupting your life?
- What new and small skill can you learn today – like trying a new way to cook your next meal or visiting a different market, or taking a new route on your nightly walk?
- And what can you discard today that is weighing you down?
Download your free Rediscover Yourself Quick Course
This quick course helps you practice to boldly uncover what you want in this next exciting stage of your life.
- 1. Download the free quick course here. Join my periodic newsletter, and as a bonus, you’ll get two printable reminders.
- 2. Print a few copies of the reminders and/or save to your Dropbox on your phone. There’s also lock screen image for your phone.
Share what you’ve learned
What have you rediscovered about yourself as you grow bolder? How has it changed your life?
Please scroll down and leave a comment. We are all learning from each other.