Thursday, February 28, 2013

Dear Bert,
I'm 42-years old and wake up each day feeling like I've accomplished nothing in my life.  Sure, I went to college, got married, had a son, and have been able to stay employed for the most part.  I own a house, pay the bills each month, and have saved a little for retirement so far.  In other words, on paper I'm sure I look pretty good and most people would say, "What are you complaining about?"  I guess at 42, I thought I'd be a lot happier than I am and now I wonder if this is how I'm still going to feel 5 years from now, let alone 20 years?

Stuck in the Mud

Dear Stuck in the Mud,
First off, don't worry about what other people may say about how you perceive your own life.  They are your feelings, and you have every right to feel the way you do.  Put that aside, and focus on what is making you feel so unfulfilled.  When we are young, we tend to be idealists.  As we get older, we become realists, meaning the reality of having a career, holding down a good job, paying your bills, taking care of your family, saving for retirement and more is what your day to day life is more or less consumed by.

When you entered college you probably felt like the world was yours to conquer and why shouldn't you have?  Well, why shouldn't you still feel that way at 42?  I can sugar coat it and say that you've accomplished a lot already, so don't be so hard on yourself, but the reality is, that's not how you feel.  Something strange happens to us men at 40.  Physically we can see it in the mirror, but psychologically it's even more telling.  We start reflecting more on where we've been, what we've done and forget that there's still a lot of "where are we going" to consider.

The story of your life has not been written.  You are only in chapter 10 of a 20 chapter book.  The question is, how do you want those last 10 chapters to be written and are you going to write them or let others tell you how it turns out?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Dear Bert,
I'm a 47-year old married father of two. I have a good marriage, tolerate my job, but the fact is, life just seems very repetitive.  After 25+ years of work, days and weeks have started to blend together for me and only looking forward to my three weeks of vacation each year is not how I want to live life.  Any advice on what I can do to get out of this rut?

Groundhog Day

Dear Groundhog Day,
You are not alone in thinking life can be repetitive. We all go through days, weeks and sometimes months that can blend together.  The key is not allowing it to turn into years.  We find comfort in being creatures of habit.  Too many of us reach a certain age and think that life is never going to change and "it is what it is."  I hate that saying. Nothing in life is set in stone....other than death and taxes, but that's a conversation for a different day.  You have free will and free will is one of the greatest powers man has.

Sometimes breaking out of a rut can be something as simple as spending your lunch reading a book that you enjoy, instead of sitting at your desk surfing the Internet or catching up on office politics with your co-workers.  Or, put in your calendar 30 minutes each day where you are going to do nothing but plug in some headphones, listen to music and daydream a bit.

I'm sure when you were young, you didn't daydream about paying off your credit card bill each month.  Don't be afraid to be that kid again and dream a little.  Maybe one of those dreams will inspire you to try something new in life?  Make time for yourself, engage your brain in a different way and you'll be surprised how that rut you mention will slowly disappear.