What is your goal in life? Do you still have one?
Even if you're retired, what is your dream vocation? Did you live that, or did you settle for what made you the most money? Did you get trapped into a profession, and make too much money to set it aside to pursue that crazy dream you had that could never pay well? What have you always WANTED to do, but used circumstances and events as an excuse to hold you back?
You know, that thing you always wanted to do, but it felt too impractical to pursue?
Come now, be honest!
Me? I am 52 years old, and I want to be an Author/Writer, Public Speaker, and middle-aged Adventuress when I grow up! A middle-aged Adventuress! There, I've said it! I've declared my intention. Now, how the hell do I make it happen?
According to everything I've ever read: to differentiate yourself from the pack, you've got to have a niche. One thing to focus your energy and attention on.
One. Singular. Thing.
To find that, experts say, ask yourself: what is your passion? What do you LOVE to do? What causes you to jump out of bed because you're so excited to greet the day?
But you know what I always say: what are you afraid of? What do you run from? What scares the hell out of you?
Since I've declared Writing, Speaking and Adventuring as my "thing", I'll delve into that, but bear in mind, this isn't specific to writing. Feel free to ditch the word writer, and fill in the blank with whatever your passion is.
All Summer long I'd seen the ads for Great Escape Publishing's Ultimate Travel Writer's Workshop all over Facebook, listened to a podcast with their head honcho, Lori Allen, and felt an itch deep within my gut to check them out. I was beyond amazed to find that their next Ultimate Travel Writer's Workshop was in New Orleans in September 2016.
Heck, that's practically in my backyard! **Cue the choir of heavenly Angels!** It certainly felt like a sign from the Universe, that's for sure!
At the workshop, this "find your niche" thing was a point they hammered home. Again, and again!
It seems there are many different types of travel writers: people who travel the globe sampling food and taking pictures of it, and/or wine; travel writers who specialize in travel with children, and/or grandchildren; travel writers who are vegan. The list, so it appears, is quite endless!
As I sat there listening, trying to envision what my niche could be, the first visions that rose within me were: scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef, hiking the Great Wall, exploring the Giza Plateau...
And the one thing all of my visions had in common were they stared me, physically fit and vibrantly alive, in various physically challenging adventures.
Reality check: I get winded taking the stairs! As I looked down at my round belly and plump thighs my heart sank just a little...back to reality...
After the workshop ended, and real life intruded on the excited high I felt, I got incredibly discouraged because I didn't feel I have a niche.
A few things I know for a fact: I have no desire to take pictures of my food and write about it; I have less than no desire to drink my way across the globe, and write about my tipsy adventures either; and, while I love and adore my grandsons with all my heart and soul, I do not want to take them globetrotting with me either!
When I asked myself what I could do, those adventurous visions persisted, excited me, even...but then reality rudely intruded every time I breathlessly struggled to climb a flight of stairs, or get out of the recliner.
Have you ever felt your energy melt away? Sure, you'd felt listlessness and apathy before, but this was different. Like you're hemorrhaging, bleeding-out, only it's your life-force that's being sucked away, not your blood. (Can I get an amen?)
Like I said, I'm 52, and for the past few years, that's how I feel more times than not.
I'm...I'm...oh, dear GAWD, I'm middle-aged! How the fuck did this happen??? I didn't even notice it was creeping up on me, and yet, here it is!
I've crossed a threshold in my life, and I know it. I've experimented, and discovered that when something sparks my interest, and I engage with life by digging into it to learn everything I can about it, that feeling fades away.
Because I felt the niche of being a middle-aged adventurer was beyond my grasp, I felt a bit overwhelmed and despondent. The hot desire to explore the world as an adventuress is definitely there, and try as I may to convince myself that it's beyond my grasp, it's not going away. Just thinking about it is exciting and gets my blood moving.
Why do I have to give up on the idea just because I'm fat and out of shape...
Uh-ho, this is the point where I feel the only way forward is to lose 150 pounds in the next month, or two, otherwise my dream is destined to fail, and...
At least, in the past when I've thought to reach for a goal that was beyond my grasp, that's where I've gone: My value and worth and freedom and ability to live a life of joy and adventure intimately tied to the scale...FUCK THAT!!!
(Insert blood-curdling scream here!)
I've been there a million times before, I know you have too, and don't want to go there again!
But what do I want? I want to dance and sing and travel and explore the world!
How do I make that happen without falling into the "diet-that-I'll-lie-to-myself-and-pretend-it's-not-really-a-diet-just-a-change-in-lifestyle" trap?
Identify my usual M.O, which went something like this...
I'm going to change each and every one of my bad habits all at once. TODAY! From now on, I'm going to work-out each and every day (and know in the pit of my gut that if I skip even a single day, no matter the lame-ass excuse, that means I'm a horrible person with absolutely no willpower or self-control for missing it anyway.) No more sugar. No more bread. (Bread is evil anyway and I'm a horrible person with absolutely no willpower or self-control for eating it anyway.) I'll read every diet book I can, even though it's not a diet, but a change in lifestyle, to "educate myself" on the latest fad...oops, I meant trend...oops, I meant...I'm a horrible person with absolutely no willpower or self-control if I stray from the "rules" of said lifestyle anyway...ad nauseam...
Been there. Done that. Got the body to prove it.
Can you identify your usual M.O.? What triggers you, and sends you down a particular road?
I want to travel the globe as a middle-aged adventuress. I want to ski and snorkel and scuba dive and ride a zip-line and skydive. (Yes, you read that correctly: SKYDIVE out of a perfectly good plane!)
So, what does need to happen to make that a reality? I need a strong body.
First, I need to educate myself on what it REALLY takes to make a weakened, depleted body strong and healthy and vibrant. How does one change their body composition HEALTHFULLY?
Second, what's happening inside my heart and mind that makes vibrant health such a challenge?
I know from lots and lots and lots of experience that it's not by reading yet another stream of opinions by a medical doctor, who is really just trying to sell me something based on junk science. This time, I think I'll look to science to see what the actual research has to say...
When I first started college, I was a pre-nursing student, then I switched to pre-med, before the whole "you've got to take college algebra and geometry and calculus" thing screwed my plans up, and I realized I could never actually pierce the skin of another human being.
At any rate, I took lots of science courses: Biology I & II; Anatomy & Physiology I & II; Inorganic & Organic Chemistry, and Microbiology. So I've got a good understanding of how the glorious human body works on the cellular level.
Aside from that, what is the one thing - One. Singular. Thing. - I can do to get my body moving that my heart and mind will enjoy? I love to dance. They have group dance classes every morning at the Y, so I'm going to join.
I have a plan. A purpose. Something to new to learn. An unknown to explore.
Like clock-work, I feel my spark ignite, and the outward flow of my vital energy abruptly changes. And just like that, life-force energy is flowing toward me instead of away.
Who knows, maybe my writing niche is exploring how to make a fat, weakened body and mind strong again, regardless of size, and how to get your spark back...