While it is exciting to jump straight into your project, it is also important to take time to reflect before you do so. Your fifties are a period of life that will land you in a very different place from the one you left. It is easy to think from the confines of your cubicle that all you want to do is raise gladioli when you retire, but after some thought you may realize that traveling while active enough to enjoy it is in reality a higher priority, and that growing gladioli will have to wait until you’re older! You may decide to downsize your home, sell up completely and house sit for others, or drive an RV from coast to coast – the opportunities are endless – limited only by your imagination! It is important to spent time thinking about what matters to you, what your values are now, and how you would prefer to spend your time before committing to one concept and then trying to make it fit into the life that evolves for you.
Take time to reflect also means spending time reading and researching what is is that really sets you on fire now. Which ideas pass the “gut test” for approval, as it doesn’t mater how sensible an idea is if you don’t love it. Take the time to do some online tests personality tests, work out what your strengths and weaknesses are, what characteristics may be coming to the front as you get older. Are you an introvert who has suffered from too much company for several decades, and are now ready to get away from people and publish an online course using your knowledge so your interactions are one step removed from dealing with people one to one? Are you a great connector who would flourish as an official hub for other people who need services and who provide services? What makes your heart sing, the thing you would do even if you weren’t paid to do it?
In some ways there are far too many possibilities, so after you have created an initial list, look for patterns and start to evaluate each idea for its true potential and what working on it would bring you. Cross off any ideas that have already stopped appealing, and then group those that are similar or would work together, such as knitting scarves and opening and selling them in an Etsy store. This is not an assignment that you will ever have to show anyone else, so be honest with yourself as you take time to reflect.
Gradually the good ideas are ready for road testing, and should be quickly tried out on willing friends and family. If they like what you are doing, listen to their feedback, incorporate what fits, then quickly move forwards with it. Be practical and learn about any licensing or legal issues you may face, and take any courses you may need to bring your expertise up to the best level it can be.
Then for the litmus test, does it still feel good when you are doing this thing? Do you wake up eager to go and do it, or is it quickly becoming a chore? If so, maybe it is time to move onto the next idea on your list. Test that and see what that feels like – and know that there is nothing wrong with dropping a project (or 5!) that you find you don’t like after trying them on for size. You are now your own boss so take the time to reflect on what work you will do!