Don’t miss your moment: the art of reinvention

Posted on April 23, 2014 by Eleanor McKenzie
Art of reinvention

The first time I read “Warning” by Jenny Joseph, I wanted to be the woman in the poem. It starts:

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves…

Stop being sensible

Now, I’m not suggesting that being 50+ is old; it certainly isn’t, but what I like about this poem is that it promises a future in which we can be who we want to be without having to be sensible for the sake of the kids, as Jenny Joseph humorously suggests. Many of us over 50+ers have reached a point of opportunity to reinvent our life.

We’re the lucky generation

American TV presenter, Jane Pauley, who was a co-anchor on The Today Show during the 1970s calls the 50+ generation of baby boomers the “lucky generation” in her book “Your Life Calling: Reimagining the Rest of Your Life“. Unlike our parents, who expected to retire at 60 and do the garden or play golf, we won’t be collecting UK state pensions until our mid to late 60s and our kids will have to wait until their 70s. But instead of lamenting this, why not see it as an opportunity to do something you’ve dreamed of?

The things some people do

Pauley has collected some inspiring case studies to illustrate what ‘reimagining” could mean for you. For example, there’s the business executive who swapped her office job for a knitting business; a senior IT expert who decided to open a pizza shop and a couple who opened a cookery school in Italy.

The 70% chance of success

Google “over 50s” and “reinvention” and you’ll discover that it’s a very buzzy topic.  There’s a LinkedIn page “How to reinvent Yourself After 50” where it’s claimed that if you start a new business in your 50s, you have a 70% chance of it surviving its first five years, compared with only a 28% chance if you’d started the business at a younger age. And as the poster of this information also points out, Colonel Sanders was 65 when he started KFC and Dr. Seuss didn’t write “The Cat in the Hat” until he was 54.

Inspirational steps

Melissa Kirk, whose blog “Tiny Buddha” aims to share inspiring ideas, offers five steps you can take to reinvent yourself:

  • Create a vision for your future
  • Write about your reinvention – describe every aspect of your life vision
  • Surround yourself with visual reminders of the life you’d like to create – create a Pinterest board
  • Once you have a vision of your future, break it into manageable steps
  • Spend some time every day visualising yourself in your reinvented life

Become a student

Your reinvented life doesn’t need to focus on creating a new career. Why not become a student for the first time and study a subject that fascinates you without having to wonder if it’s going to get you a job. I know two women, now in their 60s, who grabbed the opportunity to become students in their 50s and enjoy painting and print making for the pleasure of it; not to make money.

Anything goes

Jam making, being a good listener and woodwork are just a few random examples of skills you could turn into a new life vision in your 50s. The possibilities are endless: dare to dream and make your dream happen. Oh, and wear any colour you want!

by Eleanor McKenzie

Eleanor McKenzie is a Northern Irish writer with a passion for art, literature, and red wine. She's worked at advertising agency JWT, edited a journal for a European social policy think tank and tried to teach teenagers the difference between "there" and "their". Being 50+ has not significantly changed Eleanor's life, although she finds it a handy excuse when she wants to avoid anything too energetic.