Three years ago I found myself at a preacher’s meeting. During a break I had a serious conversation with a pastor friend. We had started in ministry about the same time. And now, many years later, we were nearing the end of our careers. He confessed to me the difficulty in processing his unfulfilled dreams. He lamented at the thought of being at the end of the road in his career. It felt good to commiserate together. Misery loved company during the conversation.
But within 6 months a surprising thing happened. My friend got a huge promotion in his career. Off he went to bigger money, more responsibility, and a high profile position. Me? I got left behind.
Baby Boomers are nearing the end of their traditional careers. The clock is ticking. And many are pausing to reflect on life. Here’s what many of us are discovering in our moments of honest reflection: we got left behind.
Can you identify with similar feelings?
- Your closest friend from college is making more way money than you.
- The person who hired on when you did got the promotions.
- You drive a 10 year old junker while your friends drive new cars with back up cameras mounted to the dash.
- At your college reunion everyone seems happier and more successful than you.
- You suffer physically from a chronic ailment while others your age just ran their first 10K.
- You never have people over to your house because it is small and still has green shag carpet in the living room.
Somehow, you got left behind.
Here’s 4.5 ways to deal with the feeling of being left behind.
1. Stop the comparison game.
No matter how successful you’ve been in life you will always find someone better off. If you look around long enough you will find someone to envy. And before you know it you will become unhappy with what you do have. It will create dissatisfaction. Stop looking around at others and comparing yourself to them.
2. Realize many are comparing their life to yours and would love to trade places with you.
I know. It’s hard to believe. Your life is so terrible! But everything is relative. Trust me on this. No matter how bad your life might be, there are others out there who suffer and wish they could walk in your shoes.
3. Make a list of the good things which have happened in your life.
Think it through. In some way, even a small way, have you made the world a better place? Have you influenced someone in a positive direction? Did you manage to do well at work? How many years did you enjoy good health? Do you have at least one close friend? Force yourself to make a list.
4. Take advantage of the fact life isn’t over and you can still improve.
Instead of sitting around and whining about how well your friends are doing get out there and improve your life. You’re still breathing. Do something! Get involved in church ministry. Volunteer at the hospital. Take an online class at udemy.com. (I’ve taken two of these classes. Read the reviews before you hand over the money. And often these classes go on sale. Last week all classes were only $25.00 each.) Get proactive and make your life better!
4.5. Stop feeling sorry for yourself.
You live in a great country with tremendous opportunity. You can never improve your life as long as you are whining about your life.
Take heart! It isn’t as bad as you think. Stop comparing yourself to others. Be encouraged. You can start improving your life today.