Defining a duration of time in your life as an era includes a predominant feature or quality that drives the time period as it plays a significant role in how that chapter unfolded – a guiding idea, person, career position, culture expectation, etc.
Sometimes a significant event, one in which we have no control over, kicks off a new era and almost seems to immediately end the previous. Think of the shifting of leadership, the Victorian Era with Queen Victoria’s reign in England; the Elizabethan era referring to Queen Elizabeth the 1st. But just as powerful as an external event seen, witnessed and known by the larger world prompts a shift in eras, so too can an internal aha or personal discovery shift our lives into a new era for our life story.
It has been pointed out by historians that often an era doesn’t just abruptly end, but rather fades away as more and more people forget that they are a part of a particular era, and the same can be true in your own life. Over time, you grow and learn and evolve into someone who when you finally do take the time to reflect, you realize over the duration of decades, you have not only changed, but there were distinct eras in your life journey, even though you didn’t know it at the time when the shift occurred because it occurred gradually. The era of searching, then knowing, then searching and applying your new-found knowledge to something else as you let go of what no longer felt supportive and/or loving is how our eras ever so gently can overlap and dissolve into a new era.
A simple example in my own life, my shift from trying to enjoy the ever-changing popular music into my love and appreciation for classical music. When TSLL readers introduced me to the two classical music stations I listen to still to this day, I finally found a source that not only played consistently music I had always been curious about but also taught me something about what I was listening to. It was because something wasn’t working that my curiosity kept searching and eventually my searching lead to where I had tried to go but could not do on my own. So while now upon reflection, I know when that shift occurred, at the time, it didn’t feel sudden because I only gradually began listening and then trusting that the source was as valuable as I eventually realized it was.
Inspired by two well-known and long-running television shows using the word ‘era’ in their most recent and concluding film and episodes (Downton Abbey and Grey’s Anatomy), I began to ponder this word – era – as I too have felt my own life shifting over the past handful of years. Shifting due to intentional desire and effort for a new era to begin, but not holding that word in my mind as I was making the necessary changes. However, I think in many arenas in our world, new eras are beginning or taking hold and long-running ones are ebbing, some more abruptly than others. And while collectively, political, economical, global and communal eras require more than one person to cause the shift, it is in our own lives, that we too have eras. And the more conscious we are of this life truth, the better we are at choosing when an era comes to an end and into what new era we should strive. In other words, being the driver of our lives through our life journey bodes well for a journey we want to relive upon reflection.
Arthur Brooks shares in his bestselling new book From Strength to Strength that one of the two ways to ensure we don’t hit a slump as our adult years unfold is to consciously subtract from our lives rather than add to them. In other words, using our awareness, choose to let go of what is not high on our priority list so that we will have more time and energy to give to the passions, people and way of life we love living. When we do this, we create a life we love living and thus become more fulfilled.
Perhaps at this moment or a moment in your recent past you arrived at a point in your life when you realized you needed to let go and bravely invest in a way of life more fully, less distracted, less ambivalent. When you make the choice to let go of what stands in the way of your ability to fully engage, you are stepping into a new era. And in this example, because you are doing so consciously, your next era has far more potential to be outstandingly awesome than if you were pushed into it.
However, simply because you are pushed into a new era by either something being taken away from you, losing something beloved or anything in which you would not have chosen to do so willingly, you can step into a powerfully rewarding and uplifting new era as you discover new strengths, meet new people and are introduced to a way of life previously not considered.
Today examine your life and ask yourself the following questions:
- Is there an idea that I have long accepted as true that no longer supports the life I know I can live and enjoy if only I would let go of the way of thinking that holds me back from doing so?
- Is there an activity or hobby that while I once enjoyed it sincerely, now feels more obligatory and takes up time from my doing other things I thoroughly enjoy and wish to engage in more fully?
- Is there any relationship or any aspect of my career that has a limit to how much of myself I can be or give? In the past, I didn’t realize this limitation because I had not run up against it yet, but now that I have grown in my self-awareness and/or skills, I have run into these limitation and realize because it is placed there by someone else – personal relationship or professional responsibilities and rules, etc. – it will not change.
- Do any of your dreams you one held now seem short-sighted or misguided? What new dreams do you have that may not be understood by those who long understood your old dreams and may not want you to let go of them? Where can you redirect your energy to making your new dreams become your reality?
Above are just a few questions to ask yourself, and while they are general in their scope, hopefully they will help you navigate to a deeper awareness and understanding of where predominant ideas that guided you for quite some time may no longer serve and support the life you now are or want to live.
With that said, knowing a new era needs to begin for your benefit and quality of life and making the shift is, as Grey’s Anatomy’s writers reminded, easier said than done. Or should I say, ending the old era is easier said than done. But that doesn’t mean it is impossible.
The key to ending an old era is to acknowledge the benefits and good you are welcoming into your life by ending the old era and beginning the new. Keep reminding yourself of the benefits. Much like the carrot enjoyed as a reward when you strive forward, just because one era ends doesn’t mean it was a bad era. It simply has just run its course. Extend gratitude, be grateful for the opportunity to learn all that it had to offer, but then bravely let go of what was only meant to be a chapter in your life story. It can be a gradual letting go or an abrupt one, but either way, so long as you do so with integrity and loving kindness, your conscience will be at peace and you will be able to hold yourself fully in the new era you have the opportunity to begin.
Wishing you a wonderful start to the new week. Thank you for stopping by today.