Some of the biggest changes a woman goes through are during midlife. I’m going to talk about this time from the WE perspective because I am right there with you.

I know we are not always warmly welcoming all the changes that come at this time.  There can be changing family dynamics like becoming an empty nester, friends moving away and changing their interests, and our own moving or downsizing where we live.  And, of course, all the lovely physical changes to our bodies, not to mention the mindset shifts that can have us feeling like we cannot do as much as we once could!  

We could look at this time with dread, but if we can shift our thinking, we can start to see midlife as a time of self-discovery and transformation.

We can honor all that we have already done in our lives that has brought us to this point, AND we can see midlife as a time to begin something new, as a time for our next best chapter. We can embrace this phase to reinvent ourselves to break free from traditional societal norms and expectations. We can take the opportunity to redefine our lives, explore new passions, and pursue personal growth. It can be a beautiful and amazing time to rediscover ourselves.

Why reinvention? Why now?

Many women find themselves immersed in family life and careers during their younger years, and they don’t have the time, energy, or resources to focus on themselves.  Even when they have a little bit of time, it is rushed or sometimes filled with guilt about what they “should” be doing. This is made worse because women often feel limited by societal expectations about traditional roles and responsibilities. As a result, many women put their own dreams and ambitions on hold. I definitely did this.  I was in the sandwich generation, raising my children and helping to care for my mother as she was ailing. I have no regrets, but I did pour it all into my family.  

However, as women enter midlife, we increasingly question these societal norms and find it’s time to fulfill our personal desires and aspirations. Sometimes, we wish we had come to this realization earlier. But it is never, ever too late.

Self-Discovery and Rediscovering Passions:

By this time, having gained a wealth of life experience (some wonderful and some pretty hard), we are better equipped to understand ourselves. We can explore forgotten passions, hobbies, and even career paths that we had given up on or never realized were there for us in the first place.

Some women reignite a childhood passion or search for new interests. Passions and interests can be found everywhere, but sometimes it takes some soul searching and maybe some coaching to rediscover what your passions are.  I know women who have become artists and artisans (some for fun and a few who are selling their work!) Some are taking up or investing more time into sports, dancing, gardening, etc. Some are joining book clubs, hiking groups, or seeking out other women with common interests.  Some women dream of starting a new business.  Other women long to travel and explore.

Whatever you dream about, entering the midlife years can be the catalyst that pushes you forward to really do the things you have been thinking about. Maybe it is the urgency of our age – that we feel we must act, or maybe we have the freedom, the drive, and the time to spend our time and energy on ourselves.

A Rising Tide Lifts all Boats – or what about my family?

Self-discovery and finding the things you are passionate about are not selfish endeavors. I’ll say that again.  Caring for yourself and doing things that bring you joy is not selfish.

You don’t have to abandon your family, your responsibilities, or your current job to explore your passions or to reinvent.  But reinvention does require you to give yourself the freedom to make time and space for yourself, to think about what you want, and to give that as much importance and significance as you give to others. And to maybe even give it more significance at times!

It is difficult for some of us to acknowledge that we do not have to be everything to everyone.  That doing good things for yourself, like recognizing or expanding your knowledge, skills, and talents, is good for you and good for others.  After all, a rising tide lifts all boats! Be the rising tide.  When you care for yourself, others will benefit as well. 

That said, you will probably find that not everyone will be happy with your decisions.  Maybe your spouse wants you to continue to make dinner every night like you always did, but you are now taking a class that interferes with that. Or your parents, children, or even friends expect you to do certain things for and with them, and they are not happy when you are unavailable.  

How will you deal with that?  OK, if its an emergency, of course, you are on top of it!  But if it’s optional, if it has become the habit of you and your family, for you to do it all, it is time to stop and reconsider how this impacts you.  It may also be good to consider that when you do things for other people, things that they can do for themselves, this may be called over-functioning.  When you are over-functioning for others, they have a way of not taking care of their things and even more falls onto you.  This is disempowering for them and really frustrating for you. So, consider allowing others to do the tasks that they are able to do for themselves.  They may not like it when you start doing this, but they will probably respect it!

Change can be scary but really invigorating.

The concept of reinvention in midlife goes hand-in-hand with embracing change. Life’s milestones, such as children leaving the nest, retirement from long-held careers, changing relationships, or changing locations can provide an opportunity for women to start on a new journey. Embracing change allows us to leave behind what no longer serves us and ask ourselves many questions, leading to personal growth and transformation. It can be scary to allow change in and to ask difficult questions, but it is also exciting.  Here are some of the more common areas of life where women often want to change things up and reinvent:

Personal growth! Try something new or try something you used to love but gave up doing. Say YES to new experiences and say No to things you do not want to do. For reinvention, we must be willing to take a few steps in a new direction – to take action. We also have to be willing to be imperfect and make some mistakes while we try. We might feel a little bit uncomfortable doing this, but after you take those first few steps, it can feel very empowering.  There are so many ways to do this, and personal growth looks different for every person.  Usually, it will be finding the things that are unique to you to make each day filled with the things that bring you purpose, passion, and joy.  It could be finding new or renewed activities, hobbies, businesses, or volunteering. It could be a new way to care for yourself and others in your life.  It could be a new way of thinking and a new more creative way of being in your daily life. There are many tools you can use to find out what your reinvention could look like and working with a coach can help you discover that. 

Nurturing Your Health and Well-being! Nurturing your physical and mental health is key to creating a strong foundation for reinvention. This is an important time to prioritize self-care, health, and well-being. This focus often leads to transformative lifestyle changes, such as adopting healthier eating habits, regular exercise, and mindfulness practices. This is an amazing time to get out in nature, hike, bike, swim, and do whatever you can to use and honor your body. It is also important to think about the ways you are eating.  I know I had been shopping and cooking for three growing boys, and after they moved into their own places, I had to learn how to cook for two.  I needed to change the types and quantity of foods I was cooking and eating! I needed to stop eating like a 21-year-old boy!  Of course, it is so important to take care of all your medical needs and check in with your healthcare providers about what is safe for you to do and eat, given your uniqueness.

Building Supportive Networks! Women find strength in building supportive networks. Connecting with like-minded individuals, joining social groups, or participating in online communities is important in providing encouragement, advice, and a sense of belonging during your journey.

Ditch ageism and stereotypes! One of our most significant challenges when reinventing in midlife is overcoming ageism and societal stereotypes. Some of these are put on us, and some of these we put on ourselves. Other people may question you about why you are still doing certain things, as if there is a specific age that you have to quit working or playing a sport.  People will say, Why don’t you retire? Why would you take a class? How can you not cook dinner every night for your S.O.? Why do you still compete in your sport?  Sometimes, we are the ones asking these questions of ourselves!

So let’s be clear: there is no age limit to self-discovery, embracing life, finding and doing what brings you joy. Women I know are challenging these biases head-on, proving that age is just a number and that they can work toward and achieve their goals and dreams at any stage of life.

By rediscovering passions, embracing change, pursuing personal growth, nurturing health, and challenging stereotypes, women are transforming their lives in inspiring ways.

Life is a continuous journey of self-discovery and evolution. It’s always the right time to live life to the fullest.  Stay tuned, and we’ll keep exploring all these ideas.

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