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Tips: Finding Your Passion: As Your Children Grow Up
Dr. Dale V. Atkins, February 2008

For many women, putting everyone first is just the way life is. You may have stopped a career or pursued another one when you had children. Whatever you did, the child rearing years were part of "sequencing" your interests, passions, and careers to handle all that was going on in your life.

But as the kids go onto school, become teens, join the military, go off to college, enter the workforce, and move on with their lives, you realize it may be the time to put yourself first for a change. At midlife you may feel restlessness and, maybe, for the first time in your life, can finally explore your passions. This is the time to consider the rest of your life and what you would love to do with it.

Re-discover - Integrate as many of the things that you once loved back into your life: sports, more arts, more time with spouse and friends, more travel. Give yourself time to reacquaint yourself with or relearn the skills you once had. Quiet yourself and listen to the voice inside of you which may not be used to being heard.

Explore - If you're not sure what your passions are, take classes, read about, and try new things. Don't limit yourself. You may find something you love by taking a circuitous route or rule out something that isn't what you love to do. Remember you are exploring. Give yourself a broad canvas on which to work. Talk with people who know you and those who are new in your lives. What do they see in you that you may not recognize?

Keep Up - If you can't commit to a new career, dabble in your area of expertise through meaningful volunteer experiences. When the time comes, you will be able to dedicate yourself more to projects that are deeper and more complex.

Model - Allow your children to see you discovering parts of yourself and a zest for life in areas that are not about them. It is healthy for children to see their parents as "whole" people with interests and passions and knowledge and "lives" that bring them joy and enrichment. Talk to them about your interests and what you do when they are not around.

You will feel more prepared to let your children go so they can build their own lives and discover who they are if you embrace the things you love as you discover new interests and passions.

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