How many times have you been sitting with a friend or family member that speaks about all the things they used to do, but no longer do, stating “I could do that back when I was younger, but I’m too old now”. I hear ageist comments like this often from people in my life and certainly from clients, who feel as if after the age of 40 it’s time to close up shop regarding anything in the realm of excitement and activities.
Ageism is an issue that people face on a global level. It’s a societal stigma that humans have imposed upon themselves.
Those living in past eras had more traditional mindsets about how one should live their life and what is an acceptable way to be as one ages. People from generations past did not readily question the “norm”. With each passing generation people have become more open minded and bit by bit the culture has evolved, but we still have space for growth. The good news is that more and more people are on the right track to shed the ageist mindset and live a full life well into our elderly years!
Say goodbye to ageism
Let me tell you about my client’s experience of feeling complacent and unsatisfied with her life when she came to me.
My client Susan shared with me that after raising her 3 kids and her 25 years of having children at home, empty nesting gave her a rude awakening. When the last child left the house for college, she realized that she had been so wrapped up in parenting for so long, that she forgot about her own desires and goals. Infact, she realized that she didn’t have any personal desires and goals. As you can imagine this is a lonely and scary feeling. She started getting into a mindset of “slowing down and settling in”. She assumed this was the next natural step for her, as she was approaching 50.
The problem is that this mindset wasn’t giving her comfort or peace. It was making her feel complacent and depressed. She felt like she was searching for more meaning, but all she could come to the conclusion of was that her next role of value, would be her role as a grandmother, which would be a decade away at best. Susan started to focus on what she had lost, verse being able to see what she had gained. Yes, she lost the duties of daily parenthood, but what she had gained was freedom to start fresh and open a whole new chapter of excitement, adventure and activity for her future.
Susan recollected how she and her husband loved traveling and hiking together, but they hadn’t done it for years. She also shared that she gave up on the idea of keeping her body fit, and gained 30 extra pounds as the years went by. This made her not feel confident in her body and made her think adventure and hiking was certainly out of the picture.
After working with Susan and paving the way for her to change her mindset and realize she was experiencing a closing of one chapter, but opening another, Susan began to understand how the power of her mind was the creator of her future.
Susan and her husband with time came to the realization that nobody is responsible for their lives but them. They joined a gym, got fit and started hiking again. They planned a trip to visit multiple national parks and hike all the trails they once saw as a fantasy in their youth. They realized that they were just as able to hike and enjoy the wilderness now as they were in their 20’s. It was all about mindset.
Susan’s story is a common one. Perhaps when you read about her stage in life and mindset and are reflecting on your own right now. Let her be a reminder and inspiration that age truly is a number. On a personal note, I hiked rim to rim through the grand canyon this year and was thrilled to see people of all ages doing the same trek. There was a man who was 82 with his 60 year old daughter, both were proof that we can live full, healthy, and exciting lives into any age!
Tips to get rid of your ageist mindset
Here are four practical tips that will help you live a full life, a life not defined by age.
Start working on a mindset shift
It is important to assess the way you think and recognize if you’re living with a fixed mindset verse a growth mindset. If you are living with a fixed mindset then likely you are focusing only on limitations and not allowing yourself room for growth, new experiences or challenges. In order to live a fulfilling life it is important to strip yourself of old fixed behaviors and make room for a growth mindset. The growth mindset allows you to learn new things, push yourself to new levels and experience life to the fullest.
Don’t focus on your age
Humans put themselves in a box with restrictions by their own biases. This is a choice, it is not a law. Don’t forget that age is just a number! As I shared above with the father and daughter grand canyon story, there are no limitations on what you can do at any age, you just need to have the desire and not let your fears get in the way.Have you been dreaming to travel around the world but putting it off for decades? Do you want a tattoo at 50? Are you eager to learn a second foreign language at 60? Get for it and let yourself be empowered!.
Be inspired by others
Next time you find yourself leaning on the “I’m too old’ excuse, go ahead and spend some time looking up people from around the world in your age bracket and accomplishments they have achieved, there are many lists online. For example Vera Wang didn’t open her bridal store till the age of 40, Henry Ford didn’t make the Model T till he was 45, Julia Child didn’t write her first cookbook till 50, and J.R.R Tolkien didn’t write his first series of “Lord of the Rings” till he was 62! Whether it’s fitness, business or hobbies, at any age you have the ability to bring change and inspiration into your life.
Make a plan and keep it
It is easy to fantasize about change and to have moments of motivation, but then get swept back into the same old habits. If you really want to change your mindset about age and the stage in life you are at, set a plan. Start today and map out a 1 year goal. Create an outline for what you plan to accomplish each month and each week. Setting small goals as a means to achieve your large goal will give you the ability to take your time and slowly watch your development. Just remember to keep at it. You have one life to live, you want to live it to the fullest!
Ivy Ivers is a certified life coach. She specializes in transformational life coaching, including mindset transformation, confidence and purpose coaching. You can learn more about her by visiting her website. She also runs her blog and YouTube channel.
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