Does this conversation sound familiar? Two older women get together and one says, “Do you remember Judith Brown? She’s been having so many health issues lately.” And then the speaker proceeds to describe all of poor Judith’s maladies. What happens next? Yep, you guessed it. The listener tries to top the maladies of poor Judith by describing the current situation for poor Bernice. And after this goes on for some time, the conversation moves over to the difficulties the women themselves are having, again each trying to top the other in the gravity of her woes. But What do You Want to be Talking About?
Or maybe you remember this conversation about all the things each of the women can’t do any longer. One can’t remember words when she wants them, the other can’t remember someone’s name, even if she’s known the person for a long time. They can’t eat things they used to be able to eat; they can’t go to sleep, or more often, they can’t stay asleep. But they do fall asleep while they’re trying to read a book. And on and on.
What do You Want to be Talking About Instead?
lf this sounds familiar, would you like to change these conversations? lnstead of talking about what’s wrong with you and what you can no longer do, I invite you to change the conversation with this question: What could you not do until now? Do you feel a different part of your brain wake up when you read that question? Think about it! Think of all the things that may not have been possible until now.
lf you have children, you may no longer need to make sure they have something nutritious to eat for at least one meal a day. You no longer need to be the local taxi cab driver, ready at a moment’s notice to be in two different places at once. . .one place to pick up and the other to drop off. You’re past the point when you need to worry about whether or not you’re dressed appropriately every day. Most of the time now you just want to be comfortable. You are free of the underlying constant anxiety of whether or not you’ll get that promotion to the C-suite or the double digit compensation increase.
What’s possible now?
For one thing, if you choose, you can experience a kind of freedom you may never have felt. You can have more control over your time, over what you say “no” to, over what courses to choose to take at a local college, over the kind and amount of physical activities you take part in. Always wanted to see if you could run or walk a half marathon? If your health allows, go for it? Others may think you’re crazy doing this for the first time at your age. That’s their problem.
You are in the prime of your life. What could you not do until now? Take a few minutes right now and write down everything that jumps into your mind when you read that sentence out loud. Don’t edit. Just brainstorm. You can always cross things out later. Are there places you always wanted to travel to… even fairly local places that can be explored in a day? ls there a dream you’ve had for a long time that you could now begin to realize? Our world right now
needs lots of things. . . .what in particular tugs at your heart?
What Are You Passionate About?
Hunger? The environment? llliteracy? Teen pregnancy? Women’s rights? Voter registration? The opioid crisis? What do You Want to be Talking About? For each of those things, or whatever is in your heart, there are ways to get involved and make a difference. And maybe you couldn’t do that until now, but now you may have the time. You do have the experience and the skills and the wisdom to make a difference in whatever way you choose. Will your contribution change the world? Who knows. As Margaret Mead has said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” What we know for sure is that nothing will change if no new steps are taken.
Yes, it has its problems, but think of all the things technology has enabled us to do that we couldn’t do before. We can stay in visual touch with friends and family all over the world. Or study almost anything we want to right from our living room. We can run a global business from our home.
Have a Clear Focus
Whatever you decide to do, one thing is clear: if you focus on the things you’re losing or not being able to do any longer THAT will become your future. lf you focus on what might be possible now that wasn’t before, some form of THAT will become your future. The choice is yours.
So What DO You Want to be Talking About? These can be hard issues and questions to deal with. You might ask a friend to listen to you as you explore some new ideas.
Or you might like to talk it over with a coach. l’d be happy to help.
Sara Hart, PhD, is an author, speaker, and coach who is leading the change for 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 charge of their future. Sara is the author of three books, and has over 40 years’ experience in leadership development, coaching, and building thinking environments. She was director of training and development for a Fortune 100 company and executive director of the Institute for Women and Technology. To learn more about claiming your power as a senior woman, visit www.primesparkwomen.com.