I never imagined I would be at a point that people considered me “middle-aged.” When I was in my 20’s and 30’s that seemed so… well….. OLD! But as the years ticked by it didn’t even occur to me that I was getting to that point. I just kept living my life as I always did. When I became a mom it began to feel as if life was moving forward at light speed and I got so wrapped up in parenting and being an entrepreneur I just went on automatic pilot to keep all the balls in the air. I didn’t have the time to self-reflect on who I was.
But I started to realize that midlife had arrived when police officers started looking like kids and some friends were a decade younger than me. I still enjoyed the same things – going out dancing, dinners with friends and hiking but there was a different feel to it. I enjoyed having dinner with friends at home more often than a noisy restaurant. Hiking wasn’t just about exercise but an opportunity to have deep, meaningful conversations with my girlfriend. And dancing was still fun but not until 2AM.
My younger self would have said – “Yup – you’re officially old.” And, make no mistake, the media would probably agree. After all, after fifty-four year’s old they stop tracking our opinions, viewing habits and spending behavior. Not only are we old but we’re invisible. But here’s the reality. We account for more than 40% of spending in the US economy each year and 50% of discretionary spending. We spend more than our younger sisters on wine, coffee and vacations. So why are we ignored? Because the majority of people working at ad agencies and marketing firms are not middle-aged. They have no clue what we’re about!
First, let’s think about the term Midlife – it doesn’t mean end – it means MIDDLE! With the average life-expectancy rising every year and women already outliving men by almost 30% we’ve got a lot of life ahead of us.
So the question becomes whether you’re willing to grab life by the short-hairs and start creating the next chapter. Make no mistake, it takes courage. We’ve had half of our lives to create routines and get into ruts which, while not necessarily joyful are comfortable. New chapters shake things up and push us into the unknown. That’s scary stuff. It’s easier to stay where we are and remain in the invisible role the media and others have chosen for us.
But is that good enough for you? What about the unrealized dreams you might have put aside when you got married and had kids? What about the passion that you decided not to pursue because everyone told you to take the “safe route” of a different career?
Midlife can be an exciting time of moves. Physically and spiritually moving. My husband and I started talking about where we wanted to live when the kids were out of the house. That’s a big deal – leaving comfortable memories and creating new ones. Spiritually moving can be just as scary. It means gathering the courage to say “no” to friends and family who might want to see you stay where you are in your life. To be “responsible” and “sensible.” But honestly, have you ever read about a woman in her 70’s or 80’s and admired her because she was responsible or sensible? Hell no! We read about kick-ass women who are running marathons or sky diving or starting new businesses and think “that’s what I want to do when I’m her age.”
Now’s the time to have fun. You get to choose what you want to do and who you want to be. You get to shed the titles that you’ve given yourself and start thinking of how you want to define yourself. What is your mid-life plan? Share in the comments below. And if you want to find more like-minded women, join my Facebook Group My Midlife Tribe: Fabulous, Fierce Females!