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The best is yet to come: How women can shift their perspective on ageing

The best is yet to come: How women can shift their perspective on ageing

I spent the majority of my childhood desperate to grow up.

At age three, I watched my older sister go to school and felt a stab of envy that I couldn’t go too. In primary school, I dreamed of going off to high school. While completing my undergraduate degree, I romanticised what it would be like to have a ‘proper’ job and the independence that came with adulthood.

It wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I started to feel a subtle shift from excitement to fear. Looking back, I am sure this was partially due to being saturated with fear-mongering messages about women and ageing.

The beauty industry marketed products to me that promised to ‘fight the signs of ageing’, and the media cruelly ridiculed women for existing beyond age 30.

Thankfully, the narrative around ageing is starting to shift, with more women recognising the privilege of self-awareness and empowerment that comes with age.

However, getting older can also lead to frustration, hopelessness, anxiety, and the sense that we have been barking up the wrong tree for most of our lives.

How to embrace the ageing process

Marcus Pearce is a mentor, speaker, and author of Your Exceptional Life: Make The Rest Of Your Life The Best Of Your Life.

Pearce works with individuals of all genders but, working in the self-development sector, finds that many of his clients are women.

Pearce’s work focuses on coaching and empowering people to free themselves from the myth that their best years are behind them.

He has interviewed more than 200 accomplished individuals, including Jan Smith, who scaled Mount Everest on her 68th birthday, to find the secret recipe to creating an extraordinary life.

He discovered eight key ingredients common among people who embraced ageing rather than feared it. These ingredients included a meaningful life purpose, joyful movement, social and family connections, good nutrition, growing through learning and hobbies, wise money management, and spirituality.

While many excel in one or two of these areas, Pearce found that people who neglected one or more ingredients often felt dissatisfied, unsettled, or anxious about ageing.

He explained that women could break free from fear-based beliefs about ageing by changing their outlook and approach to living.

Marcus Pearce

Marcus Pearce.

Why do women fear ageing?

Pearce believes that fearing the physical changes associated with ageing is often inextricably linked with profound, existential concerns about whether we are living our best lives.

Our bodies and appearance are convenient scapegoats for deeper concerns and insecurities. Many fall into the trap of thinking if they can just look the way society deems most desirable, everything else will fall into place.

“In Australia, longevity is going to happen to all of us. We are the eighth longest-living country in the world,” Pearce said.

But somewhere in our 30s to 50s, many start to question the quality of that longevity, perhaps prompted by the premature deaths of family members, a lack of passion for their careers, or losing touch with friends.

“People get to a point and think, ‘Is this as good as it gets? Is this all there is? Does my life get any better?’ It sounds a bit morbid, but these are some spiritually urgent questions people begin asking themselves. And I think that’s why they begin to question the anti-ageing and medical longevity movements because most people, regardless of how their skin looks and what pills and potions they’re taking, actually just want to have a great life,” Pearce said.

Once women realise the futility of trying to keep up with ever-changing beauty standards, Pearce describes a ‘graduation’ into asking more meaningful, better-quality questions to address the fear of older age.

These women may ask themselves, ‘How do I want my life to be?’ rather than focusing on how they want to look.

When you start asking these more profound questions, the idea that diet, exercise, or a particular aesthetic can solve your self-esteem issues is exposed for the lie that it is.

Pearce knows this all too well, having personally overhauled his lifestyle from a self-described “beer-drinking, red bull-guzzling, cigarette smoking workaholic” to a “raging vegan” who shaved with imported Kenyan avocados while living in Ireland.

He remembers thinking, “If I can just get my body right, my diet right, and look a certain way, I’ll be able to deal with everything else”.

After a few years, he realised that the perfect diet could not guarantee a long and happy life, especially if he neglected his relationships, hated his job, spent more than he earned, and lacked a sense of self and spirit.

How to balance the 8 ingredients for a fulfilling life

Finding fulfilment across all eight areas of life may sound inspiring and exciting to some and overwhelming or downright impossible for others. Particularly for those who are time or resource-poor, trying to do so can feel like another chore.

Pearce encourages harnessing the power of baby steps to take your life from mundane to extraordinary.

“We will live for a long time,” he said. “Remember that it’s not about creating an exceptional life in 24 hours.”

Trying to overhaul your entire life in a day or a week will lead to frustration, feeling like a failure, burnout, and a quick regression to old habits.

Change needs to be realistic but also strategic. One strategy Pearce uses with clients is creating a colour-coded calendar to visualise how much time and energy is spent on each of the eight critical areas of life.

Perhaps in our twenties, our careers and friendships take top priority, and then in our thirties, we focus more on relationships or family. No single approach works for everyone; what matters is making these choices consciously and with radical accountability.

The decisions we make in our 20s, 30s, and 40s have a cumulative effect that determines how we age and the amount of physical, emotional, and spiritual vitality we retain along the way.

Your Exceptional Life by Marcus Pearce

Your Exceptional Life by Marcus Pearce.

Can building an exceptional life reduce the fear of ageing?

Ageism is very real, but it doesn’t change the fact that ageing is a privilege. Knowing we likely have decades ahead of us can feel empowering if we make the most of the time we have been given.

“The number one regret of humanity is wishing they lived their lives according to their own expectations rather than the expectations of everyone else,” Pearce said.

Finding a way to live on your terms can break the cycle of living for your kids, partner, boss, or friends and create a life that excites you for the years to come rather than feeling that the best is behind you.

Pearce encourages women to write a compelling script for their life that sparks joy and purpose regardless of what others think.

“When you bring your best version of you to the world, everyone gets those exceptional consequences of you,” he said.

Many people who fear ageing think that it’s all downhill from here or that they burden society as they age. But the people who keep their spark and magnetism as they age are fully present in the now and excited about the future.

Knowing you have much to offer this world beyond a youthful exterior or professional accolades builds a stronger, more resilient sense of self-confidence.

Finding your most exciting, authentic, and fulfilling life keeps you from looking wistfully in the rear-view mirror and allows you to take on the future with confidence and the knowledge that the best is yet to come.


Purchase a copy of Your Exceptional Life: Make The Rest Of Your Life The Best Of Your Life by Marcus Pearce here.

Emma Lennon

Emma Lennon

Emma Lennon is a passionate writer, editor and community development professional. With over ten years’ experience in the disability, health and advocacy sectors, Emma is dedicated to creating work that highlights important social issues.