Three Reasons Women Change Their Lives After Forty
“That’s when I grew some balls,” summed up best-selling author Paula Houseman’s explanation of how she had the courage to dramatically change her life after forty.
Whether you’re in the midst of perimenopause or having your first baby, mid-life often stirs women to review, revise and sometimes… reinvent.
At forty you might feel the need to review your past accomplishments and goals, and be surprised by what you find. As your perspective matures you could feel a pull to do something else with your life. This type of personal review could lead you to make some major changes.
Andrea worked for Microsoft, managing the super-hot Xbox product. It was a world of new technology, travel, and large commission checks. However, as she thought about her daughter leaving for college in a few years, and how much family life she had already missed, she had an aha moment of what she really wanted – more time with her family and to develop her part-time job of photography into a career.
I planned for at least a year, but it had been in the works for many, many years — laying the groundwork, taking courses and getting the financial house in order. This was not a rash decision.
–Andrea Ferenchik, Andrea Linn Photography
By the time she exited Microsoft, she’d secured photography engagements with corporate event firms and the film industry. Andrea admits that owning her own business is a far cry from working in Corporate America where the paychecks were certain and the marketing, quality control and billing departments were a phone call away. “Now, I am every department,” Andrea laughs. But having the balance of work and family she says, is invaluable.
From the twenties, thirties, to forties, women have already made plenty of revisions, from mastering home hair root coverage to adding colonoscopies to the annual appointments list. By forty most women have pinpointed what they want to spend time doing and more importantly, what they don’t.
“Crushing boredom” prompted Rachel, previously in human resources, to revise her career plans. She wanted to expand the part of her job she found most challenging, working with attorneys to Interpret and implement the law. When she was accepted to law school, she went for it. Rachel and her husband, Brian, were raising three children under the age of seven at the time.
“If I had waited, there would only be more recitals, practices, and games to miss.” —Rachel L. King Esq., GA
Rachel says she would do it all again, even with the crazy balancing of work, school, and externships, but she’s grateful she didn’t think through every detail. Predicting the future is impossible, she said. Sometimes you just have to go for it.
Even small changes such as telecommuting can contribute to work life balance, or adding responsibilities outside your scope can move you closer to your goals.
And then … the unexpected. A divorce, job loss, or death of a spouse can throw even the best laid plans to shambles and force women to reinvent themselves.
“I want a divorce,” has launched many careers, shares Kate. “I was a stay-at- home mom for over twenty years before returning to work. Kate took a job as an administrator supporting a technical sales department. As she became familiar with the products and the processes, she transitioned into sales and eventually managing the department.
“Fifty percent of marriages end in divorce, many due to poor financial decisions. It’s not romantic, but it’s reality, and I learned the hard way. As a woman, especially if you have children, it’s critical that you have skills to support yourself.”
—Kate, Technology Sales Manager.
Chevy started as a consultant in one of The Big 4 accounting firms. Over the next twenty years, she returned to school to complete her MBA, became an investment banker, opened her own firm, then stepped out of the workforce to be with her children. After her youngest started school, she accepted a director position with an investment banking firm, worked for a few years before deciding to restart her own consulting business. She shares how she transitioned in and out of the business world fairly smoothly, “Staying in contact with people.”
“Women have something most men don’t: the ability to build long-term relationships. We naturally ask more questions, we’re more collaborative, and supportive of others.” —Chevy Arnold, CEO of CEA Consulting
If you are making subtle tweaks or embarking on a total overhaul, you’re in good company of badassess that changed their lives later in life. Famous chef, Julia Child, didn’t publish her first cookbook until she was fifty. The founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Martha Stewart, and fashion designer, Vera Wang, were both over forty when they started their empires.
Starting something new is never without risk. Family and financial stability will impact the scope and scale of your initiative. Planning is critical. Many universities offer alumni groups that offer business advice on startups. There are thousands of “How to” articles and videos online to help develop and market a new business or explore a new hobby.
Whatever your age, if you’re compelled to review, revise or reinvent your life, the best time to start… is right now.
By Amy Lyle
Amy Lyle is the Author of The Amy Binegar-Kimmes-Lyle Book of Failures and a playwright for a large non-profit. She lives in Atlanta with her husband, four teenagers and a large dog.
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