About 6 months before my sixtieth birthday I was listening to two young friends who would soon turn 30. They were both talking as if they were about to turn a hundred. After listening to them for a while I laughed and said in a cheerful tone of voice “What are you on about! Next year I’m going to be…!” I stopped, suddenly and unexpectedly overwhelmed by the most intense feeling of vulnerability. Up until that moment I’d always felt that age had nothing to do with who I am.
Ever since I left my 37 year old marriage my life has changed beyond my wildest expectations. I’m happy. I feel fulfilled. I feel free and as if a weight has lifted off my shoulders. My future looked exciting. And yet, at that point, none of it made any difference to the way I felt.
As the months passed, I kept thinking about this, trying to work out what turning sixty meant to me.
I knew that the reason for my ambivalence was partly because, socially speaking, it is such a significant milestone, especially for women because, at the time, that was the age when women received their State pension, many stopped working and were officially declared “old”. There was a time, not all that long ago, when the State pension was actually called “old age pension”. People receiving that pension were “pensioners”, a term that used to go beyond the factual interpretation of a person who is in receipt of a pension. The word ‘pensioner’ still conjures up someone who no longer makes a contribution to life, who has stopped participating in the world.
I then realized that I actually didn’t care about what reaching sixty meant in ‘social’ terms. I was trying to figure out what it meant to me personally and all I could come up with was – nothing.
The most important thing for me was that I didn’t want to pretend that I wasn’t growing older; otherwise, I imagined, I’d wake up one day and die of shock except I still didn’t know what I meant by ‘not pretending’.
Then, as my 60th birthday began to draw closer I surprised myself by noticing that I was really looking forward to it. I’ve always loved birthdays and this one turned out to be no exception – once I finally got my brain around the whole idea of turning sixty.
As 17 March dawned I became aware of feeling very powerful – it was the last day of my Fifties decade.
Looking back, that birthday was the best I’ve ever had and I spent it with the people I love the most.
Now, in 2012 and at the ripe old age of 67 I’m looking back to where I was then and where I am today and I can honestly say that things have become better than I could possibly have hoped for.
Today I feel comfortable in my own skin. I like who I have become and who I continue to become – because this is an ongoing process. I like it that I’m willing to keep pushing back the limits of my comfort zone, moving into new territory, trying out new things to see if they work for me or if they don’t and taking it from there. I like it that I’m willing to take calculated risks, that I acknowledge it when I feel scared, full of doubt or fear yet staying with the feeling instead of pretending I’m in control. I now admit it when I feel vulnerable, try to notice when I let myself down and retrace my steps without beating myself up – not too much, anyway. And I like it that I stopped pretending to have it all together and that I’m willing to ask for help. Pretending to be a ‘hero’ never did work for me. I’m glad I let that go.
Over the last couple of days I have revisited this issue and have begun to see an additional aspect to my age – one that, until now, I hadn’t considered. Over the years I have experienced turbulence and challenge and come out on the other side with insights and understandings I feel compelled to share.
I have a tendency to dive into areas most people tend to avoid, for example, what it means to grow old, the fact, that the older I get, the more l will lose people I love – parents being a case in point.
So here’s the question: How did I do that? How did I change my life to such an extent? A lot of the credit must go to my life coach. I could never have achieved a transformation of that magnitude all by myself. But there was more.
Without realizing it I was letting go of habits, attitudes and behaviours that no longer served me and developing new ones that worked much better for me through a process of trial and error.
These then came to form the basis of a set of principles, principles which are fundamental and profound. Once I became clear about the impact this had on the quality of my life, I put it together in the form of a formal model which I call ‘The 10 Life Enhancing Principles’ (LEP™). I now use this model consciously, in my own life, in my coaching, in my writing and in my talks.
What does your life feel like at the moment? Exciting? Promising? Purposeful? Do you realise that you CAN create the life you long for? If you don’t know where to start, have you considered the possibility of working with a coach that really understands you, one with whom you can develop a strong relationship, who really understands you and is on your corner. How committed are you to your future – however long that may be?
If you’d like to know more, let’s chat
The Life Enhancing Specialist
Tel: 020 8940 7056
Mobile: 07903 795027