Generally speaking, humans are creatures of habit. We find things we like, and we stick to them. Sometimes this is a good and positive thing, but if it’s something that holds you back or harms you, this is bad. As aging women, we are having changes thrown at us left and right. Our bodies are changing. Culture is changing. We don’t get carded anymore (yay!). Some of these changes are unavoidable, and must be dealt with regardless of how we feel about them, but at this stage in our lives we must embrace change and step out of our comfort zones. It isn’t just a good idea, it’s practically imperative. The irony is that as we age, we tend to dig in our heels and resist change, right at the moment we should be welcoming it.
Things aren’t the same as they used to be
One thing I’ve noticed myself doing a lot lately (and this is DEFINITELY one of the hallmarks of getting older) is lamenting how things used to be. Products used to be better. Restaurants used to be tastier. Kids used to dress decently. Porn wasn’t everywhere. Music was less offensive. “Why, in MY day…” etc — you get the idea, and you probably do it, too. Favorite items get discontinued. Technology complicates things. We’re living in a time of rapid change, and we can either jump on the train or watch it roll on without us.
The comfort zone can be your enemy
I have always been, for the most part, a woman of action. If something isn’t working for me, I make a move to improve the situation. One of my pet peeves is people who complain but refuse to do anything to remedy it. If something is unpleasant or unfulfilling, why would you keep doing it? I have a very low tolerance for people who don’t do what they can to live their best life. Sometimes there are extenuating circumstances that make change impossible; but if it’s in your power to fix it, get busy.
I have had jobs that were not ideal. When that has happened, I started looking. I’ve always felt that if I’m going to be spending the majority of my time working, it should be something fulfilling, and also around people that are stimulating. If I have to spend the majority of my time at a place and around people, that place and people better be outstanding. I may have to suffer for awhile, but I am always on the lookout to improve things. I can’t afford to just quit a job because I don’t like it, but I can “afford” to take steps (even if they’re baby steps sometimes) to make my life better and I work hard to do so.
I also spent way too long in a terrible relationship. It is really sad how many people do this. Now this is a situation where extenuating circumstances really come into play: there may be abuse, there may be children to care for, there may be financial difficulties. This is a topic that deserves an article all on its own, so I won’t get into that too much, but so many people live in unhappy or even blah relationships because it is easy, it is comfortable, and maybe it isn’t so bad that you need to turn your life upside down to get out of it. For me, I was over 40, staring into the cross-hairs of living in limbo and misery for the rest of my life, and it became unacceptable. It was horrible and hard, and many things in my life took a hit, but it was so worth it. On the plus side: my new life, though rocky at first, is better than I could have ever imagined it would be, and there were times where I really wondered if I had done the right thing. But now I can say (with full confidence) a resounding YES. It was terrifying but I am so glad I took the plunge.
When you find yourself in a negative situation, you must think about when you’ve had Enough. And when you’ve reached that point, you must take action to change it.
Unavoidable change: our bodies
Weird things are happening to our bodies: unwelcome hairs are appearing, menopause, aches and pains, things are getting loose and heading south. We must learn to accept and celebrate these changes. Maybe you can’t wear heels anymore (that ship has sailed for me!), but you can find other amazing, stylish, comfy shoes and you don’t have to accept boredom in your style. Now is the time to reinvent yourself, accommodate the changes, and bid welcome to this incredible NEW woman you’re becoming!
Change can be a gamble…and scary
This is probably why so many of us are resistant to change; because we like sure things, and life is anything but sure. For many of us, staying comfortable is more important than taking a huge risk when you don’t know the outcome. But if you’re too cautious, you could be missing out on some of the greatest joy life has to offer. Or you can take a chance on something and it will horribly suck. There’s no guarantee of a comfy pillow waiting on the other side to catch you. That’s just it: you won’t know until you try. And most of the time, you’ll end up wondering what the big deal was and why you didn’t do it sooner!
I moved halfway across the country after living in the same state for over 40 years. That was TERRIFYING. But I love it so much and I’m so happy I did it.
VERY recently, I made another huge change in my life. I had been using the same freelance business name for over 20 years. It was a problematic name for many reasons, not the least of which that it was weird and hard to spell). Since I have been depending on freelance work full-time, I was forced to put a microscope on this name. It was no longer serving or accurately reflecting me, and I had been feeling this way for probably half of its life. But it was too hard to change, I told myself. It would be very difficult to extricate myself form this name. But it had to happen. It took almost 6 months of brainstorming to come up with a new name. And one day it hit me like a thunderbolt. I made the change in one day. ONE DAY. And the irony is that once I changed it, the universe seemed to kind of open up for me. I’ve gotten more attention and leads in one day than I have in the past few months. Why did I wait so long? Well, changing an established business name is a pretty serious undertaking, and it had to be handled with care. It was just the right time. I feel so much more positive and open about my future work now. It’s truly amazing. I am so glad that I didn’t allow myself to be complacent and accepting of a name that didn’t suit me.
Timing is everything…and nothing
If you wait for the right time, change may never come. It’s never too late to make a big change, or even a little one. Some steps really do require caution and consideration. But we should never, ever let age be a reason not to embrace change. We can improve our lives. We are in charge. We can change careers, change our style, change spouses (kidding…sort of!), change our furniture, change our favorite restaurants. We can quit doing things that are holding us back or putting us in danger. We can say yes. We can say no. If we are shy, we can become bold. We can move. If we are too cautious, we can become a little rebellious. If we are too wild, we can settle down (just a little bit though, don’t put that rebellious streak to bed just yet).
The world is your oyster…now get out there and grab those pearls, darling…whatever YOUR pearls may be!
by Stacie Herndon
Stacie is a writer, graphic designer, and web developer. Legend has it that she was born old. She has always loved outrageous older ladies, often befriending them over people her own age. She is a devoted Francophile, loves a good Sauvignon Blanc and can mix a mean cocktail. She will have red hair until the day she departs this earth.