By Marisa Peer
I am 56 and after my children flew the nest and left for college last year, my partner of 30 years and I split up. We realized that even though we still have love for one another, we had only stayed together for the sake of the children and have nothing in common anymore.
While the split was a mutual decision, it has thrown me into a bit of a tailspin as I have realized that I have no idea who I am beyond the role of wife and mother and feel altogether a bit lost.
I have also been (unhappily) in the same job for 20 years and feel like I’m stuck in a rut, but it seems too late to go and start something new. I always had a dream to be a veterinarian, but with years of training just to get into the job, I can’t help but think it’s too late.
It seems like most people my age are looking ahead to retirement but it feels like I am having to start all over again before I can even consider retiring. I am thinking of starting my own business, but it seems such a scary prospect!
Is it really possible to start over at 56? And where do I even start? Help, Marisa!
– Freebird, Tucson
It’s never too late to discover your life purpose and change direction. In fact, when your children have grown up and flown the nest, it is the perfect time for you to finally find the time to focus on yourself and look at exactly what makes you happy.
Fifty really is the new 40, and I see so many people successfully transforming their personal and professional lives in their 50s because they have greater time, freedom and life experience to pour into new ventures. However, many are held back by the fear of the unknown, self-doubt, and worries about failing.
What you have to remember is that this fear of what might go wrong isn’t real; it’s just your mind’s way of protecting itself — scanning for any “threats.” Your mind loves what is familiar, which is why it encourages you to stay in the same job for 20 years, as this makes it feel “safe.”
This is why so many of us just continue to coast in life and stick with what we know even when we are unhappy. One of the major causes of depression is failing to follow your heart’s desire — but it’s about having the mindset to find your passion, pursue it with unshakeable confidence, and you really can start over, becoming a success at any stage of your life.
While you might find the prospect daunting, try to reposition it as an adventure. Get clear about what it is that makes your heart sing and look at how you can use that passion to do more of what makes you happy — whether it’s rekindling a long-forgotten hobby or even using that passion as a springboard to a new career.
Start by sitting down and writing a list of all the things you love to do. Ask yourself questions. “What makes me happy?” “What brings me joy?” “What makes me feel energized?” “What skills do I have that I could bring to a new role or business?”
If you’re not sure, tapping into the passions you had as a child between the ages of 7 and 14 can be key to finding where your special skills and talents lay. As a child, I loved to write, and here I am now, a best-selling author of six books. Jo Malone loved making potions out of rose petals as a child and went on to build a hugely successful fragrance empire.
Think outside the box, too. In your letter, you talk about working as a veterinarian but feel it’s too late to start studying again. What about other roles working with animals? How about volunteering at a vets or animal sanctuary? Or why not investigate business opportunities such as pet sitting, dog walking or day care, or training as a groomer or pet behavior expert — all of these are in demand, don’t require years of expensive training, and build on your love of animals.
I have put together a guided meditation specifically on “Finding your Life’s Purpose,” which, I think, would really help you relax and get a clearer vision of where you want to be.
But if you find you are still struggling, I also have a fantastic short course that helps you identify and understand your purpose. It covers the secret of quickly finding out what you are meant to do and what you love to do, then uses my hypnotic audio to instill you with the confidence, ambition, drive and self-belief you need to move forward.
And when you feel any fear creeping in, remember to trick your mind by reframing that thought, telling yourself, “It’s not fear. It’s excitement, and I’ve got this!”
Go out there, be all that you want to be, and good luck with your journey.
– Much love, Marisa