Last weekend I slipped in the mud while hiking in the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon. I was hiking the “Turkey Path” with my spouse, Joseph. The path is a steep and difficult one-mile descent through a forest, past a waterfall, to the canyon floor. We expected a challenge, especially for the way back up, but we were up for it.
As we made our way down the mountain, I noticed dangerous wet spots on the trail. I was careful and the tread on my hiking boots seemed to grab the ground and kept me upright…until the last one. That’s when, just like slipping on a banana peel, my feet flipped out in front of me
and down I went, with my curvy right hip slowing the fall. Nothing was broken, but it hurt.
Hikers came over to see if I was OK and one, noticing my hiking boots, questioned the tread. “How old are your boots,” she asked. I dunno,” I replied, still a little shaken up. “Probably six or seven years.” But, on the next hike, I ditched the boots and wore new, well-treaded running shoes.Later that day Joseph and I tried to remember how long we’ve actually had what we called our “new” hiking boots. We were shocked to realize that it’s probably been fifteen years. I started thinking about how things wear out or become outdated without me noticing or even realizing.
Do you do that too? Time moves fast these days, doesn’t it?
Suddenly that savvy hairstyle and that you love is outdated. The oh-so-comfortable yoga pants now look like they belong in the donation bag. That special tablecloth that your mom gave you for your wedding is old-fashioned. And your kids have started teasing you when you tell them that story for, what seems to them, the one-millionth time.
So what? You love sharing your special things and your memories.
The problem with doing the same old same old is that you lose relevance. In today’s world, especially if you’re in the job market, relevance is key to your success now and later, for your next chapter.
If you’re starting to notice some staleness in your life, here are five ways to give yourself and your life a breath of fresh air.
- Make a decision about aging. As long as you keep waking up every morning, you’re going to age. How do you want to do it? Do you want to be the wise sage, the in-the-know older woman, or the stereotypical old lady down the street?
- What you decide will influence everything from what you read to how you act.
- Focus forward. You have what a younger woman doesn’t have – history and experience. But neither one will be important if you live in the past and allow your words to drip with age.
- Find a new goal or project, something you are truly excited about doing. It could a bucket list trip, learning a new dance or language, following a long- suppressed passion, or something else. Whatever it is, choose it, plan it and do it.
- Reverse Mentor. Remember when you knew all the latest music, fashion trends and “what’s hot” news. Knowing them made you feel connected and alive, right? Now, unless you have kids or grandkids who will keep you up-to-date and in the know, you’re falling behind.
Reverse mentoring connects Millennials with aging Boomers and GenXers, both in and out of the workplace. Alan Webber, co-founder of Fast Company, explains, “…by the time you’re in your forties and fifties, you’re not in touch with the future the same way the young twenty-something’s. They come with fresh eyes, open minds, and instant links to the technology of our future”.
That doesn’t mean you have to adopt or adapt, but knowing makes a difference. And, in the process, your Millennial mentor has the opportunity to learn something from your experience. It’s a win-win.
- Test and toss. Go through you house, your closet and your jewelry box. How many things have you had for years and don’t even realize they are worn out or outdated (like my hiking boots)?
That broken bracelet you loved twenty years ago? Get it fixed or sell it. That dress that went out of style years ago? Take that to a dressmaker for updating. The broken end table goes to a carpenter. Or have a flea market and sell-sell-sell.
- Practice gratitude and focus on the positive. There’s nothing that says “old” like being miserable. Misery taints your spirit and shows up on your face. If you can’t find anything to be grateful for, you aren’t looking hard enough.
Fifth generation coffee farmer and coffee evangelist, Aida Batlle, suggests this: "Realize what traditions you will need to carry forward but also question what is out there that will help make a difference and achieve new things."
And take in the sweetness of that new breath of fresh air that’s making your life sparkle again.