Research suggests that people approaching a new decade in their lives are the most likely to make big changes in their life.
Known as the 9-enders (29, 39, 49, 59 etc), those about to celebrate a milestone birthday seem to be at their most contemplative.
Now I wouldn’t say that I’ve been consciously pondering life, the universe and everything in it, but in my 39th year it does seem I’ve made the most significant changes to my life than at any other time.
And I think it’s fair to say that they’re choices that I’ve been making, rather than deciding something based on a set of circumstances.
Life in the fast lane
I’ve heard of people doing all sorts of crazy things as they approach a big birthday. From taking up extreme sports, buying fast cars, making life-changing decisions like a house move, changing career or even the classic ‘mid-life crisis’ of having extramarital affairs and undergoing complete changes in character.
The ticking clock puts pressure on both men and women to achieve all those things they think they’re running out of time for. There’s a feeling that the only way to get a handle on it is to take control by making decisions based on things they feel they might never get round to doing otherwise.
From a personal perspective I’m working on making sure I spend more time enjoying my life doing things and spending time with people. It’s definitely not a material thing, a load of must haves and regrets, nor an excuse for wayward behaviour. I think as I’ve got older I’ve learned to appreciate more that ‘the best things in life are not things.’
A change for the better
It started when I used to watch my youngest child, then five, learning to do mixed martial arts at an academy nearby. I had previously joined a gym and begun to understand just how beneficial regular exercise can be for the mind (having gone through a bout of depression not long before). My teenager had also joined the academy and I was starting to see him change before my eyes.
Then I began to wonder if I could do it. It didn’t look easy but I felt ready for a bit of a challenge.
As the weeks evolved it became more apparent to me that what happens when you allow yourself to try new things is that you accept change.
By discovering you can control more things in life, by developing or honing a positive mental attitude, much more becomes possible.
It’s about being open to change, taking control and not making panic-based decisions.
Are you a 9 ender? Here are my tips to steering your life in the right direction (no fast car required):
- Clear your mind. In the past 12 months I’ve managed to steer my home-grown wedding stationery business in a new, much more comfortable direction because I’ve got rid of unnecessary baggage.
- Eat good, healthy food. I’ve embarked on a complete lifestyle change, from awful processed fast foods to begin a diet suited to my blood type including plenty of meat, fresh vegetables, gluten and dairy free. And it all seemed possible because I let it.
- Take care of your skin. Introduce a good regular skin-cleansing routine using proper ‘grown up’ products – it doesn’t sound like much but it really makes you feel a whole lot better.
- Be mindful. I’ve explored the concept of ‘mindfulness’ – a mind-body approach to wellbeing – and discovered it’s a great way to try and channel your thoughts and focus only on the present, not dwell on the past or worry about the future.
- Age gracefully. Is there a graceful way to age? I’m hoping at this point I’m not going to end up down the classic ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ but more end up as one of those gracious older ladies who people don’t dare to guess her real age. It’s a nice thought anyway.
- Have fun! I’ve recently returned from a 40th celebration, the first of many of my ‘old’ school friends, and decided it’s time to book tickets for a summer music festival, among other things. I’m not thinking about anything else too dramatic but who knows what the coming months will bring.
If a big birthday isn’t reason enough to do these things, then when exactly is? It’s a time to celebrate and contemplate, sure, but let’s turn the crazy, panicky decisions into ones which change our lives for the better. Exciting times ahead…