How to Make the Most of New Opportunities in Later Life

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Years ago, there was a bit of stigma surrounding trying new things in later life. Seniors kept to their usual routines and had to play it safe as society seemed to think they weren’t young enough to be offered exciting, challenging, opportunities.

Today, though, mature women literally have the world at their feet. There are plenty of opportunities to get out of a rut and push themselves to do different things throughout this chapter of their lives. Women over sixty and seventy are getting back into the workforce or launching their own companies, speaking publicly, trying new hobbies, travelling the world, meeting new people, dating, and much more.

However, while you no doubt have access to more opportunities than you ever thought at this age, it’s likely you will also feel a little hesitant about grabbing them. Saying yes can feel daunting and put you well outside your comfort zone.

If you’re currently trying to decide whether or not to say yes to an opportunity, perhaps because you think you’re too old, too inexperienced, not fit enough, or not brave enough, don’t let yourself down. Be open to opportunities and find ways to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’.

Be open to opportunities and find ways to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway.”

Consider What Excites and Motivates You

Firstly, since we all have a limited reservoir of willpower, use yours on the things that count. Don’t feel like you necessarily have to say yes to every opportunity as doing so will probably overwhelm you. Instead, write a list of the different types of challenges, tasks, outings, jobs, events, and occasions that excite and motivate you.

Consider what has meaning for you, not for others. When it’s time to evaluate your choices, check them against your list to see if they match up with what you’ll find exciting and motivating. If they do, this can be a helpful prompt to say yes.

Think about the Best and Worst Case Scenarios

Another way to make the most of new opportunities, rather than saying no straight away, is to evaluate potential outcomes. It’s natural to think about the potential negatives immediately, but if you do this, stop to consider how likely these scenarios are and some of the ways you could mitigate the risks. Furthermore, if the worst did occur, would that really be the end of the world? It’s like you could cope with the consequences and feel at peace about at least having a go.

Don’t forget to pay attention to the positives that could come from saying yes, too. Many women don’t factor these best case scenarios in, but by doing this they limit themselves. You’ll likely get many benefits from agreeing to the opportunity at hand, so this is what to concentrate on. Keep in mind that most people at the final stages of their lives regret the things they didn’t do, rather than the things they did.

Build Your Confidence

Of course, to do things you haven’t done before and take calculated risks in later life, you’ll need to work on your confidence. Boost your self-esteem and it will be much easier to say yes to opportunities. A key way to increase confidence is to make a list of all the things you have accomplished throughout your life, particularly those which you didn’t think you’d be able to do. Once you look at how much you have achieved, often overcoming great odds, you will see you have more abilities and ‘moxie’ than you give yourself credit for.

You can also boost confidence by taking care of yourself physically (e.g., exercising, getting enough sleep, eating well, getting a makeover, and the like), surrounding yourself with people who make you feel good about yourself, and meditating regularly.

Avoid Perfection

Women often fall into the trap of feeling that they shouldn’t start a new project or activity unless they can do it perfectly or contribute 100 per cent of the time. However, this kind of thinking isn’t helpful or factual. No one expects you to be perfect, and it just isn’t possible, either.

Replace perfectionistic thoughts with more realistic, helpful statements. Practise saying positive things to yourself daily, such as “All I can do is my best, and that’s enough” and “Everyone is human”. As for your level of commitment, before you say no to an opportunity, investigate it thoroughly. You may learn that it won’t require as much time and energy as you thought.

Start Small

If you want to say yes to an opportunity but are fearful about doing so, combat this by starting small. For example, if you want to join a new social group, let yourself go only once per week for starters, or push yourself to attend an event for a single hour.

By giving yourself an escape hatch, this makes the task more mentally and emotionally achievable. Test out opportunities to see if they’re for you, and if they’re not, that’s okay. At least you tried, and you can move onto the next thing on your list and see if the fit is better elsewhere.