Do you think change is hard? We often hear people say that it is, or that they don’t like change, or that change takes a long time. What do you think?
Alexandria Agresta, a dynamic speaker and speaking coach, says in her TEDx talk that “things don’t take time, they take courage.” I generally agree with this, although some things do take time and courage, like gestating a baby. And while it’s true that some things take time and that change sometimes is hard, in most cases we glide through change very easily and fairly quickly.
Think about the two nights a year when we change our clocks. From one day to the next we gain or lose an hour. And POOF, there we are living in the new hour. Or we go online to order one of our very favorite thingies that we’ve used for years, only to find that it’s been discontinued. We may feel disgruntled, but we pretty quickly look for something else that will work just as well, and we order that from now on.
Women Over 55: How Do You Feel About Change
Think of some of the major changes you’ve made in your life. For many of us a big change was graduating from high school and going off to college. I remember my first night lying wide awake in the dorm room, staring at the ceiling, quietly shedding a few tears—until I realized my new roommate also was shedding tears, at which point we had a big, loud cry together. By the next morning, I was off exploring the campus, excited about the prospects of the year ahead.
For many women two of the biggest life changes are getting married and having a baby. Life is never, ever the same after these events, particularly after the appearance of the new little being in the world. And even with these changes, within weeks many women have adapted and settled into a brand new kind of life.
I recently had a conversation with a friend who said he was a creature of habit and liked the familiar. And then he said that, on the other hand, he thought he was pretty adaptable. Is this a contradiction? Or does having a certain degree of routine in our lives give us the time and energy to work with and adapt to things that are changing?
Midlife often is a time of change for both men and women. And although for many people it is a time of great opportunity, we frequently refer to that time as a “midlife crisis” and make all kinds of jokes about hitting that point. Unquestionably, it can feel like a crisis, but more often—especially for women —the discomfort of midlife is more a sense of unrest, of things not being quite right any longer, of wondering what’s next.
Some of the women I work with describe this time in this way: “I’ve been really successful at what I’ve done. I’ve had a good career and have navigated my way up the ladder. The organization I’m in is good, and I like many of the people. But I just keep wondering ‘Is this it? What’s next?’” Often times these women feel uncomfortable with the idea of retiring in the next several years, because even though they are unsatisfied with their current situation, they aren’t ready to quit and move into what can feel like the end of their lives.
It’s understandable that making a big change at this point may seem very scary, but as James Belasco and Ralph Stayer have said in Flight of the Buffalo: “Change is hard because people overestimate the value of what they have and underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving that up.”
What Can You Gain?
What might be gained by making a significant change in midlife? I vividly remember the morning after I resigned from my job of many years with an excellent company. I was sitting at the table in my kitchen having breakfast. When I looked outside, the sky had never looked so blue. The leaves had never looked so green. I had not noticed the explosion of color in the flowers around one of the trees. I felt totally, electrically alive for the first time in I don’t know how long. Were some of the following months scary? Yes, indeed. Have I regretted one single moment since the time of making the difficult decision to leave and do something else? No, not one single moment.
When we as women are in the prime of our lives in our fifties, sixties, seventies, we hopefully still have many years ahead of us. To quote from “The Summer Day” by Mary Oliver: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
Now is the time to figure that out.
The Prime Spark Membership Community is designed for women 55 (or close) and older to support one another. We learn and grow together while furthering the mission of Prime Spark. Membership currently is closed. If you’re interested in joining, please send an email to [email protected] and ask to be placed on the waitlist.
We will launch the Mastermind for High Performance Women Over 50: What’s Next? in July. If you are a senior woman and would like to know more about the Mastermind, please send an email to [email protected].
We will begin another Prime Spark Women’s Story Circle later in the year. If you’re interested in knowing more or would like to register, please send an email to [email protected].
Sara Hart, PhD, is an author, speaker, and coach. She is leading the charge to change how older women are seen and treated in our society. She is the creator of Prime Spark, a movement to transform how women over 55 take responsibility for their futures. Sara is the author of three books. She also has over forty years of experience in leadership development, coaching, and building thinking environments. She was the director of training and development for a Fortune 100 company. Sara was also an executive director of the Institute for Women and Technology. To learn more about claiming your power as a senior woman, visit Prime Spark today!