Harnessing the power of When

No matter your age, personal reinvention is possible

If you felt – or are feeling – a dip in your contentment in your 50s or 60s, you are living true to life’s timing.

So says author, Daniel pink, in his book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing.

Pink does not subscribe to the notion of a midlife crisis. “It’s a myth, not supported by evidence,” he asserts.

What does hold validity, in Pink’s opinion, is the U-shaped Curve of Happiness, the subject of an increasing number of books (notably, The Happiness Curve by Jonathan Rauch), articles and blogs.

Because the fifties are also known as the ‘empty nesting years’, there is a sense of sadness and loss, a dip in the U-shaped curve of happiness. It’s not a drastic dip, says Pink, but it is noticeable. The good news is that reaching a mid-point of a pursuit signals a change – a psychological alarm is sounded.

What is your clarion call saying, at whatever point you find yourself now?

According to Pink, the advantage at this stage is that there is still time to change – to reinvent yourself. If you have always longed to play an instrument, always wanted to impact your community through strategically volunteering your skills and time, if you have long recognised that you have always wanted to teach – now is the time. You have a carte blanche to reinvent yourself, your relationships and your career.

What to do about that purposeless feeling

Pink advocates finding a mentor, the benefits of which are clear. Having someone who has walked the path help you find or shape your own gives you insight and reassurance that you can take the risk, strike out on your own, take the initiative to heal that relationship.

Pink draws on Buffett’s five-twenty-five principle. First, write down your top 25 goals for your life (personally, I prefer the notion of self-improvement to goals, or Twyla Tharp’s Pledge – never reached, always inviting you to the next adventure); second, highlight the top five and focus on those only until you feel you have achieved them.

Third, decide what you need to say ‘Yes’ to, and, equally important, ‘No’ to in order to achieve these Top Five. Take time to determine this – write it down. This will give you the clear vision (2020 vision?) that will cause confusion and muddled thinking to evaporate.

What’s your ‘When’ horizon?

Finally, can you allow yourself time? Not everything needs to happen now. Will you allow yourself imperfection? Change ‘destination’ to ‘journey’ – you are always growing, learning and evolving. Self-acceptance and serenity may hold the secret to the contentment that you seek.

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