3 Non-Negotiable Steps to Starting Over at 50, 60, 70, 80

One of my favorite expressions is: Yougottawannawanna. When life throws you a curve ball, you’re tempted to shout “foul” – but the truth is that the curve ball is as much a part of the game as the perfect center pitch. Your best bet is to step up to the plate, take a deep breath, and shout out loud, “Play ball! I’m in it to win it. Let’s go!” You’ve got to want to play and win. It sure isn’t easy after midlife, particularly when your self-esteem muscles are out of shape, and you’re starting over once again.

Starting over? Starting again? This is nothing new.

You’ve spent your life learning to start over. As women, we were thrust into a world where we had to learn to maneuver. Our little girl roles weren’t as well defined as our little brothers. We had to learn how to communicate our needs without being a “cry baby.” We had to figure out how to interact socially and walk the line between flirting and aggressiveness. If we “developed” earlier than other girls, we were “fast” – as opposed to our brothers who were “big for their age.” The result: we were on our own to figure out where we fit. As teens, we tested our roles. In our 20’s we began to perfect our natural talents. New jobs, new partners, new responsibilities led us to the “arrogant 30’s.” Many of us felt as if we had a whole myriad of strengths – we were invincible in our 30’s.

As the years went by, we were slammed with a tsunami of change. Some of us settled into a comfortable life and were able to dodge the tough stuff. Others had head-on challenges that called her inner strength to task. In any case, whatever your former situation, now is the moment to revisit the determination and focus of your childhood, the assertiveness and confidence of your 30’s, and the wisdom that life has handed you – giving you more power and definition than you realize. The power within you needs to resurface.

Step One: As a little girl, you communicated in no uncertain terms. Do it again, now!

Communicate Your Needs – to yourself and to others. Another favorite phrase of mine: “If it’s to be, it’s up to me.” No one will do it for you. Say what you need. You might get it, you might not. The point is not to get what you want, but to be heard and get that knot out of your stomach that comes from holding back. There’s a whole support system that wants to help you grow, but you have to ask.

 

Step Two: Find new friends creatively. Here’s how:

A few years ago, meeting new people was easier – jobs, hobbies, children – all provided easy inroads to new friends. Accepting the reality of your new life means understanding it’s more difficult to meet new friends, now. Don’t listen to the internet naysayers. While you have to be careful (lots of crazies out there), I know many women who have met the love of her life on Match.com (or any of the other sites). Check out meetup.com and type in an activity you love and your age. Dust off your computer and hunt around.However, most people still meet new friends through existing friends. Make a list of your closest friends – both men and women. Call them and ask to “hang out.” Don’t wait for them to call you. They love you, but you aren’t top of mind with them. Call them! Don’t get discouraged – people react slowly. Keep at it! If your friends know you’re looking for evenings out with new friends, they’ll rise to the occasion. You have to speak up, first.

Step 3: Feel the fear. So what?

I remember after my divorce, I felt like a deer in the headlights. Scared, discombobulated, and terrified to move. Of course you feel lost after a giant life change! Who wouldn’t – especially when the old familiar roles from the last 25 years are evaporating before your eyes. Your next step into the unknown is darn scary.

Another favorite phrase of mine, given to me after my divorce: “If you’re not scared, you’re not doing it right!” You’re going to feel fear. Fear is a sign that you need to take action. Think in positive terms – You’re not getting older, you’re getting started! What you tell yourself is critical. If you step back and look fear in the face, it can actually help you.

Let fear guide you back to yourself. Identify your fear. Tell yourself it’s normal and necessary. Then ask yourself, “What can I do to distract me from this fear?” Go do that! Take a hike? Go to a movie? Cook a fabulous recipe? Listen to mind blowing music? Go ride your bike? Go to your “arsenal list” of friends to call when you need to reach out?

Always know that the fear will pass. It always does. It’s up to you to change the energy with something you love, and allow the fear to pass.

By the way, if the fear becomes incapacitating, anti-depressants may help you. See a psychiatrist who understands the subtleties of the medications. If you take natural remedies, do it on recommendation of a professional who understands the herbs.

Divorce, death of a spouse, retirement or an empty house does not mean the end of your purpose in life. It’s really a chance to live again, on your own terms. Use this opportunity to invest in yourself and your new adventures in life, one step at a time.

14 replies
  1. Patience Woodill
    Patience Woodill says:

    I am 57, with a husband going through progressive dementia. He hasn’t worked for a decade or more, no money and have to move, lower my output and increase my income. I don’t WANT to take care of this man anymore. I want to be free, and start over. No money at the moment, but I can change that part. He can’t take care of himself or provide for himself. 34 years. So unhappy, but I have never been a whiner. Need to make something happen. But what. Oh my God, how do I extract myself from this.

    Reply
    • Claire Elaine
      Claire Elaine says:

      That’s so similar to my heart tonight-how do I extract myself from this? Step 1: ??? Housing change, job change, counseling to help everyone adjust to new changes….I would love to walk this path with you should you feel alone.

      Reply
    • Thomas
      Thomas says:

      So what did you do? I’m 53 taking care of my wife of 25 years. She has early onset Parkinson’s. The last 10 years have been miserable. I sacrificed my career and life to care for her. She can no longer care for herself or provide for herself. I am lost, unhappy, unwanted, and alone most of the time. I need out, I need a life and I need love. My friends bailed years ago. As a guy that was once fearless I am scared. Caregiving has stripped me of all that I once was.

      I liked the way you stated your question. How do you extract your self from this?

      A new start needed!

      Reply
      • phil harmon
        phil harmon says:

        Good for you for staying with her. Women aren’t so loyal these days. The “as women…”: shows how sexist this country has become. Like American women have had it so hard. Spoiled brats.

        Reply
  2. Don
    Don says:

    What about men?
    My wife after 24 years decided she wasn’t happy
    Wanted her independence
    I had to sell my home the home I worked hard for and on because I couldn’t afford to buy another one
    She had nothing when I met her
    I sold my small home so she could own one
    Now my homes gone and I’m living with my mom at 60
    She moved away and owns a nice home with land
    How can a woman tell you how lucky she is one moment and then wants to leave you in another
    Funny thing is her sisters husbands are so controlling and yet they stay with them
    Her sisters use to tell her how lucky she was and wished their husbands were more like me
    God selfish people are so horrible

    Reply
    • Toni
      Toni says:

      I don’t understand selfishness either. After 26 year of marriage I am going through the same thing at 72. I am the one having to move because he bought the house before we met.
      I have put money, time and energy making it into a beautiful place, now I will be renting somewhere.
      I was certainly blind.

      Reply
  3. debbie Raikes may
    debbie Raikes may says:

    found this by chance
    i am 56 and divorced…horrible awful divorce 6 years ago
    no kids
    had a wonderful job but lost it due to many stress related issues not least father with dementia
    was so low after divorce that i raced into a relationshio with a widower and now find i look after his 2 young sons while he just moans about how i dont getthings right
    am out of my mind lonely
    from earning
    80k pa i have nothi
    ng at all
    i used to
    be happy. now..its just a memory
    when my house sells i wi
    ll have so
    me money but not enough to
    get a new home s
    o i am stuck here
    i dont know what to
    do
    and i
    truly hate myself
    debbie

    Reply
    • Lisa
      Lisa says:

      Debbie, I spent 5 years raising another man’s children and in the end I got nothing for it but heart ache. You can make actual make money; babysitting, driving people around or cleaning houses! In the end, they used me as the excuse to why they didn’t have a better relationship with each other. Lesson learned. Rent a room in a posh neighborhood that you want to live, go onto meetup and make new girlfriends or join a hiking group, travel group… Focus on the possibilities and get excited to learn what you like (need) in your life. Get strong, Debbie, life not over till it’s over.

      Reply
  4. Kathy Modeen
    Kathy Modeen says:

    I am almost 60, I have been in a volatile marriage for 41yrs. I didn’t know I was being abused until now, seriously. I have tried and failed divorcing, leaving. I just now see how I was conditioned to think I cannot survive on my own. I don’t work, live on 900 a month, even with divorce I will get approximately 1500 a month from my husband who makes me feel guilty for that. He was so abusive I never was allowed to have friends and have none now. I was never allowed to really have relationships with my family. I am totally alone. I want to get out but don’t even have a car. I live in central Fl. and would have to move somewhere cheaper. How do you do all this?

    Reply
  5. Cliffy
    Cliffy says:

    75, married 55 years. Did it all and could write volumes of accomplishments. Had about 7 medical procedures last year and bedridden most of year, over it now, regaining balance. Can’t drive now and problem walking. We don’t choose when we die. Or who survives. Most friends gone. Still I want to not feel useless, passionless or lonely. We both go to counseling from the VA. Kids and grandchildren nearby. Finding more to live for is my problem. Not depressed and medications side effects started my problems. Finding meaning of life is elusive.

    Reply
  6. Wendy
    Wendy says:

    I am alone at 59. My ex had children from a prior marriage. I loved them with all my heart and did the best too emotionally and financially supporting all of them even to the point of buying his ex a house. No regrets. I wouldn’t change a thing. I lost a business when the market fell and then everyone disappeared lol. Had one Daughter of my own with my ex and she is now grown finding her own life. What it comes down to is never regretting loving. God’s greatest gift. You do all you can do for the ones you love and only you know your limit. When that time comes you let them go knowing you gave it your all. You are entitled to be happy too. If caring for your ill partner is literally killing you what good is that to your surviving children and family let alone their well being? There are home health services and other places that can provide a happy and safe place for your loved one to live. Have the talk…love is a two way street. If they are still mentally capable of understanding they are capable of loving and desiring your happiness too. If they are not coherent they will do just as well in a facility where they can be taken care of by professionals who actually want to be there for them. Don’t live your life full of regrets and anger. Make the changes necessary for all concerned including yourself to be happy. Love comes in many forms…not just giving but receiving. It is okay to love yourself too and still be the best person you can be for the ones you love who are ill. You both deserve to be happy.

    Reply

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