Last week my phone pinged with a photo of my beautiful friend circa 1990. She was aged 20, had a cheeky look over her bare shoulder which was glowing with sunburn, tussled hair, lips pursed, Ray Ban aviator sunglasses, and a lit cigarette poised between the very tips of her fingers. She was the epitome of 1990s cool.
Today, at 50, she’s the founder and CEO of two successful businesses, a single mum who exercises every day, does not drink, does not smoke, very sensibly wears sun block (even in winter), and hasn’t seen north of 10pm for some time. She is the epitome of 2020s cool.
And she is just like us – women who are embracing what some like to label our ‘mid-life’, with a ferocious sense of excitement and ownership and enormous opportunity. And why not?
Being 50 today is very different to when our mothers were 50 and worlds away from when our grandmothers were 50. While we might be getting older, but we are certainly not old.
There are plenty of Hollywood power women to show us the way on pro ageing – just look at Jamie Lee Curtis, Naomi Watts, Halle Berry and Gwyneth Paltrow, to name a few.
But here’s the thing: you don’t have to be one of the genetically blessed few to find the strength to celebrate your greying hair. Just look in the mirror. Being 50 plus is not a crisis, it’s a catalyst.
You are fit, energetic, sexy, sensual, confident, comfortable in your skin, thriving professionally, successful, full of life, and chomping at the bit to live life in a big, beautiful and spectacular way.
You are self-reliant and self-assured, and somewhere along the journey your confidence, common sense, prudence and self-knowledge have allowed you to discard that part of your ego that used to care what other people thought of you. Why? Because life is too short and you are wise enough to let it go.
You are travelling more. Why? Because you suddenly have more time and freedom than you have had since you were 21 and fresh out of university, enjoying the summer prior to your first ever ‘real’ job when you had no responsibilities at all.
Plus you now have cash, which you most certainly did not have back then. The World Tourism Organisation in their ‘Tourism 2020’ forecast projects that by 2050, more than 2 billion international tourists will be aged 60 and older.
You have money to spend. Why? Because women control 95 per cent of household purchasing decisions. As a global market, women control about US$31.8 trillion in annual consumer spending (for perspective, Australia’s GDP at the end of 2022 was $1.357 trillion). And women over 50 control half of this sum, with more than $15 trillion in purchasing power.
It is little wonder that a Forbes report describes us mid-life women as “super consumers” who are “the healthiest, wealthiest and most active generation in history”.
You are more likely to run your own business, with 44 per cent of female-led businesses in Australia run by 40-54 year olds. Why? Because the most successful start-ups are created by people over 50 who are more likely to have access to capital, who have cultivated decades of friendships and relationships and networks, who have years of experience and the wisdom that comes hand in hand with their wrinkles.
So ladies, please, it’s time to let go of the myth that your 50s and onwards is a time of despair and invisibility and crisis, and accept the fact that regardless of your age, you have the ability to declare this decade and the decades to come as the most powerful years of your life.
Because one thing is for sure: it’s our turn. Let’s make this spectacular.
My top 5 ‘Life List’ tips
- Make the most of your ‘catalyst’. It’s time to design your ‘Life List’ of everything you want to experience while you are still young enough to enjoy it.
- Your Life List should contain 3 types of goals: Go Big Goals (the audacious), Go Small Goals (the easily doable but remarkably joyful), and Go Now Goals (be open to a little spontaneity).
- Don’t just think about travel or adventure (this is not a bucket list). There are seven Life List chapters you need to create your goals around: health and wellbeing, wealth, adventure, growth, giving, relationships, lifestyle and environment. Include goals across all seven of these chapters.
- Ask yourself questions like: What will bring me joy? How can I best contribute to the happiness, knowledge, wellbeing and joy of others? What do I want to change or let go of? What do I want to experience?
- Revel in the absolute joy that it’s our turn.