In my former career as a psychotherapist and now as an executive coach, I have worked with hundreds of men and women in various stages of midlife transition, reinvention and sometimes “crisis.” Over time, I began to notice patterns in which of my clients were able to navigate transitions, make the necessary changes and thrive in their reformatted lives and those who believed they were stuck and they stayed that way.
Around the age of 50, far too many of us begin to express the desire to change our circumstances or try something new but then share the belief that we are “too old” or that it is “too late.” I feel confused, sad and angry that so many would simply resign themselves to a less than fulfilling life without even testing their assumptions, and I vowed I was not going to be one of them.
I made a vow to myself that I have kept for over a decade, that is both simple and profound. I came to think of it as my mantra for aging gratefully. Here it is:
“Each day I will learn something new, each year I will change something in a meaningful way and each decade, I will do something that scares me.”
This is how I fight the shrinking and fading that I see so many succumb to, without even realizing it. While it is true that some of us will be beaten by health, financial, personal or career disasters, but more often, we simply give up. This can and should be avoided.
Call me crazy, but I got my first stick shift car on my 50th birthday and during the next decade, many other firsts ensued. I got a tattoo, then another. Exploring meditation for pain management lead to embracing Buddhism. Between the ages of 51 and 55, I got remarried after a decade of single parenting my three children, was laid off for the first time, experienced workplace harassment and was catapulted into self employment.
Since then, I have added public speaking, podcasting, skydiving, international travel, river rafting, kayaking and lessons in cello, fencing and circus arts to my list of life experiences and skills.
I am often the oldest person in the room and sometimes I feel a bit foolish when I can’t keep up, but I have gained many new friends in their 30s and 40s, who couldn’t care less about the number of candles on my birthday cake.
A significant percentage of Baby Boomer females will live into their 90s, which means we have more than enough time to reinvent, reinvigorate and renew our skills, abilities and interests in life.
Obviously we need to focus on our health and financial security, but what is equally important is managing our mindset. It’s never too late to embrace the following qualities that are known to lead to resilience and the ability to adapt to change: curiosity, humility, openness, humor, perseverance, non judgment, optimism and gratitude. You have nothing to lose but regrets.
Diann Wingert is a mid life maven & reinvention mentor who helps men & women in their prime to transform the life they’ve got into the one they really want. After two decades as a successful psychotherapist, Diann spent two years becoming a masters level coach, so she could shift the conversation from problems to possibilities.
Now in her 6th decade, Diann is looking forward to continuing to learn, evolve and defy her own limits, while helping others do the same. She has a particular fondness for those who have difficulty sitting still and first time entrepreneurs over 50.
Visit Diann’s website Diann Wingert Coaching
bridge photo by: Ian D. Keating on Flickr
skydiving photo by: o.h. yeah on Flickr