I’m a 51 year old business woman and entrepreneur who has spent the last couple of years focusing on the area of personal development and change for mid-life women. I’ve written a book about it that comes out next May called ‘What’s Age Got to Do with It’ and I’m launching a new programme in December called ‘Age with Attitude’, specifically for mid-life women. I work with business women who believe in beginnings not endings and who want to create better results in their lives.
In our image and age-obsessed society it’s high time that attention was paid to women in the middle phase of their lives. We are not the ‘Invisible Generation’ and we are far from ‘Done’. We want to be noticed in the Office and the Board Room. We want to be seen as vibrant and alive and embrace the changes that we are experiencing in contrast to mourning them. We can choose to feel good about ourselves and enjoy life or we can choose to withdraw into the background worrying about the ageing process. Which is it to be for you?
Your chronological age is ONLY a number. What really makes the difference is a positive state of mind and living the life that you’re passionate about and having fun. When you achieve these things a magical thing happens. You look and feel good, no matter what the year of your birth. I’m going to you give some tips for achieving this. A recent study called ‘the Paradox of Declining Female Happiness’ has provoked a storm by proving that while men have become more satisfied with their lives since the early 70’s, women have become more miserable. Our lives have become more complex as we simply have too much to do. We’re expected to have successful careers, run the household and look youthful and beautiful all at the same time! I am absolutely not, however, suggesting a return to the kitchen. Rather I’m more interested in helping business women create more balanced lives as we draw new boundaries for ourselves around how we use our time.
In other ways, mid-life can be a dangerous age for us because we want more from our lives than ever before. This might explain why the rate of divorce is soaring for women of our age, and, in 65 percent of the cases, it’s the wife who instigates the divorce proceedings. Something important happens when you turn 40 and it’s even stronger at 50. I personally felt liberated in a strange kind of way. Sort of, the pressure’s off. It’s actually quite wonderful as I wasn’t expecting that. At last, I’m finally learning to be myself. Hallelujah!
So if you’re someone who wants to make a change in your business life read on. Maybe you’re tired of forcing your way through the glass ceiling or maybe you discovered it was just an illusion once you got there. Maybe you want to take charge of your own destiny in future and set up your own business. Maybe you want to find a more suitable role for you. Maybe your company is going through major change and you’re not sure what the future holds for you. Or maybe you’re thinking of your options to re-structure your working hours. Whichever category you fit into, mid life is certainly a time of reflection and change. Here are some tips to help you get the results that you want. These are based on the 8 Attitudes of the Successful Mid-Life Woman that I’ve developed for my new book and programme:
Tip No. 1: Celebrate your Success
Build your confidence to go for what you want by reflecting back on your key business successes to date. Make a list of them and set a target of at least ten. Ask your colleagues and family if you run out of ideas. Then pick one of those successes and imagine floating back down into your body at that specific time, looking through your own eyes at what was going on at that time. See what you saw, hear what you heard and really get back the feelings of being purposeful, confident, and successful. Turn up the brightness, the sounds and most of all the feelings. Really get those feelings moving around your body. Know that you can use this technique to feel more confident whenever you choose!
Tip No. 2: Set stretching goals
It’s been proven that the most successful business people have goals. Take a few minutes to consider what are your goals for the next year in terms of your career. They can be small goals to big goals. I don’t mind so long as you have some! Personally though I’m a pretty greedy person so I tend to go as big as possible. List out your goals and make sure that they are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timed). Commit your goals to paper and put them on the wall where you can see them easily.
Tip No. 3: Take responsibility for what you want to create
If you are prepared to take 100% personal responsibility for your goal you probably won’t have to…at least that’s what I’ve experienced. In contrast, when I’ve relied on others that’s when things haven’t gone to plan – though I’ve always had someone to blame! What’s the 1st step you need to take to achieve your most important goal and go for it! Learn from those things that don’t go quite to plan and make sure whatever you learn is for YOU, POSITIVE and for the FUTURE.
Tip No. 4: Be True to Yourself – What does this mean?
It’s about being authentic, something that is very important as we reach mid-life. It’s time to stop trying to be like the most successful men at work and discover who you are and what you really want for yourself. In the context of your career, ask yourself if you are in your job because you want to be or because you have to be. If you’re in that place I call the ‘Grey Zone’, that’s the comfortable yet uncomfortable place where you know you are not yet reaching your full potential, what do you need to do to change it? Unrealistic you might think in the current economy? Well, maybe now is that time to do something different, even start your own company. It’s easier to stand out in the crowd now as most people have their heads down. Imagine turning the clock forward 5 years and for you to still be doing what you do now. How does that feel? Don’t be one of those business women who look back one day and wish that their career had been different. What would you need to change to be true to yourself?
Tip No. 5: Believe in Yourself
Henry Ford once said that whether you can believe you can do something or not it’s probably true. That’s because we cannot be more than we believe we can be. What do you believe about yourself? Remember that many of our beliefs are donated to us as children by those closest to us. And, beliefs are not true they can be changed even at mid-life. Start ‘Acting as If’ you can do, be or have whatever you want and notice the difference and the reaction of your colleagues.
Tip No. 6: Take Time for You
Work out how much time you took just for you over the last week. If it was less than 7 hours you have some changes to make. It’s easy to allow our jobs to dominate our lives. I know I’ve done it. Yet, there is so much more out there for you even if you use the time reflecting on where you are in your life and what else you want to achieve. Think about one thing you are going to do differently next week to make more time for you.
Tip No. 7: Keep Going until You Reach Your Goal
I was once given some excellent advice. I asked my mentor how long I should pursue my goal to set up my own business. He told me to keep going until I got there. That was great advice because otherwise I may have given up by now. As it is, I changed four things in my 40’s, I left my corporate career as a business consultant, I left my marriage, I set my own business and I wrote my first book. So it’s never too late to change!
Tip No. 8: Keep Focused and Take Action
Finally, focus on what you want not what you don’t want. It makes a BIG difference. Your energy flows where your attention goes so don’t spread yourself too thinly. FOCUS makes the difference. And, of course you do have to do something different to create something different.
Are you ready to begin?
Lindsey Agness is a best -selling author, trainer and consultant. She works in organisations and with individuals to improve their results. Her unique programme for mid-life women ‘Age with Attitude’ starts on the 5th December in Canterbury. Visit www.agewithattitude.co.uk for more information. Her book ‘What’s Age Got to do with it’ will be in the bookshops next May and is published by Macmillan.