A lot of women are afraid of their future. I know this to be true.
I’ve interviewed and researched the lives of hundreds of women over the past decade.
- I will be alone.
- I will not have enough money.
- My life feels like it’s over.
- My life didn’t turn out the way I thought it would.
- I’m having difficulty recovering from some of the things I’ve experienced.
- My career didn’t go in the direction I planned.
- I don’t know what I’m going to do when I retire.
- Now that the kids are gone, I feel lost.
- I wish I would have……
Because of how we operate in society, a lot of attention is given to age 65. All the while we’re raising our children (for those of us who have them) or are actively working in our careers, we have age 65 on our mind. Or 70 or 55.
Retirement, which by the way is a relatively new concept, means different things for different people. For some, it means, “I can now go do the things I want without clocking in. I can volunteer, I can start a business I’ve always dreamed of, I can support a cause that is on my heart, I can help with my grandchildren.” I like this thinking.
For others, it means “The productive years of my life are behind me. Now, I’m moving into the sunset of my life. I can volunteer a few hours at the local shelter and relax.”
Hey, you get to do whatever you want.
Ladies, we have a lot of productive years (health willing) on the table. What about the next two to three decades?
Let’s not stop at 65! I’d like you to envision your 85-year old self. What is SHE doing?
Twenty years is a long time. Think how much you can accomplish. Twenty years equals 10,512,000 minutes. Let’s not waste them.
Over the weekend, I was at a conference. The LOVELIEST 86-year old woman stood on stage with a microphone in one hand and the hand of a beautiful millennial woman in the other. Together they were talking about doing collaborative work to help close the gap between millennials and baby boomers.
At age 86, this woman still has meaningful work to do, ideas to advance, people to affect and a difference to make in the world.
What about you? Have you given yourself enough runway in your future to be on fire, to wake up every day eager to leap out of bed, to make a difference for people around you, to leave a legacy behind, to have hope?
Some things to consider as you ponder your 80-year old self:
- How are you interacting with your friends and family? Have you made decisions about your positive, active participation in the life of your family? Are you a joyful, helpful, non-imposing mother and grandma? Have you decided to be proactive in fostering healthy, enjoyable, engaging friendships with other women?
- What is your level of fitness and health? Oh boy. This is a big one. One of my favorite recent statements from a friend of mine was, “Over time, my fitness has decreased, and my weight has increased. I need to do something about this.” One year after declaring that, her fitness has increased, and her weight has decreased. What does your eighty-year-old self look like? This is a good time to start growing into her.
- How are you generating income? This is one of your greatest mind-shift opportunities. For all of the fear women have about their financial security, you have to remember that your income-producing capability does not end at age 65. My lovely grandmother generated income until she was eighty. She was the organist of her church. She did not get paid an exorbitant amount of money, but she was paid enough to cover basic living expenses. Her home was paid for, she had money in the bank, and this stipend helped her no dip into her savings. My dad, who is 83, is also still generating income as a van driver for a local assisted living home.
- How are you making a difference in the world? George Bernard Shaw wrote, ““This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.
I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for a moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to the future generations.”
I have nothing to add here. I love this quote.
- Whose lives have changed because of you? Wherever you’re at in your life, you still have time to do the work necessary to leave a legacy behind. You can change the world by affecting the life of just one person. Or more.
A few months ago, I created a vision board for my eighty-year-old self. It was a fun exercise and has given me a framework for what I focus on for the next 25 years. I encourage you to give that a try. Choose a life of positivity, productivity and purpose.
If you haven’t already, grab a copy of my book “Women Who Spark: 12 Steps to Catapult Happiness, Cultivate Confidence and Discover the Purpose of Your Life” on Amazon.
AND….If you’d like to contribute your thoughts to my research, you can find my survey at aletanorris.com/tribe.