Let me share a true story with you about my friend Nadia. Nadia is in her sixties. She worked as the administration assistant for the same language school for 25 years before one day her bosses told her they were trying to sell the language school. They wanted to retire.
If no one bought the language school, she’d be out of a job.
She was obviously distraught. Where would she get another job?
One day I bumped into her and she was beaming. I told her she looked radiant.
You know Lisa, I decided to take destiny into my own hands. I asked the bank for a loan to buy the language school and I’ve just got the news that they’re going to give it to me.
I don’t have to look for another job because now I’m the boss of the company.
I stepped back to see if she was joking. She wasn’t.
You know Lisa, it’s never too late to start again.
At age sixty-something, I won’t say exactly, Nadia has begun a new career. She’s gone from running admin to running the business. She’s had to learn how to run a business and how to do marketing. And it’s truly amazing to wtiness.
Has it been easy? No. Often I’ve bumped into her and she’s only coming home from work at 9pm. She tells me how she’s had to learn so much.
But you know what? She’s still beaming with joy.
Is sixty is the new forty?
I remember when I was a little girl and sixty meant that you were ripe for retirement. Grannies cooked and had their hair done on a Friday. They never went out and they certainly weren’t planning the next phase of their career.
Well, Nadia and my friend Maria certainly have displaced those sterotypes.
Maria worked her way up to head up leadership and coaching for a large private bank for over two decades. She started as one person overseeing various service providers and moved onto creating a global leadership centre.
A couple of years before Covid hit, her and her partner bought a property and turned it into a guest house; an investment which has brought them both joy and additional income.
Last year, she decided it was time to exit the bank and the corporate world and at age 60 was offered a position as a coach and now overseas one of the divisions of the company. All of this while going to yoga classes and taking her grandkids hiking on the weekends.
Who says that at sixty you need to retire?
If you saw Maria, you’d think she was fifty. She loves her work. She wears red lipstick.
She cooks and also looks after her grandkids but she definitely doesn’t wear fuddy duddy clothes or have her hair done on a Friday because she’s too busy seeing clients.
Women who move
My friend Viv moved from Johannesburg to Cape Town in her late fifties. In her sixties, she moved to Namibia to start again.
At the ripe old age of 61, my mother moved countries. Not only that, she left an English-speaking country for Spain. She’d never spoken a word of Spanish in her life. She moved to a remote Northern region of Spain where English in not spoken, all because she’d seen the pictures on the internet.
She learnt to speak Spanish.
I shouldn’t be surprised. She was the first South African woman (actually my mother was born in Britain but lived in South Africa since she was 14 years old) to climb Mount Vinson; the highest peak in Antarctica.
She also climbed mountains in Russia, Pakistan, Peru and Nepal to name but a few. That was after she took me to Kilimanjaro when I was 17.
What’s your excuse?
Never mind sixty is the new forty. Sometimes, at forty-something, I’ve felt like I’m sixty-something!
My body hurts. The world scares me at times. Often I’ve just been too burnt out to even think about the next week, never mind the next steps in my career or what I want to do in the world.
But then I’ve rested and I’ve forced myself to sit down and think about the things I really want to do and what my excuses are.
- I’m too old. Well, thanks Nadia and Maria for taking that one away from me.
- It’ll never work. Well girl, you never know unless you try.
- It’ll fail. Well if you don’t start something, you’ll definitely fail but if you start and commit, at least you have a fighting chance.
- My body isn’t the same anymore. That’s right Lisa, when you were twenty you weighed 20 kilos more. Next! And so what if your body isn’t the same anymore?
- It’s too hard. Yes, it probably is hard, so what?
They say that everything is hard. I think it’s true. Being single is hard, being married is hard. Working for someone is hard, running your own business is hard. You’ve got to choose your hard. And often that’s easier than it looks because your particular version of hard, will call you in some way. You’ll find some level of joy in it.
Although working out is hard you may find the joy in it. Trust me – it is addictive.
Although running your own business is hard, it may be so rewarding that it doesn’t even feel like work.
Relationships are hard but there’s nothing quite so rewarding.
Facing your fears is hard but it’s better than letting them run the show.
It’s all hard. Choose your hard.
What’s the dream?
When I turned 40 I felt like my entire life history was nothing but a failure. So I began to Google information about people who’d done incredible things later on in their lives.
Turns out there’s quite alot of them!
Here are just a few;
- Vera Wang didn’t design a dress until she was 40.
- Viola Davis played minor roles in her 30’s and her talent was only finally recognized when she was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe for the one-scene role she had in the movie Doubt at age 44.
- Penelope Cruz is the most successful international Spanish actress of all time. Despite being age 49, she’s showing no signs of stopping. If you ask me she was the starring role in the movie Ferrari.
- Octavia Spencer cracked success in her 40’s when she filmed “The Help. All despite being dyslexic. “I was a dyslexic child and am a dyslexic adult,” she has said. “That doesn’t really mean that you’re not intelligent—it just means that your brain functions differently.”
- Ina Garten said, “I was 50 years old and I thought the best years of my career were over.” Author of The Barefoot Contessa is just a ripe old 75 years old and has 4.2 million people still interested in her Instagram profile.
Another friend of mine, Jan went bankrupt in her sixties when he business went under. She spent the better part of 10 years getting out of debt and went on to study reiki and now sees clients as a healer. Just in case you weren’t convinced that you can start again at any time:-)
Maybe you don’t have a career dream but you have a sporting one. Maybe you still dream of taking a trip. Maybe you want to get in the best shape of your life. Maybe you want to study again.
It’s never too late to change your life.
It’s one thing to dream and it’s another to turn that dream into something real. You know what the difference is between people like Nadia, Maria, Viv and my mother and other people is?
These women took action.
That’s the difference between people who succeed and those who don’t. Those who succeed take action consistently in their endeavours and they never say die. In other words, they don’t quit when the going get’s tough.
It’s pretty easy;
- Figure out what it is exactly you want (and more importantly why)
- Figure out the consistent actions – even if it’s just one thing – you need to do to achieve it
- Then never say die! In other words don’t quit when it get’s hard.
Sometimes you just gotta feel the fear and do it anyway. Remember, it’s never too late;
- To love again
- To start again financially
- To start over
- To move to your dream city
- To take up a new hobby
- To learn a new language
What’s that saying I love so much?
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.