By Tina B. Tessina
In your lifetime, if you are forty or older, you have gone from dial telephones to smart phones, typewriters to computers, and the Internet has evolved from a primitive, private network for computer experts and scientists to video calls, Social Media and shopping on the Web.
In the workplace, jobs that require travel, telecommuting, and working on tablets and smart phones are now commonplace. Keeping up with the rapid pace of change we live in today (perhaps even defending yourself from it) requires a new kind of decision-making. In addition to keeping up with the technological evolution, you have responsibilities to meet at home, on the job, and in your personal life.
If you feel overwhelmed at times, and find that you simply can’t find the time to devote to looking at the big picture, you are not alone. When you focus on the day-to-day details, you forget to plan ahead, to anticipate change, and before you realize it some neglected aspect of your personal or family life is in crisis. It’s time to stop briefly and take a look at where you are at this mid-point of your life span. If you spend a few productive hours re-evaluating where you are and where you’re headed, you can create a much more satisfying, productive and fulfilling future for yourself and for those you love.
Successfully re-creating and reinventing your life at this point involves several crucial factors:
1. Future Security: Planning a secure future for yourself, if you have not done so already, is essential now. This, involves getting appropriate financial advice and managing your money, something women and men “of a certain age” often feel unprepared for. But money isn’t the whole picture. Making sure your lifestyle, habits and attitudes are consistent with maintaining your personal health and well being is crucial to making the coming years feel like a reward for all your hard work.
2. Changing Roles. About this time in your life, you see shifts in your family’s needs. The generation following you is growing up, and the generation before you is getting older. Your own generation has reached the point of maximum responsibility. Many forty somethings find that just as they are being relieved of some of the responsibility for their children, they are taking on a burden of caring for aging parents or grandparents. Both of these factors impact your family decisions and your personal life in profound ways. The gift this stressful period gives is learning to handle all these changes successfully and effectively, keeping your life in balance, or perhaps achieving that balance for the first time. It also focuses you on your own long-term future. What will you do when you retire, or reach the age of your parents?
3. Satisfaction. After many years of being a responsible, hard-working adult, and (especially for many women) focusing on taking care of others at home, at work and in family relationships, many men and women find that they don’t know what they want for themselves. It’s time to learn how to make the decisions that create the enriched, satisfying experience you always hoped your life could be. When you do, you’ll discover what satisfaction means for you, and how to re-focus your life to create more of it.
4. Enjoyment. Your ability to take pleasure in life, to “lighten up”, to find the fun in a simple moment, may have been suppressed over the years. For some of you, re-connecting with your light-hearted self may simply require an attitude change, for others it requires major decisions to simplify and re-focus your goals. Or, it could be some combination. You can learn how to make the decisions that free you up to have more fun.
When you use smart decisions and self-awareness to shape your life, it will reflect your deepest aspirations and your fondest dreams. The decisions you make determine the quality of your life, but you may not be sure which decisions are most important in your life, or how to arrive at the best decision.
The Ten Smartest Decisions focuses on ten decisions that are most frequently needed by people in mid-life and later. In the book, you’ll learn how to decide to:
1. Make your life your own. Decide to re-decide. Re-examine your goals and dreams. Don’t just assume that what you wanted yesterday is still right for you. Have your goals and dreams changed? Give yourself the freedom to decide today what you want your life to be about.
2. Make your job a joy. Decide to revitalize your career, or try a new one. Ask yourself if you’re really happy and stimulated with your work. If you’re not, or if you feel unappreciated or frustrated by lack of advancement, consider a change. Understand the corporate agenda and be realistic about advancement opportunities at your present job. If you feel you need a change, you may be able to move to a different position or department within your company, or you may want to look for a new job entirely. If you stay at your present job, ask for raises and promotions, if you feel that you’ve earned them.
3. Take it to the bank. Decide to secure your financial position. Get out of debt, keep yourself on a budget, invest your money wisely and keep abreast of your financial situation. Many women allow their partners to take care of financial matters, only to find themselves unprepared if they become divorced or widowed. Remember, financial stress is one of the greatest stressors of all.
4. Why are you here? Decide to create meaning in your life. Identify the purpose and meaning of your life and define why you are here on earth. When you understand your purpose in life, losses are easier to bear and all other decisions are easier to make.
5. Share your bounty. Decide to give something back. Donate money or put your talents, skills and experience to use by volunteering for causes you care about. People who volunteer have been found to be happier and healthier than those who don’t. Remember that charity begins at home, so give to your own family, friends and neighbors.
In the book, there are ten chapters, one for each of the Ten Smartest Decisions. In each chapter you’ll find tools and information to help you make the wisest choices regarding these crucial aspects of your present and future life.
Here you’ll find out how to evaluate your choices in all these areas and how to make decisions you can trust are the right ones. You’ll also find exercises and guidelines to help you with each decision and helpful illustrations from the stories of the women introduced previously. Sharing this information with friends and family members will help you open up topics that need discussion and cooperation.
As you face all the changes, new opportunities, and new choices of this part of your life, the information here will help you feel more secure that you are considering all the necessary issues and making the smartest possible decisions.
I offer the book in the spirit of sharing the experience that years of living, working, and counseling have taught me. Life requires different decisions after forty, and often even a whole new perspective. Here’s how to evaluate your life as it is and as you would like it to be. As you learn to make and implement these decisions, I know you will soon see the benefits and results of taking control of the rest of your life.
Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California since 1978 with over 30 years experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 13 books in 17 languages. Dr. Tessina, is CRO (Chief Romance Officer) for LoveForever.com, a website designed to strengthen relationships and guide couples through the various stages of their relationship with personalized tips, courses, and online couples counseling. Online, she’s known as “Dr. Romance” Dr. Tessina appears frequently on radio, and such TV shows as “Oprah”, “Larry King Live” and ABC News.