End of the Story
Do you ever open up a book and after reading the beginning, skip to the end of the story? It’s tempting at times, especially when there is so much suspense and you want to make sure the hero or heroine lives! It’s a vivid illustration of how we can write much of the end of our story, even though there are so many unknowns. There is a lot of life to live, but when all is said and done, what story will be told about your life? Mid-career and the halftime of life is the perfect time to rethink your story.
I just finished listening to the audiobook The Nightingale and it starts in 1995 with an old woman booking a trip to Paris. She has lived in the U.S. for a number of years and has put all that happened during the German invasion behind her, even keeping it from her son. The book then flashes back to a riveting story of two sisters in World War II. All the while, I’m wondering which sister it was that traveled to Paris, as I knew the other one probably didn’t make it through the war. I didn’t find out until the end of the story.
There are many books where I don’t make it to the end of the story. This is because the authors have either leaned on repetition that wasn’t needed or I’ve just lost interest. I don’t want that to be said about my life. Living a productive, fulfilling life that is interesting and moves forward is how I want to approach the end of my story. To do so takes persistence, focused vision and a positive mindset.
How Do You Want Your Story to End?
Wouldn’t it be great if we could all plan how our story will end? My father-in-law just didn’t wake up one day. That was it! But he lived the last five years of his life overtaken with dementia that robbed him of most of his memories and mental abilities. I’d love to just not wake up one day, but I can’t imagine anyone would look forward to dementia.
Unfortunately, some people end their life tragically because they don’t want to face the end of their story. They’d rather end it early. That is a tragic decision. For all of us, even though we don’t know the complete end of our story, we can still take advantage of every moment of time we have to continue writing our story.
I am inspired by those who have written their first book in their 80’s. Peggy Rowe wrote Vacuuming in the Nude when 84. It’s a group of short stories. They’re delightful! She wrote her first two best-sellers after the age of 80! She is Mike Rowe’s mom, and is one of his most popular interviews on his podcast, The Way I Heard It.
The definition of persistence is to keep going even through difficulty and opposition. When I compare our generation to the generation of my grandparents, it is hard to see many similarities in the work ethic with the sheer grit it took to carve out a living at that time. My father built his first house out of scrap wood he gathered at the junkyard. There was no money to just go to a store like Home Depot and gather supplies. In fact, there were no Home Depots at that time anyway!
For those who have fought for our country, I appreciate you for your sacrifice and service. Those who have served in this capacity probably understand more than most what it takes to get through difficult circumstances. Also, our first responders. When lives are on the line, you step up. That’s the kind of persistence that makes a difference and will make a difference in our everyday lives. Don’t give up! Simple, but impactful.
We hear much talk today about purpose. There are multitudes of training courses around the subject. If you do a search, you will find plenty of online courses and material available, all with an emphasis on purpose. Purpose and vision are very similar, though vision is usually defined to represent more of the big picture. Focus can be applied in very simple ways and the small increments and principles will then apply easily to larger aspects of life. (See Tiny Habits)
I recently brought our granddaughter one of my Focus Timers. It’s a simple egg timer that I’ve branded. Even though I don’t take private students any more, my granddaughter is just turning nine and is at the perfect age for taking piano so I’m teaching her and the timer helps her in her practicing. She’s also now using it help her finish her schoolwork. Even our son said he said a timer would be helpful for him when doing a project, especially when he ends up going down a rabbit hole of distraction. This is a very simple tool or gadget that can help establish a good habit and focus. I spoke about it even in my first book, Stuck is Not a Four Letter Word. It works!
For our lives, it’s important to take a step back, at least once a year (I suggest quarterly) to evaluate your core values which will help you stay focused. Are those values still at the heart of how you spend your time and energy? Today, with the possibility of increased longevity and medical advances, retirement looks different than it did from past generations. In fact, you may officially retire from one job, but now develop a business in an area you’ve always dreamed of. Or you could start volunteering for a worthy organization. So many possibilities. This is meaningful and significant work that doesn’t have to end.
Three: Positive Mindset
Some days it’s good to not look in the magnifying mirror. The added wrinkles, folds and rolls in places that make our midsections less than attractive aren’t easy to face. But our focus should be on much more than the physical.
Our self-talk is a big part of setting a healthy mindset, but also very valuable are reflection and meditation. Some people have a difficult time looking at their own life because of past events that have brought embarrassment, shame or fear. For those in this camp, it is not too late to change, to regroup and to reinvent. Be honest and brave and get the help you need!
What drives my mission at this stage of my life is seeing those who have valuable skills, experience and even resources who are sitting on them. Our world needs your voice, especially if it’s logical. If you look around us, common sense seems to be all but missing in many areas of our society. My family, many from the south, used to call it horse sense. This phrase is often first attributed to American writer James Kirke Paulding, who wrote the novel Westward Ho! In 1832. Then in 1870, New York Magazine The Nation further explained it. Horse sense referred to those with intellectual abilities that surpassed others in practical wisdom. In other words, simple common sense! You have that, especially if you have lived through challenges and situations where you’ve needed to make tough decisions. Use it!
Applications for Writing the End of Your Story
Take care of yourself. The better you take care of yourself, the better chance you can care for yourself for a longer period of time as the years pass. Though there are no guarantees! Keep your mind and body active with regular exercise, reading and social activity. Also beneficial is taking small mini-vacations, even one or two nights in a different location. Part of taking care of yourself is also getting your financial records in order. Don’t ignore this step and leave a mess for others.
Maintain a strong purpose aligned with your core values. Review how this applies to you often and evaluate your life, activities, business and lifestyle accordingly. You don’t have to be overly-busy, just moving productively which adds to positive mental outlook. Find something you really enjoy doing. It also makes you fun to be around.
Fill your mind with positive messages. For some, this may mean turning off the news. Our world is full of opinions passed off as journalism and the negative messaging will pull us down if we let it. Find publications that keep you updated, but also look objectively at situations with as little bias as possible. Not easy!
Take small risks. Many are afraid to take a risk at all but taking a small risk with a bit of courage will add confidence and a feeling of achievement, which is healthy! Risks can be applied in numerous areas as relationships, moving to a different state or country, starting a side business. (Free: Side Business Template) The list is endless. Find what will work for you. Then start.
The end of the story doesn’t have to end in a basement, like the story of Nicholas and Alexandra in Imperialist Russia. (see Tsarina the Musical) Your story can end positively, with significance, satisfaction and impact. Don’t quit too soon!
Our world needs your voice, especially if it’s logical.
Thought Leader, Keynote Speaker, Author
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