One of the best things about aging is realizing how much you have to give the world.
I’ve spoken with hundreds of women, and no matter what stage of life they are – 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond – they still have one thing to say about how they wish to move forward:
I still have so much to give. I want to do SOMETHING with the time I have left.
Men and women are different. (No surprise there, right?) There’s a quote from Gloria Steinem that I think sums up the differences in midlife quite well.
Isn’t that the truth?
As midlifers right now, so much has happened in our lives.
We were the good girls who did as we were told when we were growing up.
Society sent us the message that even if we aspired to have it all, we were still the ones who had to head home after a long day at the office, and start in on our second jobs of raising our families.
And look at all we learned by doing everything we could do!
- Budgeting the family finances
- Volunteering at our kids’ schools
- Becoming an architect and interior decorator as we upgrade our homes
- Juggling organization and scheduling tactics
- Chief cook and bottle washer in our kitchens
- Social planner for the entire family
- Caregiver to every age group, any stage of life
And that’s all on top of our 40 hour workweek – the job that earns us money.
No wonder we wound up becoming more radical as time marched on!
Men might slow down as they step away from the work environment.
But as we age, we realize everything we’ve learned over the years can help us become even more!
Maybe that’s why I can’t stop starting businesses and dreaming up new ways to add to our society. Maybe that’s why the ideas never stop churning in my brain.
The March of OlderPreneurs
As we work our way through life, we discover a lot of things that could be done differently. Because our society is still patriarchal, the majority of the way we do things is male-oriented.
That means there is a lot of room for advancement, and a lot of room for improvement.
Yet I continually read about women approaching their bosses with ideas, only to be told “no” without any good reason.
That’s when our “radicalness” kicks in and tells us deep within our hearts:
Screw it, I can do it myself if you won’t let me do it here!
And so we do.
There’s a term that’s starting to make the circuit called olderpreneurs. Statistics show that people who start a business in their 40s or later have a 70 percent chance of making it last beyond the critical 5 year mark. Compare that with only 28 percent from business owners who start out at a much younger age. We’re older, we have more experience, and we have the will to make it thrive.
Why is that?
Because we have all of our life experience to put into the success of the new business. And our ideas have been well thought out and managed, until we decide to put them into place.
We Use Life Experience In Different Ways
Women have a different approach to the world. We start businesses by finding ways to tweak what already works. We find something that’s been a challenge in our own lives for many years, and then find a way to incorporate that into a new business model.
A Forbes article calls women olderpreneurs “corporate refuges.” I like that term.
The article highlights several women who have taken personal challenges and morphed them into business models that allow them to pay it forward. They take years of juggling all of the balls they’ve had to play with while working, raising a family, and doing all we do, then turn an old idea on its head by adding new twists.
Like using personal struggles with multiple sclerosis to develop a new approach to living with the disease, and helping others who are dealing with it too.
Or turning a traditional male-oriented business consulting structure on its head to help women as they enter this same field. Women open doors to other women and give them the support they need to thrive.
Aging Means Collaboration
The older we get, the more we realize we can’t walk this path alone.
And in many cases, I’ve found that through the aging process, we’re also learning to match ourselves up by common threads, and provide support rather than tear each other down.
We’ve had more than enough destruction – hello, #MeToo. As women in our 40s, 50s, and 60s, we’ve faced a lifetime of unequalness and unfairness.
I’ve never met a woman yet who doesn’t have a story, no matter how large or small.
Yet it’s these stories that define us. They are what gives us our spirit and tenacity to want to reach out and give more.
“I NEVER want today’s girls and women to endure what I’ve had to go through.”
And so we work to be a leader in changing what is.
Being a leader doesn’t mean having all of the answers. Being an entrepreneur doesn’t have to mean changing the entire world.
What it means is committing yourself and your resources to change one little piece of it, no matter what that means.
Leading doesn’t have to mean taking charge. It doesn’t have to mean being the leader of the pack. (Let’s get rid of those patriarchal rules once and for all.)
Instead, it means becoming a collaborative idea generator.
I have an idea …
And all around you, the support starts to happen.
- Why don’t you follow through on that idea?
- Why don’t you do what you want to do?
- Why don’t you create a business to help bring that into other people’s lives?
Right now, you’re the only one in this world that looks at things through your eyes. You’re the only one who has your level of experience. You’re the only one who has lived day after day, learning all you know.
That’s what makes your approach special.
That’s what gives your approach its power.
And if you’re really focused, that’s what can give you your new lease on life. That’s what can give you your entrepreneurial edge.
And build excitement for the next coming years.