Thriving in Midlife, Part 1: 7 Habits To Embrace Change

From Midlife Reflection to Life-Long Resilience

"The point is to get your work done and your work is to change the world." – James Baldwin


OK, this is going to mouthful to chew on before we dive into change. Ready for it?

Today is all we truly have. Yesterday is but a memory, and tomorrow only arrives as today.

Many of us live in hopes of a better tomorrow, but without the realization that a better tomorrow can only manifest itself as today. So, why don't we choose to make today better, seizing this moment to change the world—or at least our little corner of it?


We have a funny relationship with change. We fear changes that threaten our current comfort but crave changes that promise a brighter future. This contradiction can hold us back, but it also drives us forward.

When I found out my wife and I were expecting our first child, I didn't dream of a mundane future for her. I envisioned a life full of greatness, impact, and wisdom gained from avoiding my past mistakes.

Her arrival marked a new beginning not just for her, but for us as parents. Similarly, as our adult children leave the nest, each departure signifies a new chapter in our lives, bringing both distance and fresh beginnings.

As each new day unfolds, it brings with it the inevitability of change. Finding joy in each new day requires us to embrace that change or find ourselves suffering in the uncertainty of a future we cannot control. A joyful, peaceful life demands that we hold life loosely, ready to receive what it has to offer.


Are you ready to live a more fulfilling, meaningful, and purposeful life? At the crossroads of what was and what could be, let these 7 habits guide you from reflection to resilience, from fear to freedom.


The winds of change, though chilly at first, can invigorate life with purpose. As Rumi said, "Try not to resist the changes that come your way. Instead, let life live through you. And do not worry that your life is turning upside down. How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come?"

Letting life live through you is an act of courage that prevents the past from defining you and the future from causing fear. Embrace change to shape the future you desire.


Curiosity is the compass for life's adventures. It demands engagement with life through questions that reveal the next steps forward: "What's next?", "What can I learn?", "Who can guide me?", "Who wants to join me?"

Curiosity helps us navigate life's transitions—children leaving home, losing loved ones, retiring from a career, and facing the realities of aging. It shifts our focus from pursuing greatness to seeking wisdom, our true legacy.


If curiosity is the compass, optimism is the beacon guiding us through uncertainty. In the face of health challenges, financial concerns, or the search for meaning beyond the workforce, optimism helps us navigate learning opportunities and avoid despair.

Optimism embraces the full spectrum of emotions without judgment. It's more than positive affirmations; it offers hope and fosters emotional intelligence. Optimism inspires self-awareness, leading to healthier, more sustainable behavior patterns.


"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in service to others." – Mahatma Gandhi

Service reveals our tendencies, shapes our gifts, and strengthens our purpose in relation to others. Serving others can inspire them to a life of service and leadership. Allowing our lives to be a call to service can pave the way for future generations, weaving a stronger community fabric.

A friend of mine has found great joy in embracing a second career dedicated to helping women break free from the chain of addiction and going the next step to equipping them to be in service to others who have had similar struggles. She and her husband in their second season of life work for non-profits after years of working in the 9-5 job.

This type of service provides a great deal of meaning that gets them supercharged in the morning.


"If you are not grateful for what you have, you will not be grateful for what you get." Gratitude is the telescope revealing life's pathways, roadblocks, and workarounds. It acknowledges life's pleasures—the love of family, loyal friends, and simple joys.

Gratitude anchors us in the present, allowing us to appreciate life's largeness and our smallness. During times of great change, gratitude has anchored me in faithfulness and helped me navigate tumultuous times.


A fearless heart is the wellspring of innovation and the antidote to stagnation. It dares us to dream, take risks, and embrace the unknown. Whether starting a business, traveling solo, or writing that novel, a fearless heart reminds us that it's never too late to pursue our passions.

My wife, best friend, and hero has lived a life that has brought her through many of life's challenges. Early in her forties, she was living her dream life as a mother to our 4 amazing children when a stroke interrupted our seemingly easy life and rattled both of our worlds.

Since that time she has faced the fear corrective surgeries, chronic pain, and CML by pouring her life into her passion of interior design. She chooses to wake up and face those fears head on by exercising her gifts of beautifying the living spaces of those she service.


Yet, the key to truly unlocking the fearless factor in your life is resilience. Resilience is the framework that keeps our ship afloat. "Come hell or high water," we can rest knowing that the work done in the previous stages steadies this ship called life.

Resilience is found in starting new ventures during each new life stage we go through, finding new pathways to joy after the loss of loved ones, or redefining oneself in the face of failed marriages, career changes or even the life long goal of retirement, . Each setback is a lesson, each recovery a victory.

The joy of resilience comes in how it connects us to the shared experience of life with it's topsy turvy nature and empowers our work, our service, our vocation through empathy and compassion. Something our world is in desperate need of.


As we stand on the brink of new beginnings, let us see our lives as a mosaic of experiences, of suffering and joy, successes and failures, a truly grand adventure into the unknown—each piece essential, each transition an opportunity to create something beautiful. Let us write the next chapter with bold strokes, vibrant colors, and the unwavering belief that the best is yet to come.

So, which habit will you adopt first? Whatever it is, embrace it with courage and let the magic unfold! Share this journey with someone who could use a reminder that life is an ever-unfolding masterpiece, and each new day is a canvas awaiting our touch. Together, let's turn the page to a chapter filled with hope, adventure, and renewed zest for life.

Thriving in Midlife, Part 2: 6 Reasons Living Your Core Values Will Change Your Life

Navigating Midlife with Intention, Purpose, Meaning, and Impact


I became a huge musical fan after catching a performance of Les Misérables many years ago while in London. In an early scene, Jean Valjean, a former convict released on parole, experiences an act of grace that breaks the normative of the times then and frankly for today as well.

Exhausted, hungry, and desperate could not find a place to stay as inn after inn rejected him because of the yellow passport identifying him as a parolee. When finally he goes to the church, where Bishop Myriel, takes him in and gives him food and a bed for the night. It was an act that even the Bishops house keeper struggled to accept and proved to be a warranted distrust.

That night, Valjean, overcome by the hopelessness of his situation, steals the silver from the table he had so graciously been invited to that evening. As he was leaving town, he was caught by the local authorities who presented the Bishop with Valjean to report what he had done. To everyone's surprise, the Bishop denied his guilt and claimed that not only had he given him the silver but that he had also forgotten the silver candlesticks which were the most valuable item of them all.

This has always stuck with me. Not only did the Bishop lie (a break in the moral code a Bishop holds himself to) but a cynical world would say that he was enabling a criminal lifestyle. But the Bishop reveals in that moment a commitment to core values like compassion, forgiveness, generosity, grace, faith in humanity, kindness, integrity, hope, and many more.

The Bishop embody a way of life that supported his purpose. He equipped and empowered a hopeless Valjean with a confidence that one might say is superhuman.

Today, I would argue that it is not superhuman at all, rather, it is a commitment to an intentional way of life that chooses values that uphold the greater good in service to something bigger than ourselves.


When we are intentional about creating a life of meaning, purpose, and impact, values serve as the guiderails for a life that shape our decisions, build our character, create our personal legacy, while transforming our collective legacy. They help us navigate life's challenges and successes with humility. Consciously embracing and living out our core values, inspires a more authentic and fulfilling life and contributes to a better world.

As we approach the transformative phases of midlife and retirement, we often find ourselves at a crossroads, seeking deeper purpose, greater meaning, and a more profound impact in our lives. This period of transition, while challenging, offers a unique opportunity to realign our lives with what truly matters. Central to this realignment is the identification and embrace of our core values. Core values are more than just abstract concepts; they are the fundamental beliefs that shape our actions, decisions, and ultimately, our legacy.

In the case of Valjean, the Bishop value of compassion served as the compass pointing Valjean and us to true north.

Like Valjean when we take the time to discover and embrace our core values, we gain a sense of direction and clarity that helps us navigate the complexities of life. They provide a framework for evaluating our choices and actions, ensuring that we remain true to ourselves, our purpose, our calling and a way of life that spans lifetimes.


Anchoring in Authenticity
Midlife and retirement are times of significant change and introspection. Many of us begin to question the paths we have taken and the goals we have pursued. This introspection can lead to a profound desire to live more authentically. Core values serve as an anchor in this quest for authenticity. By aligning our lives with our core values, we can shed societal expectations and external pressures, allowing us to live in a way that is true to our innermost beliefs.

Enhancing Fulfillment and Satisfaction
Living in alignment with our core values enhances our sense of fulfillment and satisfaction. When our actions and decisions reflect our deepest beliefs, we experience a congruence that fosters inner peace and happiness. This alignment reduces internal conflict and helps us feel more centered and grounded, even amidst the uncertainties of life transitions.

Guiding Decision-Making
Decision-making becomes more straightforward and less stressful when guided by core values. In the face of tough choices or dilemmas, our values provide a clear benchmark for evaluating options. This clarity can prevent decision paralysis and regret, enabling us to move forward with confidence and assurance.

Developing Resilience
Core values contribute to our resilience, especially during challenging times. When we encounter obstacles or setbacks, our values remind us of what is most important, helping us to stay focused and motivated. This resilience is crucial during the transitions of midlife and retirement, as we navigate changes in our roles, relationships, and routines.

Intentional Living
Living with intention means making deliberate choices that align with our core values. This intentionality ensures that our actions and decisions are purposeful and meaningful. In midlife and retirement, being intentional about how we spend our time, who we surround ourselves with, and what we choose to pursue can lead to a more fulfilling and impactful life. Intention transforms our values from abstract ideals into concrete actions that shape our daily lives and long-term goals.

Creating your Legacy
As we enter the later stages of life, the desire to leave a meaningful legacy becomes more pronounced. Our core values shape the legacy we create, influencing how we are remembered by others. By living according to our values, we inspire and impact those around us, leaving a positive and lasting imprint on our families, communities, and the world.


In my late 20s, I followed my passion and pursued a Masters of Divinity. I wanted to blend my business life with faith, hope, and love. After graduating and leaving a church my family started, I built a successful career in commercial real estate, leading one of the top teams.

For a while, I was hooked on making deals, enjoying the fast-paced work. I held onto my values, but success and recognition started to cloud my judgment.

Then, life hit hard. My wife had a stroke at 40, which led to surgeries and ongoing pain. In the following months, we lost loved ones, faced the breakdown of family and community relationships due to the in-your-face fragility of life, and the beginning of emptying out our nest as my oldest daughter went off to school. These events shook me and reminded me of my wish to live an inspired life and encourage others to find their true calling.

This turning point, much like Valjean's in his story, came from others who showed me a deeper purpose. They helped me see how I could make a bigger difference in the lives of those around me.

I learned that my values were influenced by my community (healthy and unhealthy). I had been swept up in different values that didn't always match mine: love, curiosity, compassion, integrity, inspiration, and faith. And as I reconciled my life to these values, reconciliation to those valued relationships and life dreams came as well.

You see, I believe everything works together for the good of humanity, our planet, the universe, and mysteries we don't understand. And so today, I hope you might be inspired to a life that seeks a growing connection with the core values that help you (re)shape your vocation and life with greater purpose and meaning.


As you journey through midlife and retirement, it's time to put your core values into action. Let your values guide you in making deliberate choices that shape your life and impact those around you. Here's how you can start:

  • Identify Your Core Values: Take time to reflect on the values that matter most to you. Write them down and define what they mean in your daily life.
  • Set Intentional Goals: Align your goals with your core values. Whether it's spending more time with family, engaging in community service, or pursuing a passion project, ensure your actions reflect your values.
  • Practice Daily: Incorporate your values into your everyday decisions and interactions. Consistency will reinforce their importance and impact.
  • Share Your Journey: Inspire others by sharing your story and the role of core values in your life transitions. Your experience can motivate others to embrace their values.
  • Seek Support: Join our community of like-minded individuals who share your commitment to living with purpose and intention. Encourage and support each other in your journeys.

By actively living your core values, you create a life of significance and lasting impact. Embrace this journey with confidence, knowing that your values are the foundation upon which you build a meaningful and fulfilling life. Go forth and let your values illuminate your path, making a positive difference for yourself and future generations.

Learn more about ways you can navigate life's many transitions with Howard Bailey's many coaching offerings. Schedule a Life Repurposed Call with Les McDaniel, Howard Bailey's Chief Purpose Officer and Certified Life, Leadership, and Retirement Coach.