With all due respect to Oprah, the life coach industry, and my overly-enthusiastic friend Y. who keeps insisting I live an "authentic" life, I'm beginning to think this midlife reinvention stuff is strictly for the birds.
It sounds simple enough in theory. Relying on the wisdom and experience that comes to us at midlife, we take a leap of faith and pursue our deepest passions. Armed with little more than faith in ourselves and a copy of The Secret in our hands, we go forth expecting good things to certainly come our way.
And let's be honest - after decades spent raising kids, climbing the corporate ladder, and living with the same, predictable man, who among us isn't ready to shake things up a bit?
Aiding and abetting us is an entire industry that's sprung up to support our ventures. From books to videos to weekend retreats, there is no shortage of charlatans - oops, I mean professionals - lining up to tell us how to get to the next big thing in our lives.
At 47, I've ploughed through my fair share of reinvention attempts. From the would-be crafting business ($700 in supplies yielded three scarves, one sleeve and zero sales) to the "youthful and playful" hairstyle my new stylist talked me into (he goes by the name of Jean Paul but I prefer to think of him as Edward Scissorhands on speed), I've tried diligently to reinvent myself but sadly, never quite made the grade.
Reflecting on my failures to launch, I believe I've learned a thing or two about the awakening that comes at this stage of life. As a gesture of support and solidarity for the midlife women who might be reading this, I'd like to pass on some thoughtful advice to make your own midlife reinventions go just that much more smoothly.
The Lazy Woman's Guide To Midlife Reinvention
1. It's more fun talking about reinvention than actually reinventing.
The planning stage is by far the most rewarding part of the process. What can beat long, contemplative walks, detailed list making of our strengths and interests and endless discussions with friends over dinner about hopes, plans and dreams.
Play your cards right and you can remain in this stage indefinitely.
2. Don't write a book - read a book.
For those of you who dream of penning the great Canadian novel, try reading a book instead.
Most of us are so busy that we barely have time to read a book. Wouldn't it be a challenge just to start one and finish it in a reasonable amount of time?
And I'm not talking about the dry and slightly depressing Canadian literature your book club insists on reading because it makes them feel intellectual. I'm talking about a good, juicy, Chick Lit read that you can't put down, even if it makes you feel slightly dirty when you're done.
3. Forget being a Cougar, chasing sexy, younger men. Go after the old guys instead.
Not only is the competition less stiff, older men are much easier to catch. I mean come on - which 40-something woman among us can't outrun an octogenarian in a wheel chair?
4. If you're itching to start a business, keep things on a small scale.
Sure we hear about the success stories but if the truth be told, most businesses fail within a year or two of start-up.
If you really must scratch your entrepreneurial itch, might I suggest taking a cue from all the mompreneurs of Generation X. Create a simple product and market it from the comfort of your own home.
I, for one, am waiting for some enterprising midlife woman to invent much needed products like Flash Memory Cards to combat those embarrassing short-term memory blips that come with middle age.
5. Skip the makeover - just get rid of your mirrors.
Why spend thousands on Botox, fillers, a new hairstyle and wardrobe? You're still the same, wonderful person inside that you've always been.
--Karen Hamilton lives in Toronto, Canada, where she publishes The Best Kept Secret, an e-newsletter and Web site for women over 40. Like the proverbial Seinfeld of the perimenopause set, Karen is fascinated with “the little things” of midlife. You can reach Karen via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit her Web site at www.thebestkeptsecret.ca or enjoy more of her quirky humour at The Best Kept Secret Blog http://blog.thebestkeptsecret.ca/ .