The Nest Is Empty – 5 Steps to Redefining Yourself

Wow, I am quite overdue for a new post, aren’t I? I’ve been so busy with other things that some of the essentials have slid by the wayside. On the plus side, I’m writing this to you in my brand new office set up by my webmaster and husband Jeff. (Hi honey!) Well, ok, – it isn’t a brand new office – it IS a brand new workspace. We took the baby off to college, so I stole his desk from his room and the TV for a giant computer monitor and this is totally nifty. I’ll have to show it to you in a facebook live, which is ALSO way overdue.

The key information in that paragraph was this. “We took the baby off to college.” I’ve written a lot about ADHD and how that has affected me, but I haven’t talked a lot about identity or women’s empowerment. Those are both topics that I do want to shine a light on. I’m an unofficial empty-nester. I say “unofficial” because it is true that the oldest still actually lives in this house. He pays a symbolic amount of rent, comes and goes as he pleases, works full time and goes to school part time. Except for some food, he pays for everything else himself. So for all intents and purposes, he’s a roommate that I know REALLY well. Now that the other one is gone, I hardly know what to do with myself.

I’m not the first woman (or person, for that matter) to have this kind of “lost” feeling once the nest is empty. It is SO common that this is the exact situation I had in mind when I added “women in mid-life” to the coaching line-up. Wasn’t it just yesterday that he was the size of a large doll, spitting up on me while releasing an alarming amount of a foul-smelling substance from the other end? I’m pretty sure it was.

Moms – tell me if you can relate. The night after we got home from dropping him off, my I went to an all day conference, came home and crashed on the couch. My husband ordered pizza while I was out. He woke me up just as it arrived. Once we had it in the house, I was all the down to Mike’s room with the door open when I remembered….. He isn’t there. As a matter of fact, it is likely that most of the rest of my life, he won’t be there. That was a harder moment than dropping him off could have ever been.

But I’m actually pretty lucky, I’ve had my identity crisis already, and am very far along the path to knowing who I want to be for the rest of my life. Most of us aren’t so lucky. Suddenly the role we have played for literally half our lives ….. Just doesn’t exist. Ok, yes, we are still and will always be MOM, but it won’t be the same. I’ve spent 18 years getting HIM ready for this moment, but that doesn’t mean I’ve been spending that same about of time getting ME ready. No matter how well I had thought I had prepared myself, I don’t think I could have ever been READY.

So now we are left asking ourselves, now what? I’ve already decided, but if you haven’t – here’s what I recommend.

Redefining Yourself After a Transition

  1. Decide the requirements of your new life. When I say this I don’t mean “I want a gazillion dollars” kind of requirements… I mean the things are are SO essential, that you have no intention of ever going without them again. I will share mine so you have an example, but you should not use mine, only you can decide your requirements.  I have no intention of ever again having a field of work where I feel I have to compromise my integrity or value systems. Damn it – I’m the one who has to sleep at night! I will NOT do it. I have to make a comfortable living. I don’t need to be rich, but I do need to keep a roof over my head and food on the table without worrying about where it will come from. (I’m not saying rich wouldn’t be ok too!) I want to make a positive impact in people’s lives. When I made the list I still did not know what form that might take, only that it was one of three imperatives. Three things I WILL NOT COMPROMISE ON.
  2. Now that  you know what you won’t compromise on, take the next step. Think back through your life. What are the situations that had you really jazzed and ready to go? What really excites you? What would get you out of bed every single morning? They can be personal or professional, for this exercise, it doesn’t matter. Try to get at least three, more is better in this case. For me it was when I was working in radio and had to get onstage in front of a crowd before a concert. Working that crowd really is one of the things I liked most about it. (And it wasn’t always that way, but that’s a different post.) When I worked in news, it was breaking news where we had to put it all on the line and try to get out the information that people needed to know and do it under adverse conditions and in a very short amount of time. Another thing that can give me that feeling – Warm spring day, jeep open, radio up very VERY loud with some angry chick rock. Usually Pink, but not always. I’ve got the jeep hair- don’t care thing going on, and I’m singing along as loud as I want. Badly. Yes, sorry, not sorry, I am, indeed, THAT girl.
  3. Ok so now you have your list of things that get your blood pumpin – What’s the pattern? What is the one thing that runs through all of them? Mine are pretty obvious. I like adrenaline, and I like to “perform” in some way. Yours might not be so obvious. You might have to ponder it for several days. But trust me, there will be SOMETHING.
  4. You have your something. Now make a list of as many ways as you can to put that something to work! It doesn’t have to be a career. Maybe it’s a volunteering opportunity. Maybe it’s joining the community theatre. My list was pretty long. I also did some personality assessments for good measure. You know what came out on top? Get this – Therapist. Weeeelllllll, now here’s the thing. In most states you have to have a masters degree to get a licence. It would be a lot easier to get that master’s degree to be a therapist if your undergrad is something remotely related. Mine is not. Starting my education over at 47 did not appeal to me as an option. But do you know what is as close as you can get to being a therapist without practicing therapy? Coaching. How would someone add a “performance” aspect to that? Public Speaking.
  5. You’ve got your answer. Now take the first step! For now, if you’re scared, take only one. Remember baby steps forward are still steps forward.

If you get stuck, call me. That’s what coaches are for! Coaches are for getting you unstuck. I hope this little piece of advice can provide some value for you. Let me know how you handled redefining yourself in the comments below.

Now I’m going to go wrestle with a post about the other reason it took so long between that last post and this one. It won’t be pretty, but I promise it will be authentic.


Until next time, take care of yourself. Really.