Life is a long time. There are so many chapters in our lives. From raising children to sending them out into the world along with our own transitions through relationships and careers. And no matter what, we always have our health to take care of.

Many people feel uncertain about that next step in their lives when their children leave the house. Some people have less financial stress after their children have finished college. Some people have more. Everyone, however, has a common desire to find fulfillment in new areas of their lives. I’m a strong believer that in our fifties and sixties we shouldn’t be “winding down,” but instead should be planning the next adventure.

When you become an empty nester, it’s a perfect opportunity to focus on you and make yourself a priority. Consider the following:

  • Health concerns that you have been avoiding

  • Recommendations from your doctor, such as to lose weight or lower your cholesterol

  • Whether you feel nurtured and satisfied by the foods you eat

This is an important time to pay attention to your own health. Schedule a doctor’s appointment that you’ve been putting off, take a walk, and explore organic fruits and vegetables at the local farmers’ market. See how good it feels to practice self-care.

Next, you can take a look beyond your physical health and the foods you eat to see how other areas of your life are going.

You might consider:

  • Relationships: are you cultivating healthy relationships that support your needs, wants and desires?

  • Spirituality: do you have a nurturing spiritual practice?

  • Physical activity: do you enjoy movement and daily exercise?

  • Career: are you doing meaningful and exciting work?

Now that the kids are out of the house you may have more time to pursue your hobbies and passions. You may be getting ready to retire, and spending more time doing things that you love. Is there a dance class that you’ve always wanted to take? Or have you wanted to take up knitting, take a cooking class or get a massage?

Improving the quality of the time you spend outside of work is just as important as the time you spend at work. Take a moment to think about everything you like and don’t like about your work. Think about the content of your work, the structure of your day, your colleagues, your salary, opportunities for advancement and the importance of the work. What is working and what is not working?

By making adjustments in a few key areas, you could make your job more exciting and rewarding for yourself. Reach out to your coworkers and supervisor to try to make these improvements. Ask for a raise, redecorate your office or request to join a new project. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. Feeling happy and productive in the place you spend most of your time will dramatically increase your sense of well-being.

As you approach retirement, you may also want to consider new career opportunities. There is a world of opportunity out there and we have the luxury of creating work that nourishes us and gets us excited about each day. Consider the following:

  • What are your favorite hobbies activities and subjects you love to read about?

  • Which one would you not mind doing eight hours a day?

  • What are some job titles that fit those hobbies, activities etc? Do you know someone who works in that field? Call them to see if they know of any opportunities. You can also do an Internet search.

Maybe the corporate world isn’t for you, but you would rather be self-employed and determine your own hours. Many people decide to pursue a career as a nutrition counselor or a personal coach because it offers flexible hours and it is helping others. These jobs might require that you get a certificate. Look for programs that do not take up a lot of your time and will help you start seeing clients immediately.

This is your time to shine and do what truly makes you happy. By balancing all areas of your life: career, spirituality, relationships and health you will find the years that lie ahead truly nourishing and fulfilling.

About the Author:

Joshua Rosenthal is the founder and director of Integrative Nutrition in New York City-the only school in the world teaching the future of nutrition. Students are taught by world renowned guest speakers like Andrew Weil, MD, Deepak Chopra and many others on the principles of wellness and healing. Individuals are trained to become certified health counselors and given the business tools they need to launch their practice.

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