Life Reimagined

My Daughter's Aimlessness is Driving Me Crazy

When you want to remodel your child’s life, it’s often a signal that someone else is yearning for change. That someone would be you.

Q. My 24-year-old daughter keeps hopping from job to job and it’s driving me crazy. How can I encourage her to settle down and set a smart direction for her career?

Coach Pamela: When your child is struggling, it's tempting to jump in to give her direction. But remember that the early twenties are a time to explore; by trying different things, we discover our interests and improve our skills. Your daughter may make mistakes, but this is how she’ll learn what works for her (and what doesn't). So give her space to learn and grow.

Here’s a more important question: what about YOU? I hear your question all the time, and it often turns out the parent who asks it is yearning for change. At midlife there's lots of opportunity for excitement and growth, so rechannel that energy you want to pour into your daughter’s life. Pour it into your own instead.

Start by asking yourself: What have I always been interested in that I haven’t yet had a chance to do? What dreams have I deferred? Imagine that you're 20 again and the world is your oyster. Don't let thoughts of practicality cloud your vision! Even though your aspirations may not feel "real world,” this exercise is not about ignoring your responsibilities. The intention is to open space within yourself to recapture your sense of possibility and allow yourself to dream again.

Once you’ve landed on an idea, take action towards that goal in a way that pushes you outside your comfort zone. (Don't worry. This is the step where you'll integrate your blue-sky dream into something that makes sense for your life today.) If in your younger days you wanted to be an actress, sign up for improv class or join a local dinner theater troupe. If you weren’t able to do your junior year abroad, pick up some French-language learning programs and book a trip to Paris. If your fantasy career do-over has you teaching Pilates, register for an instructor training course that meets on weekends.

Remember that being “settled” can often lead to feeling stuck. Though it may seem scary, the sense of accomplishment you'll feel as you start moving toward your reawakened dreams will be exhilarating. Added bonus: instead of offering your daughter mere words of advice, you'll stand as an example of how excitement, engagement and the opportunity to go after what you want can continue, no matter your decade in life.

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