What happens when 45 midlife women who have (mostly) not met before get together on Zoom for an hour every week to talk about change and life stage transition?
If that makes you feel a little uncomfortable, a little vulnerable, I understand. It’s not easy opening up to strangers about issues we hold close to our hearts, but switch your mindset to bold, ballsy, thoughtful, empathetic and heartfelt and you’ll get closer to the spirit we found in the midlife women who attended The Midlife Reset Workshop in partnership with Avivah Wittenberg-Cox.
Conversations on midlife
Like all my favourite ideas, The Midlife Reset Workshop was born of conversation. Conversation with my Hylda co-founder, Saska Graville as we developed the vision for our business; listening (always an important part of conversation) to our community who had a clear point of view on the kind of support they were looking for as they move through menopause and into the second phases of their lives; and conversation about the power of second acts in life with Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, a friend, coach and CEO of 20-first.
Avivah, with a deep interest in the second half of life, which she has explored in her book Late Love; Mating in Maturity, had designed a workshop on change and transition as part of her #GenerationalBalance programme for her clients. It seemed a perfect match for the issues of the day. Avivah volunteered to run a short programme for us, a great opportunity for a start-up!
The midlife career crossroads
Handling change and transition is tricky at the best of times. At midlife it comes at you from all sides. Career issues especially cause anxiety, from the threat of redundancy, revealing your age at work (it comes up a lot), or the boredom you might feel when you realise you have at least another 25 years of work ahead of you. And 2020? Well, change has been, if not forced on many of us, perhaps introduced unexpectedly. What better timing to work with Avivah on a change programme as we approached a new year.
When asked to vote on whether we were ‘leaving’, ‘looking’, ‘living’ and ‘loving’, or ‘leaping’, one of the lenses Avivah uses to explore issues in her Late Love work, 47% of the workshop group chose ‘looking’. Between us we were looking for new jobs or careers, looking at changing relationships or countries. Some of us were dealing with health issues, and others were simply in need of an independent structure to think a few things through.
Lessons in later life
So, what did I learn? That many of us run away from the past without taking the time to mine it for insight that we can apply to our future. That the November 2020 mind map of my world is a useful reminder to re-balance my life. That transitions take time, and come in all shapes and sizes. That although ‘lifequakes’ can be triggered by external circumstances or internal decisions, a little financial planning is always wise future proofing. That getting feedback from people outside your circle is bloody useful. And that it is okay to expect your support network to actually support you (and not always the other way around) intellectually, physically, spiritually, logistically and emotionally.
This time last year I was watching from the sidelines as a friend and ex-colleague launched a business in the midlife space. I kept an eye on what she was doing, helped out where I could, and thought about what it would be like to start a business from scratch. And here I am, collaborating with Saska, in the midst of transition and loving every moment. Change indeed.