Life in Paradise on a Shoestring

Navigating Middlescence: Your Midlife Reset From Crisis to Calling

September 28, 2020 Dawn Fleming Season 3 Episode 34
Life in Paradise on a Shoestring
Navigating Middlescence: Your Midlife Reset From Crisis to Calling
Show Notes Transcript

One year Anniversary Episode with Host Dawn Fleming.  Is midlife your turning point towards a brighter future? U.S. Life Expectancy in 1900 was 48, now 80 years. We've been gifted an Entire Adult Lifetime - tacked on to what that used to be. This presents us with challenges, but also many opportunities. Because so many are now living - and working longer, by choice and necessity, a growing number of people are feeling lost and irrelevant.  The rules have changed, economics have changed - but learning how we can adapt and thrive in the midst of these changes is not easy. Dawn shares her vision for Overseas Life Redesign and her Dream Life in Paradise Academy.

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Commercial: [00:00:02] Welcome. You are listening to the overseas life redesign podcast where you'll hear fine, relaxed, and inspirational interviews with people who are really living the dream. I'm Dawn Flemming and attorney turned alchemist and your host for the show

Dawn Fleming: [00:00:43] Hello and welcome to the one year anniversary episode of the Overseas Life Redesign podcast. I'm Dawn Fleming, and I'm thrilled to chat with you today about all that's happened since I launched this podcast a year ago. I can't believe how time has flown. There's so much that has happened in the last year. There are so many incredible stories. I hope you had a chance to hear many of them. And today I'm going to talk with you about navigating adolescence, your midlife reset from crisis to call. This is a topic that I'm really thrilled to bring to you because I've really been working hard in the last year to try to develop programs and courses and topics to really help people decide about their next adventure and where that might be, what that might look like. So I got some really amazing information, came across my email box last week, and I really wanted to dive into this topic. So the title Little Essence is sort of that midlife period, which can be multiple decades now, but it comes from the idea of adolescence. Right? So we're out of adolescence and you go into adulthood and then we go through middle essence, which is basically our midlife. So in the next half hour or so, I'm going to chat with you about how midlife can really be your turning point towards a brighter future.


Dawn Fleming: [00:02:24] When I launched this podcast, I talked about this a little bit in Episode two and the fact that life expectancy has gone up dramatically in the last hundred and twenty years, that in nineteen hundred it was forty-eight and now it's over 80. And how many people are now living to age? One hundred in nineteen hundred. There were only three million people aged sixty-five or over and in two thousand there were over thirty-five million. As a result, we've all been given the gift of an entire adult lifetime tacked on to what our normal life had been previously and how this presents us with both challenges but incredible opportunities. Over the past hundred years or so, life has been seen as having really three age-related stages that focused on work mostly right. It was learned, earn, and retire. The learning period ended usually in the early to mid-20s, are earning period was about four decades and then the retirement stage lasted about a decade. I used to joke when I was in the direct sales industry, we used to talk about the forty, forty-forty plan and that worked 40 hours a week for 40 years and retire on 40 percent of what you couldn't make ends meet with at that point.


Dawn Fleming: [00:03:57] That's really changed things a lot. Now you really need to be able to earn. Beyond that, we have more than a decade of life left, typically after working years, because so many people are now living to be one hundred years old. Most people are working longer by choice and also by necessity. Sadly, a growing number of people are really feeling lost and irrelevant. Our experiences are certainly not what our parents or grandparents experienced, right? They have that that learn or retire period. That was about sixty-five years. So the rules have changed. The economics certainly have changed. But learning how we can adapt and thrive in the midst of all these changes just really isn't being taught. And people are really looking for answers and solutions. So that they can move forward in life. A lot of times people take on staggering amounts of debt to go back to school. I did. I gave up a very successful real estate career to go to law school. And I earned the diploma. I got my license. And then, of course, I discovered that it was a career that I really didn't it didn't fit for me. So and a lot of times what happens to that?


Dawn Fleming: [00:05:27] People get diplomas, but they don't really get the useful, useful skills they need to transition into this new reality that we're living in. And we all know ageism really abounds in our culture that values youth above all else. So despite the fact that it's the longest and arguably the most significant period of our life and it's marked by frequent life transitions, job changes, what have you, most people simply do not know much about midlife, aside from the popular myth that portrays it as the midlife crisis. Right. And we know we're all living longer, but we don't want to just live longer. We need to develop the skills to navigate life's transitions so we can have a great quality of life, not just a quantity, a longer life. We want to be healthy, happy, and to be a valuable member of a loving community. We don't want to just live longer. So longer.


Dawn Fleming: [00:06:42] Life expectancies and job market volatility have made this middle life period, this middle essence, really a maelstrom of constant change and transition layer. On top of that is really an outdated and very depressing narrative on aging. Does this make sense, does any of this resonate? Can you relate to what I'm saying here? I think so. I think a lot of people have really experienced this. So research shows that people largely enter middle life, this middle essence period, really expecting to be at peak performance and being fully educated.


Dawn Fleming: [00:07:27] Right. You've gone through that learning period, but they're lacking the support that allows them to grow and thrive despite all of the challenges and transitions that they will experience. And certainly now after this crazy covid, you're right. I mean, before we are already seeing the middle Essence period marked by a sort of helping the generations coming up, but also taking care of elderly parents and just a lot of responsibility. But this perpetuation of the midlife crisis myth, coupled with a lack of life support and education, is really creating a public health risk. It's the story about what it means to age that is not congruent with real-life experience.


Dawn Fleming: [00:08:28] Can you relate?


Dawn Fleming: [00:08:29] How familiar are you with a midlife crisis myth? Most of us are. But in fact, in the May, June 20 20 issues of American psychologists, there was an article called Rethinking Adult Development New Thinking for New Times, and the authors identified three vital misconceptions about aging.


Dawn Fleming: [00:08:54] The first is that growing older is an awful loss and decline the way sometimes we've let it lead us to believe it is. Adults have more control over their aging process than they think they do, and three age-related losses may in fact be reversible. And there's been some really encouraging and exciting research done on this area.


Dawn Fleming: [00:09:25] Just by changing your thoughts, you can really reverse the aging process. Amazing.


Dawn Fleming: [00:09:32] But these three misconceptions are fueled by these myths like the midlife crisis. But the research shows that in midlife and later there are still plenty of gains to be had. And like I said, mindset really matters. Research shows older people with a positive mindset on aging who felt worthy, happy, and hopeful as they got older, lived seven and a half years longer than those that have a negative perspective on aging.


Dawn Fleming: [00:10:11] So it does matter now. I created the Dream Life in Paradise Academy and the Overseas Life Redesign Brand, and a Facebook group that I invite you to join called Live in Paradise so I could foster a community of minded peers who cultivate, harvest, and share wisdom with each other. I wanted to create a tribe of people who want to live their best life, and a lot of times that doesn't start until mid-life. I know that's true in my case. My goal is to help each of you become better prepared to live lives that are as deeply meaningful as they are long. Wouldn't that be awesome to help you create a blueprint for the rest of your life? And of course, I believe your best life does not necessarily exist in the United States of America.


Dawn Fleming: [00:11:18] So for those of you who may be listening to me for the first time, my background, I'm a non-practicing attorney and I don't know, I lost track of seven or eight-time entrepreneur with over 30 years of experience in setting up marketing, managing and maintaining thriving businesses. I've had an amazing career as an international business attorney, but that didn't make me happy. And as I mentioned, I realized the attorney lifestyle was not a good fit. That career was not going to allow me to do the things that I wanted to do in my life. So I got out of that. I transitioned out.


Dawn Fleming: [00:11:58] I went on to become an award-winning top producer and popular sales trainer in the relationship marketing industry. I did that for two decades. It was a great experience. I met so many lifelong friends, but I always knew that I was destined for more.


Dawn Fleming: [00:12:18] And I'm really excited to be having that more with you here with this overseas life redesign brand. And I have so many amazing things in store in this next year and I can't wait to share those with you. Now, let's get back to the middle essence topic. Aside from physical health and jobs, performance support, society really has not prepared midlife adults with the mindset, skillset, and knowledge. We all need to successfully navigate this very challenging and very long period of life. Now, there are a few obvious resources for those who do want to learn how to navigate life's changes and challenges, areas such as mindset, resilience, psychological well-being, intergenerational collaboration, and navigating the life transitions are some of the areas that we really need help with that are not sufficiently being addressed by traditional educational resources. To be sure, Tom and I have actively sought out and discovered numerous resources to learn and hone some of these skills.


Dawn Fleming: [00:13:48] And I've always been a fan of lifelong learning. But it turns out what we really need is more life learning.


Dawn Fleming: [00:14:00] And I'm going to talk about that when I come back. I'll be back in a moment.

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Dawn Fleming: [00:15:39] Ok, I'm back.


Dawn Fleming: [00:15:41] So let's talk for a moment about the difference between lifelong learning, which I've always been a fan of, and this concept of one life learning that there's been some interesting research that's come to light. I am excited to share it with you. So.


Dawn Fleming: [00:16:06] Predominantly, the focus of lifelong learning has been to support human capital development, and that's a concept really that comes out of H.R. departments, this idea that your greatest asset is your workforce and they call that human capital. And so there's been a movement in corporate America too.


Dawn Fleming: [00:16:30] Promote lifelong learning as a way to increase your human capital, you invest in your workforce to get them the skills, these certificates, that's another factor, extrinsic motivators. So these are whether their grades, certificates, degree advanced degrees. So the focus is really outside motivation. It's upskilling focused, meaning we want to increase the skills of our workforce so that it benefits our company.


Dawn Fleming: [00:17:03] And it's learning to know something. You go learn something and that you bring that that asset, that knowledge asset back to your employer. It's it is work and knowledge-focused and an individual endeavor where you learn from a teacher who's teaching many. So it's absorbing content from a group as opposed to long-life learning, which is in support of human development, overall well-being.


Dawn Fleming: [00:17:42] It's intrinsic motivators. It's the motivation is from inside you. Like there's a calling for you to be the best version of yourself you can possibly be.


Dawn Fleming: [00:17:55] It is personal development focused. It's learning not just to know, but to be to reflect, to discern.


Dawn Fleming: [00:18:06] And it's holistic. It's to benefit the whole person. And it's wisdom focused. So I know with the work I've been doing in the academy that is very holistically focused, it's all areas of our life. Right. It's not just about making money and has a whole segment on wealth philosophy and the idea that we have an abundance of assets and many of them don't appear on a financial statement. Right. We have all of this wisdom in this experience and our values and our integrity and all of these things that are important. And this long-life learning process is really about learning as part of a community with a network, a support network. And in the academy, the model that I use is really a mastermind model. So it's not like I'm the guy that has all of the answers I don't claim to.


Dawn Fleming: [00:19:09] But we've been able to attract this amazing group of people with just incredible amounts of life experience. And the difference between experiences and wisdom is really the reflection process. So being able to cultivate this wisdom and share it amongst the group has been just a phenomenal experience for me. As we focus on this long-life learning, it's really a focus on developing our sense of purpose and meaning by focusing on the positive aspects of aging so that we become more resilient as we pass through these various stages of our life. And as you might imagine, it certainly isn't a one size fits all process. It's not a cookie-cutter. Right. We all have different strengths and weaknesses that are different from everyone else. So as a result, people who don't have the support network are really on their own to navigate their challenges and transitions, really without any guidance or any kind of a roadmap. No one gave us a manual that says this is how you get through midlife in 20, 20, and beyond. There isn't really a resource for that. And like I said, midlife adults are really viewed as fully developed human beings. So there aren't resources. There are very few resources for those of us who want more. But more and more midlife fathers are really feeling that call. It is a calling to rethink their life, perspective, and focus on their own education as humans and their urge to give back and to help others. Current educational offerings simply are not adequate to address this huge need that exists in society today. I want to share with you a quote from Carl Young. Wholly unprepared, they embark upon the second half of life, or are there perhaps colleges for 40-year-olds which prepare them for their coming life and its demands as the ordinary colleges introduce our young generations to a knowledge of a world and of life?


Dawn Fleming: [00:21:47] No, there are none.


Dawn Fleming: [00:21:51] Well, that is not quite true, our religions were always such schools in the past, but how many people regard them as such today? How many of us older persons have really been brought up in such a school and prepared for the second half of life for old age, death, and eternity? Yeah, in his book The Happiness Curve Why Life Gets Better After 50. Jonathan Rush suggests the main reason for the midlife crisis myth is because there's been too little socialization about this midlife period. So the many transitions we experience in midlife and are unprepared to become overwhelming and disorienting to us. I know in my case, in less than 30 years, I've completely started over, changed my life, changed my career, created new lifestyles, and moved to many places where I've literally, you know, one. Not once, not twice, not three times, but four moves to completely new places and the last one, of course, being to a foreign country in Mexico. I've been fortunate to have incredible experiences. I've met wonderful people and I've made lifelong friends along the way. I am an expert at life transitions and navigating change. And I'm not afraid of it. I think that's important. There's a lot of fear around this idea of change. When Tom and I lived in Southern California, we both had very successful businesses until we didn't in 2008.


Dawn Fleming: [00:23:50] But our lives were really a blur. Right. I mean, just we were constantly on the go hustle and grind, wash, rinse, repeat. And we were living a very fast-paced schedule with never enough time. We were making great incomes, but we watched the money flow out just as fast as it came in. Maybe that's your situation or worse with covid. I know a lot of people are in pretty dire straits and that's what happened. We had a financial crash. It destroyed Tom's business. It was not a good experience. So our heart really goes out to people who are experiencing financial devastation here in this 20, 20 covid pandemic. Now, we weren't happy and we hung on for a couple of years trying to wait it out. But when it became apparent we could no longer hang on to our past careers and businesses and real estate, we just simply let go, jump in. The net will appear. Right. You probably heard that saying before. Is it scary? Oh, yes. Yes. But sometimes we wait until our comfort zone is so uncomfortable that we really have to make a move. And I'll admit that we did. It certainly would have been so much easier for us had we known what was waiting for us. But we never do.


Dawn Fleming: [00:25:18] And that's why we need to have the faith in our future, ourselves, and the unseen forces that will, in fact, protect us.


Dawn Fleming: [00:25:28] I may have heard me mentioned before, my undergraduate degree is in anthropology, I love this stuff. I love studying what's happening, the shift in cultures, and how people adapt to changes that come up. But, you know, a thousand, thousands of years ago, human beings lived in tribes of 30 to 50 people. And we had a community and we don't know. Even with modern technology where we're more connected digitally than we've ever been, and yet in so many ways we are so alone. And studies have shown a heightened risk and prevalence of depression between ages forty-six and forty-nine. The growth of suicide is nearly 50 percent amongst the lifers over the past 20 years in the United States. This subject is very personal to me and I am keenly aware of the risks that are at stake here. And we've really seen an uptick in the suicide rate due to cope with the loneliness that is happening. And according to the Centers for Disease Control, the CDC, and this is even before covid, suicide was the leading cause of death for Americans and more than half who died by suicide did not have a diagnosed mental condition at the time they passed.


Dawn Fleming: [00:26:57] And we know suicide is such a painful loss, it's tragic for families and communities, especially when there are no warning signs and the suicide rate jumped 30 percent in the US from twenty-two thousand sixteen. It'll be interesting to see what those numbers look like when 2020 is taken into account rates, up 50 percent and women tripled in young girls 10 to 14. As it turns out, loneliness is not just bad for mental health, it is directly related to our mortality rate. Robert Putnam in Bowling Alone, the collapse and revival of the American community said. As a rule of thumb, if you belong to no groups but decide to join one, you cut your risk of dying over the next year by 50 percent. If you smoke and belong to no groups, it's a toss-up statistically whether you should stop smoking or start joining. These findings are somewhat heartening. We all know it's easier to join a group than to lose weight, exercise regularly, or quit smoking, but the reality of it is loneliness is far more hazardous to your health and quitting smoking or obesity.


Dawn Fleming: [00:28:12] Other research shows the health effects of social isolation and loneliness on the body include higher rates of heart disease, breast cancer, dementia, elevated blood pressure, suppressed immune functions, and poor sleep.


Dawn Fleming: [00:28:27] In a study of lonely and lonely people, blood work revealed that the lonely group's cardiac functions, blood pressure, and hormonal levels mirror those triggered in a flight or fight situation, which, of course, occurs during periods of extreme danger or threat. So we need to be in a supportive, loving community because our attitude about others matters greatly.


Dawn Fleming: [00:28:56] If we perceive other people as dangerous, potentially toxic stress hormones are released and our negative attitudes toward others can actually poison ourselves. A study conducted by CIGNA, the health provider, showed why less loneliness with nearly half of all Americans reporting they feel alone, isolated, or left out at least part of the time, and that fifty-four percent of respondents felt no one knows them well, 40 percent reported lack of companionship and say relationships aren't meant that and that they're isolated from others. We know these aren't good numbers, especially when you look at the dire impact these feelings have on our physical health and also our association's matter. We must choose them wisely and we need to be around people who allow us to feel safe, where we can be our true selves, where we can feel loved and supported without judgment or criticism. Our souls yearn to belong and to be connected to something bigger and to each other.


Dawn Fleming: [00:30:12] A common theme I hear over and over from my podcast guests is how much they enjoy the sense of community they've gained by moving overseas. For some, it's part of being with a like-minded group of people who left their home country. For others, they feel like they are home in their new country because that culture so highly values community and caring for each other. And often the ageism stereotypes do not exist. Elders are valued in many communities outside of the United States. There are intergenerational living situations. The grandparents, their wisdom, and their contribution to the families are paramount.


Dawn Fleming: [00:31:04] It's super important and we need that as we try to navigate this midlife, these midlife decades. It's a long period of time and if you aren't really paying attention, you really put yourself in a position where you can succumb to this loneliness and fear, and uncertainty about the future.


Dawn Fleming: [00:31:30] And it's so bright. There are so many possibilities. I've just been so inspired by the folks that a long sixty three years old decided she wanted to write mystery novels. She's just published the sixth book. It's just is so inspirational. Deborah Kobana Seale was diagnosed with Parkinson's in her sixties, a thirty-seven-year nurse, and is just having this amazing symptom free of Parkinson's because she's found a supportive community and is really enjoying her middle years.


Dawn Fleming: [00:32:08] We grow in most in the midst of our adversity, but we often don't truly comprehend the lessons until long after the difficult time has passed. It's the reflection that turns our experience into wisdom. We all learn lessons in life, but the wisdom is found when you take the time to reflect, to look for the patterns, to see what strategies have worked for you in the past, and to really take a proactive step of planning the future that you want. The possibilities are so many and so bright. I'm so glad you're here and I do hope you become part of our overseas life redesign community. I will have a link in the show notes for you if you'd like to join our Facebook group. I go live every Friday. Freedom Friday with Dawn is my live show, and I share just as much wisdom as I possibly can. I talk about a variety of different topics, but my goal here is to serve those who are looking for a focus and a community during a period of life that demands growth and development and often includes rethinking both our identity and our priorities. I want to create a space for you and the time to explore different and more empowering mindsets while preparing for a period of life that may last as long as your middle years. Our dream life in paradise. Academy members have invested in themselves and it's humbling to see their growth, how they've helped and supported each other, sharing their wisdom, and their focus on long-life earning.


Dawn Fleming: [00:34:13] Thank you for being with me here today. I hope you've enjoyed this talk and I can't wait to hear your feedback. Please do reach out to me and let me know your thoughts and your questions.


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