At 41 years old I decided - "I'm done" This was the end!
The end of my life as I knew it - I had reached a 'Mid-Life' crisis.
I was done with my current body, thought patterns, dismal finances and dis-empowering habits. Done I tell ya!
The time had come to end all of my excuses, doubts, procrastination and my so called ‘comfort zone’. Armed with this sudden revelation – I panicked!
Now, just to put this epiphany into context, (I say epiphany but it was a mid-life crisis on the verge of exploding), I was sunning myself on a beach in Trinidad. Not a care in the world, watching my family go in and out of the warm Caribbean Sea.
So, when the familiar voice in my head said,
“Whoa, take it easy. Don’t make any big decisions now. Let’s just relax and rethink this at a later date. Look how good we’ve got it?”
I was ready (as usual) to dismiss my epiphany and sink right back into my holiday bubble.
How can I be done? As far as I (and the rest of the world), was concerned, everything was fine.
Actually, it was better than fine. I had two boys I adored, a loving husband, a good paying job, we owned our own house and I was on the BEACH in TRINIDAD!!
How dare this lightning bolt of ‘I’M DONE’ try to come and disturb my peace!
But it did. And for a good 15 minutes, those thoughts consumed my whole body and state of mind. I only snapped out of it when the ash from the cigarette I was smoking dropped on my thigh.
Whilst I frantically slapped my thigh to out the ash, that little voice in my head emerged again. “You see what happens when you think about changing something. Chill-out – life is good”.
Ordinarily, and in times gone by I would have listened to that voice, laid back down on my beach towel and lit another cigarette. But this time was different. As I watched the waves go back and forth, I got an overwhelming feeling that something had shifted. And if I didn’t do something to sooth the panic – my life would spiral out of control.
Now, I don’t know about you but usually after a day at the beach, I get home feeling hungry and exhausted.
Not today. I was on a mission.
I started to search Google and YouTube for things like ‘how to change your life’, ‘Is 40 too old to change’, ‘how do you know when you’re truly happy’. I was throwing all kinds of questions at my phone trying to find the right answer or person to give me that spark.
About 4 cigarettes in I just stopped. This is usually my end point! You know what I mean? When you say to yourself that you’ve tried ‘everything’, so this is a sign that nothing can change.
Then, as if by sheer coincidence or divine intervention, YouTube suggested a TedTalk video featuring a woman I’ve never heard of before.
I don’t know what made me click and start listening. Actually, looking back, it was probably the title of the video! But I did watch the whole thing with interest. However, it wasn’t until she dropped the gem of knowledge 18 min and 48 sec into the talk that my interest turned to intrigue. Could it be so easy?
How to stop screwing yourself over | Mel Robbins | TEDxSF
I’ve read lots of self-help books over the last 15 or so years, but never fully committed myself to making any significant change. (Read: 5 reasons self-help books didn’t work for me). But this was different, I was different and Mel’s message was different.
For the first time in my 15 years of ‘self-help‘ indulgence, I stumbled on a major reason none of it worked before!
What I learned in 23 minutes from the video was that the brain has a 5 second window before dis-empowering thoughts take control – 5 seconds!
This window of time can be the ultimate defining moment of you doing what you intended to or not taking any action.
In short – each time we attempt to start something new, different or challenging, our brain indicators immediately gave us an excuse not to do it.
After watching the video a few more times that day – I was ready to put it to the test. And of course, what did I most what to change – yes that’s right – my body!
At this time I was 5ft, nearly 11 stone, lacked energy and sometimes wore trousers without doing the top bottom up. (I was not prepared to admit to myself that I needed to buy a bigger size!). So, my goal was to start exercising the very next day – no excuses! I found some random work out on YouTube and went to bed very happy and hopeful with myself.
The next morning, I was primed to go. Pulled on some random shorts and T-shirt and pressed play on the video.
Needless to say- I almost died! But I did it. And then I did it the next day and the day after that.
By the 4th day I heard the voice: “Get real with yourself Chantelle! Just smoke, have a few drinks and get through your mid-life crisis like normal people! In a few months everything would get back to normal.”I didn’t catch my thoughts within the 5 second window!
So with that, I jumped back onto my phone and looked for another way to distract myself from my day 4 failing.
And then again, as if the universe was really trying to tell me something, a copy of Mel’s audio book The 5 Second Rule presented as a suggestion on my feed.
Talk about serendipity!
I listened to that whole audio book in about 2 days – literally consuming everything Mel had to say.
It allowed me to really understand how our brains worked. Why it’s defence mechanism is continuously trying to keep us in the situation we are in. Instead of my usual ‘scratching the surface’ of change – I was exploring the science!
It was at this point I was able to forgive myself.
Forgive myself for the financial situation I found myself in. The excess pounds I’d gained over the years and the self loathing conversations I had with myself. ALL FORGIVEN!
I was ready to be completely done with the old me. Little by little and 5 seconds at a time, I pushed myself to challenge my body physically every day for the remainder of my holiday. Doing the thing I did not ‘feel’ like doing, but knew I had to do. It was NOT easy. Some day’s I failed to do as much as I set out. But now that was OK – because at least I did something!
The best bit about my mid-life crisis?
- I know myself very well, so am thankful that crisis mode happened where it did and how it did. Acknowledging that I was not happy could have been the start of some really destructive thoughts and actions to compensate for how I was really feeling.
- Experiencing these feelings during my holiday and having the space and time to seek a way to claw myself out of the black hole I was heading towards was the perfect timing.
- But the absolute best result from my whole experience was returning home from holiday that year and being able to fasten up my top button!
Let me know in the comments below if you have had your own Mid-Life Crisis. Share what actions you took to get your life back on track.
You never know who else you could be helping. x
Side Note: I am not affiliated with Mel Robbins in any way. However, I highly recommend that you check her out if you are really serious about making a change in your life.
Without her intervention into my life, I very much doubt I would have navigated my way out of the ‘I’m Done – Mid-Life Crisis’ episode and actually make real lasting improvements to my mindset, habits and life style.