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Balancing Midlife Expectations With Our True Desires

Julie Reinwald

Purposeful Living Expert: Julie Reinwald

We arrive at the midlife marker with preconceived expectations within our own minds, and those imposed on us by others.

Our generation is still influenced by the lasting effects of an outdated, narrower mindset around what women’s careers, families, and retirements should look like. Some midlife women happily embrace their later years by enjoying a gradually slower and simpler schedule with additional hours for activities they could never get to before. Some enjoy their time as grandmothers whose joy is wrapped into family. Or, as volunteers whose days are spent sharing their time and talents. And yet other women are simply not satisfied with those options alone. They have unrealized aspirations which don’t align with a story previously considered to be the norm.

Other Plans:

“It takes a commitment to oneself and to the authentic vision for the life we really want.”

So, what happens when the people in our close circles have expectations for us to fall in line with a former model for this second act segment of life? What happens when we have other plans? It’s possible that we may disappoint one or more family members or friends. This is by not offering to be a daycare provider, or not agreeing to join a golf league with our partner. We may decide we want to relocate to a place that’s far away from our adult children.We may want to embark on solo travel adventures without our significant other. Maybe we want to return to school or begin an entrepreneurial venture. Some goals which minimize leisure time spent with friends and family. Or affects the once-agreed-upon financial plan.

Commitment To Oneself:

At the heart of making these decisions lies a deep level of self-knowledge and self-regard. It takes a commitment to oneself and to the authentic vision and expectations for the life we really want. And it takes a measure of courage to forge a path that may or may not meet with the approval of others. Is this an indication that we have now become self-centered? Are we less caring than our counterparts? Or, is it simply a way to honor personal preferences after decades of prioritizing the needs of others ahead of our own? Ultimately, that is up to each of us to decide.

There is still a human tendency to justify our choices by comparing them with those of others.

Each Of Us Is On A Unique Journey:

The way to debunk presumed beliefs is to be honest, with others and with ourselves. As we women continue to bend the stereotypes, it’s possible that those who always dreamed of having a “traditional” midlife and later-life story will feel added pressures and judgments. Just as women did when they mindfully chose to delay or forfeit careers to be home with their children. There is still a human tendency to justify our choices by comparing them with those of others.

But one of the beautiful discoveries of midlife lies in understanding. Understanding that each of us is on a unique journey to fulfill our life’s desire, dreams, and purpose. When friends and family members accept that we are dedicated to advancing ourselves and our goals, they may just be inspired to look inside themselves and rethink their expectations and their own future dreams as well. We’re stronger and better together when we simultaneously live our own truth while encouraging and supporting others in living theirs.


Julie Reinwald

About the Author:

Julie Reinwald is the author of Design a Magical Life, Leave a Meaningful Legacy. Her early career as an interior designer still influences her style and her brand. But a huge pivot took place on her trajectory when a close family member descended into a years-long abyss of mental health issues, alcohol abuse, and attempts to take their own life. For Julie, the subsequent years would be an all-consuming progression from paralyzing fear and guilt, to acceptance, to healing, to letting go, and finally, to joy. She uses her experiences as a way to inspire and empower others in designing lives of courage, vitality, and adventure, and creating meaningful legacies of hope and love. Join her on the journey on Instagram.