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A-Z of Midlife: O is for Optimism

October 15, 2009

Optimism3O is for OptimismYes, O is for Optimism – hopeful, cheerful, smiley optimism! Not what you were expecting? Well, after M for Malaise and N for No-Man’s Land I thought it was time to lift the mood, redress the balance and inject a note of positivity.

I’ve yet to meet anyone who could say, hand on heart, that they were really looking forward to being a midlife woman (…. sorry, I still can’t quite bring myself to use the term ‘middle-aged woman’ …. I just can’t!) So I’m well aware that there may be a few raised eyebrows from those of you who think that ‘optimism’ has no place in an A to Z of midlife. But I beg to differ AND the growing amount of research confirms that there are indeed many reasons for midlife optimism. Here are some of mine.

Optimism1Few would dispute that midlife is a challenging time, but fortunately it is also the very time when we realise that a life without challenge is NOT what we want and certainly doesn’t bring happiness. Au contraire, more and more of us are discovering that squaring up to these challenges leads us to discover new and very real opportunities to increase our meaning, contribution and purpose.

Optimism1We baby boomers have never been ones to ‘conform to type’ and we aren’t going to change simply because we reach midlife! Having recognised that the existing definition of midlife no longer serves us, what do we do? We create a new one. Trail blazing may feel scary at times but isn’t it also incredibly liberating… and aren’t we incredibly lucky and privileged to be able to choose a midlife that expresses our individuality, in a way that our mother’s perhaps never could?

Optimism1Even the feeling that ‘time is running out’ can benefit from being viewed through the lens of optimism. That sense of urgency which we experience is usually accompanied by the awareness that there is SO much more left to do. Now, I don’t know about you but I respond best to deadlines and I like to think of midlife as one of nature’s deadlines… a sort of ‘now or never time’ that actually galvanises us into action.

Optimism1If ever there was a good time to take stock and re-assess, then ‘half-way’ is probably it! At midlife we can look one way and see what we’ve actually done, and more importantly, look the other way and see what we still have left to do and be. All this at a time in our lives where we are probably the best equipped we’ve ever been to make decisions and handle change … all that experience and self knowledge, all those skills, strategies and abilities!

All of which to my mind, makes midlife a time of enormous potential and promise. I’d call that cause for optimism – how about you?

Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” Helen Keller

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