I’m a 46-year old single woman and I have reinvented myself. If you’ve followed my story you know that I got sober at 36, and then finished paying my debt off by age 45. I’m now crushing it in my career and working towards financial independence.
It’s never too late to start again and this article is geared for all of those women who want to start over in their middle years.
What Not to Believe
I want to dispell some commonly believed lies that would prevent a middle-aged woman from reinventing themselves:
Lie #1 Why bother when half of my life is over?
Why bother? Whaaat? Are you kidding me? Only half of your life, statistically speaking, is over and you are ready to throw in the towel. No, no, no, not here at Ms. Fiology. I believe and support anyone at any time who is reinventing themselves.
When I was in elementary school, my Mom decided to go back to school to become a nurse. She was in her late 30’s and that didn’t stop her. She first graduated as an LPN. Additionally, she became an RN when she was in her young 40’s.
One could argue that her life was half over but that didn’t stop her. She went after the career that she wanted and retired satisfied. What if she never went for it? She might now be asking herself what if?
If there is some major thing, you’d like to go after and you are in your middle years wondering if you should do it, I’m here to say yes! Let’s just not go into debt for it. Come up with a strategy and a plan first. Then go for it!
Lie #2 You cannot teach an old dog new tricks
Firstly, if you are middle-aged, you are not an old dog. However, people tend to use this phrase to refer to anyone middle-aged or older.
Sure, it may be harder to learn a new way of doing things if you have done something the same way for a long time, but it’s not impossible. Here is how I’ve found success in creating new healthy habits:
- Focus on one thing at a time and don’t try to change everything all at once. For example, when I got sober, that became my main priority. Every decision was based on supporting my sobriety. If something might put that at risk, I didn’t do it. Additionally, I followed all of the advice given to me from others who had years of experience in staying sober. I participated in regular recovery meetings, I called my sponsor, I prayed, I tried to get good sleep, I ate well and exercised. I did this all for the one common goal of staying sober. As you can see I created other healthy habits but the motivation was solely for the purpose of staying sober. Later I applied this same laser focus to paying off my debt. During my debt pay off journey, every decision I made was based on meeting this goal.
- Add some accountability into your life. Tell others about your goals and/or the habits you are changing. I find that when I put my stuff out there, I feel a sense of responsibility to achieve them. Furthermore, get an accountability partner. This can be a friend who has your best interest at heart. It can also be a professional.
- Refer to professionals in the area you are trying to change. This doesn’t mean you have to hire one. How about reading books or watching documentaries? Early in sobriety, I rented a series of DVDs from the library put out by doctors who talked about the effects of different drugs on the brain. In watching these videos I found hope when I heard a doctor say, “the brain has the amazing ability to heal itself.” Moreover, I learned what to expect in my withdrawal.
Lie #3 I’ve got too many things to change and don’t know where to start so why bother?
I understand that the first part of the sentence may be true but the second part is definitely false. The way to deal with this is to go back to my advice of focusing on one thing at a time. When I hit my bottom, I was bankrupt in every way – spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically, and financially.
I recognized the common denominator was the addictive drinking and drugging which was taking over my life. If I could remove this, perhaps all of the other things would line up. That ended up being true. Naturally, when I surrendered and went after sobriety, getting out of a relationship with my drug dealer was part of my success. Again, every decision I made was based on getting and staying sober.
By focusing on this one thing, so many other areas of my life improved slowly but surely. These areas included:
- Eating habits
When we focus on improving one area of our lives, that positivity spills out into all other areas. I call that left-overs.
I stumbled upon some articles which discuss this exact thing:
- 5 Women Who Reinvented Themselves (and the World)
- 8 Books by Women who Reinvented Themselves
- Reinventing Yourselves: Stories From Our Readers by the NY Times
Psychologist, Vivian Diller, Ph.D. talks about the three emotional components you need for reinvention – resilience, reliance, and renewal.
No one wants to get to the end of their life and regret not doing something. If something keeps gnawing at you, maybe it’s time to really consider exploring it. I’d never want to encourage someone to make a rash decision, though. Be thoughtful and strategic in what options you wish to explore.
Sometimes, just the act of researching the thing you are considering will be enough. Perhaps you’ll recognize through the research, you actually don’t want to do it. However, don’t give up just because it involves work. Learn to do hard things.
Additionally, if your life has gotten to an unhealthy state like mine did and you are realizing reinvention is your only option, then take the leap but do it with a support network. That’s what I did.
Please let me know your thoughts and/or questions in the comments. Additionally, feel free to contact me.