Living alone and liking it sounds easy enough, but society still seems to feel that you can’t be truly happy unless you are in a relationship. Nevertheless, statistics tell us that “singles” make up a rapidly growing segment of the population. Your reasons for embracing a single lifestyle will remain personal, but like it or not you will be faced with making decisions that were previously shared. A new job, divorce, death of a spouse, empty nest, or not marrying by choice will have separated you from the herd, so to speak. The first decision of course, will be to decide if you are going to withdraw into a shell or if you are going to embrace your new circumstances.
Getting your affairs in order and deciding if you are going to move, or reinvent your current living arrangements, will be high on your list. Whether you downsize into an apartment, condominium or smaller house is up to you. Some people thrive when surrounded by everything familiar and some do not. Nearly everyone hates something about their current living situation. You may want more windows, a patio, big rooms instead of small, or you may want to paint everything a cheery yellow. Be mindful of accessibility issues when you redo your home, but take some time to turn it into something you truly love. .
So what comes next? It may be time for list making and a great deal of reflection, but don’t take too long. As you know, inertia sets in rather quickly and that can take the fun out of just about anything. Sooner or later you will have to get down to the “nitty gritty” of everyday living. Living on your own is all about making decisions. Big decisions reflect where and how you will live, but the smaller ones are important too. By small we are talking about activities of daily living. You know things like what to have for breakfast this morning or how to adjust to cooking for one.
Age doesn’t have anything to do with having dreams, goals, and plans. On the inside you don’t feel any older than you did when you were 26, so stop acting like age matters so much. Studies show that older adults are actually more engaged in everyday goal pursuits than younger adults. You are not too old to start over. Goals are dreams written on paper, so get your note pad right now. I know you still have goals because I do. Your first goal may be as basic as getting a physical exam. Learn everything you can about aging and conditions that may be pertinent to your situation (that’s a nice way of saying deal with whatever might be wrong with you), and then formulate a wellness-fitness plan.
After years of worrying about everyone else, it is time to put your own well-being first. Once you know what you have to work with physically you can start thinking about the dreams and aspirations that have lurked in the back of your mind since childhood days. Did you like to write stories or was art really fun when you took it in high school? Did you want to hike the Appalachian Trail before you settled down, and then never did? A lot of dreams get lost in the shuffle, but now is your time. Oh I know! I have trucked a set of classics from one side of the country to the other but have yet to read them. Actually I started a few times but thought they were pretty boring. Maybe the time just wasn’t right. Perhaps a class on appreciating the classics might make a difference. Once the list is made, you can think about what you need to do to make your dreams come true. Start by visiting your local Community College or Senior Center. Plan your new life as diligently as you did when you moved out of your comfort zone to go away to college the first time. You are still the same person. Find something interesting, exciting and purposeful to do, no matter what your age.
Sharon B. Siepel, the author of “Survival Guide to Living on Your Own” put together a great reference book. The author covers everything you need to know about living on your own without boring you to tears. She talks about everything from getting through the day to making a will.