I was at a five-year-old’s birthday party a few weeks ago and had a conversation with one of the other moms that got me thinking. She mentioned that she had taken a second job at a progressive, local company here in Austin. She was keeping her current job and working part-time at the new company to get to know the culture and see if she could make a permanent career move. We talked about how she had come to a point of reassessment – taking a fresh look at her life and career and how it was all working together. I have had similar conversations with friends and colleagues about how women think about, manage, and sometimes reinvent, their lives. Women are constantly evolving and many arrive at a point, after they’ve launched their careers and/or families, where they come back to themselves and ask, “What do I want now?”
So what brings women to this place of reassessment? There are many triggers that can inspire a woman to rethink her life, including:
- There’s a natural “reflection” period for women in midlife, which I think of as our 40s and 50s. Women in this age range have enough experience to know if the current situation is working. And what they might want to do differently.
- A life change or event often causes a woman to look at her choices and consider how she wants to spend her time. It could be life-changing, like a divorce or diagnosis, or simply the evolution of daily life such as a youngest child starting school. It could also be an event that allows a greater range of choices, such as a single woman who pays off a big line item (mortgage, school loans) in her 40’s and now has more flexibility in her income requirements.
- For many women, this is a time where fulfillment is prioritized ahead of advancement so they look for ways to live and work in a way that best serves their lives and priorities. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they want to work less, they may just want to work differently. Careers are longer now and women in their 40s can expect to work for 20 more years so they think hard about finding or creating a situation that better meets their needs.
This midlife reinvention doesn’t have to feel like a jump off a cliff. It often happens in an iterative way, like the approach my mom friend is taking. You take one step and see how it goes, then take another step. Or start something on the side and increase your joy, and maybe make a little money. Thinking about this type of reinvention, the key is to identify your needs and motivations and determine what will make your life better, however you define it. Then, go beyond thinking into action and take one move towards it. Who knows what amazing changes will come next?