I recently read a quotation from Chip Conley of the Modern Elder Academy: “You can’t unroll a snowball.” That really struck me because I have been thinking a lot about the question “How do we spend our time?” It’s a good question to think about at any point in our lives, and certainly after we get into our fifties, sixties, seventies, and eighties. No matter what age we are, we never know how much time we have left, but at some point, we know we probably have less time left than we’ve lived so far. So, what do we do with that time?
Women Over 55: How Do You Spend Your Time?
As Socrates may have said at the trial when he was sentenced to death, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Do you agree with that? Are you sure? Let’s be honest: how often do any of us stop and examine our lives? Of course, there are moments that cause such reflection—a serious diagnosis, a close call on the highway, almost drowning in the ocean. It’s unfortunate that it takes these kinds of events to make us stop and pay attention to how we’re actually living our lives.
Many people have noted that no one on their deathbed ever said, “I wish I’d worked more.” And yet many of us devote the major portion of our lives to our work and fit in other things—like family, friends, religious or spiritual practice, and self-care—around it. Others of us spend our time “staying busy” with very little to show for any of it at the end of the day.
I work with a lot of women who are at a point in their lives where they’re asking, “Now what?” For some this is the result of children leaving home. Others have become very successful in a career that just isn’t that fulfilling any longer. This is such a crucial time because without careful examination, a woman can fall into the “busyness” trap or substitute taking care of grandchildren for taking care of the children who have moved along in their own lives, or staying in a job that has lots of perks but offers no real rewards any longer.
In her book Epic! The Women’s Power Playbook, author Carolyn Buck Luce describes the “Decade Game.” One of Carolyn’s major lessons is to live life by design rather than by default. A player in the Game is asked to state what she stands for and also her decade destination. In other words, what will you have accomplished at the end of the next ten years?
Who Do You Want To Be?
As Carolyn makes clear, we don’t all have to be working for world peace and the eradication of hunger, but it is important to describe where you will be—WHO you will be—at the end of a decade. This is not easy, but those ten years are going to pass whether you state a clear destination or not.
What does all this have to do with snowballs? Just like trying unsuccessfully to unroll a snowball, at the conclusion of the next decade, we won’t be able to go back and try again to live a more fulfilling and satisfying life. When those ten years are over, we will be wherever we are whether it has been by design or by default.
Women over 55, let’s live our lives by design. What do you really want in your life? Who do you need to be to bring that about? When are you going to begin? What is one small step you can take today in that direction? It is our time! Let’s make the most of it.
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.
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!