THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE

By Karen Davis

Midlife’s an awfully long way off, isn’t it?

Well, so thought all of us until we hit it.  But with midlife women the fastest growing and – soon to be - biggest demographic in the world, it often seems that our challenges are swept under the carpet, from how the Menopause is acknowledged in the workplace (i.e. rarely or not at all), mental health support for women during this time, the real trauma of the empty-nest and the potential relationship breakdowns with our partners in midlife.

I didn’t have all of these going on, but I did have a real challenge with my career as I’d marginalised it when bringing up my children.  I don’t care what anyone says, I didn’t find it possible to “have it all”.  So that’s how I found myself at fifty, with children leaving home and me overweight, not really making an impact in my career and, frankly, in the doldrums.  The following pity party also included a look at the dreams I’d had when I was in my twenties and which ones just hadn’t happened.  It was quite a long list.

Not all of us have these feelings in midlife, some of us are in an amazing place, but I wasn’t and I wasn’t sure how to find my way out of this.  It wasn’t nice and it felt like a waiting room for retirement, at the age of fifty.

What changed was that I got asked to help out with the village fete which raises funds for our local churches.  I was very unsure about this because I’d never done volunteering before but it changed my life and was the start of me moving forward.  The people were kind, incredibly grateful for my help, took my feedback on board and created instant friendships with people of different ages, backgrounds and views.  It was a revelation.

From there, I started the fight back and, over the next few years, I created the concept of a Power Decade, a ten-year period where we find time to focus on us so that if you feel the way I felt at fifty you know there’s a potential way forward. 

I’ve had six years to fine tune the Power Decade and I wrote my book, The Time of Your Life, so that I can share what I’ve learnt on how to live these midlife years brilliantly.  When you start your Power Decade depends on your life, but it will be sometime between the ages of forty and sixty five, when you have the time to focus on you and you feel that you really want to do this, to live with no regrets.

There are four pillars to a Power Decade and you need each one of them.  Don’t take one away or the whole thing falls down, trust me, I’ve tried mucking about with it and it doesn’t work, so focus and get ready to live amazingly.

PILLAR 1 - YOUR HEALTH

There’s no getting round this, we start with our health because we need to be well, fit and able to take on the challenges I’ve created for you and to go into old age independent of medical care.

Take stock of yourself.  I can’t lie, 50% of midlife women are obese, not overweight, obese so start to get your weight under control (I know, it is really, really hard), think about eating well, treats in moderation and drink a lot more water.  You also need to change what you eat because this helps reduce menopause symptoms and we need to have another eye on keeping Osteoporosis at bay.  Oily fish, vegetables, humus, fermented soya and fibre are the bywords here.  No, it doesn’t say sauvignon blanc, you knew that…

Exercise is a magic bullet for batting off disease and illness. 

I’ve heard a past UK Minister for Health say as much.  You know you need to do this so start by just moving more.  Imagine your chair has a health warning on it and move more every day because this daily investment will pay you back better than shares in Apple, trust me.

PILLAR 2 – BE CREATIVE

At primary school every kid comes home with a mound of art, parts in plays that they have to learn and details of singing concerts that parents have to attend.  So, logic tells us that creativity is something we want to develop in our children, but why do we stop this as we get older?  Why is creativity not valued for adults?  I believe that being creative is absolutely key for women in midlife for good mental well-being.

Being creative for two hours each week takes your mind to a different place, with super-charged benefits.  It is proven to boost brain function, boost your immune system and helps prevent disease.   Be careful though and take up something truly creative.  Rambling is lovely, but it’s a hobby.  Photography is both creative and a hobby so choose carefully as you have to fire up that part of your brain.

PILLAR 3 – VOLUNTEERING

I was not the volunteering sort.  At all.

Volunteering is key to living midlife well.  Get out there and give four hours a month to a cause that you feel strongly about (and by midlife there will be several causes that you will feel strongly about) from cancer rehab, to teenager issues, dementia care or sustainability.  There are so many benefits to volunteering including mental health benefits, a sense of true job satisfaction, a sense of doing something you love to help your fellow citizens.  Remember, to be a volunteer for your Power Decade you have to leave your home, it’s not something you can do online.  The benefits are from interacting with others face to face.

PILLAR 4 – YOUR DREAMS

Your dreams.  Now is the time to think hard about what you want to do but haven’t quite got around to.

Think very carefully.  Are your dreams the same as when you were twenty?  They don’t have to be but you must be sure that when you are seventy and looking back in your old age that you will feel you lived life well, that there are no regrets.

So, let’s pull it all together.

HEALTH

Create an eating plan, an exercise plan and a wellness plan where you put into place all the things that you need to get your health back into a great space.  Some of us already have health challenges so this is a plan to make it the best for you.  There is so much all of us can do to help ourselves, so start.

CREATIVITY

This is for your mental health.  Pick something you want to do or learn and research it.  Find a group, sign up for evening classes, get an online course, set up a room to paint in. Actively plan creativity into your life.

VOLUNTEER

I’ve spent longer on Candy Crush in a week than the four hours per month I’m asking you to do as a volunteer so it’s perfectly do-able but make sure it’s something you’re passionate about.  You will be amazed at the friends you make, what you learn and the genuine, heartfelt impact your four hours can have.

DREAMS

Break these down so that you’re not waiting years before you achieve them.  Get one under your belt in the next few months for so many reasons.  Don’t leave dreams until last, they have to run alongside the other pillars – you’ll see why.

So why bother?  Why have we gone to all this effort to pull your life around more than the menopause is doing for you anyway?

For me, my life has been revolutionised.

I’m no longer obese, my health statistics are all very good and I exercise every single day – I’m pretty healthy.

Creatively, I’m writing a UK road trip book which takes me all over England meeting amazing people. 

I’ve moved on from the fete committee and now I give my time to a volunteer project alleviating loneliness in our local area.  A project like this touches people of all ages and humbles you every day.

Personally, I’ve completely changed my business into something that I love, am good at and (brilliantly) women seem to love.  I now get asked to speak at conferences on the Power Decade to other women who are feeling lost in midlife. 

From an obese woman who had a redundant career, not great health and a reasonable amount of depression my life has turned around to an unbelievable level. I want that for you. Try it.  One amazing Power Decade where you make incredible things happen for yourself.  Remember, no regrets.

 

THE AUTHOR

Karen (56) is an award-winning 40+ beauty blogger and an ex-beauty PR with over twenty years’ experience as well as having created major beauty promotions for most of the UK media.  She is Managing Director of Time of Your Life, a monthly subscription beauty box for the midlife woman which also offers Podcasts and blogs on a range of subjects specifically targeted to women between 40 and 65 years old.  She has as dysfunctional family as any, has been divorced, had children, had businesses succeed and fail, had quite a few mammograms and has lost both parents.  But, she’s a firm believer that midlife women are the greatest force for good in the world, they just don’t know their own power – yet.

THE BOOK

The Time of Your Life is an Amazon #1 Bestseller. 

Price £12.99 for paperback, £6.99 for Kindle edition on Amazon, published by Rethink Press

Find out more about Time of Your Life at www.toyl.co.uk

LADY.CO.UK HAS FIVE COPIES OF THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE TO GIVE AWAY - PLEASE GO TO OUR COMPETITION PAGES HERE TO ENTER 

 

 

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