Our collective unconscious is a victim of a culture that continually barrages us with messages about aging and health. Without even knowing it, we’ve been brainwashed into believing that we’ll slowly decline into a world of canes, walkers, lost memories, and assisted living by the time we reach our 80s.
You have a choice as to whether or not you buy into what our culture is telling you about aging and your future.
If you believe that your life will slow down and your capabilities diminish as you get older, then that’s exactly what will happen.
On the other hand, if you feel deeply in your heart that this next phase of your life can prove to be the most interesting, joyful, and meaningful one, then you are headed in the right direction.
Here are 10 Radical Strategies that will help you gain traction.
1. Make yourself your #1 priority
Although it may feel counter-intuitive, the reality is this: If you tend to your own well-being first, you’ll have more energy to be of service to others. Because women have historically taken on the role of caretaker, it’s something we do reflexively. There is absolutely nothing selfish about self-care. To the contrary, it is one of the most loving things you can do, not only for yourself, but for those around you.
2. Reflect on what you deeply desire
If someone asked you what you wanted from life, how would you answer?
For a lot of folks, the initial response might be “more money, a larger house, a successful career, the ability to travel when and where I want, etc.”
Those are all perfectly fine things to want.
But usually, below the surface of “what you want” is what you deeply desire.
One way to prick through to the next level is to ask yourself “How would having these things actually change my life?”
In my experience, I’ve found that by the time a woman enters mid-life, what she tends to yearn for has something to do with making more meaning in her life/having an impact on the world/ discovering inner peace/experiencing freedom.
3. Believe in your own abilities
Regardless of how you have lived up until this moment, now is the time to believe in your own abilities. Once you own that you have the power and ability to create a life that you deeply desire, you’ll be shocked at what unfolds. You’ll experience—deep in your soul—the power you possess, which, in turn, will inspire you to make positive changes. It is never too late to dream and to live your dream!
4. Commit to a healthy lifestyle
Good nutrition, exercise, de-stressing, and positive relationships are the pillars of healthy living. Although we talk a lot about de-stressing, the majority of us are still leading stressful lives. If you can wrap your arms around the fact that 95% of all diseases are related to lifestyle choices, it may shock you into taking action and making your health a top priority. The majority of the illnesses that we attribute to growing older have much more to do with how we are living than with our age and genetics. It is never too late to get healthy: stories abound of people in their 60s, 70s, and 80s who transformed their health through changing their diet, exercise, and belief systems.
5. Dismantle limiting beliefs
If you find your inner critical voice saying “I can’t”, “I’m not smart enough”, or “I’m too old”, replace those phrases with empowering phrases like: “I can do anything I set my mind to doing”. Remember that your inner critical voice is only your personal tape recorder that continues to emit the same old messages that have been playing in your brain for decades. With discipline and desire, you can choose to rid yourself of these self-sabotaging thoughts and replace them with empowering ones.
6. Commit to Learning and Growing
Studies on thriving octogenarians show that they maintain an active lifestyle, are lifelong learners, and continue to find life exciting and fun. Try new activities with a beginner’s mindset; explore, experiment and excel. Learn a new language, take an art or dance class, sign up for a course on line or at a local college, spend more time in nature, or take up a new type of exercise.
7. Stay focused on the present and future
The truth is that all any of us have is this moment: fully embrace it. But it’s also healthy to have goals for the future. I’ll never forget a story I read where the author was visiting with a 101 year old man who had just planted up a new vegetable garden. When the author complemented him on how beautiful it was, the octogenarian replied with something like “Come back and see it 2 years from now. It will be really outstanding then”. When you get up in the morning with goals to be met (it may be lifting heavier weights or doing more reps in the gym), it automatically instills a sense of optimism and a purpose deep within your soul.
Question: Have you ever thought about why it’s so boring to be around people who constantly talk about their past?
8. Develop a daily gratitude practice
It only takes 5 minutes to integrate a daily gratitude practice into your life. You can either do it first thing in the morning or at night before bed. I love doing it in the morning because it enables me to start my day with a positive mindset. The key to getting the most out of this practice is to allow yourself to experience the feeling of gratitude. For example, a delicious cup of freshly brewed coffee, picking up a fall leaf on the ground, or a lunch with a dear friend are things to be savored and appreciated.
9. Learn to say ‘no’
This is difficult for a lot of women to do; whether at work, or even with your own children, spouse, or friends. And at this stage of life, it’s a habit that is so deeply ingrained in a lot of women that they aren’t even aware that they’re doing it. It takes practice catching yourself in the process of getting ready to say ‘yes’ reflexively. But once you get the hang of not automatically saying ‘yes’, you’re on your way to learning to say ‘no’ in a skillful and firm manner. You’ll be delighted to at how doing this will free up your schedule and energy to do things that you want to pursue; as well as freeing you up emotionally.
10. Maintain a sense of humor
As you get older, it’s easy to become frustrated about certain things that no longer are as easy for you (even minor inconveniences like reading without pulling out a pair of glasses). You can internalize the situation with a critical voice that says “Darn, I can’t believe I have to use reading glasses for everything when I used to have perfect eye sight” which will have a negative impact on your emotional state. Or you can choose to accommodate your situation by making sure you have reading glasses in your home, workplace, and purse. And remember to have the ability to laugh at yourself when you still can’t find a pair when you most need them.