It’s a pretty powerful word. This word has inspired countless men and women to lay down their lives for what they believe in. This world is what our country has been built on. And it is because this word is so powerful that we are devoting this post to what freedom means to us.
Many people would argue that we have to give up some of our freedom as we grow older. We have more responsibilities now. We have a job where people count on us, we have a family to support, we have retirement to save for. There are so many things that we have to do, so it just makes sense that we have to give up some of our freedom.
Well, those of us at The Back Forty have a problem with that belief system. Why do we have to give up our freedom as we grow older? If anything, we should be gaining more freedom as we age, not the other way around.
Regardless of if you currently feel like you’re Failing Your Midlife Experience or if you just haven’t taken the time to Consider Your Purpose recently, we believe that your personal freedom has a lot to do with that purpose.
Wherever you are on your midlife journey you have to believe in your future. Whether you still feel that you need to Free Yourself From Your Past or if you need a reminder that You Are In Control, believing in your future is the first step toward freedom.
Midlife can sometimes feel like a time where nothing new happens and everything bad happens all at once. Your job can start to feel mundane and boring and yet your family life can be changing drastically (or vice versa). So today I am bringing you an A-Z list of words to describe the way things SHOULD be in midlife. If you’re reading through this list and any of these words don’t mesh with where you are in life, maybe it’s time to try something new. Read through this alphabet and let me know which word resonates with you the most.
As we grow older, we often find ourselves thinking, “I can’t do that”. We think this way solely because of our past experiences and this sometimes causes us to act in a certain way for your family or your boss or your friends. Instead of hiding your true self, choose to be authentic by, first, rediscovering who you truly are and, second, showing the world the incredibly unique person that you are.
If you are being authentic, then you should also be bold. Don’t be afraid to show the world who you are and what you can do. Boldly show the world that you have yet to do what you came here to do!
“Throwing yourself on the sword takes Back Forty Boldness, and definitely Back Forty Badassity…and yet, what else do you have to do in the next 40 years anyway?”
At this point in your life, you’ve been around the block a few times, so be confident! You have a unique set of skills that you have been honing your entire life. Be confident in what you know and share your knowledge (and confidence) with the world.
It is important to be determined to reach your goals. After all, you have yet to do what you came to this world to do. Think about what goals you have. Have you been actively working towards achieving them? Or do you find yourself thinking, “one day”, “once the kids are out of the house”, or “after I retire”? I challenge you to commit to a goal and be determined to reach it.
When was the last time you were truly enthusiastic about something? Is there something that you strongly believe in? When was the last time you shared that enthusiasm with others? Remember, enthusiasm can be contagious and if you believe in something deeply you should share your enthusiasm with those around you.
The more we grow, the more we tend to keep our eyes focused on the past. We remember what we know to be true from the past. But we must also remember to keep an eye on the future. The best is still yet to come, and if we keep our eyes on the past, we just might miss it.
Who has time to pretend to be what others want you to be? And, honestly, isn’t it better to be genuine anyway? When you are genuine, you pull others towards you.
They say hope springs eternal. Well, I don’t know about you, but sometimes my spring seems to dry up. We need to remember to always stay hopeful. With each setback, we need to remember that we have these setbacks for a reason and that we will still achieve our dreams.
We have the power to inspire others. We can inspire our co-workers, our family, our friends. The first step towards inspiring others is to be inspiring. Take on life wholeheartedly and never give up. You will achieve whatever you put your mind to and that is the most inspiring thing of all.
Don’t let life get you down; and when it does get you down, don’t let it keep you down. There are hundreds of moments each day that can make us joyful – just as long as we choose to notice them. From the beauty of a sunset to the smile of a loved one, we have so many reasons to be joyful each and every day. No matter how many things may seem to be going wrong in your day, remember to pause and appreciate even the small moments that bring us joy.
You have your own, unique set of gifts and talents that you have accumulated throughout your life. Some of these talents you have chosen to learn and others were forced upon you, but, regardless of how you learned these different skills, you now have this knowledge. Never forget that no one has the same accumulation of knowledge as you do – your unique experiences have made you valuable in a way that no one else is.
“So many of us resist change when we see it coming, and yet there’s nary a one of us that can’t claim some new understanding, skill, capacity, awareness, knowledge or personal improvement on the other side of any change.”
Sometimes we need to be reminded to be playful. Stop taking life so seriously! Go out and have fun! Jump out of a plane, or go to an art show, try a new restaurant. It doesn’t matter what makes you lighthearted and playful – just remember to take some time to play from time to time. Life is too short to be serious.
You have yet to do what you came to this world to do…and you are here to do something meaningful. Think about it. If each and every person on this earth decided to do one truly meaningful thing with their life, how much better would this world be? What are you passionate about? What have you been holding off on doing because you don’t quite believe you can achieve it? Your life is meaningful, and your legacy should be as well.
Everyone wants to be considered noble, after all, who wouldn’t want to be considered moral and good? But, being noble doesn’t mean you are more moral or better than those who surround you. As Earnest Hemingway said, “there is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow men. True nobility lies in being superior to your former self.”
We each have our own voice, sometimes we just need to remember to use it. Be outgoing. Be friendly. Be candid. The more you share your true self with others, the happier you will find yourself.
This is one that I have held strong beliefs about for as long as I can remember. It is so important for you to be passionate about something. Anything really. I don’t care if you are passionate about feeding monkeys at the zoo – just be passionate! When your life is full of passion, it is full of meaning.
I’ve always considered being called quirky a compliment. Quirky is defined as having unexpected traits and I feel that those unexpected traits are often the most powerful. Take a moment to think about what makes you quirky and you’ll often realize that those traits are also the traits that make you the most unique.
Being radical is defined as “affecting the fundamental nature of something”. I feel that when we live our (mid)life to the fullest and prove that our best is yet to come, we are affecting the fundamental beliefs about aging. We are not destined to slow down and get boring as we age and I believe that viewpoint is still relatively radical. By living each and every day of our lives to the fullest, I believe we are all being radical.
Being spirited is an important aspect of midlife (and life in general). When we live our lives being as full of enthusiasm, determination, and energy we are truly living life to it’s fullest.
We are meant to not only survive but to thrive. So many of us just survive in our current situations while waiting for something better. Instead, decide to thrive. What does it mean to you to thrive? Now take the first step towards that.
To thrive in your midlife, you must first decide to plan for the future instead of dwelling on the past.
People who are winning life aren’t just improving their own life, they are also uplifting others. It has been proven that the more you uplift others, the happier you will be as well. People who give to charity and/or volunteer are over 40% more likely to be happy than those who don’t. This statistic holds true for those who express gratitude and help others as well. So do what you can to be happy and remember to uplift others.
Be vibrant. Shine for the world to see.
Be a little wild sometimes. Being the responsible one can get boring, and as we age we are often forced to be responsible more and more often. Not that being responsible is a bad thing, it is actually very important. But sometimes it is equally as important to be a little wild and let your crazy side show. Plan a night out and decide to be a little wild.
I admit it took a little digging to find this one. Xenodochial (pronounced zeena-doh-key-ul) means to be hospitable. Making others feel at home is truly an art. When you can make your friends, family, and even strangers feel as if they truly belong, you are making the world a better place.
I’m always hesitant when it comes to saying two words and those words are “young” and “old”. These definitions are becoming so circumstantial that I cringe when using them. But at the same time, let’s be honest, we are getting older. I believe being young-at-heart is part of what keeps us young even as we age. Remembering to embrace life through the eyes of the young helps us live life to the fullest. Becoming set in our ways helps no one.
Finally, be zealous. Live your life with zeal and passion and it is almost guaranteed that your best is yet to come. You have so much life to live, now go out there and act like it!
“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”
What’s the big deal about starting over?
There’s a cultural stigma that says, if you have to start over, you somehow failed on the first attempt.
Yet, every new day offers a new opportunity to take a new look at what’s in front of us…even if it’s patterns, projects and processes that may been going on for a while.
We recently completed a big push towards a conference that pretty much held our focus of attention and finances for the better part of a year. The conference itself turned out to be a bust. Yet, it was holding onto the regrets, couldas, wouldas, shouldas and other forms of making ourselves and others wrong in the aftermath that impeded moving on to “Next!”
This got me thinking that this whole phrase of “starting over” should not be limited to last-ditch attempts when gasping for air before finally going under. What if starting over were a way of life?
Perhaps it’s the ability to see newly what’s already in motion, to come from “beginner’s mind” even when things have been proven to work (or not), that is a practice we want to develop.
Of course, seeing this in hindsight around our year-long initiative doesn’t change anything in the past. But does anything ever change anything in the past…other than learning and moving on with greater awareness?
There’s only moving forward, and I’m thinking that a good forward-moving strategy is to start over continually…and to be proud of saying so.
An intention to grow invites change. Change invites constant transition. Constant transition invites starting over…again and again.
How empowering would it be if we could all get comfortable with a casual response to the common greeting “How are you today?” with “Great! I’m starting over!”
Where can you choose starting over today…even if nothing is broken?
Where can you choose starting over today…especially if you feel something IS broken?
For this reason, we created The Back Forty Re-NEW-ALL Online Program.
If you’re up to playing big games, you’ll always be in constant flux and transition. And if you’ve been dealt what seems like a blow from life, it’s only because you’re on the disempowered side of the Bigger YOU that this transition is bringing with it.
The Back Forty Re-NEW-ALL Online Program shows you how to turn lemons literally into GOLD (forget the lemonade).
It’s a way of life, and you’ll either adopt a strategy for engaging in it powerfully or you’ll get constant bag-of-brick bruises upside the head that you’ll put all your attention on.
Just like I tell clients around job search and career transition, if you don’t have an ongoing career management strategy, you’ll always be caught off guard.
By learning a strategy to take any of life’s transitions – around relationships, finances, business, health, loved ones, career, etc. – and become more powerful out of them, you set yourself up for unimpeded growth and development.
Behind, back-of, inside-of, and underneath all supposed “bad things” that happen to us there are blessings. We rarely want to look at those in the midst of the muck.
However, by turning our attention away from our victim-ness and onto the unseen blessings, all of a sudden they begin to grow in our awareness and activate our next level of growth.
On the other side of the chasm of transition, there are new territories to be explored and new skills and abilities to be developed.
So many of us resist change when we see it coming, and yet there’s nary a one of us that can’t claim some new understanding, skill, capacity, awareness, knowledge or personal improvement on the other side of any change.
Getting clear on the opportunity to grow one’s curiosity becomes a lucky life gift on the far side of yucky life rifts.
Every change brings with it NEWness: of ourselves and the playing fields we then enter.
Learning to give ourselves the freedom to open up and play again – without the need to have it all figured out – brings a breath of fresh air into what might have become a very standard, staid, and typically normal life.
In The Back Forty, we say you have yet to do what you came here to do.
We all think normal is to be sought after, but if we’re really here to play a yet bigger game – no matter what we’ve accomplished thus far – it will take us breaking normal, taking risks again, and learning to have fun in the process.
“Maybe it’s not always about trying to fix something broken. Maybe it’s about starting over and creating something better.”
When interacting with partners, sponsors, customers, members, and The Back Forty community in general, there is one question that gets asked over and over.
Usually by that point, whoever I’m speaking with knows that our company, The Back Forty, is about making your second half of life your best half of life. So the logical jump is that we are talking about life between the years of 40 and 80. And this common misconception leads to questions like, why do you say midlife starts at 40? What if I’m over 80? What if I’m 37? Why are you putting these strict rules around what defines midlife?
To all of these questions, I say wait just a minute and let me explain.
If you didn’t know this, don’t worry. This phrase is less popular than over 80% of all words in the English dictionary. Like the definition mentions, it was originally used to describe the most remote 40 acres of a farm or ranch and was first used in the 1860s when the Homestead Act of 1862 granted 160 acres of land to anyone willing to farm it for at least five years (thus two front forty acres of land and two back forty acres of land). So, when farmers were too far away to be reached it was usually because they were in the back forty of their farm.
Knowing all of this probably brings up more questions than you originally had. For example, “what the heck does farming in the 1800s have to do with midlife?” Hang in there just a bit longer because it is all about to be made clear.
So, no. The Back Forty isn’t referring to the ages of 40-80. It is simply a complex metaphor demonstrating that midlife is full of even more possibilities than you could ever imagine. Many people believe that once you hit midlife your life gets more predictable. You have a family, responsibilities, a job, you have to save for retirement, or your children’s college…the list can go on and on. We at The Back Forty believe the opposite is true. Midlife is just the beginning and your first half of life was simply research for what is still to come.
Whether you are 35, 43, 67, 92 or anywhere in-between, we believe that the best things in your life are still ahead of you and that you can cultivate your own “back forty” to be full of playfulness, passion, and purpose.
If you would like to learn more about The Back Forty, click the link below to download our Co-Founder’s Top Ten Tips for a Radical Second Half of Life!
Have you ever said, “it’s just not the right time”? I bet you have. After all, with age comes knowledge and some things need to happen at a certain time in order to succeed.
If you take a moment to think about what you have held off on doing because it’s not the right time, you might just be surprised.
Maybe you didn’t go after a job because you didn’t think you had the right qualifications, or you didn’t ask someone on a date because it wasn’t the right time, or even you haven’t written a book because you don’t have the right connections or knowledge.
Here’s the thing about waiting for the right time, it might never come. That’s not to say that if the right time never comes then you can never achieve your goals, it’s quite the opposite. You can achieve your goals regardless of if it is the right time to do so or not.
Often when someone says that it isn’t the right time for something, they really mean that they don’t want to make a mistake. The fear of failure is what is really driving you, not the proper timing.
Pick a goal and go for it! Forget about the right or wrong time and just start playing. Yes, you might get a little dirty along the way but that’s half the fun!
Come back next week for Pro Tip #10 and remember to get inspired, take action, and take risks this week!
Today I bring you some amusement from the past.
Nearly 35 years ago, in 1982, this game graced the board game shelves. Its tagline was “can you survive your mid-life crisis without cracking up, breaking up, or going broke?”
The game was produced in California by The Game Works, Inc in 1982 and was re-released in 1993. According to an article in The New York Times from 1993, the original version of the game sold 700,000 copies. I’m not sure when it went out of production, but it definitely is not easy to find today. It takes about an hour to play, requires 4-6 players, and is only intended for people over the age of 18.
The objective of the game was simply to make it through your midlife with more money, less stress, and fewer divorce points than the other players, and (most importantly) to avoid having to declare a mid-life crisis where you go broke, get divorced, or crack up before the game is over.
To start the game, each player is given a score card and a pawn to place on start. Each player starts the game with a career, $25,000, 500 stress points, and a marriage. To play, each player rolls the die, moves forward the respective number of spaces, and follows the direction on whichever space they land on. Each space can either add or subtract stress points, award or take away money, add or subtract divorce points, or have you use a crisis card or zap card.
An example of a Zap Card:
“PANIC – Your period is late. Go to Doctor and SUBTRACT $1,000 or have the child and ADD 300 STRESS POINTS.”
Basically, crisis cards are things that happen to you and zap cards are things you can make happen to other players. There are also special spaces including career spaces, retreats, and passage spaces.
An example of a Crisis Card:
“Your spouse keeps telling the kids that you are going through the change. Deny everything, talk about personal growth and self exploration. ADD 200 STRESS POINTS.”
When you land on a career space, you must pay the designated amount of money to the player who has that career. Retreats are the 3 big spaces in the middle of the board and they are the spaces you are sent to if you lose your mind, get divorced, or go broke. If you have over 1,500 stress points, you are required to go to Crack-up Ranch for “therapy”. If you get 3 divorce points you have to go to Divorce Gulch to attempt to reconcile with your spouse. If you go bankrupt, you must go to Bankrupt City where you basically become a homeless person begging for change.
The passage spaces are spaces that you cannot skip over. If you roll a 5 and there is a passage space 3 spaces ahead, you must stop there. These spaces make it possible for other players to force a crisis onto you.
The winner is the person with the most money. Each zap card, 100 stress points, or divorce point is equal to $1,000 that you must deduct from your total amount of money at the end of the game.
“If nothing ever changed, there would be no such things as butterflies.”
Things are going to change. Jobs will be gained and lost. Loves will be embraced and released. Businesses will thrive and dissolve. Residences will be moved into and out of. Health, finances, plans, will go this way and then that.
Change is the thing we aren’t naturally programmed for because the internal, stay-safe, survival mechanisms are geared to kick in when “different” shows up.
Let’s say you usually spend all day in an office. Boom! Layoff, and you’re now home. Or you’ve been in a relationship for years. Boom! It breaks up. Or, yes, even those who haven’t been in a relationship for years…Boom! You’re in one!
We can go through the above scenarios for any aspect of life. The question is: how to adapt most effectively.
The first hurdle is the commitment to actually adapt. Many hold onto the old system, pattern, situation like a child attached at the hip to a parent on the first day of kindergarten. We’ve probably all read “Who Moved My Cheese?” and yet a commitment to embrace and adapt to change isn’t always our first reaction.
The second element is to understand and embrace agile. Agile is not only a descriptive of someone nimble and quick, but a term used in the world of software development where the focus is on quick adaptation based on short and regular reassessments of the situation and what is wanted and needed. But they get the product out NOW…not when it’s perfected.
There’s a lot of relevance to this concept for our own lives in The Back Forty. Guess what? Shift happens! And it tends to take on greater seeming impact and significance as we move into the second half of life.
Taking on the agile way in which those in the first half – the 18, 20, 25yr olds – simply play and learn and play and learn some more can support us who have “been around the block a few times” loosen up, commit to adapt, and by God even start to have fun with it!
Giving up the expectation that anyone or anything will stay the same or that, in adapting, we’ll “get it right the first time” allows us the patience to stay on the playing field…with an emphasis on “play“.
Try a new approach? Conduct an experiment? Design a new context within which to hold it all? Any of these can be forward-falling directions to take so as to flow with the shifting winds of life. And falling forward fast is what will get us doing what we came here to do…not waiting until everything is stable.
Where can you bring playful and agile adaptation to changing plans, people and places in your Back Forty world today?
“Success today requires the agility and drive to constantly rethink, reinvigorate, react and reinvent.”
So many people think that they don’t have control over their future once they find themselves in the midst of midlife. We want to change all of that.
The Back Forty teaches that:
“The only way you will ever be able to create your own radical future of play, passion, and purpose is by enabling yourself to have a say over how life will go from here on out.”
– Darrell Gurney, Co-Founder of The Back Forty
Take a moment to think about that. How many times have you caught yourself thinking that you are who you are or that you can’t change the path of your life?
The Back Forty teaches that you have a say over how your life will go. You can control your future, if you just take the time to invest in it. The second half of your life can be full of playfulness, passion, and purpose. You just have to decide that you want it to.
Often when we step off the non-thinking train that’s been running since…
…we started in a particular career that we never left
…we had kids and then spent 18yrs giving them wings
…we began a relationship or marriage that got caught up in the swirl of the items above
…we developed financial security that disappeared in some recession, depression, transgression or repossession…
…there’s a questioning period of what we coulda/shoulda/woulda done had we been more aware and alert. Along with that questioning can come a seeming lack of confidence to step out, take a risk and/or play big again.
The adage “youth is wasted on the young” doesn’t necessarily apply to daring because young folks have no real experience of “failure” yet…and therefore they swing boldly (and sometimes blindly) at balls coming over their plate, making each new swing a learning experience (whether they would call it that or not). They are “daring” if simply by the lack of knowledge of what can and can’t be done.
In The Back Forty, however, there can be so much protective gear weighing us down that our ability to swing is hampered…if we’re brave enough to even get up to the plate again at all. After a few fast balls clocking us in the head or heart, we can become skittish to stretch out and unprotect ourselves for a good, honest swing. Relationships, careers, building businesses – taking risks in all of these can get over-thought to the point of inaction.
For example, having built a home and family in my late 20’s, two-car garage with Mercedes, backyard with hot-tub, and extra room with crib, I experienced the non-thought of simply doing what people do as they get married and settle down.
Yet, within 10 years of such natural, life progressions, a divorced-and-co-parenting relationship had been in place for years, the house was owned by another, and a two-year custody suit was just starting.
I doubt I’m the only one who has seen the “little pink houses for you and me” picture burn to ashes.
In the wake-up call that gets termed “midlife crisis”, however, we have an opportunity to actually begin thinking vs. being scared to move or make a mistake (again).
One new way of thinking is to reframe all of it as having been for our highest and greatest good and to look for and see our evolution possibilities that arose from it. What have I been through that I can help others with? What gifts, talents, abilities, new superpowers did I develop as I went through the crucible and/or chrysalis of all that stuff? How can I consciously use daring to grow and no longer be weighed down by victim stories of what he/she/they did to me?
Perhaps it’s this second wind of evolution – our Re-Evolution – that is the real game to be played in this span of time called a life…and what if, at midlife, it’s only beginning?
The late Alvin Toffler, futurist and author of FutureShock, The Third Wave, and Powershift said:
“You’ve got to think about big things while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction.”
Throughout our day, we are making lots of little choices that we can mostly fall unconscious to. Yet those choices start to add up to a direction we’re headed that – once we get there – we wonder how we got here! The culmination of our unconscious choices only becomes visible above the surface once they’ve built upon themselves outside of our watching.
There are both big and small choices we make every day which it might pay for us to become conscious of…so as to wake ourselves up to why we end up where we do.
For example, I can see a homeless person and feel the sadness of wanting to help but being busy on my way and/or then the guilt of not stopping long enough or giving enough to help them. Or, I can see this feeling coming over me as a choice I’m making and choose a different direction: to give something if I’m so inclined as well as send a silent blessing their way and see them attracting what they need.
Was that just a rationalization? Did I say that blessing just to make myself feel better? Yes, maybe! Yet, at the end of my day, having made those similar types of choices throughout, I will likely have a state of mind that is of better service, liveliness and happy disposition than if I make more of the contrary choices.
We can relate this to Law of Attraction if we want, which says you get more of whatever you think about. Yet it’s really only an active mind-management exercise of conscious directionality during the day.
I faced a big financial decision recently to either wait “until the perfect time” (do those ever come?) to invest in a new home or – with tons of planning and consultation with caring supporters already under our belt, loan approvals assured, and clarity around numbers solidified – to go for it even though we don’t know what tomorrow will bring (who does??).
I realized that, though this was a “big” decision, I make smaller ones multiple times every day as to whether I trust that the Universe is going to keep giving and supporting me or whether I need to horde and cover my nuts (so to speak) because the flow might stop.
In The Back Forty, we have the opportunity to choose what direction we’re going to head – toward aliveness and what esteemed psychologist Erik Erikson calls “generativity” or whether we’re going to head toward safety and what he calls “stagnation”.
We are about generativity…because, IF, just IF have yet to do what you came here to do, how will you do it unless you keep playing bigger than you are now?