I wrote ‘How to be A Boss at Ageing’ because I’d just reached my mid-forties and was feeling a range of emotions, many of them pretty crap. I struggled to see positive role models when it came to ‘middle age’ and even the term itself felt dumpy, and frumpy. For men it was associated with growing your hair, buying a motorbike and running off with a younger woman (now it often means an expensive bicycle, taking up marathon running and obsessing over expensive coffee machines).
For women it used to conjure up images of practical cardies, slacks purchased from Sunday supplements and comfy chairs. The problem is when we reach ‘mid-life’ we’re no longer ‘spring chickens’ (instead we’re more like hens that have been round the block and are slightly jaded). The relentless drive to stay relevant, have a social media presence, keep fit, have a great relationship, keep trucking with our professional life, create our own business...well it’s exhausting. It’s also a time when insecurity and doubt can set in (an assessment of where we are and where we’ve been).
Here’s some of my tips on how to embrace mid-life:
- Avoid magazine articles that tell you what you should and shouldn’t wear. Once you get to your forties, you are perfectly capable of dressing yourself. So you can model yourself on Helena Bonham Carter (wearing a mix of whatever you want) or you can just settle into knowing what suits you. The truth is you’ve probably had twenty-five years of fashion advice and know the score (it’s basically cyclical).
- Don’t feel ashamed if you have Botox. You can still be considered a feminist. If it perks you up then do it. Equally if you don’t want it then don’t do it. We need to stop judging women on the way they look and what they choose to do with their faces.
- Remember that your work priorities can shift and the things you wanted in your thirties may not be the same. It’s common that women re-think their professional life after children, and after they’ve been in the same career for a long time. It’s a good time to consider what you want for the next twenty or so years. Start doing some research and maybe consider getting a life coach for a short period of time. It’s useful to reassess where you are right now.
- It’s also common to feel like you’re crap at your job because you’re not a digital native, and sometimes feel like a dinosaur in meetings. Remind yourself that you have a whole set of skills that your colleagues don’t, and that experience is important. The fact that you’ve navigated office politics, client panics and worked with a variety of people is important. It has taught you the right way to respond and that can’t be learnt overnight.
- Develop a ‘growth mind-set’ and don’t tell yourself that you can’t do certain things. Being rigid is what ages people. Stay open minded. Read articles that you wouldn’t ordinarily be interested in. Fight against the ‘echo chamber’. Listen to new music. Learn a new skill.
- The peri-menopause and menopause can be a time when anxiety and depression kicks in so get yourself to the GP if you suspect you have symptoms. There are lots of resources online so don’t feel like you’re alone. We all go through it. You’ll come out the other side!
Above all the most important thing is to finally sack off the need to please, the negative inner critic, and get on with the stuff that’s important to you. Mid-life can be a great time if you embrace the changes and prioritise yourself.
How to Be a Boss at Ageing- Real Advice on how to Navigate and Embrace Midlife by Anniki Sommerville is published by Thread on 31 March in paperback, £8.99, also as an e-book and audiobook.
I was raised by a mum and dad who split the labour of child care equally. My parents always modeled equality in the home by working as a team in all areas of their lives. Most notably in the labour of caring for children. I’m really grateful to have had this upbringing and acknowledge that this sadly isn’t the norm... to read more click HERE