December 22, 2016

“I really appreciate having an older lady in my life for guidance and wisdom,” a young client said recently.

I looked over my shoulder, to see who this older woman was, only to realise that she was referring to me! Since when had I become the older woman, I thought. I still feel the same as I did when I was in my 20s.

I found it challenging when the first signs of uninvited lines marked my face, and silver strands appeared around my hairline. I remember being annoyed that my fitness level had fallen to an all time low, and that losing weight had become tougher than ever before. I was irritated with marketing companies for taking advantage of this information about me. Encouraging me and my generation to look good and feel great all the time: smooth those wrinkles, dye that grey hair, wear contact lenses not bifocals, go to the gym and flatten that belly, run a mile a day and stay strong, get your teeth whitened before you lose them, and the list goes on.

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I know that appearance can have an impact on one’s confidence but I didn’t want it to be my main focus. And I didn’t need anyone reminding me of all those negatives; the voice in my head did a good job of that by itself.

My husband brought home a book entitled The Hundred Year Life. My initial reaction was, “Surely not!” According to the author I could have another forty something years to live and at least twenty more to work, if I chose to. Retirement was not my goal. I made a snap decision there and then; it was time to take control of my own life, no one was going to do it for me. It was time to focus on me and create my future.

I was eating well and exercising regularly, aware that both are crucial for healthy ageing. I realised that the part of me which warranted the greatest attention, was inside my head. My thoughts and state of mind are extremely influential on how I feel about myself, and the world around me. For me to stay positive and enjoy mid life, both needed to be handled with care, understood, guided, trained, built-up and looked after as much as any other body part. I could no longer afford to neglect the power of my mind.

I imagine my life like a game of Snakes and Ladders. Sometimes I get a lucky break and climb quickly, other times I land on a slippery slope and have to start all over again. With 100 squares on the board, one for each potential year of my life, I am more than half way to the finish line. I can’t afford to leave my future to chance anymore. It is time to prepare a winning plan and play this game of life by my rules.

For some people the idea of living 100 years is exciting; for others it is a terrifying thought. Most of my peers tell me that they only want to live that long if they can have a good life, by that they actually mean a healthy life. I don’t know anyone that wants to live the second half of his or her life feeling tired, fearful or lacking enthusiasm for each new day. So how does one go about achieving a great life and having it all as they age? The steps I have learned and implemented in my own life boil down to three main things: what you think, what you say and what you do. Let’s look at each of these in more detail.

What you think

My first big ‘aha’ moment came when I read about the impact our mindset has on the outcomes of our life. Professor Carol Dweck was the first to explain the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. I always thought I was fairly open minded but when I looked at my life I realised that some of the situations I was in, were as a result of my fixed mindset.

A person with a fixed mindset will be challenged by change. This person may see mid-life as the first step to retirement, and see retirement as the first step to the grave. When the fixed mindset feels overwhelmed it will run away and give in to obstacles, it will blame and argue and consider itself too old to improve. The root of this behaviour is an unwillingness to step out of a comfort zone into the unknown.

You will hear someone with a fixed mindset say things like: “you can’t change it, we’ve always done it this way.” They find it difficult to see beyond what they have been brought up with. Things are either right or wrong, there is no middle ground.

On the other hand, someone with a growth mindset will give things a go, and work through their fear and limiting beliefs. This mindset is happy to learn from failure and is open to feedback. This type of thinker sees mid-life as a time to be grateful. They are likely to be thankful for having a bit more available cash in the bank, for having more time on their hands, they are usually excited to take up a new hobby and they often see this stage of their life as a new beginning.

Someone with a growth mindset would say, “I’m not comfortable with this, but I’m willing to give it a try.” They are open to ideas and to seeing life from someone else’s point of view even if they don’t agree with that person’s conclusion. For me the turning point was when I shifted my mindset from menopausal woman, past her sell by date, waiting for retirement, to youthful female in her fifties open to new opportunities for the next 50 years. I didn’t know what those opportunities would be or when they would appear but being open to them gave me a sense of hope.

What you say

Are you aware of the impact your language has on your state of mind, your wellbeing and your future? When I read my diary from a few years ago I couldn’t believe how depressing the entries were.

I had no idea at the time that I was making myself feel worse by reinforcing my negative view of life in words on paper and in my head: can’t, won’t, don’t, dislike, hate, angry, sad, worried etc. It makes depressing reading. When I was first introduced to the idea of powerful positive language and it’s uplifting affect on the mind and body, I was sceptical. When I was forced to try it, my mood lifted instantly and my whole outlook changed.

Try the following exercise now. Write out a few negative sentences, for example: I can’t do this; I’m no good at that; I should visit my old neighbour. When you read your sentences be aware of how they make you feel and where in your body you feel that affect. This type of language attributes to making us feel negative about the activities that we have to do and about ourselves.

Now I would like you to notice the difference when you say: I can do this. I am so good at that. I choose to visit my old neighbour. Try to avoid words like: should, ought to, have to and instead use words like: want to, excited to, decided to. You will soon begin to notice the language of those around you.

What you do

Some people are motivated by external gratification, for example money and status, for others it may be an internal sense of making a positive difference, or the joy of using their natural skills for the benefit of others. It doesn’t matter which drives you, what really matters, is that you understand why.

Making your choice this way means that when times get tough, as every new venture does, these reasons will keep you going. My reasons for doing what I do now are: connection and the sense of belonging, healthy ageing, being a good role model for my girls and satisfaction that I have something positive to contribute to my community.

What do you really, really want in your 50s plus years? Take a minute to write down your answers, be honest with yourself. Remove all limitations. Let your imagination soar.  Why do you want this? How can you go about getting it?

What do you want from life? Share with us in the comments.

5


  • Great article – can relate to the older woman thought. I still feel like I am in my 20’s but I am now over 70.


    • I know what your mean, everything changes on the outside but we are still the same person on the inside!
      Anne

    Reply


  • Great article ! I see I’ve already replied to this post but was reading it again and think it’s a good and stimulating read.


    • Thank you! I’m delighted you were able to take away additional things from a second reading.
      Anne

    Reply


  • Well I eat healthy and am pretty active. I donstruggle with what’s happening in my though. No natter how I try, I don’t seem to be able to be happy about it. Something I need to work on


    • Life is a journey and we are always evolving, growing, learning – good on you!
      Anne

    Reply


  • I wanted to retire at the stage of my life I chose – in 15 months, not be made redundant. I wanted to get a medical problem sorted – that hasn’t happened, about to ask for more tests. I want to travel more – that is going to happen, hopefully later this year. I would like the value of Super. to return to what it was – not sure if or when that will happen.


    • Choice is a key word. When we are free to choose we feel happier. Set your life up so that you always have choices. Good on you for choosing when you want to retire – make it happen the way you want!
      Anne

    Reply


  • Sometimes as you get older you get little niggling physical issues that slow you don a bit.
    eg. One of mine can run faster than I can and takes full advantage of it,. especially following unacceptable behaviour. She just thinks it’s funny. ggrrr!!! The younger one will sometimes sit himself in the “quieten down” corner when he Knows he needs to slow down or thinks he has done something naughty. Ask him to go there can be quite the opposite reaction.


    • My teenagers can out run me, they are better with technology than me, they are less forgetful, but I am still the parent and the more mature adult. I have wisdom and life experience that they do not have – so you you!
      Anne

    Reply


  • I want to continue to be fearless regardless of age – it is just a number and I will never be defined by a number. I love the old saying that ‘there is no dress rehearsal for life’. It is so true and life needs to be grasped and lived well, take chances and push yourself to be the very best you can be.


    • Seize the day and go for what you want in life. :)



      • Well said! Fear holds us back and limits us. Age is only a number and we are living longer, healthier lives every decade.
        Anne

    Reply


  • I want to travel more. I want to be more brave not a couch potato. Become more creative which was an aspect of my earlier life but I stopped doing. I want that back.


    • Wanting is not enough, you have to take action! Book a class, go with a friend, buy some material – just do it!
      Anne

    Reply


  • I turned 53 this year and pretty much want the same things as 30 years ago !
    They say you’re as young as you feel and I think that’s true.
    My kids are still young (12, 11, 6, and 3 years old) and they keep me young as well.
    I feel fit and am slim (skinny some may say) and grey hairs are invisible as I’m light blond.
    I totally agree with making a positive difference and the joy to use our natural skills for the benefit of others.


    • You’re right – 50 is the new 40!
      Merry Christmas.
      Anne



      • Thanks Anne, hope you and your family have a wonderful and blessed Christmas yourself !

    Reply


  • One thing I never thought I would be doing in my 50’s was having and raising more children. I love that my hair is light , so the grey hairs do not show as much. I really have not thought that much how being in my 50’s has changed me except I am more tired now and do not have the energy that I had with my older children. In a way I am glad my older children in their early 30’s can help with my 4 year old twins. That my teen daughter can look after herself without too much help, she calls it not interfering with her life.


    • Life has a way of surprising us sometimes doesn’t it! I see the number 50 and it seems so old, yet I know I have a younger outlook on life than my mum did when she was 50. And I bet your kids keep you young too – enjoy Christmas Day with your beautiful family.
      Anne

    Reply


  • What I want is what I’ve always wanted, a simple, happy life.

    Reply


  • Something to think about,thanks for your article!

    Reply

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