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A Letter To My 50-Year-Old Self: On Grace and Getting Older

A Letter To My 50-Year-Old Self: On Grace and Getting Older

Today, I turned a different age somewhere along the continuum of the roaring twenties. I don’t feel any older than I did yesterday and in some ways, I am quite humbled by the life I’ve been privileged to live with its many lessons and experiences, its mountaintops and valleys, and the trek in between the two. When I was 12, I didn’t exactly write a letter to myself, but I did write down all the things I wanted to do with my life. Looking back, I’ve done a good deal of those things and I’m grateful. When you’re 12, 20-something seems like a grown-up age, and you long to get there. But when you’re 20-something, 50 seems so old and so far away that you dread the thought. Maybe it is a thing to fear or just the thought that scares us. Then again, maybe it isn’t. You be that judge. But here is my letter to myself at 50.

Dear Self On Your 50th Birthday,

Today, you changed ages. You’ve entered that strange and beautiful group of people between middle age and elderly. You’re not super young, but you’re not old either. You’ve come a very long way from thirty. Congratulations!

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I am certain you have grown enough to understand that life is precious and fragile. It must be lived boldly yet handled with care. You understand that it is not so much about you as it is about you living for something higher than you. I’m certain that you have accomplished way more than you imagined but your underlying aim behind all of those accomplishments was to make a difference in the world.

I think you have done that well.

Make your mark.

Everyone seems to have that common desire to make a mark on the world. At least at this age, some expect to have had this goal reached. Indeed, some people have done so long before now, while others are just getting started. But you have thought about your place in making a difference long before now. And you’ve reached a pinnacle that has you everywhere you want to be, doing the things you want to be doing at this age.

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You are settled, strong, and gracious. You’ve found your happiness – that one thing (or maybe more) that gives you joy, that gets you excited even after decades of doing it. Your writing, your research, your speaking, your leading pushes you out of bed every morning, even after so much time. I’m certain that you have smiled at your successes, celebrated your achievements, cried at your pain, reevaluated your progress after failure, and even worried about one thing or another at some point. But you realize that every experience was a blessing in disguise even if the blessing came after the fact.

So you walk with your heart humbled and your head up. To see you doing so well in life, feeling so fulfilled and satisfied, brimming with meaning and the best excitement, gives me pride and great joy. You went through some very difficult times and crushing moments, yet you managed to stay strong and use the negativities to push forward on your path to where you are now. In a nutshell, you’ve done well. I have to pinch myself when I look at all of your accomplishments and especially the people who are impacted by your work.

Much deeper than gold.

You’ve developed a tough mind and a tender heart through it all. You know that your wealth, your fame, your success, and even your material gains are worth nothing compared to the joy you feel in your soul each night. You used to think of grace as some heavenly idea for a select few. But now you know what it is and how it feels to be perpetually in its grasps. You have learned that every step you’ve taken has been an exercise in grace. And you desire to live no differently.

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You’ve struck that careful balance between work and play, career and family, goals and achievements. You’ve always wanted to move people with your words and research, and boy, you’ve done a good job. People used to not like it that you spoke your mind, told the truth, stood by your beliefs, and had no worries about the opinions of others. But most have gotten over that now. You’ve learned the longer you stick with something, the more respect you gain.

And then there is the part of you who has grown to be accepting. Accepting of everything – the good and the bad, the difficult and the easy, the favorable and disappointing situations, the news that brings joy and sadness. For a long time, you have chosen that path of gratitude that you spoke and wrote so much about when you were younger. You’ve stopped beating yourself up and stopped feeling like you’re not good enough, or smart enough, or anything else enough. You’ve learned to show yourself grace.

Embracing grace.

That grace doesn’t come directly from you exactly. You know, you used to be quite the perfectionist. But you’ve allowed yourself to be open to that grace that is unconditional, incomprehensible, unlimited, and wholehearted. You’ve pulled back the curtain and let in the light that comes from God above, that leads you into paths you never thought you would enter because you’ve stopped relying on the past to answer questions about your present or future and you’ve let go of what you could not control, and you’ve turned your focus to accomplishing something worthwhile not for yourself, but for the people around you.

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You know what it feels like to be friendless, to be lost, to feel stressed and emotionally drained, to feel like things aren’t moving fast enough. You know what it feels like when everyone around you is shouting at each other and nobody is listening. You know what it feels like to let yourself go even in the midst of the unknown. You know what it means to love and to be loved. You have been someone’s hero and someone has been yours.

And you know that if you were to take a few days to thoroughly look back over your life, you would realize that God’s grace is not like man’s grace. It is so divine and flourishing that you are blown away when the sun shines on you. You have all people, so unsuspecting of your success, continue to have that heart that puts others ahead of yourself. You are living, working, and playing now because you have grown into a person who can do all these things because you are gracious and thankful for the experience.

Where you’re headed.

Yet you’re still the same person. You drink coffee for the good feeling. You eat chocolate for the good feeling too. You go to grocery stores just to buy snacks and look around for nothing in particular. You dress up because it is important even on odd days and you’re not afraid to just be who you are. You listen and you talk because you can feel people’s hearts that way. You love your old soul because that is where you get to understand people and show compassion and grace. You know what it was like to be 20-something and uncertain. You know what it was like to create your own path forward with not an inkling of an idea of what you were doing. You remember that it took you some time to get to where you are. And you’re not afraid to share all the personal horror stories because you’re happy to help even if you’re the example.

I am happy to see you where you are right now.

So bold yet humble, so free yet always striving to be better, so amazed by what you know and even more surprised by what you don’t. Yes, you’ve grown a great deal since the last time we talked. You’re not exactly striving anymore, just cruising in your life’s goals. Self-actualizing as they call it. You’re not getting old; you’re just getting older. You’ve grown up and you continue to grow and improve and make a mark on the world for good. And I’m crazy proud of you for that.

More by this author

Daniella Whyte

Psychology Researcher

You Can If You Think You Can: 4 Ways to Build Self-Efficacy A Letter To My 50-Year-Old Self: On Grace and Getting Older Never Be the One Who Waits to Give Flowers 6 Questions That Help You Break Out of A Motivational Slump 6 Ways to Use Stress to Your Advantage

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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