How To Handle The Passing Of Time Gracefully

There’s more sand on the bottom of the hourglass than on the top.

The days before us are less than the days behind us.  

We’re on the back nine.

There are many ways to acknowledge we’re getting older and the mounting pressure we feel to create the lives we’ve always dreamed of. 

We know our days are numbered, and we desperately want to step into our dream lives right now, this instant. 

We’ve climbed our professional mountain and achieved that definition of success, but our priorities and desires are changing. 

We feel the deep pull towards a life of purpose, service, and meaning, and we’re ready to do something that fulfills us beyond a paycheck. 

We’re ready to stop chasing externals for our happiness, and we’re ready to create our next mountain.

But how many of us know what that next mountain is?

We want the dream but don’t know what the dream is. 

One of my clients has a great way of expressing this midlife conundrum,

“I want it all. I want it now. But I don’t know what “it” is.”

To me, this captures the essence of our mindset in the first half of our lives (I want it all. I want it now), coupled with the uncertainty of what our second half will be (But I don’t know what “it” is). 

When I was released from prison, I wanted to shoot myself out of a cannon

I wanted to chase all the ideas, have all the conversations, sprint after opportunities, and achieve all my goals. 

I wanted, desperately, to summit my next mountain. 

Not later, now. Like, right now.

I wasn’t alone in my desire; it’s a common trait among the formerly incarcerated.

And so I hit the ground running, trying to do all the things, chasing my “it.”

I was a kitten in a laser tag game, darting to and fro, expending tremendous energy, yet creating nothing of value.

As we enter our second half of life, it’s no different. 

We feel we’ve “wasted” our first half, so we want to rush into our next chapter. 

Our “it,” whatever that may be, and it’s as unique to the individual as the individual is unique, isn’t something we chase or rush. 

We create it over time with intentional and meaningful action, not chasing, not darting, not expending a tremendous amount of energy. 

To create the lives of our dreams, we must accept this terribly frustrating paradox of time:

To get where we want to go faster, we must slow down.

Shooting myself out of a cannon after prison led me nowhere but to burnout, confusion, and frustration. I decimated my self-worth under the weight of shame, for, 

Not being where so and so is.

Not “figuring” it out already. 

Being a loser.

One day, I had enough. I was tired of chasing, so I stepped off the mental treadmill and slowed down. 

The time pressure was still there, but I had given myself what I said I was ultimately chasing, a sense of peace and freedom. 

As I write this, I feel the pressure of finishing this section of the book, of landing the plane on the message of “slowing down,” of completing the entire book, getting it published, and pursuing speaking opportunities on the heels of the book. 

I feel the sand in the hourglass pouring through. 

I also feel something else: the peace and freedom that come when you’ve found your “it” and poured yourself into it. 

When I peter out from writing (usually about 2 hours) and close the laptop for the day, I know I’ve created something that didn’t exist a few hours ago.

I know I faced the daunting task of a blank page, of feeling like this is going to bomb, the fear of judgments, or even worse, the deafening silence of releasing this to crickets.

That is one of the greatest feelings I know – to have faced my fears and self-doubts for the day.

I also know two crucial aspects that got me here and will get me where I want to go next.

It wasn’t chasing that got me here. 

It was slowing down, going for walks when my brain was screaming at me to “get shit done,” and taking five minutes to play with our cats. 

Some of these sentences were written quickly as the words streamed into my mind, while others resulted from taking my time and connecting with the words that would properly convey what I wanted to say. 

I found my “it” by slowing down and allowing it to blossom

The second lesson I’ve learned, and I hope you take it to heart on your journey, is this.

When I’m fully engaged in my “it,” I feel my most alive. I feel full, and I feel the emptiness and longing I felt when I worked in corporate when I chased and did not create feelings satiated. 

And you know what? I didn’t have to find my “it” to feel this way. 

I felt it the moment I gave up the chase and gave myself permission to discover my “it” in its timeframe. 

It was the journey that felt nothing short of extraordinary. 

Why would I, why would you, want to rush that? Why do we want to skip over the best parts? Why would we possibly want to speed through feeling alive?

We must remember that, in the end, all we’re rushing toward is the end. 

The journey is all we have. 

📣 If you’re ready to get unstuck and master midlife so you can craft your remarkable 2nd act, check out the Midlife Mastery Program.