Health & Wellbeing magazine approached me to answer some questions about midlife for their readers. The feature was published in the print magazine - here are the questions and subsequent answers.
Why Do Women in Midlife Feel That Something Needs to Change?
Around the age of 40, we're presented with the reality of our own mortality, which inspires self-reflection. There is often a realisation that the things that were supposed to make us happy such as marriage, kids, or a specific career, haven't delivered. So we need to reevaluate.
Most women born pre-nineties made significant compromises about their choices due to cultural conditioning about how women should look and behave. Many women have never even asked: What do I really want?
As we enter midlife, we know we no longer have all the time in the world. However, we understand there's a window of opportunity to make significant changes and still have enough time left to enjoy them.
Additional factors can also come into play, such as our children leaving home or us getting divorced. So who are we if we're no longer a wife or a hands-on mother? It's an incredible opportunity for reinvention.
I also see women who are exhausted and burned out. Their motivation for change comes from a desire to take their emotional and mental health more seriously than in their younger years.
I also have clients whose menopausal symptoms are so severe they're struggling to thrive in their current workplace and want to explore other options. Hot flashes, insomnia and brain fog are ruining their life.
On a more positive note, we care less about what others think as we age. Therefore, we're more open to pursuing avenues that inspire and fulfil us rather than choosing things we feel we 'should' do.
What are the signs that someone isn't feeling fulfilled in their current life setup?
My clients tell me they feel lost, stuck, frustrated, and sometimes angry and resentful. So if you're feeling these emotions, there's likely something in your life that isn't in alignment.
Many of my clients tell me they have low energy and 'lost their mojo' and no longer take pleasure in the things that used to inspire them.
The most common behaviour I see in unfulfilled women is the act of 'numbing'. The overconsumption of alcohol, food, shopping or social media focuses their attention elsewhere. So they don't have to face the reality that they're not happy because this realisation can lead to an existential crisis.
Are there any exercises we can do to work out what we want/what we might be missing?
A good life coach can help you easily and quickly identify what's missing in your life. If you don't have the resources for a coach, focus on two things: Getting to know who you are and investing in yourself.
Spend time alone in silence, and if accessible in nature - a long walk in the woods can reveal essential answers. Practice meditation and ask questions in your journal: What do I like? What don't I like? What would I do with my life if money wasn't necessary? What would I love to do if fear didn't stop me? The answers are already within you, waiting to be revealed.
Self-investment can look like attending classes or workshops. Still, it can also look like having regular massages or spending time with people who leave you feeling nourished and valued.
The more you invest in yourself and your personal development, the more you'll learn, and your self-esteem will improve, so you'll develop more confidence.
If any of what I'm saying in this post resonates - you can download my free workbook below:
51 Prompts To Find Your Passion & Purpose in Midlife
What would you say to women who are nervous about making that leap eg: switching careers, starting a new hobby, starting their own business etc?
It's never as hard as you think it's going to be; it's a wonderfully empowering and exciting process with so much learning to be had.
Take inventory of the marvellous things you've already achieved to build confidence to move forward. All women have accomplished many incredible things. Giving birth, passing driving tests, confronting past trauma, gaining degrees, raising children, etc. are tremendous achievements that scared us before embarking on them. Now we don't even give them a second thought. Never forget that you are capable of magnificent things.
When I was 40, my daughter left home, and I was devastated. But instead of allowing melancholy to set in, I chose to use it as an opportunity to fulfil a lifelong personal dream of moving abroad. So I quit my job, gave up my apartment and moved to Vietnam alone. I was absolutely terrified. But I chose to feel the fear and do it anyway as I didn't want to look back on my life with regret.
Women who make significant changes don't do so without fear. Instead, they learn to get comfortable with feeling fear.
Writing down positive affirmations can help with this and dissolve any limiting beliefs that hold us back, such as "I'm not good enough, or I'll fail."
- I can do this
- I am safe
- I am competent, intelligent and able
- I love the woman I am becoming
Seek out role models, other women who are already doing what you'd like to do - in real life if you can, but if not, then online. Follow them, reach out to them, watch how they're doing it. Gather information, tips and advice.
Also, start small. Rome wasn't conquered in a day. So, for example, if your dream is to travel solo worldwide, begin with a day out somewhere local, then a weekend away. These small steps will build your confidence immensely and give you the energy you need to go further.
It's never too late. I have clients in their sixties and about to retire who take up new hobbies, join community groups, start eco businesses, and are taking life by the horns.
You are good enough, and you are worth it.
If you'd like some help with navigating the stormy waters of midlife - please book in for a free chat with me here, check out my testimonials, or find out more about how I work here.
Hannah Anstee is a former British Wellness Journalist turned Women’s Midlife & Wellbeing Coach.
You may know her from her work as Beauty Editor at YOGA Magazine or her contributions to The Independent or Psychologies Magazine.
Hannah uses a kind and candid approach to help women rewrite their stories.