Have you noticed? Everywhere you look, women, in particular older women, are starting to assert themselves, achieve power, apply their well-earned wisdom and take on positions of leadership.
It’s happening in politics. It’s happening in business. And it’s probably happening in your very own community.
What about you?
Do you have a powerful woman inside you wanting to step forward? Do you want to make your next acts count?
If you’re so inclined, there are ways you can begin to think about the possibilities.
Here are three simple steps for you to take to perhaps become the woman you want to become.
1. Mind your mindset
The research is certain. Cognitive behavior therapy works, and it works like this: what you think determines how you feel, what you do, and who you become.
Carol Dweck calls our thoughts and beliefs “mindset.” She identifies two types, fixed and growth. Thinking with a fixed mindset halts our evolution, whereas a growth mindset keeps us curious, learning and open to change.
Ageism is a fixed mindset, and women over 50 have to deal with it.
What about you? Do you automatically think in an ageist, fixed way? Do you find yourself saying, “I’m too old, I missed the boat, you can’t teach a dog new tricks.”
If you do, you need to stop. A fixed mindset will hold you back. It will keep you stuck.
The good news is you can start to practice a growth mindset, and there are many ways to do it. We suggest you begin by noticing your fixed thoughts and turning them into questions.
For example: “What is too old anyway? When is the next boat coming? Who says I can’t learn new tricks.”
Keep curiosity as your guide. Reframe all your fixed thoughts into questions. These questions will direct the story you create about yourself and the next stage of your life.
2. Put your imagination to work.
We have to dream and take our dreams seriously. We can’t look to the past for direction to move forward. If we look for our futures based on what has already been, we will wind up doing the same thing over and over again.
We have to turn to our imagination, the place where we conjure that which is not yet present. We can create who we can be as older women in the world.
If you think this sounds like an impossible task, please consider this: imagining something new and then living into it is actually our birthright. If our species never dreamed of what else could be, we would still be living in caves, wondering how and where to find food and water.
We are an imaginative, creative and ever-evolving species. And women, even older women, get to imagine playing roles and doing things we’ve never done before.
Try this: make up and write three different stories about women over 50 doing important, meaningful or pleasurable things. Give the stories details and give the women characteristics that you may desire or would love to see manifest.
Stretch your imagination. Let fiction be your guide. Don’t get caught up in the how or the “yeah, buts.”
Your future is your creation. You create the script. Don’t let someone else write it for you.
3. Focus on your strengths.
Let’s face it, it is so much easier to identify our weaknesses then it is to know our strengths.
It’s not entirely our fault. There are actually 40,000 labels describing what is wrong with us, and only about 4,000 labels for what is right. Ageism is all about negativity, the notions of weakness, failure and loss. And focusing on our weaknesses deters us from actualizing our power.
It is time to identify our unique strengths, own them fully and use them purposefully.
There are two valid assessment tests to take online and uncover your strengths, The Gallup Clifton Strengths Assessment, and the VIA Institute On Character. You can take one or both of these assessments to help turn your attention away from shortcomings and focus on the ways you can begin to shine.
If you don’t want to take an assessment, we also suggest this: Think of a time when you felt you were your best self. Write the story. Look to the story for the strengths that you portrayed. Write them down.
Write and rewrite your strengths in many ways and put them in many places. Name them. Claim them. Share them with others.
Then, aim your strengths. Let them inform the choices you make, the goals you set and the plans you follow.
It’s time to transform our complaints about aging into a mission. A mission that turns what once seemed impossible into something possible.
It is happening. And it can for you too.