Before you can convince anyone else to rally for you, you need to rally yourself. Rev up your brainpower, learn new skills, improve your competence, increase your confidence, and strengthen your conviction that you are one DARE–ING kick-ass woman over 40!
1) Make sure you have identified one major accomplishment in your life by the time you’re 40. Whether your achievements are with balance sheets or cookie sheets, whether you’re the mom of straight-A students in four consecutive grades, or the manager of 40 waiters as a four-star restaurant, a marketing professional or a supermarket cashier, you need to rally around something you know you do well, and others should know you do well. Think about a unique achievement you are proud of, and how you could rally that skill to reach and rise higher in your second act!
2) Identify a particular expertise you already have and master to the point where you can become an expert. Be aware of your special abilities and devote as much time as you can to them. Even if you’re not earning money from them, if they make you happy, do them. Practice them! Master them!
3) Seek out others who have similar interests and expertise in your area of focus. Universities and colleges, professional organizations, trade associations, nonprofits, networking groups and other communities, online and offline, are a haven for people who already are experts, want to become experts, or want to hang out experts!
4) Better yet, go back to college as a student. Community colleges and continuing/professional education divisions of major universities are filled with DARE–ING adults of all ages. These schools embrace adult learners, and even tailor career management programs for their specific needs. You can take online almost any course your heart and mind desire – at your own pace and place, in your pajamas if you want!
5) Check out resources like Vocation Vacations. If you’ve always wanted to explore another job or career without risk to your current professional status or paycheck, have a look at www.vocationvacations.com. You’ll be paired up with a guide in your career of interest and explore different facets of that career via a no-risk test-drive. This is especially valuable if you’re not ready to risk a full-blown career change.
6) A gap year? People over 40 who’ve lost their jobs but are lucky to have received compensation packages, might want to consider a “gap year” to reflect, refresh and reinvigorate their lives. An excellent guide is: The Gap Year for Grown Ups, 3rd Edition: The Most Comprehensive, Practical Guide from the Leading Gap Year Specialist, by Susan Griffith (2009). Griffith covers it all, from the Reasons for doing it, such as: “…burn-out, turning 50, sensory overload, bereavement and depression, shaking out the cobwebs…”, to how to manage career and financial implications, and even logistics of Dealing with email and renting out your home if you go away.
7) Learn a foreign language or musical instrument. Later in life this is a great way to rally your brain, not to mention your social life, cultural appreciation and understanding of the larger world order. Languages like French, Italian and Spanish are at the root of many English words, so you might expand your vocabulary in multiple languages! According to many musicians, the piano is one of the easiest instruments to learn to play, and it is arguably one of the most enjoyable for people over 40. Especially for some of us in our 50s and 60s whose brains and eardrums have been addled by too much percussion in our youth.
Remember: While it might seem like a daunting task to try new things, especially new ways of expanding your intellect, and to rally to new heights now that you’re over 40, this is exactly the best time your life to do so! If you’re under the mistaken assumption that your best years are “behind” you, you really need to get over that!
DARE to think of all the ways and all the people with whom you can rally your expertise, and reach out there and rise!