Welcome back to our conversation about the changing nest. Are you ready for what’s next? Here are some life practices to help you as you re-feather your nest for your next season. What makes them powerful is the fact that they are a part of our everyday life.
As I’ve moved through the empty nest in my own life, these have proved invaluable for moving me through those critical times as I have lived my “now” and designed my “next”!
Life practice #1– Bookending your day
Although this has long been a personal practice for me, it has changed greatly over the past few years as I’ve gone through some of these transitions. Let’s talk about what this really is about. Your morning practice is about centering and focus. It’s about getting grounded for whatever the day will bring. This can be a combination of activities – whatever helps you achieve that for yourself. It could be your journal, inspirational reading or audios, physical stretching exercises, meditation or prayer (or any combination of those!). It does not have to take a long time to be effective but it’s what is often referred to as a power hour. I never thought I would get up early for this but now I look forward to it every day.
Your evening practice (the other bookend!) is about letting go of the day and getting ready for what is next. Did you know that a core practice for fighting the dull-drums in life is having something to look forward to? When we end one day by knowing what we have to look forward to the next day, we rest more fully and awake with purpose. It’s easier to start when we have a plan. The most important part is letting go of today and looking forward to tomorrow. Whatever practices help you do that – those should be a part of your evening bookend. This is also a great time for your gratitude practices.
Life practice #2 – Re-Claiming Your Calendar
One of the most detrimental things I found myself doing when my daughter first got married and left the nest was waiting to see when she would need me. I hesitated committing to things until I knew what her plans would be. I was so afraid of not being available if she called or wanted to do something.
Giving me permission to create my life was essential and the first step was reclaiming my calendar. Making commitments and having things to look forward to. Even seeing her! I still remember the first time I had to tell her I had another commitment. It was a really tough moment but one that helped both of us recognize that in giving ourselves permission to experience more, we were in fact giving each other permission to do the same. There is great freedom in trust. If the calendar stays blank, so will our lives. Get some stars on your calendar!
The idea of something to look forward to has even made it into many definitions of happiness. Best-selling author and poet Rita Mae Brown is quoted as saying that “Happiness is pretty simple. You need someone to love, something to do and something to look forward to.”
Life practice #3 – Growing your life by growing you
“In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.” (Eleanor Roosevelt)
Have you ever felt like you are the glue holding everything together? That you’re the stability for everyone else? This is something I hear often. And when the nest changes, here’s a key place where we now start to think about this. When those responsibilities change, we aren’t always sure where to turn in our lives to find a focus, a purpose.
One of the things I love most about my life now is the fact that the decisions don’t feel so big anymore. I used to feel such weight with every choice. Now I recognize that everything is for a season and I’m able to enjoy it more fully. Learning and growing is a big part of that. My learning strategy was always about my profession. Now it’s about me. My life. Who I want to be and how I want to be. As I have grown, so has my life.
The only motivation in life that works every time is this: Progress. So go create some progress. Create your own change. That is going to create your own internal fire and motivation for more.
It’s a core practice that serves us all. Always be learning something. Always be growing. And be deliberate about it. Many people say that they are a “lifelong” learner and that they learn from everyone. That’s great. But also learn something specific. Take a class, a course, sign-up as a volunteer where you’ll learn a new skill. Be deliberate and embrace your inner explorer again!
Life practice #4- Always be expanding your circle!
I’m sure you’ve heard the concept that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. I first learned it from success philosopher Jim Rohn. When we think about how our life changes as our nest changes this is an important factor because in many cases, up to that point our relationships have been by default and defined by our roles versus intentional based on where we are personally growing. What are your current goals? Who are the best people to have around you for that? That is where I started. Those relationships have continued to grow and what is remarkable is that they were the catalyst for other new relationships. As we find kindred spirits, they introduce us to others. By always being open to expanding our circles, we are also expanding our life-scape.
Life practice #5- Make a difference – every day
One of the things that comes up often on the subject of empty nest and changes in the seasons of life is the idea of legacy. What do we want to be remembered for? We think about this as we again start looking at purpose and shifting roles and responsibilities. We begin to think that perhaps our purpose is bigger than we might have once believed or even conceived.
We often see people at this time of their time taking on causes and engaging more in their communities. And that’s a wonderful strategy.
But I would like for us to think about this even more universally and make it a life practice to make a difference for someone every day. The truth is that we already do whether we recognize it or not. Sometimes good, sometimes perhaps not, but we have a choice. If we set a goal everyday of making a positive difference the dividends in life satisfaction we achieve are priceless.
This is also where our example makes a tremendous difference. When our children see us moving beyond the nucleus and seeing beyond ourselves to a greater purpose, we are also encouraging them to do the same. Always remember that your legacy is never about what you leave. It is always about what you live.
Permission – Perspective – Possibilities
Use these life practices to create a life system that will guide you through from now to next. Not once – but every time throughout your life.
As my mentor Jim Rohn said: “We all have two choices: We can make a living or we can design a life.”
These practices can make the difference as you design a life.
Live today like you want tomorrow to be. Live well.