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Patience: Your New Best Friend

April '08

Life transitions require time – and that can be frustrating when you’re a person like me, who loves to complete a project and move onto her next happy creation. But transitions are not minor undertakings. What propels you into any transition, especially at midlife, is the discovery that your life, or some aspect of your life, no longer fits. You’ve outgrown the person who created that life, so no matter how perfect your current life may seem, it’s not the one for you.

For a successful midlife reinvention process, you need to discover who you are now – and that takes time. Then you need to develop a life direction that matches that person you’ve become – and that takes time. In most cases, you’ll need to “try on” a few life directions – requiring even more time. Then select the one that works for you – yet more time. And develop a plan for making the change in this direction to move your life forward- still more time. And then, yikes, more time to adapt and adjust to the new life you’ve created for yourself!

By now you may be getting the idea that any reinvention process will require a great deal of patience on your part – a very unfamiliar kind of patience, if you’re a “get-it-done and move-on” kind of gal. It may be useful to remember that in any transition, and most especially in the big one at midlife, we are dismantling old structures that no longer serve us. These are very familiar structures of mind that were built up and reinforced over decades. So, perhaps, it’s no surprise it takes more time than we might expect to take them down and rebuild in a new way.

A patient attitude and a good deal of compassion are your best friends during periods of transition. I’ve found that thinking of myself as a child just learning to walk is a useful tool. One-year-olds are thrilled with that first step. Then they fall down. Happily, no critical voice in their head comments on their performance, so they get up and try again. With seemingly endless patience they keep trying and eventually succeed. Usually parents and other relatives are standing by cheering them on.

This kind of encouragement is another important asset whenever you are trying to get from “here” to “there.” So if you’re reinventing your life, find yourself some cheerleaders who will lend you support and celebrate your progress. Why not talk with a good friend, or meet regularly with a group of women, or hire a life coach to focus on moving your agenda forward. Most coaches, like me, offer a free telephone consultation, so you can see if the coaching structure and the coach are a good fit for you.

And meanwhile, practice patience as you learn to love the journey!

(S)he that can have patience can have what (s)he will.
–Ben Franklin


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