Big 40 or 50 Looming? Take Heart From These Ageless Champions!
Do you have a milestone birthday in the next year or two? Maybe you’re turning 40, or 50. Are you already feeling a tiny sense of panic as you look back at what you’ve done over the past decade and judging your accomplishments – or seeming lack thereof? Then, you look forward and wonder how you’re going to make your mark from 41-50, or 51 – 60? Do you see it as the end of something (your youth!?) or the beginning of something (your ability to apply your hard-won wisdom and knowledge)?
You’re not alone in these mental gymnastics. According to his new book, WHEN, best-selling author Daniel Pink examines the science of perfect timing.
He suggests that endings are more important than beginnings.
- When do people become marathon runners? Highest percentage is age 29. Next is age 39. Then age 49. A “9-ender” birthday is strategic.
- Mice in a maze accelerate to a faster pace when they get closer to food at the end.
- In taste tests of new varieties of Hershey Kisses, the last one tried scored the highest ratings.
Obviously, there is something to this “ending” mentality. So, as that big whatever-0 bears down on you, take heart in knowing you can take advantage of the momentum the milestone brings. After all, that’s what separates the women from the girls.
Take for example, the friends who, in their 60s, decided to start an online publication – with no experience in the publishing industry. They just happened to be talking about their ages and how magazines didn’t acknowledge that women over 50 (heck, sometimes even over 45) don’t exist anymore. They simply have become invisible. At a time when they had more expendable income than ever, more free time, and the desire for the finer things their hard-earned money could buy, no one wanted to sell them anything but adult diapers and denture cream. With righteous indignation leading the way, they formed Women in Their Prime LLC and launched PrimeWomen.com.
I for one know all about this “What am I going to do next?” mentality. After 15 years at an international architecture and interior design firm, I looked at my approaching 50th birthday and wondered if I wanted to continue my role as marketing director for the next 15+ years. The answer was a resounding no. So, with 3 months left in my 49th year, I joined my friend, PrimeWomen.com founder Dorthy Miller Shore, as the site’s Editor-In-Chief. It met my needs of using my talents (writing) and doing something I was passionate about: Helping other women – from both the side of the readers and the viewpoint of the contributors who have so much to share and are anxious to use THEIR talents.
This role has also given me the opportunity to meet inspirational women who refuse to rest on their laurels. Over the past two years we’ve covered any number of women who made big life changes in their 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s, such as Donna Richardson, who began a fashion business called Donna’s Tiny House Boutique at 55. A former fitness and health host on ESPN, and correspondent for Today Show, CNN, BET and FOX, Donna is also creating and producing her own travel show for women. At the age of 50, Donna climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. She led her team in the Hood To Coast Relay 200 mile run (at age 52), and the Paris Marathon (at age 54).
At age 65, Judi Wineland bought AdventureWomen Travel along with her two adult daughters just over two years ago. Her company specializes in experiential travel to unusual destinations for women of all ages, helping them to get outside their comfort zones both physically and socially. Destinations include Mt. Kilimanjaro, Morocco, Peru, Bhutan and many more.
The moral is that life is not a series of aging milestones at which point you should be doing this, or doing that. You don’t need to decide you’ve waited too long to take a career risk, or learn something new. You also don’t need to wait until you are 50+ to decide that living your passion takes precedence over winning the rat race. Yes, you can do all those things whenever they feel authentic to your heart and mind.
So, when that milestone birthday panic starts to rear its head, instead of thinking of it as an ending or a door closing, think of it as a springboard that gets you closer to who you want to be.
This guest post was authored by Ann R. Franks
Ann Franks has over 30 years’ experience writing for Radio & TV advertising, marketing and public relations. She has worked for advertising agencies where she produced commercials for everything from Quarter Pounders to Chevy pickups, and for architecture firms where she was responsible for their marketing materials, communications and proposals for hospitals, airports and corporate headquarters. As editor in chief of PRiME, her goal is to provide readership with information, resources and inspiration to handle whatever life throws at them.