I Don’t Know What to Do With My Life Now That My Kids are Gone

I Don’t Know What to Do With My Life Now That My Kids are Gone

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 I Don't Know What to do With my Life
I Don’t Know What to do With my Life

It’s almost a cliche that one of the female midlife crisis stages is “I don’t know what to do with my life.” The beauty of motherhood is that it provides an instant purpose and focus to your days.

There are car pool schedules to join.

Afterschool activities to race to each afternoon and early evening.

Dinners to get on the table each night.

Weekend games to ferry kids to.

Then one day………….poof! They’re gone!

Losing one’s purpose can bring up feelings of, “What’s the point of living?”  A new aim in life can give you the fuel to create a reimagined life.

Your goal is to figure out a new life mission. You know who you are with the kids, now you need to figure out who you are without them.

It will require time, focus, energy, courage, and some soul-searching, but if you take this journey you are likely to create a life you love.

Be Where You Are At

stunning beautiful and self confident best aged woman with grey hair smiling into camera, portrait with white background
Be Where You’re At

In this video on finding your purpose, Eckhart Tolle mentions that you must align your life with the present moment. This is key to much of the angst experienced by most moms facing the empty nest. We don’t like where we’re at and the universe is screaming-”be here now!” 

Trying to stuff feelings down never seems to go well. So if you find yourself in this place the first step is to allow yourself some quiet time and personal space to sort through your feelings. 

You might be excited, confused, ambivalent, sad, depressed, or anxious. There are no right or wrong feelings. There are merely healthy ways of dealing with feelings and not so healthy ways.

Once you are comfortable with the space you are in, it is time to assess the situation. You’ve enjoyed a ready-made purpose that is changing. It’s time to ask-What’s my life’s purpose now?

I Don’t Know What to Do With My Life

Life is best lived inside out. Another way of saying it is that happiness is an inside job.

Beginning a project to find a new purpose can feel overwhelming. In order to dial down the sense of overwhelm, remember that you don’t have to figure out your entire life right now. 

You just need to follow your curiosity and let it take you to your next step.

Tell The Voices in Your Head to Shut Up

Yes, you need to tell the voices inside of your head to just shut up! That might sound harsh, but so many women struggle with racing thoughts. It’s the reason so many of us are plagued with insomnia or anxiety. 

We just cannot stop thinking about what we’ve done, what we forgot to do, what we still need to do, and I could go on and on. We excel in the fine art of getting sh&! done!

What we don’t do so well is be in the moment and be present to what is going on in our inner life. If you want to become a calmer, happier, and more focused person, the best new habit you can adopt is meditation

A daily twenty-minute meditation practice can do wonders for your soul searching journey. You will find that it helps you to access the dreams that you have for the next part of your journey.

You Need a Vision Board

Sometimes I think we’ve forgotten how to even know what we want. To begin with, let’s try to remember your future. You know -the one you always wanted before your limiting beliefs and the wants and needs of others took over.

Lots of self-help gurus say to “write down your dreams,” but what do you do when you can’t remember them?  Chasing your dreams begins with a vision board.

Grab some magazines and a poster board. As you look through the magazines, you are seeking images that represent what you want to do, what you want to have, and what you want to be

If you cannot find enough images to cut out of the magazines, consider using a  free stock images site to download pictures, print them, and then use on your vision board.

Alternatively, these two resources can help you create an inspiring vision board:   how to create a vision board and a Vision Board Clip Art Book.

Until I Write It, I Don’t KNOW It

Have you ever noticed that, until you write down your thoughts, you are not always consciously aware of your them? 

To test this hypothesis, consider keeping a journal of self-exploration. You will be surprised by the thoughts that come out in your writing. 

Thinking “I didn’t know I thought that” or “I didn’t know I even wanted that” is common. Give it a try and see what treasures and tidbits you unearth.

The Four Quadrants of Purpose

Where are you likely to find your life’s purpose?

If you draw a mind map, the answer is likely found in your relationships, career pursuits, hobbies, or interests (causes). For instance, up until now you probably found your greatest purpose in the motherhood role. Now that the role is evolving, you find yourself flailing a bit.

Invest in Your Relationships

Low angle portrait of cheerful mature woman embracing man from behind against clear sky
Better Relationships

Where are you likely to find your life’s purpose?

If you draw a mind map, the answer is likely found in your relationships, career pursuits, hobbies, or interests (causes). For instance, up until now you probably found your greatest purpose in the motherhood role. Now that the role is evolving, you find yourself flailing a bit.

Invest in Your Relationships

To expand on the relationship quadrant, some may be caring for aging parents and elder care certainly provides one with a sense of purpose. Also, dedicating yourself to maintaining a strong marriage or finding a new life partner (if single), is certainly an important purpose.

If you are a married person, this is the ideal time to renew your commitment to your partner. Sometimes the relationship gets put on the back burner and grows stale in the frenzied pace of raising a family. This is your chance to reconnect and rebuild for the next season of your marriage.

After all, if we do not have strong connections in our lives, we are unlikely to be fulfilled. Do you have a circle of five or more close relationships (other than your husband and kids)?  If not, part of your purpose is to meet new friends. 

How do you meet new friends?  Well, you have to leave your house. I know that watching Netflix and scrolling through Facebook is fun, but we are looking for friends IRL (in real life). 

Here are a few suggestions for meeting friends:

  • Join a faith community (show up to weekly activities, not just Saturday/Sunday)
  • Check out meetup and join some groups
  • Start a book club (invite friends to bring people you don’t know)
  • Volunteer for a cause you care about
  • Call up an old friend you lost touch with and reconnect
  • Give back and volunteer in children’s organizations
  • Go back to school for a degree or certificate
  • Take a class at the local community college to pursue a new interest
  • Join networking groups
  • Join a sports team
  • Go to the gym

Pursue a New Career

Maybe you’ve been a stay-at-home mom for a number of years and are wondering -now what? Although one can certainly find a purpose in volunteer pursuits, maybe you prefer or need to get paid for your labor.

One place to start your search is to read this list of good second career choices for women. The list provides ideas for every required level of education. Don’t have time to pursue an entire new degree?  There are options requiring just a certificate program.

You might find that you are already employed, but just not enjoying it anymore. Are you burned out?  Under-employed? Simply over it? 

Often, we’ve made choices to pursue mom-friendly gigs at the expense of our professional fulfillment. Now is the time to pursue some of the things that have always interested you.

What about starting your own business?  Whether you want to find out more about starting your own blog or opening a brick-and-mortar business, many Second Acts include entrepreneurship. 

You Need Some New Hobbies

Hand drawing on white paper
Find some new hobbies

According to the dictionary, a hobby is “an activity done regularly  in one’s leisure time for pleasure.” The two key words there are “regularly” and “pleasure.”  To get the most out of a hobby you must do it on a fairly regular basis and you must enjoy it.

These might seem like obvious points, but let’s dissect the idea a bit, shall we?  Assuming your hobby is best done in the company of other like-minded people, familiarity is the backbone of friendships.

 If you really want to build connections, you have to keep showing up. This is why playing on a sports team is so effective in promoting friendship. The weekly practices and games provide plenty of opportunities to build familiarity and spur friendships.

As for pleasurable activities, maybe you used to really enjoy scrapbooking, but now you don’t enjoy all of the paraphernalia that goes along with that hobby. You don’t have to stick with hobbies you no longer enjoy. You can find a new one.
Your hobbies are most likely to help you find a new purpose if you are doing them regularly and having lots of fun doing it. If you are feeling like you need to shake off your midlife funk and find some new options, the ultimate guide to good hobbies for women might prove useful.

Interesting People Have Interests

Aren’t hobbies interests?  They can be, but maybe not.

Interests are “the state of wanting to know or learn about someone or something.” 

You need to have something to talk about. Some people have such a wide variety of interests that they are never at a loss for words. These are the people who you look forward to talking to at a dinner party.

So start brainstorming. What have you always wanted to know about?

Many regions have great access to community colleges or extended education. Check out the course catalog and see if any are of interest.

Depending on where you live, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute might be near you. These are courses for people age 50+ taught at universities on a specific topic. For instance, a recent catalog had classes on The Wives of Henry VIII, the Presidency of Andrew Jackson, Mindfulness, Decluttering, Living Forever, and 25 Paintings to See in Your Lifetime, just to name a few. The best part is that there are no tests, no grades, and no homework ever!

If intellectual pursuits don’t provide a spark, what about a cause?  What issue gets you riled up? Is it a political issue? Social issue?  Religious or spiritual issue? If you keep thinking, “Somebody ought to do something about that,” maybe the somebody is YOU.

During the years our children pass through school and community organizations, we see so many needs. Often we wish we could get more involved, but our time is absorbed by child rearing and trying to make a living. 

But, now you have some extra time. Did your son benefit greatly from the Boy Scout program?  Did your daughter learn countless lessons from her involvement in club volleyball? Are you grateful to the teachers who volunteered weekly to teach Sunday School?  Maybe you can repay the favor and give back by investing in the next generation.

This season in life is a gift. It’s a chance to explore all of the things on your To Do Later List. 

Did you ever make a To Do Later List?  This is the list you make when your children are three and six-years old and your days are consumed with picking up the cheerios off the floor and cooking one meal after another. 

“I don’t know what to do with my life” is about to become a thought in your past.

You dreamt of a time when you would have time to DO STUFF again. That time is now.
Join our Act 2 Mom Facebook Community to network with other women that are finding a new purpose and creating a Second Act that is dazzling, delightful, and fulfilling!

Finding a New Life's Purpose
Finding a New Life’s Purpose

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