So you’re hitting the BIG ONE this year.
Ask yourself two questions.
What have I done with my life so far?
What do I have left to do?
Those two questions hit you – WHAM – over the head when you realize your 50th birthday is in sight. And as you are questioning, what do you see? Are you at the end of your life? Someplace in the middle? Do you have a lot left to accomplish?
The funny thing is when you’re 20, 50 seems SO OLD. But then it rushes at you like a freight train – it’s here, it’s here. And just like that, all of the demographics you used to associate with your parents are upon you. Mildlife. Old age. Second chance. Reinvention.
You’re playing the “coulda, shoulda, woulda” game more than you ever thought possible.
But I’ve never understood all of that.
I started living life as a “50” year old back in my mid-twenties, when my dad died of a massive heart attack at age 54. Because even in my twenties, I knew 54 was young. Too young. So I started asking different questions. I went looking for different advice.
I knew 54 was young. I knew I didn’t want to follow in his footsteps. And there was no reason I couldn’t live a longer and healthier life. My grandmothers both passed away in their 90s; so not all my genes were bad. So I went looking for alternatives. And I’ve been living a different lifestyle ever since.
What I wish to accomplish with this letter to you is to inspire you, a midlife female, into realizing all of your true potential. To help you understand you have a lot more time left. And no matter how much it feels like the world is crashing on your shoulders sometimes, there’s way too much of your life left to step back and “accept” now.
Imagine two women, Janey and Joannie, each 50 years old.
Janey eats whatever she desires. She’s never paid attention to how healthy something is. She eats because it tastes good going in. And for her, that’s the only thing that matters.
Joannie takes a different approach. Every ounce of food she takes in is fuel for her body. Her goal is to be just as healthy at 100 as she was at 21. So she subscribes to healthy eating publications. She attends seminars on nutrition. She reads books on food as fuel. She only takes in good-for-you food, food that provides solid nutrition to help her be the best she can be.
Janey diets all the time. Her weight is a yoyo. Her health is always in question. Her list of meds is steadily growing.
Joannie has banished the word diet from her conversations. She eats to maintain her health and never looks at the scale. She judges how well she’s doing by how she feels. Her food is her medicine, and she’s never been on a prescription for the long term.
Both scenarios are possible. Both are a reality.
I know many that live with Janey’s philosophy. And I know just a few that believe in Joannie’s way of life. Including me.
“How do you do it?” I’m asked that quite frequently. There is no perfection in eating. We all slip up from time to time. But when you feel good, you work hard to keep that feeling. You eat because you like the way it makes you feel, not for the short term, but for every hour of the day.
Imagine two women, Kathy and Kari, both 50 years old.
Kathy has worked for the same company for 20 years. She doesn’t like it, but they’ve allowed her to work with flex time, which has been important for caring for her kids. The job is tedious, and she often dreams of quitting, starting up her own business. She’s researched it, given it a name, even done a little planning to make it a reality. But it doesn’t fit with her plans. She has a house payment, her husband just got a new car, the kids need braces, and they have to start thinking about paying for college at some point soon.
Kari takes a different approach. She’s been working for the same company for years as well. But she also realizes she has no plans to retire anytime soon, and has every desire to become an entrepreneur. She knows her job is at risk. She hasn’t seen a raise in three years. And today’s technology is already threatening the very existence of her position. She’s had an idea for years, and after a little investigation realizes that now is the perfect time to make it a reality.
So Kari makes it a priority. She works at it on her lunch hour, attends classes to learn more about the process. She sets goals and makes to-do lists and gets things done. She realizes she’s only one person, so she gives herself time to do what she needs to do. She asks for help whenever she can. And she’s asked her family for help, because of course, they want to see her succeed. She’s quit the parent’s group at school for more time. She’s stuck with an old car to give her extra money. She’s adjusted her lifestyle to see the big picture – ten years down the road instead of right now.
When someone says they don’t have the money, what they really mean is they have different priorities. They value things in a different order. So a new car may take priority over starting up a business. A vacation is a necessity instead of purchasing business cards and marketing materials.
Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t,
so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.
Imagine two women, Mary and Martha, both 50 years old.
Both are in the process of starting online businesses.
But through their research, they both get a little discouraged at what they find.
They find gurus – people that assure them that now is the time to become an entrepreneur. There has never been a better time in history to make it come true. But listening to some gurus begins to fill them with doubt.
“Commit 24 hours a day, and you’ll find success,” one guru shouts.
“Even if you work, you have from 7pm to 2am. Stop watching TV! Cut back on your sleep!” another guru declares.
And it’s good advice. For some people.
When I began my online business back in my 30s, when the Internet was brand new, the experts were male. It was very common to find advisors that worked 24/7 for weeks at a time. It was a badge of honor if you had a bed under your desk. Pyramids of Mountain Dew and Jolt Cola were what set you apart from those that didn’t have what it takes.
And even then, my frustration grew. I blazed many trails on my own because I couldn’t get the advice I needed.
Because I had a small daughter, and I wasn’t going to sacrifice being a part of her life. In that respect, I wanted it all. I wanted the successful business AND a healthy relationship with those closest to me.
Because I had responsibilities to aging parents. Occasionally I had to drop everything to attend to medical issues. More than once my plans were put on hold for the good of the family.
I tried working in my “spare” time. I’d rise at 6 and get an hour in before waking up my daughter. I’d push hard while she was in school. I’d sit back down at 8, after she was in bed, and work until 1 or 2 in the morning.
And it cost me a lot. Exhaustion only made me cranky, less aware, more prone to mistakes. I watched my health suffer, my income fall, and my relationships wane, all right before my eyes.
As a female entrepreneur, I had to learn another way. And eventually I did.
Because I couldn’t put my other responsibilities aside, not for a few years or even a few months. So I had to learn how to incorporate everything into my final plans.
It takes FOCUS.
It takes DETERMINATION.
It takes VISION to see what you want and let nothing get in your way.
It also takes the ability to only say YES to what truly matters. And that’s often the most difficult part for females. Because we’re natural YESers. We say yes because it’s who we are. We have to take care of the kids and our aging parents. We have to be there for our spouses. We have to say yes to the bake sale at school. If we don’t who will? We don’t have the luxury of pushing it all aside and working till midnight just because it’s what we want to do. Life – life is there, and in most cases, it falls on our shoulders.
And it’s not even that we HAVE to. It’s because we WANT to. What good is life if all we have in it is one thing?
To me, having it all is putting things in perspective. Yes, I might never develop the next Facebook. But if I’m comfortable with everything I put into my life, is that so bad?