Women are living their lives as they want them to unfold — instead of as old, repressive and sexist social norms directed them.
by Joan Tabb
Not long ago, many women, after the first blush of their youthful beauty and the beyond their child-rearing days, felt their lives no longer had meaning or purpose.
Those days are gone.
Women now are empowered in their later years and adept at directing their energies and talents in significant ways. They’re living their lives as they want them to unfold—instead of as old, repressive and sexist social norms directed them.
Women looking toward their later decades have opened their eyes to new opportunities and new ways to make an impact with purpose and meaning. Yes, they can still enjoy creating and checking off a bucket list of fun experiences, but they’re seeing how much more they can do.
Here are inspiring examples of how women are choosing to show up in the later years of their lives:
Arlene, a former administrator at a state university, was responsible for services for disabled students and staff. She enjoyed the aspect of position that allowed her to interact with students and staff enough to put up with the administrative aspect. As she began anticipating her retirement, she knew that she wanted to somehow stay involved with helping the disabled community. She’d grown up with a deaf mother and had always been drawn to working with the deaf. Her training in sign language led her in her post retirement years to pursue opportunities that enabled her to interpret for the deaf. It allowed her to participate and be productive in a meaningful way.
Amy’s career as a lawyer involved long, stressful workweeks along with the demands of a busy family. It was satisfying work, but she rarely had a minute of time for herself. She’d given up her athletics long ago. But once she decided to take early retirement at age 60, she eagerly returned to the physical activities she loved. She structured her newfound freedom with regular strength training, with pickle ball games and with bike rides after joining a women’s cycling group. She became a volunteer with the sports program at a local Boys and Girls club. In her retirement, she feels more alive and valued than ever.
Shirley’s 35-year career in nursing was dedicated to helping others. She also cared for her elderly parents who lived with her for many years. After her parents passed away, Shirley felt completely spent and decided to retire at age 62. She spent the first year of her retirement on recharging her reserves—visiting friends, reading books and taking it easy. But, she eventually realized that loneliness was creeping in. A friend told her about Red Cross programs that needed retired nurses all around the globe. She decided to put her nursing skills back to use and now loves going to new countries and meeting new people. Shirley is living a life of service and impact back in the mainstream, but on her own terms.
Women today have more choices than ever before. And more have the gifts of good health and vital years ahead. Whether single or in the company of a spouse or partner, women choose to no longer be invisible. We prefer to connect with our essential selves and joyfully use our talents and pursue our interests.
Find what new path beckons in your retirement by exploring different aspects of your nature:
1. Reignite dormant passions.
To reconnect with your natural interests, recall what prompted you to follow your career path in the first place. Educators often recall a memorable teacher who they wanted to model themselves after in order to make a difference in children’s lives. Remembering your reasons for choosing your profession can reignite your earlier passion and revive your dreams for making an impact.
2. Reestablish physical activities.
Many women end up focusing much of their time providing for and supporting others that they overlook their own well-being — particularly their physical well-being. In your younger years, you may have enjoyed sports and outdoor activities. Did you play tennis or delight in swimming? Reactivate your physical self in a way that recaptures some of the fun from your youth and rediscover the same enjoyment in your later years. At the same time, you’ll add to your overall health and well-being.
3. Utilize your talents.
Even after retiring, some women still hope to continue using the skills they learned through their professions. Many women have a passion for what they do, and want to continue their work in new ways — often within a new community or with a new population of people. The needs in the world are endless, and applying your talents in a way that helps people or places that touch you personally is a way to leave a significant legacy.
Today, women don’t shy away in their later years from creating ways to apply their passions, interests and skills out in the world. They realize the importance remaining connected to the mainstream of life. Their initiative can do a world of good for themselves and others.