10 steps to take you toward your mid-life reinvention.

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Have you reached a turning point?

We tend to see life as linear, that is, in order to reach our full potential, at certain points, we need to have achieved whats required to take the next step.

But life is cyclical, we begin all over again at many points.

New cycles can be triggered by frustrations like a personality clash with a co-worker or a major event like a divorce.

Cycles are life’s turning points, where life as we’ve understood it, no longer applies.

My life had been linear for twenty years.

I had established a routine where work and life fitted neatly into separate compartments.

Until minor frustrations began to impede on my regular routine.

  • After running on autopilot for years menopause drew attention to my health.
  • I developed a desire to do something completely different.
  • And yearned for a deeper connection with life.

Mid life presented me with signs that I was entering a new cycle.

Over the past two decades when problems arose I took the appropriate actions and all fell back into place.

When a new cycle begins small actions don’t work.

Chris Argyris developed the concept of single loop learning and double loop learning.

Single loop learning is when you make a plan to get from A to B. When an obstacle arises preventing you from arriving at B, you make an adjustment to get you there. This works well when life is moving in a linear fashion.

Double loop learning is throwing out all preconceived notions, to the extent that arriving at B may no longer apply. It scrutinizes everything. It is an intuitive rather than analytical way to solve a problem.

The double loop approach is whats needed when life reaches a turning point.

Freewriting as a way to dig deep and gain insight.

Insights are those ‘aha’ moments, that come out of nowhere.

They pop up from within when you remove yourself from regular routine.

Journaling can lead you to insights.

Free writing requires you to write the first thing that pops into your head before your analytical mind kicks in.

Writing is a natural tool we can use to ‘drill down’, question, unravel, discard and reorganize.

The method.

  • You have to write quickly without judgment.
  • And dump whatever pops up onto the page.

The benefits.

  • Getting it out on paper (or computer screen) will identify specifics and clarify your confusion.
  • Pinpointing areas of concern will detach you from the problem.
  • You’ll naturally investigate further.

How to find time when life’s busy.

Wake up 10 minutes earlier.

Early mornings are good, your still in a dream state.

Writing first thing, makes your concerns the most important thing you do each day.

You’ll calm down because your getting the attention you deserve.

10 journaling steps to steer you toward your reinvention.

1.  Begin by connecting with your feelings.

  • How do you feel this morning?
  • Do you feel angry, unappreciated, overlooked?
  • Write about one specific feeling for 10 minutes.

Need more prompting.
Write why, where and when you feel this way and how it effects you?

2.  You’ll tune to your needs.

Gradually, you’ll obtain a sense of where your at and connect with where your stuck.
Write about it.

3.  Become aware of triggers in everyday interactions.

Each time someone angers, offends, lets you down, steps on your toes, write about it.

  • How did it make you feel?
  • What is the voice in your head telling you?
  • Why were you hurt, offended?

Investigate this in your writing.

4.  Where have you settled?

Your job, relationship, who you spend time with.

Why are you doing this, to keep the peace, to keep your job?

Write about it.

5.  Test your belief system.

As life moves into new cycles, opinions, even your own, require updating.

Some reactions are triggered by past events like a rejection of some sort.

From a parent, spouse, boss, lover, friend, co worker.

Investigate their truth, then trace them back to their roots.

  • How do you respond to this belief in everyday life?
  • Is it true?
  • Do you see a pattern?

6.  Have your beliefs kept you stuck?

  • What in life have you resisted?
  • Where have you sold yourself short?
  • How have you contributed to the myths?
  • What consequences are you afraid of?
  • Are they legitimate?
  • How are your beliefs keeping you stuck?

7.  Write about all the areas in which you see a trigger present itself.

How it repeats itself in various disguises.

Keep going over your story.

Until you’ve scrutinized it so thoroughly it’s driving you crazy.  Your so fed up you take real world action.

Now you know what to move away from, but where do you go?

8.  Reflect on cherished moments in life.

Mine in time line order:

  • The birth of my daughter.
  • Purchasing a couple of acres.
  • Meeting the love of my life.
  • A long camping adventure.
  • A puppy.
  • The birth of my grandchildren.

9.  Move toward the feelings these moments brought about.

  • Why it was important to you?
  • How did it fulfill a desire?
  • Why did it make you feel alive, like you belong?
  • How did you feel valued?
  • What yearning did it fulfill?

10.  Lean into activities that fulfill this yearning.

I leaned toward feeling more connected.

Take simple steps to get you there.

What next step would you take?

I took the simple step of regular dates with my grandchildren.

Over the coming year I joined a Zen meditation group, took the dog for daily walks, found interesting spots my partner and I could explore on weekends, joined Toastmasters and connected with others via E learning.

Let’s Boom On.

You’ve gained insight and are planting seeds for new beginnings.

Your reinvention is underway ‘Let’s boom on’.

There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.

- Nelson Mandela

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Comments

  1. No wonder I loved that picture! I love the single and double loop learning. Since I started taking care of my mom when I was young, I think I started the double loop from there. And it has been so since as life has changed. Sure I settled into a job that I convinced myself I loved for seventeen years but I still need to get to the center of me so I can move forward. Your journal is much like what I do to blank out my editor while in writing mode. I blank the screen and type. I think I will used that for the morning journals. And I am going to follow the steps in this each time. You have brought up some very good lessons that I need to learn by myself, from myself. And to top it off, this quote:There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.- Nelson Mandela
    Thank you, Priska! I am bookmarking this as an exercise each day!!!

    • Thank you Lee,
      I’m afraid that that in the past I’ve only used double loop learning to gain insight during turning points in life. I may continue on a regular basis as it really does help to uncover those ‘aha’ moments.

  2. I absolutely love my morning practice of freewriting and journaling. It’s made a huge difference in my life and propelled me toward some life-changing decisions. The great thing about freewriting is it’s a time to drop the judgements and just let flow with whatever comes. It’s interesting how patterns emerge and circular thoughts can get so much clearer once you get it all down on paper.
    For me, my hand usually can’t keep up with my mind, but I’m always feeling clearer and more powerful about my own life after my writing session. You’re so right, it’s an excellent midlife tool!

    • I journal on my ipad, even though my fingers move quickly across the keypad, I often can’t keep up with my either. Often I am only half conscious of what I’m thinking, the words simply flow out of the ends of my fingertips. I’m often surprised by revelations that pop out of nowhere.

  3. Very nice post. Have not reached the stage in terms of menopause yet… but had established a new stage about a year ago.. and yes, what you write about helped me a lot. Btw I have an e book called A Year in Questions featuring 365 questions to ask yourself, which may help reflect and think over during those morning rituals. It is available for free here http://eepurl.com/p1c-9 – enjoy!

    • Hi Ani,
      Thanks for sharing the ebook. Though I am currently journaling through mid life I have used the same process in earlier times when about to enter a new cycle.
      I’d thrown away those journals from earlier times (in case someone read them).
      Up until now it didn’t matter, but of late I would have been interested in reading the ravings of my younger self.

  4. while I doing my writing in the evening, I totally agree that process of free writing and journalling, no matter what time of the day it is

    • In earlier years I journaled of an evening.
      That was before I got so busy with everybody else’s needs and I never got around to it.
      That’s why I switched it to early mornings before anyone else wakes up.

  5. Journalling is my new thing at the moment – such a useful tool to learn about yourself with. Some of the conclusions that drop out are so stratlingly obvious, but until I put it on paper (screen) I couldn’t see them!

    • WildJuJu,
      How can it be that we aren’t aware of these things until we get them out of our heads onto the page.
      I can’t believe such a simple process is so effective.

  6. Yes, free writing in the early morning is a great way to explore, redefine and birth new ideas. The book “the Artist’s Way” calls these morning pages and are intended to keep your creative flow unblocked. As a midlife woman myself I recognized myself in your story. During my workshop this past weekend the focus is on really living – living your authenthic life disgarding the rules and shoulda’s that society and life has imposed. Love your blog and I am signing up for Ani’s ebook for journaling prompts. Thanks.

  7. Hi Jane,
    I like the sound of morning pages.
    I thought that it was just me, but through being a mid life blogger, I’ve discovered that mid life is a time to disregard everybody else’s rules and discover our authentic selves, it’s like rebelling all over again.

  8. Priska, this was great. I love you pointing out that life is cyclical, not linear.

    And yes, I agree, mid life is when we can become ourselves.

    I know for me, my little one is leaving the nest soon, and right now, I feel that I’m discovering myself again. Who am I now?

    • Hi Ishtar,
      Who am I? Good question. Most of my adulthood I labeled myself by my roles in life. But when you’ve ‘boomed on’ from your job and your children ‘boom on’ the question does arise. If I am not my roles, who am I now?

  9. Loved this post, Priska! Just realized I should be tweeting everything you write, but when I tried to sign up for your mailing list, I got “mail list not active” :(

    • Hi Debra,
      Thank you for making me aware that the subscription to my mailing list was not working. The problem has been rectified. Likewise, I’ve subscribed to your mailing list to find out all that I can about being a ‘laterbloomer’.

  10. In my experience I tend to struggle and fight for answers and as soon as I relax and let go the answers come from unexpected places. When I meditate everything becomes clear, questions I hadn’t thought of asking get answered. You have some good questions in this article Priska great food for thought

  11. galenpearl says:

    Very interesting to learn about single and double loop cycles. I’ve lived long enough now to really appreciate the truth of that, and to see my life as much less linear than I did when I was younger. I especially appreciated what you said about fitting these practices into our busy lives. The best advice is inspirational and practical at the same time.

  12. Hi Ciara,
    Yes, those ‘aha’ moments or insights do pop up when I stop trying to find a solution.
    They come to me when I’m out walking the dog, and like you said, I get answers to questions didn’t even ask.

  13. Just finished watching the video you linked to – thank you for introducing me to that phrase (double loop learning) and your suggestions. I think I’ll use some of them as a journaling prompt. But why do you say the process has to be intuitive rather than analytical?

  14. Hi Amit,
    I say that it’s intuitive because when we try and solve a problem through analyzing we usually have a preferred outcome.
    When we use double loop learning we often end up at a better place than we previously imagined simply by beginning to notice things our analytical mind overlooked.
    A little like mindfulness.

  15. Really helpful tips. Not so long ago, I stumpled upon a study about the use of writing as a therapeutic technique (http://www.apa.org/pubs/books/431791A.aspx). And your post fully convinced me to try out the writing cure.

  16. Hello Jack,
    Thank you for letting me know about the book, I’m off to investigate it further.
    I’m glad to have convinced you to try the writing cure.

  17. One ultimate way in which life takes us to a turning point is through the death of a spouse. Journaling is definitely one of the most important steps in moving through that kind of darkness and chaos. I’ve known it all the way (and am recommending journaling to widows). This being said, this is the first time I see the journaling practice described and structured in the way you do it. Very, very inspiring and helpful! Thank you!

    Warmly

    Halina

    • Hi Halina,
      Thank you for dropping by. The death of a spouse is an ultimate turning point. I have not experienced this but have turned to journaling throughout my adult life when it’s taken a turn.

  18. I’m intrigued by the double loop learning. I keep a regular journal of sorts – I call them my morning pages because I started the practice when I joined a group that was studying The Writer’s Way. The 10 steps can easily be incorporated into my morning pages. I like that the steps lead you to ultimately taking action toward those things that have the most meaning for you.

    • Hello Patti,
      When I first started journaling I mainly used it to offload. I think mid life brought about an awareness that I no longer had forever and it was time to lean into a life that had more value.

  19. Just when we think we have life sorted something always happens that throws us a wobbly moment. Re-invention is an ongoing part of life and this article is particularly relevant for me at the moment.

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