Are you a woman over 50 feeling lost and unsure of what’s next? Not exactly a woman in a midlife crisis, but more an existential quandary? Looking for a way to reinvent yourself, but not sure how to do it… or if you even should? After spending most of your adult life in “doing” mode, you may be struggling to determine what you want and what your next steps might be. This feeling can be complicated for many of us older women by societal conditioning and adjustments to our aging body and mind. If you haven’t read my post How Society Damaged Me (And Probably You, Too!) I invite you to give it a read!
Friend, it doesn’t have to be this way. What if I told you that there are things you can do to find your way forward? Of course, you need to remember that you have to take action yourself – no one else is coming to save you. But that’s what I’m here for, to help you find your way to the “you” that YOU want to be! Are you ready to make some really positive changes? These are my go-to specific ideas on how to reinvent yourself for a life of joy, excitement, and peace after the age of 50. Or 60, or 70, or 80! Can you imagine how you will feel, finally finding a new way to think and feel about aging as a woman? To be happy with it? Nope, that’s not hype, it’s science. And courage. And most important of all, taking action.
10 Steps to Reinvent Yourself After 50
The good news is that you already have the necessary tools to make the changes you want; you just may be needing a little guidance and encouragement. Or maybe, you just need to know that you can. So if you’re feeling lost, remember that there is a way forward. By the way?
Let’s do this. 😉
Coming to Terms with Pro-Aging
Pro aging may be a term you haven’t heard before. It basically takes everything we were taught from the time we were little girls and turns it upside down. Pro aging is about removing the negative connotation that to age is to become invisible. It helps us realize that while it is part of life to age, it doesn’t have to be something that we fear, dread or label as “the end”. It’s not the end ’till the end my Middle Girl! Until then, we are all just here in the middle. Internalizing anti aging beliefs has been proven to be bad for both our physical and our mental health. So let’s retire the phrase “anti aging”. Let’s pro age! Once you can accept a new way of thinking about how you age, you can develop a plan for making it the best part of your life! (So far!) Aging will continue to be perceived negatively as long as we continue to perceive it negatively. Be brave. Pro age.
Letting Go of Toxic Elements
If you spent your life, like me, believing the lies we were taught as children, it’s possible you’ve allowed some pretty toxic elements into your life. It isn’t your fault, it can happen to anyone. But honestly, if you struggle with self esteem, (who doesn’t?) chances are very good you struggle with boundaries. You’ve spent your life in caretaker mode, putting yourself last. Maybe you’ve allowed people into your life who are not only toxic, but maybe downright abusive. You’ve allowed toxic beliefs to cloud your futures. “It’s too late for me to change.” “I couldn’t do that by myself.” “I will make a fool of myself if I try that.” “No one good will want me at my age.” “I am afraid to be alone.” Any of these sound like things you tell yourself?
This may be the most difficult step in learning how to reinvent yourself at 50+. It takes a tremendous amount of bravery to make such deep and lasting changes in your life. But in order to be the best girl (yes, girl!) you deserve to be, you have to find a way to start removing toxicity from your life. Start small, but start.
Identify what in your life is toxic. Perhaps it’s a relationship or two, maybe your work environment, perhaps it’s even your attitude towards yourself. Seek therapy if you find yourself stuck in toxicity. It might just change your life.
Taking Stock of YOU
Now that you are in a better mindset of what aging means for you, the next step is to figure out exactly what YOU want from the rest of this life. And, there is a lot of it left, my Middle Girl. Here are five questions to ask yourself to help you discover exactly what your reinvention looks like.
Now make a note on your computer, or even on a scrap of paper or a journal. Write down #1-#5 and just brainstorm answers to these five questions. Now ask yourself, what major change or goal would I like to create for myself, based on my answers? Pick just one major goal in each area (see below in “Making a Plan”) to start working on. When you feel like you have more balance with that particular goal, move onto a new one. You don’t have to change anything overnight. This life we are on is journey, not a sprint. And it’s an ever changing trail for each one of us. Start small, but start.
Now you have your framework for making a plan.
Making a Plan to Reinvent Yourself
There are five major areas I teach women like you to pay attention to while trying to reinvent yourself after 50. It’s likely that your answers to those five questions above will fall into these categories. Try to choose one major goal or change for each category to start.
This is the narrative we were taught as young girls that tells us that aging is bad. That older women aren’t attractive, effective, interesting or sexy. This is the basis for all the negative self talk that goes on in your head. And it is one of the most important areas to pay attention to as you are looking for ways to reinvent yourself. Because all the self care and goals in the world are useless if you don’t believe you deserve it. If you don’t believe in you. Right now. The you that is over 50. THIS you.
Well Being and Self Care
Anxiety and depression are the most common mental health issues we deal with as mid life women. Throw in menopause, chronic illness, chronic pain, relationships and just plain boredom with your life, and there is a lot to work with in this category.
Confidence and Self Esteem
Most emotional imbalances occur when we have issues with our self esteem and self confidence. And Girl, we all have issues. But the more you can work on these aspects of your life and bring them into balance, the more you can enjoy every other aspect of your life. It really is that important to happiness and joy. Check out my post on Confidence and Self Esteem for Older Women for more ideas!
But don’t forget small confidence builders like style and beauty. They aren’t who you are, but they are how you share yourself with the world. Nothing wrong with new ways of looking at makeup, hair, clothes and accessories!
Goals and Purpose
No one in this life is happy unless they feel like they have purpose. It is simply the way we are wired. Having purpose helps with self esteem and confidence too. Patrick Hill of Washington University’s Purpose, Aging, Transitions, and Health Lab and his colleagues have also found important advantages for more purposeful adults, including better cognitive functioning and greater longevity. Purpose can mean anything from starting a business or non profit (yep, even at our age!) volunteering, to simply taking care of loved ones. If you feel adrift, maybe it’s time for some new goals and a fresh purpose.
Joy & Peace
So when was the last time you laughed so hard you cried? Or felt that deep relaxation of feeling truly at peace? Awhile ago? Never? You can change that. Be silly. Play. Take time in nature. Do the things you love to do. Spend time with the people who make you feel joyful. Less time with people who don’t.
Starting New Habits
Creating new habits for ourselves takes practice. It takes reminding. Its not uncommon to start strong with a new habit, only to fall back into your old patterns pretty quickly. But in order to make changes, you need to hold yourself accountable.
The best way to do this on your own is to create a daily journaling time. Make it your first new habit! Set an alarm for a regular time, otherwise, this will go down as just another thing you tried. Trust me, I know. You need a system of accountability. It is human nature to like things to stay exactly the way they are, even if they aren’t working for you. Practice. Persistence. Progress. This is a chance each day to sum up the bold moves you’ve made, as well as the old habits you’ve seen yourself fall into. It can be daily, every other day or weekly. Try to journal at least weekly. Here is how to structure your Reinvention Journal for progress. (I’ve put together a free printable journal pre-filled with all these prompts, just for my girls! Just click on the link and download your copy!)
How to Use Your Reinvention Journal
Page 1 of your new journal are the starting goals you created for yourself above in “Taking Stock of You”. Reread this section every couple of days. Feel free to add to it as well. Watch as your perception of how you looked at yourself changes with time.
Each time you journal write down a motivational quote that applies to whatever challenge(s) you are facing. These positive affirmations aren’t just fluff, they are a way to start reprogramming the negative self-talk that goes on in all our minds. You can create one yourself, or search the internet for “inspiring quotes for women”.
- #1 Write down your major challenge this week in this area, and how it affected you and made you feel. These are NOT your failures, they are a challenge. Remember that.
- #2 Write down something you have done to help reinvent yourself in this area. You won’t have something to write down every session. And, it can be as simple as positive thoughts you had as well.
- #3 Write out a goal for a way for you to try to improve yourself within this challenge starting tomorrow.
My page might look something like this.
Affirmation or Quote-
“Stop spending all day obsessing, cursing, perfecting your body like it’s all you’ve got to offer the world. Your body is not your art, it’s your paintbrush.”
– Glennon Doyle
1.I feel like sometimes I still look into the mirror and see this aging woman, and that society tells me if I am aging, I am no longer attractive. I hear these cruel words in my head calling myself ugly and fat.
2. I tried a new makeup technique, read some positive affirmations to try and reteach my brain not to listen to negative self talk, and I read an article on a celebrity who is pro-aging, and who is bravely showing off her wrinkles and cellulite. It inspired me!
3. Tomorrow I plan to start my day with this motto, and repeat it whenever I have negative thoughts about my attractiveness. “My beauty is reflected in the person I am, not the wrinkles on my skin.”
Well Being and Self Care
1. My chronic fatigue has been limiting me, and I feel hopeless some days it will never get better.
2. I am learning to take breaks BEFORE I get exhausted and not to stubbornly push myself too far. It doesn’t help, and what am I proving?
3. I will remind myself all that I CAN accomplish, add some self care and pampering and know that this works in cycles. It will get better, at least for awhile. I am lucky to be alive, so enjoy the cards I’ve been dealt! Also, chat with therapist. 😉
Confidence and Self Esteem
1. See Narrative
Goals and Purpose
1. Feeling overwhelm trying to get my coaching program ready to launch. Feeling like a failure for not having more energy and a clearer mind. (Thanks, autoimmune. :))
2.Been working hard at it, pushed myself to finish a blog post even though I really wanted to play in my garden. Been working on getting more organized.
3.Remind myself to prioritize work, but not to let imposter syndrome tell me lies about what I am capable of. Continue to work on content calendar to keep me on track and lessen overwhelm. Hire some busy work out.
Joy & Peace
1.Was planning a much needed vacation with hubby to Maui… The fires there have devastated us and have changed the possibility of traveling there. Broken hearted for the whole situation.
2.Discover a new place that will give us joy, and schedule a trip.
3.Learn about our new vacation destination to get us excited. Get involved with helping the people of Maui in some way.
Journaling is a scientifically proven method of changing our mindset.
But you won’t do it if you don’t make it a priority. So put it right up there with brushing your teeth! Set a repeating alarm on your phone, your computer or Alexa. And use journaling as a tool to help reinvent yourself!
Finding Our Courage
This, my friend, is a tough one. And a very personal one. Finding our courage for me, was about getting inspired from other women who have come before, and doing the work of reprogramming the negative narrative in my own mind. And honestly, the whole mentality of looking at older women as “done” just ticked me off. One of the positive things that comes with age is just a tiny little bit of wisdom, right ladies? We KNOW we count. We KNOW we deserve better. Don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself!
So the best thing you can do to find your courage? Read publications and books that celebrate aging. Follow celebrity women who are pro-agers, like Jamie Lee Curtis. Band together with other like minded women over 50 and support each other. Choose to believe in YOU. Read Brene Browns book The Gifts of Imperfection, or Glennon Doyle’s Untamed.
Establishing Purpose or Legacy
If you don’t feel like you have purpose, or if you feel your only purpose is to make dinner and wash socks and you want more, then take it. Take more. Because friend, you deserve it. You’ve served this world for 50+ years and it is time you got to choose for yourself. Got a dream you think it’s too late for? Stop that. Want to come up with a new dream? Start dreaming! Just want to feel useful? There are a million and one ways to make a difference in your community. Screw up your courage and walk into that history museum zoo care facility community center library hospital political campaign animal shelter food bank insert any opportunity you would enjoy here and ask what volunteer opportunities are available. Oh, and chances are, you will make some great friendships too!
Other options? Start a business or non profit! No, it is NOT too late! Keep reading!
Looking After Your Financial Future
Many women over the age of 50 were not able to save the amount for retirement that they would have liked. Or, nothing at all. I know because whenever I poll all your fellow Middle Girls, it’s the number one request I receive for more help and guidance. You can still create a financial legacy that will allow you to retire well. I’m doing it right now. Until I met my hubby, I had two divorces behind me where both times I walked away with nothing. And, having been a stay at home mom most of my adult life, Social Security doesn’t look really great for me either. So, I created my own legacy. And you can too.
Every single woman over 50 has a money making venture in her. Every one. And, you can build a business without ever leaving home, if thats what you choose.
The online learning business as of 2017 was approximately $159 Billion and is expected to increase in market size to $286 Billion by 2023. These are some incredible numbers! The over 50 segment of online influencers is the fastest growing group on the internet. We all (especially at our age! lol) have knowledge inside of our heads that we can teach to someone else. Crafts or art we can sell. Problems we can solve. Todays technology makes it possible to have it all, even at our age. Now, I didn’t say “have it all perfect”. But if you’ve been living with a mindset of lack and limitations, it’s time to change that.
Finding Your Tribe
I am an introvert. I spent my life depending on myself, and I liked it that way. But there is something that happens to female friendships as you get older. The cattiness disappears. We wise up. We learn how much we need each other. We enjoy each other without feeling a competition with each other. I dunno, call it wisdom of the ages.
Find a tribe of like minded women and let them lift you up. Lift them up. Start here, at The Middle Girls.
Finally. 🙂 Step Ten!
Standing Up for the New You
There will be times when you feel insecure about this new, adventurous, pro-aging woman you are becoming. There will be people who will say things, sometimes innocently, that knock you off your game. “Aren’t you a little old to be doing that?” “Do you think that’s appropriate to wear?” You will have to find the courage to stand up to those people, those thoughts, that narrative.
If you need someone to give you permission to take control of this life and reinvent yourself, look in the mirror and say these words.
“I. Am. Not. Done.”
Now, again, with feeling friend!
So if you are feeling a little stale as an older woman, it’s time to STOP THAT. You can make changes to reinvent yourself at this stage in your life. You CAN. These ten steps will help you reevaluate what YOU want from your life, and give you the guidance to go out and get it!
If this article was helpful to you in some way, I invite you to check out Do You Feel Fat? The Big Lie…Self Care for Women Over 50.
And if you haven’t entered our monthly giveaway for a $100 Sephora gift card yet (complete with a bonus copy of my guide, 10 Ways to Look + Feel More Youthful, Starting Today, then scroll right down there, and click on “Enter”! ‘Till next time Middle Girls!