Starting over at fifty may not be what you planned, but you have more – and more valuable! – assets than you realize. Instead of thinking you’re too old or too tired to start over as a woman over 50 or 55, focus on what you do have and what you can do.
Women who feel forced to start over have a different approach than women who accept that while this isn’t what they would’ve chosen at this stage of life, they will move on with hope and faith. Women over fifty know that nothing is ever promised or guaranteed, and that starting over when life knocks you down is simply part of living fully, madly, and deeply.
If you tell yourself you have no choice – if you feel stuck and helpless – you’re putting yourself at an immediate disadvantage. You’re no longer a woman who needs a little encouragement to start over. You’re wandering into the “I’m helpless please rescue me” wilderness, and that is a dangerous place to be.
Choose to start over, to rebuild your life and move forward no matter what brought you here. Look up and meet the gaze of God. Remember who you are and why you were created. You are a Holy Girl, deeply loved and cherished by the God who created you to blossom, flourish, grow forward! If your faith is weak and your relationship with Jesus dusty and limp, prioritize spirituality as part of your journey.
Starting over as a woman over fifty isn’t something to be embarrassed about or ashamed of! Hold your head up. Straighten your spine, square your shoulders, and look forward. Walk tall and bold, even if you feel small and scared. It’s time to stop looking back and start moving forward. Know that God created you exactly the way you are for a reason. He is walking beside you, and He won’t let you down.
Starting Over in a New Season of Life
Here’s what a 55 year old She Blossoms reader said on It’s Time to Stop Looking Back and Start Over:
“My husband’s job has taken us around many countries for all of our married life and I eventually had to give up my own career. Now my kids have left home and I have hardly any self-esteem. I feel constantly frustrated and angry. I put this down to the lack of a satisfying job and marriage. If we lived in one place I might have developed my own interests, friends and a career. As it is, I feel I have no options. The fear of making things worse is very real. Do you have any advice on starting over for women over 50?”
Find kindred spirits
One of the most damaging thoughts when you’re starting over (whether you’re 50 or 20, 70 or 30) is believing you have to do this alone. If you buy the lie that you’re the only woman in this exact situation, you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage. You’re judging, condemning, and isolating yourself. Instead of withdrawing, find women over fifty who are kindred spirits. They don’t necessarily have to be starting over, they just have to “get” you. Find women you can relate to, whether you have the same sense of humor, values, job title, or faith. Make friends.
Be curious about your future
Starting over is scary, especially for women over fifty who don’t have a solid retirement plan, good health benefits, supportive family, good friends, secure job or hopeful future. If you truly have lost everything that matters to you and you’re literally living on the street with nothing but a shopping cart, then you’ve hit rock bottom. Since life can’t get any worse, be curious about how good your life can get from now on.
The Renaissance Soul: How to Make Your Passions Your Life – A Creative and Practical Guide by Margaret Lobenstine offers a life-planning strategy that fits women who feel like they’re a “jack-of-all-trades and master of none.” If you aren’t sure what your future holds – and you’re not trained or prepared to work in the current marketplace – you may need to shift your mindset. Read books like this. Learn how to design a vibrant, fulfilling life by managing your time and exploring different interests without feeling scattered. Starting over at 50 is new to you — and new things are challenging! If you take it one day at a time, you will rise to the challenge.
Identify your assets
When I was working on my MSW (Master of Social Work), I took a class that required us to list our assets. I had no idea how many assets women have! Women 50+ have even more resources and assets than younger women. If you know how to identify and use your assets, you can start over with more confidence and curiosity.
Emotional assets include self-awareness, strength, intelligence, emotional health, resilience, and the ability to cope with stress. A huge emotional asset is the ability to be positive and grateful to be part of the “starting over for women over 50” group. Spirituality is another emotional asset, and so is the ability to communicate effectively.
Personal or social assets include friends, family, peers, and people we haven’t even met yet. For example, if you’re starting over at 50 and think you have no personal assets, you might be surprised to know that at this moment you have just connected with one! I am now one of your assets, because I am a source of support, comfort, and connection.
Financial assets don’t just include cash or credit, they include the ability to budget your money, manage your money, and live on what you earn. A healthy relationship with money is a huge financial asset – and it will help when you’re a woman starting over at 50. A career is a wonderful asset…but we can’t have everything, can we?
Community assets include organizations that help women who are starting over at 50 or any age, such as social services, the police, victim services, support groups, etc. Websites and blogs that encourage and support women are community assets as well.
Your physical health is another asset when you’re starting over as a woman over 50. Are you mobile and able-bodied? Be grateful. Maybe you’re struggling with an emotional health issue like depression or a physical health issue such as ulcerative colitis (like I am)…but you can walk and talk and speak. Those are assets that will help you start over at 50 or any age!
Look at yourself objectively
It may not seem like you have “marketable skills” to find a new job or start a new career – but you are more valuable than you think. Your life experience, family history, household skills are all valuable assets. You might not be able to see your unique assets, especially if you’re scared about starting over. If you’re recovering from an unhealthy or abusive marriage, you may feel terrible about yourself.
We’re so used to living with ourselves, we can’t see how unique and special we are! For example, I lived and taught in Africa for three years. I shrug it off as a normal, common part of life. But when I tell people I lived in Africa, they’re actually interested in me! Sometimes I forget that living and working oversees is a cool thing to do. And that’s the tricky part about assets: sometimes you can’t see them because you’re living right in the middle of them. You take them for granted, which doesn’t help you start over with curiosity and confidence. Get help identifying your assets, especially if you’re a shy or tentative woman over fifty.
Take stock of your liabilities
I found a great article on starting over at 50 (or any age) by Dalonika McDonald of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice/Parole Division. She says: “It is time for everyone, no matter what you’re starting over from; to take control over your life. Flush all forms of complaining or being the victim. Take the driver’s seat, whether you’re coming from prison or a palace. Find the new you.” – from How Do I Start All Over Again? Effective Methods for a New Start.
McDonald works with women who are transitioning from prison life. I haven’t discussed the liabilities part of my “how to identify assets and liabilities” claim yet – but I am certain that leaving prison and starting over with a criminal record is perceived as a liability by both the woman and the community she eventually settles in.
The trick for women starting over at 50 is to learn how to live in uncertainty, and to trust that everything will work out fine. Read articles such as Starting Over in Your 60s – After Your Husband Dies.
Expect a little anxiety – it’s scary to start over at 50!
Fear is normal. So is anxiety and turmoil. Feel free to share your fears and anxieties in the comments section below. Don’t suppress or swallow your feelings, or they’ll grow bigger and stronger. Even better than writing about your fears is writing to God about everything! I write to Him in my journal every morning; we talk about everything from fear to joy, peace to anger.
Another great way to cope with fear of starting over is to read books like Feel the Fear . . . and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers. Your fear won’t go away, but you can STILL move forward in your life with confidence and curiosity! Remember that women over 50 have heaps of valuable wisdom and experience to share with the world.
Need more encouragement? Here’s an article about how one of my favorite women in the Bible started over: Starting Over With Ruth – Growing Forward.