When I look at my life, I realize that some of the most positive changes that happened to me have been through challenging times. Times that I had to either experience discomfort or stress have been moments that gave me a valuable insight into myself and what I can work towards for.
For example, it was after the culmination of one stress filled painful relationship in my life, that the importance of self motivation dawned to me. Why do we need to seek motivation from our environment when it lies within us, waiting to be awakened?
My mistake had been in my belief that the level of motivation is affected by external sources.
Similarly, I have no doubts that though “The Empty Nest” stage has its share of challenges, the key factor here is our realization regarding it. Are we willing to see the benefits of this change rather than the obvious loneliness associated with it?
The first step in “celebrating” this phase would be –
Accept the Change as Positive
Remember the time when we had wanted to learn something new? Perhaps once again enjoy reading, listen to music or even go for a refreshing morning walk before breakfast?
Now is the time for focusing on activities that we have enjoyed but had shelved in the midst of lovingly bringing up our child. If this is not a positive change in our life, how else can we describe this freedom that we are once again enjoying?
Reconnect with Friends
Someone once described Friendship as a “sweet responsibility” and “never an opportunity”. The beauty of true friendship is that we can always get in touch with our friends and continue from when we last spoke to them.
I have a wonderful friend whom I’ve known since 4th grade and every time we meet (which is once in a couple of years at least), we chat and we are soon thoroughly enjoying ourselves. Its as though we meet each other every day, like we did during school days years ago.
Marriage and Parenthood indeed brings about a change with regard to the time we get to spend with friends. Being a parent, involves spending time with our child , caring and nurturing the child’s talents and potential. Along with the numerous other responsibilities including career, there may not be much time now for connecting with our friends once in a while like we used to.
Friends play a role in our well being. Through their companionship, they aid in the maintenance of our health by relieving stress. But during our child’s growing years, we may find that with decreased leisure time and increased priorities, maintaining friendship takes a lot of effort.
“The Empty Nest” is the perfect time of life to reconnect with dear friends. Spending quality time with them will also enable us to feel happier and less lonely during this sensitive period.
Time for Career Appraisal
During the years spent in rearing our child, there may have been little thought given to the need for a career appraisal. This may be due to the financial stability the job offered, the working schedule, the convenient location of your workplace etc.
Our child’s departure from home for further education or career opportunities, may be the right time to assess the career we have.
Are our skills being effectively utilized in the current organisation we are a part of? Does our current job make us face each day with enthusiasm or an opportunity to think of another excuse to skip work? Are we passionate about our work or are we in it because we have been in it for umpteen years? Does our current job demand an enhanced learning of the existent skills we possess?
These questions and several more can be answered by us at this time. Its always a good idea to have a practical approach in pursuing our existent career. Many reach their twilight years with regret and dislike for the career they had led for decades and by then they find they really don’t know what they are best suited for.
5) Take up a new Hobby or Charity Work
A hobby or taking up a charity activity gives an immediate impact of the effort we put in. It is a great way to spend the time we have once our child leaves home for studies or work.
When my friend, Elsa, saw her daughter leave home for college, she decided she will learn something she always wanted to. She had always wanted to learn to play her favorite musical instrument – the guitar.
Painstakingly, she spent hours each day looking through YouTube guitar coaching sessions to learn the basics of playing the guitar. Her dedication eventually helped her dream come true. Elsa started playing the guitar well enough that she could entertain herself as a relaxing activity.
Looking for a charitable educational institution or home for the elders near the place we live is also a useful way of spending our extra time. Spending time indulging in social service not only enables us to contribute as a member of society but also promote the happiness quotient in your life.
There are opportunities to learn from many of the challenges we face in our life. Instead of merely considering them as undesirable situations, it helps if we positively look at them.
This stage is undoubtedly a fantastic time to improve the quality of our life.