Wednesday, November 10, 2010

10 Reinvention Tips for Women Over 50

How many times have you reinvented yourself? If I begin counting after college, I’ve had seven reinventions. I’ve been a waitress, a magazine editor, a wife, a mother, a museum educator, a public school teacher, and, currently, a program specialist at a non-profit education service center and a freelance writer. If you’re a woman over 50, I'm sure you’ve got a history of reinventions, too. It’s hard to imagine a woman in the past 40 years (since Women's Lib) who hasn’t switched gears multiple times to accommodate a career, a significant other, children, or some crisis (ie, health, mid-life or economic)—to name just a few possible reinvention triggers. Reinvention seems intrinsic to being a woman.

Since turning 50, I’ve been thinking about my next reinvention. When I read More Magazine was holding a “Reinvention Convention” in New York City, I decided to hop a train and see what it was all about. You might be thinking: What does this have to do with ‘flattering 50’? Well, fashion is about daily reinvention, isn’t it? And forgive the cliché, but over 50 women who are satisfied within are usually the women who exude a natural grace and glow on the outside.

The day-long convention consisted of personal reinvention stories from various women, including Christiane Amanpour and Anna Quindlen, as well as how-to tips on personal reinvention. While Christiane and Anna were extremely entertaining, their reinvention stories were a little hard for this average Jane to relate to. However, during a presentation entitled “Taking a Chance on Change,” three non-celebrity women—Tasia Malakasis, owner of Belle Chevre, Lynn Macvaugh, owner of Vivify Lighting, and Kay Morrison, founder and co-owner of The Occasional Wife—described the steps they took to start their own businesses. And later, Pamela Mitchell, founder and CEO of the Reinvention Institute, told the audience how to start the reinvention process. Below are 10 reinvention tips I gathered from these women. Personally, I like the fact these tips are common sense; they make the process seem less monumental.

# 1 – Find Your Passion. If you don’t know what you want to do next, ask yourself: “What do people come to me for?” suggests Mitchell. Or, “What doesn’t exist that should exist?” Look for your personal patterns. Keep a journal of your patterns. Do you tend to procrastinate? Are you a workaholic? Ask people who know you what they think your patterns are.

#2 – Nurture Your Reinvention Idea. Don’t share your plans with anyone—not even a best friend or husband—until you’re sure. Your dreams need to be nurtured, given time to grow and get strong, before you announce them. “Baby dreams” are easily shot down by others, says Mitchell.

#3 – Be Fearless. Make the decision to step outside your comfort zone. There’s no place for fear in reinvention, says Malakasis. “What’s the worst thing that can happen? Stability is elusive. Pretend you’re six-years-old again.”

#4 – Give Yourself Permission to Reinvent. If you are confident and feel you deserve something new, more opportunities will come your way, stresses Mitchell.

#5 – Have a Plan. What do you need to do to develop your reinvention? Come up with one thing you’re going to accomplish and do it within 48 hours. Have a financial plan if your starting your own business, adds Macvaugh.

#6 – Be Patient. Reinvention isn’t a quick process, says Mitchell. Your reinvention should develop while you’re living your life. Keep your job while you reinvent.

# 7 – Have a Support Network. Once your reinvention idea has taken shape, talk to everyone, says Macvaugh. If people know what you’re trying to do, it will help you hold yourself accountable to your resolutions. If you’re starting your own business, take advantage of local and online resources, adds Morrison. She found Idea Village helpful.

#8 – Measure Your Success. Keep a journal and write down four successes every day, recommends Mitchell. It will help you stay positive. It provides evidence when you feel you aren’t making progress.

#9 – Keep Pressing Forward. When you do accomplish something, don’t sit back and bask. You’ve got to move on to the next thing.

#10 – Stay Positive. “Believe in yourself,” says Macvaugh. Keep telling yourself you can do it and you will. And remember: “obstacles are much bigger in your mind,” notes Morrison.

Want more tips about reinvention—career and personal style? More Magazine will be hosting another "Reinvention Convention" in Los Angeles in May 2011. Click here to go to the More website for details. Or…you can watch reinvention highlights on More's upcoming television show. To find out when the program will be airing in your part of the country, visit the More website.

Meanwhile, you can watch a preview right here...