We’re never too old and it’s never too late. Making the most of our next chapter is often about taking very small steps everyday. It doesn’t need to be one big thing. It can be asking ourselves what we will do today towards creating our next chapter. It’s an ONGOING GROWTH. Whatever your life has been, your next chapter is something you could create and become your best one yet.
In this interview, my guest Rachel Lankester and I discussed "Making the Most of Your Next Chapter".
Rachel Lankester is the founder of Magnificent Midlife, an online hub and global community celebrating and empowering women in midlife and beyond.
After struggling with early menopause at 41 and a lengthy period of soul-searching, she scratched her own itch and created what would have helped her, but which she couldn't find at the time.
Rachel now runs an online magazine The Mutton Club, a monthly online membership Magnificent Midlife Members Club, a podcast Magnificent Midlife and is also a midlife mentor. You can find out more about her work at https://magnificentmidlife.com
Below are some key points on what was discussed in the interview.
How Most People View Midlife
Midlife is a time when people get stuck. It’s a time when most people reflect on these specific questions:
“What am I going to do next?”
“What does life have for me now?”
This can be quite normal. We had plans for the first half of our lives – graduate, get a job or maybe start a business and eventually build the empire, start a family and have kids. We spent the first half of our lives creating goals for ourselves and working hard to reach these. And of course, there comes a point when we do attain these goals.
Most people would think of kicking back and relaxing the rest of their lives. After all, they deserve to live life leisurely after all those hard work.
Rachel however warns of such a mindset. Due to medical advances and more and more people getting into fitness and health, the average life expectancy has become higher. For instance, way back in 1970's, the life expectancy in the US was 70.81 years. Now, it’s 78.6 years.
So let’s say you reach 55 years old and opt for an early retirement. You start dreaming of luxurious cruises and lying under a shade sipping fresh coconut juice on sunny islands. But be realistic – you can’t do this every day until you’re eighty.
Rachel has this to say, “As long as we have our health and we look after ourselves then I don't see any reason why we can't do as much between 50 and 80 as we did between 20 and 50. And that to me is really exciting and that's what I mean by the next chapter.”
A New Perspective on Midlife
Rachel believes women can be classified into two groups once they reach midlife.
There are the women who go, “Well, life's all right. It's okay. You know I'm quite happy with it really. I'll just carry on then. I might do some annoying things but I'll just carry on.”
Then there are the women who go, “Well, what am I going to do now? Who am I now? What do I want now because I'm off the estrogen roller coaster? I've gone through menopause, I'm able to start prioritizing myself now. I'm not so driven to nurture and take care of everybody else.” After all, everyone else, especially the kids, now have their own lives to live and don’t need as much care and guidance as before.
Rachel believes that midlife is our time to shine. It’s the time when we can search within ourselves and dream bigger dreams. At midlife, we’re at that point where we hold years and years of experience – failures and successes – that makes us wiser and more able to set goals and achieve them.
So, don’t just coast through the next chapter of your life. Evaluate how far you’ve come and decide where you want to go in this next chapter. You need to have a stronger sense of purpose now and know you’re moving forward.
How to Make the Most Out of this New Chapter
1. DITCH THE NEGATIVE NARRATIVES.
So how do we make the most out of this new chapter in our life? It all starts with changing our mindset. As mentioned in the previous paragraphs, midlife is not the time to stop hoping and dreaming. You must believe that the best years are still yet to come.
Of course, this can be quite difficult, considering that ageism has been deeply ingrained in our culture. In the workplace, older people are considered less productive. In sports, we’re considered slower and weaker. And in mass media and social media, the bombardment of ant-aging products makes us think that by the time we get to our 50s, we’re less beautiful because of all these wrinkles and age spots. We’ve had all these messages around us that tell us it’s all downhill once we reach 50. Well, it's not!
Rachel believes it will be a conscious effort on our part to NOT buy into those negative narratives. How will we know if we’ve bought into the narrative? It’s when we start saying, “Oh, I’m too old for that.”
“Oh, I’m too old to start going to the gym.”
“Are you kidding? I’m too old to learn about website design.”
“I’m too old to learn tap dancing.”
Stop those limiting thoughts. Believe in what you're capable of and open up your life to possibilities you never knew can exist for you.
2. SELF-CARE STARTS NOW.
Rachel believes that if we look after ourselves, we are not on a downward slope. Believe that we CAN get better with age, not worse. Of course, we will need to put in the work, especially as women. Men if you notice are allowed to age by our society. There's no shame associated with men aging. Men can become Silver Foxes. There's no pressure on them to hide wrinkles or gray hair.
Women in particular are running on empty once they reach their midlife. In Rachel’s words, “We haven’t upped the gas. We haven't poured in enough nutrition of self-care enough. We aren’t used to looking after ourselves because we're always looking after somebody else. This period of midlife and beyond is incredibly important because it’s gives us the time to invest in ourselves for our long-term future health and well being.”
3. DREAM BIG.
Rachel advises us to start being proactive about planning the kind of life you want for the next chapter. She sees how a lot of women would very much like to feel more fulfilled and have a greater sense of purpose as they go into their next chapter.
To do this, Rachel advises women to think about the things we were passionate about throughout life. One very helpful tip she has is to go back to what you liked as a child and which you probably gave up as you started to grow older. Did you dream of becoming a singer? Maybe you can join a choir. Did you dress up and put make up on your younger siblings when Mom assigned you to babysit? Maybe you need to enroll in that Cosmetology class.
Rachel has a workbook which you can download for free if you subscribe to the email list. Her Finding Your Purpose (& Passion) workbook is designed to free up your thinking and help you start exploring what's going to light you up. We all deserve to feel inspired and joyful about how we choose to live our lives.
4. GET A MENTOR OR COACH.
The last helpful tip on how to make the most of your next chapter is to get a mentor or coach. Finding (and hiring) a mentor, coach, or consultant is a smart decision. It’s an investment in yourself you will not regret. A mentor can often make you see things you don’t realize are just there.
Rachel explains her mentoring program as one on one, sitting down with her and working out where you are. She and her client will do a sort of audit, identify what's working for you and what isn’t. There will also be a lot of confidence-building in her mentoring sessions and dealing with those limiting beliefs.
If you want to know more about how to make the most of your next chapter or maybe even book a consultation with Rachel, check out her Magnificent Midlife website.
If your plan is more on becoming a healthier and fitter you in your fifties, you can go to my Private Facebook Group, Weight Loss After 50. This is a supportive, private community where you'll find answers to all your healthy & fitness questions as well as learn proper form, nutrition tips and find great interviews like this one with Rachel.
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Lisa Swanson is an ACE Certified Health Coach, Personal Trainer and Orthopedic Exercise Specialist as well as a certified AASDN and PN level 1 nutritionist. With over 35 years experience helping people turn their lives around, she is on a mission to provide relevant and useful knowledge to help women in midlife reach their goals.
Check out my interview with the Magnificent Midlife podcast on staying fit and healthy long-term.